New York Politicians Press Chertoff for Funding

NEW YORK (AP) - Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton asked U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Monday to push for a "risk-based" approach to security funding that would give New York City a bigger piece of the pie.

Chertoff responded, "We do believe in having a risk-based approach to everything we do at the department of Homeland Security." He provided no details about steps he would take to carry out the policy.

Chertoff and the New York elected leaders spoke after meeting privately at Grand Central Terminal, where they were briefed about security measures there.

Bloomberg thanked Chertoff for his role in securing $42 million in federal funding to help protect transit systems in the New York metropolitan region but said he was concerned about a bill proposed by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), which would give all states a minimum share of the funds.

"Homeland security funding should be based in risk and risk alone," he said. "We simply can't allow something as vital as the distribution of homeland security funds to be treated as political pork."

Clinton and Schumer, both New York Democrats, pressed Chertoff to advocate for more funding for homeland security in general and more for New York in particular.

"Wyoming does better than we do," Schumer said. "Most other states do better than we do, even though we are the epicenter of terrorism."

Clinton said in a letter to Chertoff that she released later Monday, "I ... hope that you will use all resources and authority available to you to implement threat and risk-based funding in all the homeland security programs intended for our local governments and states."

She said that while former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge had acknowledged the need for risk-based funding, "There was little evidence of any significant effort on the part of the administration to push for the use of a better funding formula."

Chertoff formerly served as a U.S. attorney in New Jersey, a 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge and a Justice Department assistant attorney general. The visit to New York - where nearly 3,000 people were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack - was his first since being sworn in as homeland security secretary in February.

Testifying earlier this month before the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he said the risk-management approach "is going to be our guiding philosophy," adding, "We're not interested in the Department of Homeland Security as simply an opportunity for people to, you know, raid the pots of money."