Bloomberg says NY is shortchanged on terror funding given the threats it faces

NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday the city is continually shortchanged on anti-terror funding given the threats it faces.

Bloomberg's comments came amid a heated debate between New York officials and the Obama administration over federal security funding for the city, just two weeks after a Pakistani-American man was accused of trying to explode a car bomb in Times Square.

Last week, New York congressional leaders complained the U.S. Department of Homeland Security planned to cut the city's transit and port security funding by at least 25 percent. Obama administration officials refuted the claim, saying that because of $100 million in federal stimulus money and other grants, New York was set to receive 24 percent more security funding than it had in previous years.

Bloomberg said Monday the debate over which account the funding for New York is coming from obscures a larger point.

"It is purely a numbers game," he said. "The real issue is this city is a target and we don't get our fair share ... if you start counting the risks."

There have been at least nine planned terror attacks in the city since the Sept. 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center. The terrorists involved hoped variously to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, to blow up financial institutions, to smuggle explosive materials into the city, to detonate explosives on the subway, to release cyanide into the subway system, to ignite an airport jet fuel pipeline and to collapse commuter train tunnels at ground zero.

Bloomberg said that he would continue to press President Barack Obama and other administration officials "about why we need this money and how we'll spend it."

Rep. Peter King, ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, released a letter calling on DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to clear a bureaucratic logjam he said prevented millions of dollars in security funding from reaching transit agencies across the country.

Last week, Napolitano sent a letter to King saying that between 2006 and 2009, New York had allowed about $275 million in port and transit security funding to sit unused.

In his letter, King, of Long Island, cited a 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office report estimating that from fiscal years 2006 to 2008, before Obama took office, millions of dollars in security funding had been tied up because of bureaucratic red tape. For that reason, King estimated, $421 million in 2009 and about $348 million in 2010 had not been spent.

"Secretary Napolitano must immediately end the delays and fix the broken process of distributing mass transit security grant money to ensure that it can be put to work quickly and protect lives against terrorists," King wrote.

A DHS spokesman, Clark Stevens, said $330 million in unspent funding had gone through all legally required reviews and was available to transit agencies that applied for it.