Before I start another War Between the States, let me say that I believe New York City is a critical area of importance for this nation, and yes, I consider the Empire State Building and indeed everything in New York to be of national significance.
That's why I was shocked to read the insulting and out-of-touch comments of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), complaining that cities such as Jacksonville, Atlanta, Louisville and Omaha received higher percentage increases in their share of the federal Urban Areas Security Initiative grants recently announced by the Department of Homeland security than did New York City.
Leave it to Schumer, in his typical shoot-from-the-hip manner, to not only ignore the facts, but to insult areas of the country of which he knows little. A WCBS TV report on May 31 attributed Schumer as being upset that Florida received a 22 percent increase in these grants and Georgia a 40 percent increase. The report went on to say, "[Schumer] wondered if peanut farmers in Georgia are a greater target than the Empire State Building."
How insulting, ignorant and misleading. Similar comments from several New York politicians poked fun at Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium being classified, for grant purposes, as a building of national importance, while the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building were not.
An op-ed piece in the June 7 edition of The New York Times written by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff set the facts straight. He noted that New York and Washington, D.C. were still the two top recipients of these funds. And that the Empire State Building, for example, had been placed under the category of "tall buildings," which scored higher in determining allocation of funds than the category of a building of importance as being a "national icon."
What Chertoff explained is that New York and Washington, D.C., along with a few other cities, were still getting the largest chunks of money. The purpose of the grant allocations was to bring other areas of national importance up to some level of adequate protection against acts of terror.
What Schumer doesn't understand is that these are the very areas for which citizens of his own state have been leaving in droves to relocate. That's why Atlanta, with nearly five million residents, is home to the Centers for Disease Control, the world's busiest airport and the largest telecommunications infrastructure in the nation.
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