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THE NATION

N.Y. to share security-area status

January 06, 2007|From Newsday

WASHINGTON — As part of a new regional approach to combating terror, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced Friday that New York and northern New Jersey would be considered a single area for security planning.

Chertoff, who was criticized last year for slashing anti-terrorism funds to New York City, denied that linking two states and 15 counties would mean less money for New York.

"There is nothing about this to suggest New York is going to get a grant cut," he said.

"I can tell you from the first World Trade Center investigation, a lot of the planning for that bombing took place in Jersey City. So who bore the security responsibility there? Was it New York? Well, New York didn't have the ability to get into Jersey City. Was it New Jersey? Well, the attack took place in New York.... If you look at the risk, the risk is combined."

Chertoff also said the department was guaranteeing for the first time that the six highest-risk areas -- including New York-northern New Jersey -- would split 55% of the $747 million earmarked for the 45 highest-risk urban areas. A total of $1.7 billion will be awarded for all counter-terrorism programs next year.

Specific grants won't be announced until spring, after municipalities have submitted proposals that will again be judged by secret panels.

Chertoff vowed that the grant process would be more user-friendly and publicly transparent. He said grants would still be channeled through each state, which would disburse them to localities, "because that's what the law requires."

But not everyone was convinced the process had been sufficiently improved.

"Based on last year's ridiculous allocations, and DHS' indication that once again it will use the peer-review process, New Yorkers have every reason to be skeptical," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"If DHS gives out money based on a combined New York and New Jersey area, it better be two full loaves, not a half for each."

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