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Seattle, Portland Anti-Terror Grants to be Cut

by Matthew Daly, Associated Press
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 31, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The cities of Seattle and Portland will receive fewer counterterrorism dollars this year than in 2005 as part of a federal effort to spread cash to other communities facing threats.

Seattle will receive $9.15 million this year from the Homeland Security Department, down 22 percent from its $11.8 million allocation last year. Portland will get $9.4 million, down nearly 10 percent from $10.4 million last year.

New York City and Washington, D.C. - the two cities targeted in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks - also will get less money this year under a formula announced Wednesday by Homeland Security officials. Both cities will receive a 40 percent cut.

Marianne Bichsel, a spokeswoman for Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, criticized the latest grants. "The money is not following the threat level," she said.

"You are looking at port cities such as Seattle getting less money, and cities with lower threat levels getting more," Bichsel said.

Bichsel declined to name any other cities, but a chart prepared by Homeland Security shows that Louisville, Omaha, St. Louis, Charlotte, N.C., and other cities received sizable increases under the new formula.

"It doesn't seem to make sense," Bichsel said. "New York is down 40 percent? Washington? Again, the money is not following the threat level."

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., criticized the overall Homeland Security grant program, which will distribute $32.2 million to Washington state this year - down 26 percent from last year's $41.9 million.

Oregon will receive nearly $18 million in grants this year, down from $22.7 million last year.

"This is just more evidence that the Bush Administration is not doing enough to protect us here at home," Murray said in a statement. "At a time when we need more security here at home, the Bush Administration is offering us less and less."

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., said he, too, was disappointed at Washington's totals.

"When you look at the Northwest - we're on the Canadian border, we have ports and ferries and a past history of intelligence information that shows terrorists have targeted this area - I have to ask questions," he said.

Reichert, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee's subcommittee on emergency preparedness, said he would convene a classified briefing with Homeland Security officials to review the grant program.

"What's the formula and was the (correct) information plugged into the formula?" he asked. "I want to know the facts that led us to believe we don't need as much money as we needed last year."

Shawn Graff, director of Portland's Office of Emergency Management, said his city's $1 million cut was minor compared to other urban areas. "I guess if you look at it from a national perspective, the cut wasn't that bad," he said.

Besides the city of Portland, grant money received under the Urban Area Security Initiative will go to Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington and Columbia counties in Oregon, as well as Clark County, Wash., Graff said. The grant area includes about 2 million people, he said.

The money is part of an overall $1.7 billion Homeland Security grant program for the 50 states and several U.S. territories.

The urban grants total $119 million less than last year, while three new cities were added to the program. In all, 46 cities will share $710 million in Homeland Security grants to prevent and respond to terror attacks, hurricanes and other catastrophes.

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Matthew Daly, Associated Press
Seattle, Portland Anti-Terror Grants to be Cut
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 31, 2006

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