Mayors Discuss Homeland Security with Governor Ridge as FEMA Seeks Comments on $3.5 Billion First
By Ed Somers
April 29, 2002
Mayors Scott King of Gary, Martin O'Malley of Baltimore and Patrick McCrory of Charlotte participated in a three'hour meeting on April 25th with Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and his top staff. The meeting was held with representatives from state and local government organizations including The U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, and National Governors' Association.
During the meeting, the mayors stressed the need for clarity on how funding will reach cities with a strong desire for direct local assistance, flexibility in the use of funds to cover overtime, and a strengthened information sharing and intelligence system.
The mayors and other local government participants also raised concern regarding a pending May 10 deadline from the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to replace National Guard troops at airports with local police personnel, and related funding and liability concerns (see related story in USMAYOR).
May 16 Deadline for FEMA Comments
In related news, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published on April 16 in the Federal Register a Notice and request for comments on the Administration's proposed $3.5 billion first responders initiative. As previously reported in USMAYOR the initiative would include grants for planning, training, exercises, and equipment. Under the draft proposal, all the funding would be provided to the governors based on population, who could keep 25 percent and then sub'allocate the remaining 75 percent.
As stated in the notice, "While Congress has not acted on the President's proposal, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is preparing to implement the program if enacted by Congress. As part of a preliminary exploration of the issues, FEMA is soliciting ideas from all interested parties on the design of the grant program and processes. During the comment period, FEMA also will hold meetings on this subject with invited representatives from the State and local responder community and overall emergency management profession for the purpose of obtaining a variety of individual opinions."
FEMA is soliciting responses to the following questions:
Does your jurisdiction have a plan in place that outlines the planning, training, equipment, and exercise needs of first responders? If not, would your jurisdiction be willing to develop such a plan? Do you have a recommendation as to how State and local governments and first response organizations may develop such plans jointly?
Does your jurisdiction have legislative, regulatory or budgetary restrictions that would prevent it from applying for, matching, or expending first responder grants?
Does your jurisdiction participate in mutual aid agreements? If local, what kinds of assistance are covered by the agreements and what is the extent of coverage: statewide, metropolitan area, or other? If a State, to which interstate mutual aid arrangements is your State a party? Does your State have a statewide mutual aid system? Should the Federal Government require States to participate in an interstate agreement and maintain an internal statewide mutual aid system as a condition of receiving these first responder grants?
Should meeting certain standards be a requirement for grantees? In what areas should standards be developed (e.g., training, interoperable communications and equipment, etc.) as part of this program? Do you have recommendations on the content of such standards? Should meeting any of these standards be a precondition of assistance rather than an outcome of the assistance?
What factors should be considered in deciding how much each State grantee and local subgrantee should receive (e.g., population, critical infrastructure)?
Does your jurisdiction have organizations in place to prepare grant applications, distribute funds, and report on progress? Please briefly describe this process.
Has your jurisdiction established a Citizen Corps Council to organize local volunteer efforts to assist first responders, or does it already have another organization performing that function?
What other factors should be considered in developing the First Responder grant program (e.g., participation in Citizen Corps or Citizen Corps related activities)?
Responses to these questions are due by May 16, and can be faxed to FEMA at (202) 646-4536, or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please email copies of any responses to Ed Somers with the Conference of Mayors at email@example.com.