State officials are rightly cheering the dramatic increase in Federal Homeland Security funding New Jersey received recently.
Densely populated and industrialized New Jersey is a good bit more vulnerable to a terrorist attack than rural Wyoming and shouldn't be getting less per capita when it comes to Homeland Security. Yet sadly, politics - this year on the state level - has trumped risk assessment when it comes to homeland security in New Jersey. And New Jersey's most vulnerable county, Hudson, has paid the price.
This year the State of New Jersey's overall Federal award for Homeland Security rose a whopping $7.2 million, from $11.8 million to $19 million. Yet Hudson County's total share of that dramatically increased number actually dropped from $2.24 million in 2006 to just over $2 million this year.
This is a 10 percent cut for Hudson County in a year when the state received a nearly 40 percent increase in the amount to distribute to its counties. Think of it: A 10 percent cut for a county that is the entry point for the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel, the Bayonne Bridge and the PATH subway system that travels beneath the Hudson River to the Financial District and Midtown Manhattan. A 10 percent cut for a county that is home to chlorine plants on the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers. A 10 percent cut for New Jersey's most densely populated, most urbanized county. A 10 percent cut for a county that is home to the state's six tallest buildings along its waterfront and is home to much of the online financial industry.
Note that all of the state's 20 other counties saw increases. Hudson was the only New Jersey County to see a decrease - even though we have led the way in developing and acquiring expensive regional preparedness tools such as our Mobile Communications Center and Ballistic Emergency And Rescue (BEAR) vehicle. They are vital tools that address two of the most frequently raised concerns in the wake of the 9/11 attacks: responder communications interoperability and rescue response capability. In total dollars, Hudson remains at the top of the funding list, along with the other heavily populated counties of New Jersey. But we do not want to see this year's mistaken cut become a trend. Often in politics, trivial issues - poll numbers, patronage and perks - are treated like life and death matters. Well, this actually is a life and death matter, and it behooves state leaders to treat it without regard to politics.
Thomas A. DeGise
Hudson County Executive