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  May 23, 2004

Protecting the City and Clearing a Hurdle
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Last week, two stories dominated the local news: the hearings in our city by the independent commission investigating the 9/11 attacks; and the decision by the International Olympic Committee to name New York one of the five finalists in the competition to host the 2012 summer games. What ties those two stories together is that each showed New York’s determination to come back strong.

The 9/11 hearings brought back a flood of painful memories. But by investigating why we lost so many of our loved ones that day, the Commission’s work will help us ultimately win the war on terror. From the beginning, our Administration has also been determined to learn the lessons of 9/11. That’s why we’ve dramatically stepped up the Police Department’s intelligence and counter-terrorism activities. It’s why we’ve increased cooperation and communication between the Police and Fire Departments, and other agencies that protect our city. It’s why we’ve instituted regular, ongoing multi-agency training exercises, like last Sunday’s “Operation Transit Safe,” which simulated a terrorist attack in the subway system. Because we’ve introduced these and other measures, I was able to testify to the Commission on Wednesday that New York is better prepared today to respond to and prevent any threat, arising from any source.

We’ve taken all these actions because we recognize that New York remains a major target for terrorism. Despite that fact, however, New York State currently ranks 49th among the 50 states in the per person distribution of Federal Homeland Security funds. The same bizarre skewing of priorities also plagues how Federal money designed to prepare for and prevent bio-terrorism is allocated. President Bush has proposed changing this, and making risk and threat the basis for providing Homeland Security dollars. But as I noted in my testimony, the Department of Homeland Security has diluted the impact of that welcome change by inflating from seven to 80 the number of cities available for “high-risk” grants. As goes New York’s economy, so goes the nation’s; if Wall Street is attacked, Main Street will suffer. That’s why in my testimony I challenged the Commission to urge Washington to change these absurd and dangerous policies.

The 9/11 hearings may have overshadowed the city’s designation as a finalist for the 2012 Olympics. But that decision represented a tremendous vote of confidence by the members of the International Olympic Committee in our city, and in our remarkable recovery from the 9/11 attacks. NYC 2012, the non-profit group leading New York’s bid for the Olympics, has put together an exciting and compelling case for bringing the Olympics here. Should we be fortunate enough to be chosen to host them, the Games would provide a powerful financial boost, creating an estimated 125,000 jobs, and pumping $11 billion into our economy. They would also spur the largest investment in parks and recreation facilities in the city’s history—a tremendous legacy for future generations.

Last week, we cleared a major hurdle on the path to the 2012 Summer Olympics. The IOC will make its final selection next July—and we’re hopeful that their decision will be to hold the world’s greatest athletic event right here, in the world’s second home.