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Governor Pataki's Missing List
January 25, 2003
NY Times - Editorial
It is well known that the clock ticks at a
different speed in Albany, where New York State's business always
takes longer than is necessary. That habitual torpor, however,
does not excuse Gov. George Pataki's failure to apply in a timely
manner for federal funds designed to help make New York City more
secure after Sept. 11. The governor has missed two deadlines and
caused anxiety among city and state officials who are concerned
that Washington may sense a lack of urgency, when there is much
to be urgent about.
Mr. Pataki's spokeswoman has defended the delays,
arguing that such complicated matters are "too important to
rush." They are also too important to languish so far down on the
governor's priority list. After all, a full 16 months has elapsed
since the disastrous event that made them necessary in the first
The Federal Emergency Management Agency promised
more than $400 million after the World Trade Center attack in
order to harden the city's defenses against a future terrorist
assault. Mr. Pataki's representatives have said that because this
was not a normal disaster, the request for funding necessitated a
different approach. That is true up to a point. But Mr. Pataki's
offices have yet to submit a single project for FEMA to review
under its "hazard mitigation" program, which is aimed at
minimizing the damage from any similar disasters in the future.
In the same period his administration has received
dozens of proposals from state, city and private concerns asking
for its help getting FEMA funds to harden infrastructure or
strengthen bioterrorism defenses at hospitals.
Under the latest deadline, Mr. Pataki has until
March 11 to come up with a priority list focusing on ways to
enhance the city's security. His office has promised that the
requests will be confined to needs in the New York City area.
That is a wise move, given the widespread criticism of the
governor's earlier pitch for federal funds that included upstate
projects as well.
The city certainly needs help. Mayor Michael
Bloomberg wants $200 million of the hazard mitigation funds, not
only for infrastructure but also for added police and emergency
response. So far, FEMA and the federal government have tried to
accommodate the city's vast needs. For that reason, it makes no
sense in these lean times to dawdle when Washington has the money
to help out. If Mr. Pataki waits too long, Washington may be less
eager to reach into its pocket in the future.
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