FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SPEAKS AT HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETING HOSTED BY SECRETARY JANET NAPOLITANO
The following are Mayor Bloomberg's remarks as delivered
"Judge Webster, thank you, and welcome to New York everyone. And I particularly wanted to thank the Secretary. We'll forgive her for coming from Arizona. We can make her an honorary New Yorker."
(Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano: "I was born here.")
"Were you really? We'd like to make you a taxpayer actually. And particularly an old friend of mine Senator Hart, who I've known for a long time. But also two others who are great patriots like the Senator and Secretary. Norm Augustine and Martin O'Malley, both of whom I've been lucky enough to work with in Baltimore many years ago, and the great State of Maryland is doing okay. And you're watching our Defense spending Mr. Augustine?"
(Homeland Security Advisory Council Member Norman Augustine: "It's all in good shape.")
"Way to go. I did want to thank everybody, seriously, for coming to New York this morning. We strongly believe in your work and not only does our Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, sit on your Council, but our Deputy Mayor for Operations Ed Skyler participated in your Homeland Security Alert System Task Force last year.
"And I don't think you could have picked a more fitting place for today's meeting, after all we are the gateway to the rest of our country. We are also the world's financial capital and the home to many highly visible, sensitive American icons - like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.
"And it's for these reasons that we have been attacked by terrorists before - and it's for these same reasons that we continue to be a prime target for terrorists. When anybody around the world gets arrested, they have maps of New York City in their pocket and really seldom any place else. And the reality is one that Commissioner Kelly and the NYPD and our great Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management, and all the other agencies that comprise our first responder group, confront head-on every single day. And the reality that if somebody's going to attack, the probability is that we would be ground zero again. And it's why, over the past eight years, our Administration has spared no expense in making New York City the safest, most secure city in the nation.
"We devote a thousand of our police officers full-time to intelligence and counterterrorism efforts. Our Police Department budget is about $8 billion annually and if you add the Fire Department in and the other agencies you're over $12 billion that we spend to keep people safe in this city - safe from street crime, but also safe from attacks from people outside of this country.
"Our state-of-the-art Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, for instance, is protecting our financial infrastructure through a network of cameras, radiation detectors, and license plate readers. With Department of Homeland Security funding, we're expanding this program to create a similar security zone around Midtown Manhattan, including where we are right now.
"But this initiative - like all our counter-terrorism efforts - relies not only on technology, but also on manpower. And over the past eight years, with some help from DHS, we've reinvigorated and strengthened what are without a doubt the best-trained police and fire departments in the world, and our superb Office of Emergency Management.
"And last month, we were able to share some of this expertise with the rest of the world when members of our Urban Search & Rescue Team, 80 police officers and firefighters, were deployed to Haiti.
"A highly trained, well-equipped police department has allowed us to foil terrorist plots over the years - including a plot this past summer to destroy two synagogues in the Bronx. But despite the great job that all of our first responders do, we certainly think of ourselves as being in the crosshairs. That is just a fact. And I challenge the Department to continue to work to devise Homeland Security funding formulas that take this fact into higher consideration.
"Commissioner Kelly and I have both been to Washington many times to urge the Federal government to distribute funding solely on threat levels. National security is a national responsibility, and we can't afford to let local politics get in the way, and trying to spread the money around as pork just is irresponsible at the very least.
"At the same time, we are urging Congress to restore funding for another key part of our defense - the Department's Securing the Cities initiative. We can't nickel-and-dime the best hope we have for preventing the worst possible calamity. The explosion of a nuclear device could cost thousands of lives, devastate our national economy, and plunge us further into conflict overseas.
"We've just got to start taking these threats seriously, and for us to do that the Federal government must take New York City seriously, and give us the resources we need to protect what clearly is the terrorists' number one target.
"This independent council understands this I think more than anyone else, that this is no place for politics. And in the coming months, I hope you will draw on your vast experience and judgment in the fields to impose tangible guidance and solutions for Department of Homeland Security.
"We just can't be complacent in New York City or in Washington, DC. And together we've just got to make sure that the Federal government moves closer to creating a system that more fairly and equitably attends to the security of this city - and our entire homeland.
"So thank you very much. Have a great day. We'll do everything we can do make you feel at home, which you have an enormous responsibility and we count on all of you to provide the guidance that sometimes political expediency doesn't call for. This is a serious, serious threat and thank you for all of your dedication, you're providing the kind of security we need."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
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