Monday, June 25, 2007

Menendez urges Chertoff to protect South Jersey. Just in Case.

Senator Bob Menendez
Menendez gestures southbound towards South Jersey's many chemical refineries.
With the Philly skyline in the background, Senator Bob Menendez delivered a stern warning to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff to not leave South Jersey residents vulnerable to a possible terrorist attack or natural disaster. 


?For all intents and purposes, an attack on Philadelphia is an attack on South Jersey. The communities across the river from Philadelphia need to be prepared, the first responders need to be equipped, and the funding distribution should reflect this reality.

As the nation's 5th largest city, Philadelphia is considered a  "high-threat" city and is allotted millions of dollars per year from Homeland Security to prepare and equip first responders in the event of an attack.  (If areas of PA  ~50 miles outside the city limits are covered, then so should we be.  That was Menendez' basic premise.)

Center City Philly -- replete with skyscrapers -- lies just a few thousand feet across the Delaware River from Camden's commercial pier district.  The two cities are inextricably linked to be sure, but New Jersey doesn't get a dime of the Federal assistance afforded our neighbors, should the sh*t hit the fan.

Try this on for size:  I live in Cherry Hill, a scant 7 miles from Philly.  Now imagine living 7 miles from Ground Zero (or the Pentagon) on 9/11.  Don't you think that given the proximity, our local "first responders" would be pressed into action in the unlikely event that -- God forbid -- tragedy strike the city of brotherly love? 

If Philly is the target that Homeland Security suggests, then our first responders need to be TRAINED and EQUIPPED for the task.  That simple. 

Sen. Menendez was quick to point out that South Jersey shouldn't be left to fight with Philly for the slice of the Federal pie but that the slice needs to be larger.  To include us. 

Chertoff's past record heeding warnings is dubious  -- (Katrina? anyone?) -- but Menendez is on the money this time.  It was particularly poignant that Senator Menendez -- who as Congressman represented the district adjacent to Manhattan on 9/11  -- would be showing solidarity with South Jersey folks like me who are most affected by Homeland Security's curious preparedness policies thus described.

Post script:  upon arrival at the Camden piers where Menendez' press conference took place I was met with a large placard which read "ELEVATED RISK, significant risk of attacks." 


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