(March 31, 2003) -- In a live interview today broadcast nationally on the Fox News Channel, LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill said she thinks Ports like LB are in danger, called it one of the most vulnerable spots in the nation...and chided Washington, D.C. for providing insufficient funding for security costs.
Fox News Channel scheduled Mayor O'Neill's appearance on the same day President Bush delivered a speech on homeland security at the Port of Philadelphia. Mayor O'Neill appeared by satellite from Fox TV's west L.A. studios and fielded questions on "Your World" with NYC host Neil Cavuto.
Fox News Channel preceded Mayor O'Neill's segment with a live report from White House correspondent Wendell Goler who discussed President Bush's speech on homeland security. Correspondent Goler noted, "Some Democrats, including New York Democrat [Senator] Chuck Schumer say the President's budget request falls far short of what's needed to really protect the nation's ports, especially in terms of containerized cargo, the vast majority of which passes through unchecked everyday."
Mr. Cavuto then introduced the Mayor by saying, "Well, until Congress clears the money the President has asked for and starts handing out, my next guest says she's behind the safety eight-ball. Joining us now is Beverly O'Neill, Democratic Mayor of Long Beach, California, home to one of the biggest ports in the nation."
Using the introduction as a segue, Mayor O'Neill said, "...I'm delighted that the White House has a Dept. of Homeland Security, but I do agree that we needed more money. I do agree with the Senator [Chas. Schumer, D., NY] that stated that, because since 9-11, the"
When suddenly breaking news intervened. Mr. Cavuto had to switch to a breaking feed of Secretary of State Colin Powell, followed by other breaking news, before he could return to Mayor O'Neill:
Mr. Cavuto: "...Do you think Ports like your own are in danger?"
Mayor O'Neill: "Absolutely. It's one of the most vulnerable spots I think in the country. The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles together are the third largest complex in the world and more than one third of the goods that comes into the United States comes through those Ports. So I think the increased amount that they are giving to the Coast Guard is going to help a great deal, but for homeland security, the funds -- while we're glad for anything -- right now are really insufficient..."
After citing a survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors indicating that since 9-11, cities were spending more on security than they were getting from the feds, time intervened. Mr. Cavuto apologized for the truncated interview, thanked Mayor O'Neill (who thanked him) and moved to update a breaking story from Iraq.
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