The New York Observer, one of the most consistently good reads in weekly journalism, has a great piece detailing how federal funds for homeland security have been spent in the Empire State. Some readers will remember that it was New York City that was attacked on 9/11. Those with some historical consciousness will even remember that the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan was destroyed.
So why are the pols in Albany spending more than twice as much per capita on the capital of New York rather than the city that remains the prime target of terrorists?
New York City didn't even top the state's own per capita homeland-security funding distribution in 2004. That distinction went to Albany County, each of whose residents benefited from $23.90 in federal homeland-security protection in 2004. New York City received less than half that amount on a per capita basis, $11.34. (That calculation is based on state data on the distribution of the three largest categories of homeland-security grants: the Urban Areas Security Initiative, the State Homeland Security Grant Program and the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program.)
Among the jobs done in Albany: Hardening the Pepsi Arena, home to a minor-league hockey team. Nor is all–or even much–of the spending related to terrorism and "homeland security" anyway. Which helps explain why "Officials in Yates and Madison counties said they had strengthened defenses against illicit drug labs."
And don't think New York is atypical. Veronique de Rugy of the American Enterprise Institute has catalogued the b.s. in the homeland security spending 'round the country:
Ms. de Rugy authored a report that considered the wisdom of passing federal first-responder funding to the states to spend as they see fit. It found "questionable uses of terrorism preparedness grants" across the country. Lake County in Tennessee bought a defibrillator to keep on hand at college basketball games. North Pole, Alaska (pop. 1,570), spent $557,400 on "homeland security" rescue and communications equipment. Grand Forks, N.D. (pop. 70,000), bought more biochemical suits than it has police officers.
The Observer story is here.
The AEI study is here