This week's Fool of the Week honor goes to Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles.
Yesterday, in a speech outlining an example of a thwarted terriorist plot, President Bush spoke of the threats to the city of Los Angeles and the Library Tower. The Library Tower is the tallest building west of the Mississippi. It is a logical target for those who would fly planes into buildings and kill people in this country.
The Mayor of Los Angeles seized this moment in the spotlight and declared his outrage that he was not briefed of this foiled attack before President Bush gave the speech. He called a news conference to voice his concerns for later in the afternoon.
One problem - the office of Homeland Security in California has records of such briefings to the mayor's office and explained the mayor's office had indeed been briefed. Later, the mayor had to backtrack and admit his mistake. The foiled plot occurred in 2002, by the way. This mayor was sworn into office in Los Angeles in May, 2005.
The true shame is that the mayor had a good message to deliver during his press conference. He didn't use it to bash the President or his staff. After voicing disappointment that he was not briefed as fully as he would have liked, as it was already out of the bag that he was briefed by then, he brought up some very legitimate points of funding shortages in large metropolitan areas for Homeland Security expenditures.
Congress insists on distributing monies made available to Homeland Security throughout the nation with even very small populations given generous amounts of funding. While I want everyone to be safe, I don't think it is practical for rural areas in the middle of the country to be over-funded at the expense of larger metropolitan areas. Also, if there is no real need for some funding in a community, the money winds up in some politician's pocket.
For instance, the Chief of Police for the city of Houston, Chief Harold Hurrt was in Washington, D.C. yesterday along with other Chiefs, testifying to the need for more funding to the local office of Homeland Security. Houston has many points of interest that are potential targets of terrorism, whether it is our ship channels, our Port of Houston, NASA, The Galleria, or the skyscrappers downtown, and we are the home to a former President and his wife. We were identified as a target of flights grounded during the morning of September 11, 2001 and our security needs have escalated since. It is just a fact of life. Houston is the nation's 4th largest city.
So, while the Mayor of Los Angeles had some very valid points concerning inequities in Homeland Security funding distribution, the message was lost because of his petty, unprofessional grab for the spotlight. Partisan politics have to get out of the way of protecting this country's people.
" The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong". - Mohandas Gandhi