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Arizona Homeland Payoff

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon was a happy man today upon receiving word that the Department of Homeland Security has tripled funds to his city, the largest increase for any metropolitan area among $1.7 billion in the annual emergency preparedness grants for states and cities.

Our investigation of apparent imbalances in the DHS grants led us last year to Arizona, where we found the nation's fifth most populous city (in the fastest-growing county, Maricopa) had suffered a 60% cut in DHS funds. (See Story)

Gordon spent much of the past year making his case. "A case, incidentally, based on merit and not politics," Gordon said today. He stressed assets that DHS had not factored into its 2006 risk assessment, such as its proximity to Mexican border and being home to the nation's largest nuclear plant, Palo Verde, and Luke Air Force Base, the exclusive training ground of U.S. F-16 pilots. Gordon reminded DHS that Phoenix has adopted a coherent regional security plan and hosts 10 federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents embedded in its police department.

"We had several meetings, in Phoenix and in Washington, including a face-to-face meeting that I had with [DHS] Secretary [Michael] Chertoff to make the case for Phoenix," Gordon said. "The result is good." Indeed, Phoenix's grant rose from $3.9 to $11.9 million dollars.

Other urban winners in the competition for DHS dollars were San Diego, whose grant doubled from $8 to $16 million, Minneapolis-St. Paul, which rose from $4.3 to 8.4 million, and Dallas-Fort Worth, which climbed from $13.8 to $20.9 million, the highest amount outside the six "top tier" urban areas – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Jersey City-Newark, and New York City.

New York City officials, as usual, are not happy, even though the Big Apple's funding tops the list and grew from $124 to $134 million. Of course, there are other federal funding streams for emergency responders, infrastructure protection, port security, and interoperable communications. DHS doled out another $1 billion for communications today.

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