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    Mayor O'Neill in DC On Task Force To Speed Fed'l Security Money

    (March 30, 2004) -- LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill has travelled to Washington, D.C. for a meeting of the "Homeland Security Funding Task Force," created by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to help speed distribution of federal security funds to state and local officials.

    The group's formation was announced on March 15 and comes after the U.S. Conference of Mayors (in which Mayor O'Neill has risen to a leadership position) complained that local officials weren't receiving federal homeland security money appropriated by Congress and promised by federal officials.

    An article on the U.S. Conference of Mayor's web site indicates the president of the Mayors' group named himself, plus LB Mayor O'Neill and two other Mayors to the four municipal portions on the federal Task Force.

    A Dept. of Homeland Security press release said the Task Force "will identify state and local funding solutions that work effectively and can be extended to situations where there are impediments to the efficient and effective distribution of state and local homeland security funds."

    The group is composed of governors, mayors, county officials, tribal leaders and other senior officials "with first-hand experience in homeland security issues and will operate under the aegis of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) and its State and Local Officials and Emergency Response Senior Advisory Committees," the release said.

    Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has been elected Chair and Akron, OH Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic will serve as Vice Chair. "Secretary Ridge expects to receive recommendations from the Task Force members and the HSAC within the next two months on how to expedite the money distribution process," the release said.

    "The Department of Homeland Security shares the concerns of communities anticipating these funds," said Secretary Ridge in the release. "It is critical that the men and women on the front lines of the war against terror have the resources they need to do their jobs. By identifying best practices and determining ways to implement them across the country, the Task Force will put homeland security dollars into the hands of first responders more rapidly."

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