Homeland pork

Published:

The Courier-Journal, Louisville

Every war brings out its profiteers.

Rarely, however, have the pigs at the patriotic trough been as openly and shamelessly brazen as the Kentucky politicians now seeking to subvert homeland security for the sake of greasing hometown palms.

Pork is a bipartisan addiction, of course, and the Republican Congress eagerly exploited the post-9/11 panic over homeland security to create a 50-state entitlement program that, predictably, managed to ignore the nations greatest vulnerabilities, such as ports.

Kentuckys House Democrats, however, seem to have been inspired instead of repelled by that GOP example.

Without the slightest regard for assessments of risk or for the judgments of the states foremost security experts, they have descended like raptors on the states anticipated share of federal homeland security money.

Worse, to grab all that House leaders targeted (including money for 24 projects in House Speaker Jody Richards home county alone), they totally neglected the single most pressing security project in the states single most at-risk city: the long-sought unified radio system for all of Louisvilles emergency responders.

This is a project that federal homeland security authorities consider a top priority.

It is a project for which both local and federal officials have been planning and putting aside money for years.

And it is a project that has taken on even more urgency in the wake of the communications mess that hampered the emergency response to the Gulf Coast hurricane disaster.

Yet it doesnt matter to the war-on-terror profiteers now controlling Kentuckys House.

Instead, they are ordering that money be spent on projects so marginal that even their sponsors hadnt bothered to submit funding applications to the states homeland security office.

To these House leaders, risk-assessment appears to be little more than calculating how much you can get away with, and security is what you buy for yourself at the polls by warping the state budget.

The prevalence of their ilk in todays politics is why federal authorities are now threatening not to send any more money to states that fritter it away on projects that dont match national and state priorities.

Its outrageous that it has come to that in this time of national danger. ...

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