Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Anderson Stresses Hometown Security in CCC Speech

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Anderson Stresses Hometown Security in CCC Speech

Article excerpt

With America's cities on the frontlines, nurturing hometown security is the key to homeland defense and a safe, prosperous country, said NLC President Karen Anderson during the opening general session of the Congressional City Conference last week. The conference serves as the backdrop for cities to bring their message to Congress and the Bush Administration in Washington, D.C.

"The core message to Congress will be dear: Our cities, towns and villages are the frontlines in America -- the frontline in our fight against domestic terrorism. In nurturing the economy. In providing basic, fundamental services. In protecting the health, safety and welfare of our people," said Anderson, the mayor of Minnetonka, Minn. "In fact, our cities and towns are the frontlines in our nation's pursuit of democracy and freedom. It's important for Congress and for the American people to remember this."

While no two cities are alike, localities do have common needs and a common agenda, she said, to build quality communities.

Anderson reviewed NLC's advocacy priorities for the year. "This agenda goes beyond homeland security -- it's about hometown security."

NLC advocates a strong partnership with the federal government on homeland security -- a partnership that includes the sharing of information and cooperation. This partnership would include making sure local governments receive an appropriate share of anti-terrorism dollars directly from the federal government.

The president's proposed $3.5 billion First Responder Initiative has all the money going to the states for distribution to cities, based on approved plans. A 25 percent in-kind match requirement for cities may discourage some from seeking the funds, Anderson said.

"Our cities and our networks of municipalities command the first responders in any type of disaster. Ultimately, we are responsible," she said." We must have a say in the development of federal policy in this area and how federal dollars are allocated for this job."

Hometown security also means protecting critical federal programs that support cities, such as community development block grants, the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant, Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), as well as transportation, housing and water infrastructure funding, Anderson said. The president's budget has proposed a 90 percent cut in COPS, a 30 percent cut in TEA-21 transportation funding and cuts in wastewater infrastructure funding.

"We need to make sure that Congress does not reduce funding to these programs. We cannot finance homeland security and tax cuts at the expense of everyday public safety and the quality of life for the 225 million Americans we represent," she said.

NLC will continue to work to foster racial equality and combat racism in all communities, Anderson said. NLC's advocacy agenda calls for federal action to end racial profiling, hate crimes and predatory lending.

Investing in children is also a part of hometown security. "We need increased funding for prenatal care, early health care, preschool and childcare programs, as well as full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Act, Child Care and Development Block Grant, and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program," Anderson said during her speech. …

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