About a year ago some “misguided and wrong moves” were uncovered during an audit by the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general. Too little money was appropriated, much of it was not spent, and much of what was not spent was spent for the wrong things. As examples:
• The government “funded several hundred projects despite dubious marks by its evaluators against key criteria”, the audit stated.
• More money was spent to protect Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts, than was spent on New York and Los Angeles.
• While funds were misspent or misdirected to ports in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands and in Martha’s Vineyard, the Port of New York, which handles 12 percent of U.S. cargo traffic received just 7 percent of the grants. It was also noted that Wyoming received $ 38 per person, compared with New York’s $ 5.50 per person.
• A grant of $ 180,000 for lighting went to a “small remote facility that receives less than 20 ships per year,” for improvements that an evaluation team found would have “minimal impact”.
• The audit also found that a disturbing amount of money went to private companies that operate ports, in some cases for projects that “appeared to be for a purpose other than security against an act of terrorism”.
Meanwhile, the DHS has indicated that the port city of San Diego risks losing federal dollars if officials can’t demonstrate that the city qualifies as a potentially high-risk terrorism target. The department released a list identifying 35 “high-threat urban areas” eligible to apply for a portion of $ 765 million in grants for terrorism-related equipment, training, planning and exercises, and San Diego wasn’t placed in that high-threat category, despite being located along an international border, being a major shipping port, and being host to the largest military presence in the U.S.
Mayor Jerry Sanders said that he doesn’t think the city has done a good job of lobbying the DHS for federal dollars, and he may be right. San Diego would have had better luck with the Small Business Administration. A Texas golf course, an Illinois candy shop and a Nevada salon were among those firms listed as having received U.S. subsidized SBA loans intended for firms affected by the September 11th attacks, an internal government investigation revealed.
The owner of the Texas golf course was quoted as saying “people were more interested in staying home and watching the attack on television than playing golf”. [Hardly a fairway to treat a taxpayer.]
The Illinois candy shop claimed that the September 11th attacks had delayed the shop’s opening, and that a $ 21,250 SBA loan was needed to sweeten things a little bit.
And the Nevada salon’s lender blamed the 9-11 attacks for hurting the Las Vegas casino industry which employed many of the salon’s customers. [That’s what you’d call a “real bad hair day”.]