Is it true that some Homeland Security funds are not being used as originally intended? That has become an issue in some places, and one suspects, not just in the cases currently under investigation. In Austin, TX, for example, a recent audit revealed that homeland security funds had been used to purchase a trailer to transport lawnmowers to “lawnmower drag races” and, elsewhere in Texas, funds found their way into projects not usually equated with most definitions of homeland security, such as community festivals. In Detroit as reported in The Detroit News, 12/16/04 some equipment intended for first responders remained undistributed at the airport but “four electric generators purchased with homeland security funds turned up at the homes of county homeland security officials and one is … missing.”
And can anyone explain why Homeland Security funds have been drastically cut in New Jersey, a populous state with a vulnerable port? Similarly, what is the rationale for cutting all Homeland Security funding in the current budget for New Haven, CT — another locality of dense population and one of the largest ports in New England.
More recently we have learned that, despite the enormous outpouring of large corporate sponsorships for inaugural festivities, the money needed to build structures and fund basic security measures along the parade route and elsewhere in DC will not be provided by any similar largess but is to be taken from Homeland Security funds, some 11 million dollars worth. This and other questionable applications of funds are an affront to all Americans who supported the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security and believed in the integrity of its mission.
Have Portions of Homeland Security Funding simply become new sources of patronage or ways to plug holes in local economies? Certainly the distribution of these funds should be used neither as carrots nor sticks in partisan maneuvering. It has, then, become obvious that there needs to be serious and determined bi-partisan oversight not only of how funds are distributed but also to make sure they are used properly once they arrive at their designated locations.
Maybe, for future consideration, when the government is a little short of money as it is in DC, and feels the impulse to raid Homeland Security funds, members of Congress should revisit their pork-filled omnibus spending bill. That $2 million for kitchen relocation in Alaska, the $2,500,000 for the Horse Springs Ranch in New Mexico, the $3,000,000 for the Center for Grape Genetics, in Geneva, NY, and the $1,000,000 for the B.B. King Museum Foundation in Mississippi might have come in handy to fill security needs for inaugural events.
In the meantime, with the Inauguration upon us, remember the NotOneDamnDime effort. I’ve heard some angry Bush supporters say they’re planning to gas up their SUVs and buy everything in sight, but what the heck, not buying anything on the 20th is a simple way for the rest of us to indicate displeasure and make a statement. It’s worth a shot.

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