O'Malley asks state help on security

Governor given request to deploy National Guard, state police in key areas

March 28, 2003|By John B. O'Donnell and Doug Donovan | John B. O'Donnell and Doug Donovan,SUN STAFF

Mayor Martin O'Malley has requested that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. deploy the Maryland National Guard and state police to help Baltimore provide protection for potentially vulnerable facilities.

An O'Malley aide said he faxed a formal request to Ehrlich on Monday, but has been calling the governor for two weeks asking for additional protection for the port of Baltimore and for the city's water treatment facilities, subway stations and industrial areas.

A spokesman for the governor said last night that Ehrlich discussed the request yesterday with Col. Edward T. Norris, the state police superintendent, and Maj. Gen. Bruce F. Tuxill, adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard. Greg H.N. Massoni, Ehrlich's deputy director of communications, said no decision has been reached.

O'Malley's press secretary, Raquel Guillory, complained that Ehrlich had not returned phone calls from the mayor since the war in Iraq began. Massoni responded that Ehrlich's staff has been discussing the request with Deputy Mayor Jeanne D. Hitchcock.

"For the mayor to imply that he can't get something done because he can't speak directly to the governor is ridiculous," Massoni said.

The mayor said he is following the recommendation of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in "Operation Liberty Shield," which suggests that state and local governments work together to provide homeland security.

O'Malley's request has been on the table as Ehrlich pushed on Capitol Hill yesterday for $97.6 million in federal funds for homeland security costs. The mayor also visited Washington yesterday, and criticized President Bush for "insufficient" help to the cities.

Ehrlich detailed his request in a thick document that he gave to the state's congressional delegation as he asked for the lawmakers' support in obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds for a long list of items ranging from food stamps to recreational boating safety.

At a Capitol Hill meeting, Ehrlich and Norris highlighted their homeland security request for $5.3 million to establish a "joint intelligence center" staffed around the clock by federal, state and local agencies involved in fighting terrorism.

This week, Bush sent Congress a $74.7 billion supplemental budget that includes $2 billion to help states and cities pay homeland security costs. Of that, $1.5 million would go to the states for equipment, exercises and planning, with the requirement that the states pass 80 percent to local governments.

At a Washington news conference, O'Malley said 145 cities that responded to a survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that they are spending an extra $21.4 million a week on security as a result of the war in Iraq and the high state of threat alert. Based on that, O'Malley estimated that cities are spending an added $70 million a week.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said, cities have spent $26.2 billion on additional security measures, "primarily out of local treasuries."

"We cannot fund a robust homeland security on the proceeds of local property taxes and fire hall bingos," he said.

The survey said the added expenditures ranged from $5 million a week in New York to nothing more in 15 cities.

Two Maryland cities were listed: Baltimore spending an additional $300,000 a week, and Frederick adding $206,958.

O'Malley did not say how much money Congress should appropriate for the cities, but when asked about one estimate of $9 billion, he said that was "very realistic and defensible."

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