More stupidity from the dept of Homeland Security

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More stupidity from the dept of Homeland Security

Post by BWV 1080 » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:20 pm

From:
http://goodmath.blogspot.com/2006/06/as ... html#links

As you must have heard, this week, the US Department of Homeland Security released information about the allocation of anti-terrorism funds to US cities. New York City, which is about 15 miles south of where I'm sitting right now, had its funding cut by 40%. The mayor of NYC pointed out the stupidity of this, saying "Whenever we catch someone involved in a terrorist plot, they've got a map of NYC in their pocket".

More information about the allocation has gradually been getting out. It turns out that the allocation method was remarkably simple. In their applications for funding, cities listed assets that they needed to protect. What DHS did was take the number of listed assets from all of the cities that were going to be recipients of funds, and give each city an amount of funding proportional to the number of assets they listed.

So, the Empire State building is equal to the neighborhood bank in Omaha. The stock exchange on Wall Street is equal to the memorial park in Anchorage, Alaska. Mount Sinai hospital is equal to the county hospital in the suburbs of Toledo, Ohio. The New York subway system (18.5 billion passenger-miles per year) is equal to the Minneapolis transit system (283 million passenger-miles per year). The Brooklyn Bridge is equal the George Street bridge in New Brunswick, NJ.

We know, perfectly well, how to estimate relative values and risks - the insurance company does it every day. Did our government do that? No. They ignored the established math of how to do it right, in favor of a stupid, a mind-bogglingly stupid, a deliberately stupid formula that would screw over every single actual high-risk location in the country, so that they could shove the money at people who don't need it.

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Re: More stupidity from the dept of Homeland Security

Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:48 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:The mayor of NYC pointed out the stupidity of this, saying "Whenever we catch someone involved in a terrorist plot, they've got a map of NYC in their pocket".
:?: That doesn't make an ounce of sense as an argument. What other map would any visitor to NYC have? If he could show that NYC caught more terrorists per square mile than any other area, that might prove they need more money. But giving NYC the money just to increase traditional patronage programs isn't evidence that the money is being used for anti-terrorism activities at the city level. It's understandable for NYC to resent deeply the cut in funds. But they have to think about it like the Reagan defense budget: if the agency is going to get all that money to spread around, it's for damn sure that Congress will see that the money is spread as widely as possible, no matter how silly the activity that gets it. It would not surprise me in the least if the parsing reflected the influence on DHS of the Congressional delegations from the gaining states. After all, they have their patronage programs too.

***********************************************************

June 2, 2006
City Has Itself to Blame for Terror Cuts, U.S. Says
By AL BAKER and DIANE CARDWELL

The federal agency distributing $711 million in antiterrorism money to cities around the nation found numerous flaws in New York City's application and gave poor grades to many of its proposals.

Its criticism extended to some of the city's most highly publicized counterterrorism measures.

In a report that outlines why it cut back New York City's share of antiterrorism funds by roughly 40 percent, the Department of Homeland Security was so critical of some highly viewed local measures — like Operation Atlas, in which hundreds of extra police officers carry out counterterrorism duties around the city each day — that the Police Department and other city agencies must now seek further federal approval before drawing on the money they were given to pay for those programs.

Federal officials said yesterday that the city had not only done a poor job of articulating its needs in its application, but had also mishandled the application itself, failing to file it electronically as required, instead faxing its request to Washington.

City and state officials insisted that they had made no mistakes. And a state official provided a written acknowledgment from the federal government saying that the city's application for grant money had been "successfully submitted" and said that the city could "log in" any time to view the application.

New York City received $124.5 million from the Department of Homeland Security, about 40 percent less than the $207.5 million it received the year before. Many smaller cities around the country, like Charlotte, N.C., saw their shares increase sharply.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg questioned yesterday whether old-fashioned pork barrel politics was at play in doling out the money in an election year. He was one of several elected officials who moved on different tracks to uncover how the decisions were made, with an eye toward revising that process.

"We tried to do an analysis of some of the moneys and whether or not they were given out for political reasons, and in fact in many of the places where they got money — but arguably there's no threat — there are close elections either at the Senate level or the House level," the mayor said. "Now, whether that was their motive I have no idea."

The White House tried to minimize the effect on New York. The grants will be reconsidered each year and could change if "some grand and unforeseen need arises," said Tony Snow, the White House press secretary. "The point of homeland security, as I said before, is to provide security for the entire homeland," he said. "And certainly no disrespect meant to New York with $124 million for this coming year."

The report, obtained yesterday, pointed out opposing views held by cities and the federal government over how antiterrorism money should be spent and, as an extension of those views, how terrorism should be fought.

City officials have used federal money to subsidize continuing costs, like paying overtime to officers. The federal government, on the other hand, wants the grants to pay for semipermanent safeguards that can increase security over the long term, like improvements in communications systems, better gas masks and increased training.

The report faulted the city for not adequately explaining why the money being requested could reduce risks.

Though the report said the city was in the top 25 percent of urban areas at risk, it rated the city in the bottom 25 percent in the quality of its application. It rated the Police Department's counterterrorism program and Operation Atlas as below average in sustainability, a criticism of the continuing overtime costs.

Eight of the city's programs including the counterterrorism division and Operation Atlas, as well as some health and training programs — fell in the bottom 15 percent, meaning any federal money used toward them will need to be specifically approved.

Elected city officials were especially stunned that the report said New York had no national monuments or icons. The city's application was evaluated by so-called peer-review panels of five to seven people with varying backgrounds from 47 states and affirmed by government analysts at the Department of Homeland Security.

Angry officials in New York zeroed in on the peer review process yesterday, trying to determine who evaluated the programs and whether their judgments were clouded by a desire to steer security money to their own areas. City officials questioned whether the reviewers had expertise in antiterrorism efforts.

Members of New York's Congressional delegation presented a united front in pledging action to change the allocations. Representative Peter T. King, a Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said he would hold hearings to investigate the process, while Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both Democrats, wrote letters to Michael Chertoff, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, demanding a full explanation.

In Washington, Mayor Anthony A. Williams described the decision to cut his city's allocation by 40 percent as shortsighted.

A spokeswoman, Sharon Gang, said the Homeland Security Department did not give much of a rationale for the cuts and that their proposals rated average or above average on almost all counts.

"It sounds like they made a unilateral, gut decision not based on our application," Ms. Gang said. "And they scored other locations higher."

Officials in New York said the impact of the cash drain would be felt.

"We have a counterterrorism center that would deal with all of the potential scenarios that we have been studying that we have to be prepared for that could be dramatically affected by any cut in funding," said Fire Commissioner Nicholas A. Scoppetta. "It's as though Washington is not going to be convinced of the need until they have another terrible incident in a place like New York or Washington."

Paul J. Browne, a senior aide to Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and the department's chief spokesman, said: "The N.Y.P.D. will continue to do what it needs to do to keep the city safe," he said. "We'll just be doing it without D.H.S. stepping up to the level expected of it."

He said the department's counterterrorism work had been essential in defending the city since 9/11 "What more evidence do they need?" he said.

Stephen C. King, a lawyer who specializes in emergency-response and domestic security issues at Hunton & Williams in New York, said he could not understand the 40 percent cut to the city. "I'll have to look at it closer," he said, "but I can't wrap my arms around that one."

Though the federal officials said the city did not file properly, the city said state officials filed its package, and a state official said its package of applications was filed electronically on March 2, the deadline.

In an interview, George W. Foresman, under secretary for preparedness as the Department of Homeland Security, applauded some of the security work being done by New York, while raising the question of just what is the proper use of the federal funds.

"Do you pay for what are viewed as basic capabilities; law enforcement, fire, E.M.S., public health, emergency management?" he asked. "Whose role is it to pay for that, versus whose role is it to pay for specialized training and equipment for fire, E.M.S. and law enforcement?"

Mr. Chertoff said yesterday: "There was no suggestion about anything we did that New York is not the No. 1 terror target. But I do think it's fair to ask this question: After a city gets $500 million, more than twice as much as the next-largest city, is it correct to assume they should continue to get the same amount of money year after year after year after year with everybody else dividing up what remains?"

Still, Mr. Schumer called the episode an "absurdity," saying the grading system did not make sense.

"It would be as if you got 800's on your boards and Stanford Law School rejected you because you put the stamp on upside down," he said.

Reporting for this article was contributed by Kareem Fahim, Winnie Hu, Eric Lipton and Jim Rutenberg.
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Re: More stupidity from the dept of Homeland Security

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Jun 03, 2006 2:36 am

BWV 1080 wrote:From:
http://goodmath.blogspot.com/2006/06/as ... html#links

As you must have heard, this week, the US Department of Homeland Security released information about the allocation of anti-terrorism funds to US cities. New York City, which is about 15 miles south of where I'm sitting right now, had its funding cut by 40%.
Geez louise, these Americans who have been expatriate so long. They forget even the geography of their native state in the US. I didn't remember that Houston is 15 miles north of New York.

Seriously, this misallocation of Homeland Security funds is old news, which is not to say it is not an incredible scandal. It even made 60 Minutes a couple of years ago. There is somebody called the President of the United States who could supply oversight of this if he had enough brains and didn't observe a 9 to 5 schedule.

Stony Creek already has a new town hall and post office, so I'm looking forward to their receiving their $100,000 in Homeland Security funds so they can upgrade their library.

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Post by Werner » Sat Jun 03, 2006 11:48 am

Compare the content of Steve's post (welcome to our area - bow long will you be here?) with the extensive material Corlyss posted, and you can't escape the impression of an overbearing bureaucracy that characterizes this administration - big words, incompetent implementation. Material for case studies for Government efficiency experts.
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Post by Donald Isler » Sat Jun 03, 2006 12:07 pm

Does Bush really put in a 9 to 5 working day? Didn't realize he was working so hard! That must really get in the way of his gym time, I would imagine.
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Re: More stupidity from the dept of Homeland Security

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 03, 2006 2:29 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote:From:
http://goodmath.blogspot.com/2006/06/as ... html#links

As you must have heard, this week, the US Department of Homeland Security released information about the allocation of anti-terrorism funds to US cities. New York City, which is about 15 miles south of where I'm sitting right now, had its funding cut by 40%.
Geez louise, these Americans who have been expatriate so long. They forget even the geography of their native state in the US. I didn't remember that Houston is 15 miles north of New York.
If you go to the link, you will see that the post is not Steve's, but a gentleman's named Mark Chu-Carroll who does in fact live in NY.
an incredible scandal. It even made 60 Minutes a couple of years ago. There is somebody called the President of the United States who could supply oversight of this if he had enough brains and didn't observe a 9 to 5 schedule.
The scandal, dear Brutus, is pretty much what it was with Katrina spending: Congress frantically shovelling money at states and localities with powerful Congressional delegations and leaving it to the states and localities to determine how to spend the money and then blaming the Executive for not providing adequate oversight on how the money was spent. How much you wanna bet that a lot of that money was earmarked (and please, all of you Americans, don't ask me what an earmark is!)? I flew into a rage the other day at some pompous Congressional gasbag ranting about how nobody was paying attention to how the $2000 outright gifts to Katrina victims was being spent and someone in the executive branch was going to swing for it! The executive branch told the Congress not to do anything so stupid as to give the victims cash money because they would do what came naturally with it and there was no way in hell that any government person would be accountable for the expenditures. Of course, Congress did what it usually does: it listened and then it did what it wanted to do so it could look good.
Stony Creek already has a new town hall and post office, so I'm looking forward to their receiving their $100,000 in Homeland Security funds so they can upgrade their library.
See? What do those have to do with national security or hunting terrorists?
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 03, 2006 2:55 pm

Werner wrote:and you can't escape the impression of an overbearing bureaucracy that characterizes this administration - big words, incompetent implementation.
:roll: Werner, next you're going to blame warts and flat feet on Bush. Hello! Bush isn't responsible for Congress. Hell, Congress is hardly responsible for Congress, witness the BS about the FBI search. It's the nature of the governmental beast, particularly the characteristics of Congress. If I had my druthers, I'd eliminate the Senate and reduce the House to 101 members.
Material for case studies for Government efficiency experts.
They have been done for at least 60 years, ever since the Hoover Commission. The problems stay the same, only the beneficiaries of the problems change. Nothing meaningful is ever done about the problems or the beneficiaries.

When the Republicans came to power in 1995, they were hell bent on ripping up some of the most wasteful excesses and inequities of the Congressional prerogatives, like exemnting labor and safety laws to the Congress and dumping jobs done by the Congress that were duplicative of executive branch functions or better done by the private sector. Now, in their top 20 was the elimination of the Government Printing Office and the Government Accounting Office. Well, at first glance they decided correctly that the job of the Government Accounting Office was too valuable to Congress to be disgorged. But they ruminated on the GPO for a goodly time. Why? Because as everyone with a computer knows, desktop publishing and private printing resources made a separate printing function run by the Congress superfluous and costly. So they took testimony from experts on Government like Norman Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann. The consensus was unanimous: no targeted Congressional function deserved elimination more than the GPO (a place whose employees are so unruly, dangerous, and undependable that it is in lockdown from the start to the end of the work day and paychecks are distributed by hand at the last minute before the final bell rings on payday). Their deliberations had the additional benefit of legal opinions from Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, the legal counsel for all executive branch agencies, that the operation of GPO by Congress was an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers. But powerful Senators and House members served on the 4 man Joint Printing Committee, and that, as they say, was the end of that.
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Post by Werner » Sat Jun 03, 2006 7:16 pm

The level of incopmpetence exhibitied by this Administration - NOT Congress in this context! - has been unique - from the "non-actionable" Intelligence indications of 9/11, to meeting emergencies like Katrina, to the puffed up bureaucracy of Homeland Security - sure, you can put a lot of blame on Congress and assorted others - but the idealogues and idiots in this administration - have not been duplicated in recent experence. Oh for the competent days of Bill!
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jun 04, 2006 1:01 am

Werner wrote:The level of incopmpetence exhibitied by this Administration - NOT Congress in this context! - has been unique
Quit trying to change the subject, which really is Congress because the DHS has less to do with its own budget than Congress does. And while you might like to blame DHS on Bush, you conveniently forget that he resisted the behemoth agency but CONGRESS insisted on creating the largest civilian agency in the federal government. Why? Because it gives individual congressmen more influence over the agency because it geographically spread out all over the US. If this screwed up arrangement still exists in 10 years I'll be very surprised.
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Re: More stupidity from the dept of Homeland Security

Post by Madame » Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:41 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:More information about the allocation has gradually been getting out. It turns out that the allocation method was remarkably simple. In their applications for funding, cities listed assets that they needed to protect. What DHS did was take the number of listed assets from all of the cities that were going to be recipients of funds, and give each city an amount of funding proportional to the number of assets they listed.
Last night Jon Stewart did a hilarious piece about this on "The Daily Show" . I can't do him justice, so check out the clip

http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_ ... ndex.jhtml

Click on the Supercuts video, a segment of the entire coverage. I cracked up.

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Post by Werner » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:18 pm

I haven't changed the subject, Corlyss. This all goes back to Dubya's first term and the effect of 9/11, under which he pushed through a lot of meassures HE wanted. Sure, it's Congress that necessarily passed the legislation, but the Administration's aims that were carried out - deceptively, as it turns out in the move into Iraq, and incompetently here. So what else is new?
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:35 pm

Werner wrote:the Administration's aims that were carried out - deceptively, as it turns out in the move into Iraq,
Fantasy, Werner.

And what would be the deceptive Administration aim involved in the allocation of DHS money? What?
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Post by Werner » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:44 pm

You're distorting my statement, Corlyss.

The fact that they managed to convince Congress to vote for the Iraq war on the basis of nonexisting WMDs is hardly fantasy.

And if they didn't vote to set up HSD at his urging - appropriations or no appropriations - who asked tfor the new Depasrtment?
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:25 pm

Werner wrote:The fact that they managed to convince Congress to vote for the Iraq war on the basis of nonexisting WMDs is hardly fantasy.


If you think that was the only reason we went into Iraq, you need to go back and read the statements on the floors of the respective houses during the debates on resolutions from 1998, the ones in which the Democrats in control of Congress in an effort to bolster a Democratic president's tepid and flaccid response to Saddam last outrage, advocated regime change. Of course now we know they only meant it if nobody actually did it.
And if they didn't vote to set up HSD at his urging - appropriations or no appropriations - who asked tfor the new Depasrtment?
Bush's DHS was a lightly staffed, slim, flexible czar type agency along the lines of DEA. Congress bloated it up to achieve two results: 1) to disperse control over the DHS budget among as many state delegations as humanly possible; and 2) to increase the size of the federal workforce AND DELIVER THEM TO THE RELEVANT FEDERAL UNIONS.
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Post by Werner » Tue Jun 06, 2006 8:12 pm

The usual party line, Corlyss - we know it by heart - but it ain't all there is to it, is it?

I'll take Clinton's "flaccid" response any day to Bush's ignorant, foolhardy, and incompetent one.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:15 am

Werner wrote:The usual party line, Corlyss - we know it by heart - but it ain't all there is to it, is it?
Like what?
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Post by Werner » Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:29 pm

Open your mind and have a look?
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:40 pm

Werner wrote:Open your mind and have a look?
You're going to have to be more precise than that.
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Post by Ralph » Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:04 pm

Image
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jun 07, 2006 10:09 pm

Ralph wrote:Image
And the hand holding the bag is Congress.
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Post by Madame » Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:44 pm

Werner wrote: I'll take Clinton's "flaccid" response any day to Bush's ignorant, foolhardy, and incompetent one.
Would I be crossing the line of propriety if I stated that flaccid is the last adjective I'd use for WJC? :oops:

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Post by Werner » Fri Jun 09, 2006 9:19 pm

If you don't at least approach the line, where's the fun?

But what can you say about Dubya?
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Post by RebLem » Sat Jun 10, 2006 7:24 pm

All I can say is that my puter has slowed down considerably ever since this morning when I briefly accessed Ayatollah Sistani's English language website @ http://www.sistani.org/html/eng/ to see if they had any statement on the death of Zarqawi. They didn't, and I left, but if I stop posting, in may be because I have been disappeared.

Go ahead, check for yourself.
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Post by Madame » Sun Jun 11, 2006 1:53 am

RebLem wrote:All I can say is that my puter has slowed down considerably ever since this morning when I briefly accessed Ayatollah Sistani's English language website @ http://www.sistani.org/html/eng/ to see if they had any statement on the death of Zarqawi. They didn't, and I left, but if I stop posting, in may be because I have been disappeared.

Go ahead, check for yourself.
My puter is running fairly well, but navigating on the CMG web site has been like going through molasses for the last 24 hours. I didn't visit the Sistani web site, however.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jun 11, 2006 1:56 pm

Madame wrote:navigating on the CMG web site has been like going through molasses for the last 24 hours.
Ditto and we both have highspeed connections. It seems to be working okay today.
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Post by Madame » Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:39 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Madame wrote:navigating on the CMG web site has been like going through molasses for the last 24 hours.
Ditto and we both have highspeed connections. It seems to be working okay today.
Mine is still sluggish, I cleaned up my temp and history files, but hasn't made much of a difference. Wonder what's up?

It's hard to fire rapid pithy retorts, before they show up I've already started second guessing myself :)

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