Monday, April 04, 2005

Politics Before Security in New Haven?

Democrat-Represented New Haven Received No Homeland Security Funds for Port

The Danbury News-Times reports that the Port of New Haven is extremely vulnerable due to an apparent lack of interest from Washington:

New Haven, which the Department of Homeland Security rated as a "high-risk city" in 2003, received none of the $49 million in Homeland Security grants targeted for port security last year.
...
...New Haven is arguably one of the most at-risk ports in New England. Home to a large commercial cargo facility as well as the second-largest oil terminal in the Northeast, experts say it could be a terrorist target. (Reid)

That's odd. Are there comperable decreases in other, similar port cities?

The city of Bridgeport received $600,000 in federal grant money for port security, while the Bridgeport Port Authority, a separate entity, got $3 million.
...
New London received $150,000 from the federal grant. The city has yet to spend its grant money, said a spokeswoman for Police Chief Bruce Rhinehart. (Reid)

It's worth noting that the Coast Guard and the naval base provide some extra security for New London. So what's going on here?

Bridgeport and New London have something else in common. Both have Republican representation in Congress. U.S. Rep. Christopher P. Shays, R-4th Dist., respresents Bridgeport while Rep Bob Simmons, R-2nd Dist., represents New London.

New Haven has a Democratic representative, Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd Dist. "If homeland security is our country's top priority — as the Bush administration continues to tell us— then why is New Haven no longer a high-risk city and why is it losing $10 million in funding?" DeLauro said.

She said changes in grant eligibility were "made without prior warning and there are many questions that need to be answered."
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DeLauro stopped short of accusing the Bush administration of playing politics. However, according to the list of grant recipients from the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 70 percent of port funding went to states with Republican governors or to districts with Republican members of Congress. (Reid)

Outrageous, although those statistics may very well be misleading (California and New York, for example, probably get a lot of port funding--both have Republican governors, as do we). Where are our senators on this? Lieberman supposedly lives in New Haven, shouldn't he be concerned with or at least aware of security problems at the port? There is no reason why New Haven shouldn't have the same level of security as Bridgeport.

Source: Reid, Chipp. "Politics may aid security funding". The News-Times 4 April 2005.

9 comments:

stomv said...

As you pointed out, the "70%" number is a bit questionable. Consider this: lets say the odds were 50-50 that your governor is GOP, and the odds that your Congressman is GOP is 50-50, and that those aren't correlated. Now, none of the above is true. In fact, the odds of your governor being GOP is higher than 50%, and the same is true of your Congressman. Are they correlated? A bit, but not excessively.

So, given 50:50 and no correlation, the odds that your governor or your Congressman or both is 75%.

This is a back of the envelope approximation for something more complicated, but Reid's 70% number doesn't appear to be startling. The lack of funding for the New Haven port is certainly a problem, and IMO the GOP have done an absolutely horrible job with homeland security, this being no exception.

But, that 70 doesn't seem to be evidence of anything but equity.

Genghis Conn said...

Indeed not. In fact, major port cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Fransisco, Baltimore, Houston and others share with New Haven the distinction of being in states with GOP governors. These cities mostly have Democratic representatives in Congress, I believe.

The red flag here seems to be the fact that Bridgeport is getting lots of money while New Haven isn't. There are two possible reasons for this:
1. Politics in Washington
2. Incompentence in New Haven's city government
It's probably a combination of the two. Could be an issue for DeStefano next year.

ShonuforDeStefano said...

First of all, thanks genghis conn for such a great blog. I enjoy reading it. In his article, Chipp Reid confuses different funding sources and designations creating a false comparison. The designation he refers to early in his article is the Urban Areas Security Funding designation, a designation that is directly related to specific homeland security funding sources for cities with the designation. New Haven received that designation in 2004 not 2003 as the article states. That year, the city received $171,312 in homeland security funding. In 2005, New Haven did NOT receive this designation due to some ingenious tinkering with the definition by the Bush Administration. Neither Bridgeport nor New London received the designation in 2005, disqualifying all three cities from UASF funding. City government is working aggressively with Senators Dodd and Lieberman and Congresswoman DeLauro to change the designation guidelines for 2006. The funding Reid refers to later in his article is not the UASF that streams from the designation--it is from a variety of different federal grant sources. In New Haven, the city itself is restricted in how much of this grant money it can apply for because it does not control all of the terminals. In fact, most are operated by private companies. The city has, however, worked aggressively with these private operators on securing funding for which they are eligible and these operators have been awarded a combined total of $1.3 million in these federal grants for homeland security purposes. New Haven, along with our other port cities, is getting very screwed because the Bush Administration has essentially gerrymandered homeland security funding to port cities that are a part of its political coalition. As a member of the President's political party, Governor Rell has a powerful voice that is missing from this fight. She should join our Senators and our congresswoman in demanding the appropriate levels of funding for cities in Connecticut to protect their ports, regardless of what party the citizens of those cities politically support.

Genghis Conn said...

Shonu,

Thanks for the additional information. This is a tricky and complicated subject. It's a shame that New Haven seems to be on the losing end right now.

I don't know that Gov. Rell has that much pull in Washington. She avoided the governors' meeting this year and hasn't really spoken with President Bush more than once or twice. But that could be an issue for you to raise next year, too.

Are you Shonu Gandhi?

ShonuforDeStefano said...

Hi Genghis

This is Shonu Gandhi. Who are you?!

Re: Gov Rell-- you are right. But I believe a part of being an effective elected official is reach reaching and building relationships that can help you lobby effectively on behalf of your constituents. That's why attending events like the NGA conference, finding common ground with other Governors and effectively forming a coalition to protect state government's interests is so important. Republican or Democrat, our Governor should be out front on this issue.

Genghis Conn said...

I recognized your name from the DeStefano blog (nice work, btw--the other candidates don't have the web presence you do). Agreed on Rell. I was disappointed that she didn't attend, but health concerns may have been a part of that.

stomv said...

My (uneducated, semi-cynnical) guess as to why Rell was a no-show was to distance herself from Bush in general. The maps suggest that cozying up to GWB may not be popular in CT. Being "fiscally conservative" but not socially nasty might be the key to a GOP governor in CT, and it was her chance to limit the Dems chances of linking her with BushCo.

Genghis Conn said...

Stomv,

Could be. President Bush and the D.C. Republicans certainly aren't popular here, as you say. I recall that she also barely showed her face at the GOP convention last year, despite the fact that Hartford was one of the closest state capitals to NYC (I think only Trenton is closer).

Still, the governors' meeting was a chance, as Shonu says, to lobby for Connecticut interests and conference with other governors. Her actions (support for civil unions, possibly raising taxes) have marked her as a different kind of Republican more than a snub of D.C. would.

ShonuforDeStefano said...

Genghis, thanks for looking at our blog. Come give us feedback--http://blogforct.com. Also, come check out our homeland security news!