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"anti-terror" measures expensive for American local governments

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  • thekoba@aztecfreenet.org
    ================= Begin forwarded message ================= The following article, by Arizona Republic reporter Ginger D. Richardson, appeared on pages A1 and
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19, 2004
      ================= Begin forwarded message =================

      The following article, by Arizona Republic reporter
      Ginger D. Richardson, appeared on pages A1 and A2 of
      the Thursday, February 19, 2004 edition of the Arizona
      Republic. America's taxpayers are having to pay
      through the nose for this so-called "war on terror",
      and not just for the cost of sending troops to Iraq
      and Afghanistan and paying "Israeli" extortion, but
      also for local security measures that accomplish
      nothing but the inconvenience of the citizens and
      the violation of their civils rights. In another
      story, the FAA is considering increasing the fines
      for people who inadvertently take weapons or other
      forbidden objects through airport security. They
      would have a lot less grief if they just let us take
      our guns, knives, and box cutters aboard. I have
      also noticed that the price of gasoline seems to be
      increasing again. It was about $1.50 per gallon
      (40 cents per litre) a few weeks ago, and it is now
      about $1.75 (46 cents per litre). If that was the
      work of the Iraqi resistance, I'll gladly bear the
      hardship :-)

      --Kevin Walsh

      "Smile, for this aircraft takes you to God."

      --hijacker manual

      ANTI-TERROR COSTS HURT PHOENIX

      Federal Mandates Already At $45 Million

      Phoenix has spent $45 million on homeland security
      costs and faces hundreds of millions more in future
      expenses that could be passed on to taxpayers in water
      rate increases and other fees.

      Last fall, city officials warned that they might have
      to consider budget cuts and further delays to key
      capital-improvement projects at Sky Harbor
      International Airport, the nation's fifth-busiest,
      because Congress continues to demand anti-terrorism
      enhancements without a plan to pay for them.

      But now, officials have started calculating costs
      to other departments besides aviation. ANd the
      unreimbursed dollars are adding up fast.

      "The local governments have had to pick up more than
      their fair share," Mayor Phil Gordon said. "Our
      budgets are at the breaking point."

      Hardest hit continues to be Sky Harbor with about
      $30 million in unreimbursed expenses. But city
      officials have spent $13 million shoring up the
      safety of the city's water supply and an additional
      $1.1 million in Police Department overtime.

      And although they can seek federal grants to offset
      some of the public-safety expenses, there doesn't
      appear to be any money to compensate the Water
      Department.

      "Those reimbursements are not even on the horizon,"
      said Cecile Pettle, the city's budget director.

      Already the city is forecasting a five percent water
      rate increase for each of the next five years.
      Wastewater fees could jump seven percent in 2005 and
      2006, and five percent annually through 2009, Deputy
      City Manager Andrea Tevlin said.

      More Expense Ahead

      "That's just our forecast," Tevlin said. "And
      unfortunately, it doesn't begin to cover our
      projections in what we will need to spend security-
      wise."

      The city has identified nearly $100 million in future
      costs.

      But the problem is not unique to Phoenix. Cities
      nationwide face similar woes.

      "We estimate that cities and towns have spent close
      to $3 billion on homeland security since September
      11," said Michael Reinemer, director of communications
      for the National League of Cities, an organization
      that represents municipalities' interests in
      Washington, D.C. "The bulk of that has been
      unrecouped. It is a major issue everywhere."

      Denver, for example, estimates that it incurred
      $500,000 in unanticipated expenses in 19 days last
      year while the United States raised its terror level
      threat to "orange."

      "It adds up quickly," said Chuck Cannon, a spokesman
      for the Denver International Airport.

      Latest Technology

      In Phoenix, officials have spent millions bomb-
      proofing airport walls, implementing new security
      master plans and installing new technology that will
      allow officials to more quickly and accurately detect
      the presence of chemical or biological agents in the
      city's water supply.

      But even more substantial costs loom.

      The latest and most expensive is the "EDS," an
      electronic screening system for checked baggage
      designed to speed travelers through gate security
      checkpoints with the same efficiency as before
      September 11, 2001.

      The project, with an estimated $120 million price tag,
      will replace the current system in which passengers
      or security personnel feed checked baggage through
      automobile-size machines located haphazardly
      throughout the airport.

      Federal Funds Lacking

      The EDS improvements are designed to keep security
      checks away from the passenger areas and eliminate the
      need for travelers or security agents to carry large
      pieces of luggage through different areas of the
      airport.

      But the government does not have the money to pay
      for all of it. The federal Transportation Security
      Administration has asked cities across the country to
      front the money for the project, with the
      understanding that the federal government will
      reimburse them for 75 percent of the cost.

      In Phoenix, the remaining 25 percent of the cost
      still would be about $30 million.

      On Wednesday, Homeland Security officials and two
      members of Arizona's congressional delegation,
      Republicans J.D. Hayworth and Trent Franks, announced
      at a news conference that the security agency had
      signed a letter of intent with the city. That
      agreement outlines the 75/25 percent funding plan
      for the electronic baggage-injection system. Under
      the agreement, the city would front the money for
      the entire project but should be reimbursed for
      about $91.5 million of the total cost.

      City Weathers Storm

      The funding, which would be paid out over four years,
      still must be approved by Congress and included in
      the federal budget.

      Some cities, like Phoenix, have weathered the storm
      with more success than others, said Reinemer, of the
      National League of Cities.

      Others, like New Haven, Connecticut, have laid off
      police officers as a result of the soaring expenses,
      he said.

      "This is one of our top legislative priorities,"
      Reinemer said. "We don't want to get into a situation
      where basic, traditional public safety is squeezed
      out in the name of homeland security.

      "We have to get more help from the federal
      government."


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      --
      "I, Ernst Zundel, do solemnly swear that I will lie and nothing
      but lie, because the truth is not a defense at this hearing."
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