WASHINGTON – Fresh
from his victory making San Diego eligible once again for
federal homeland security grants, Mayor Jerry Sanders made
the rounds here this week, plugging for permanent
anti-terrorism money and promoting his city as a leader in
fighting climate change.
While nothing eye-popping came from the mayor's
meetings Wednesday and yesterday with lawmakers and White
House officials – no great promises about future funding –
Sanders said his trip reaffirmed the need to build on the
city's recent successes.
“When you do a good
job with the money they give you, they're more apt to give
you more,” said Sanders, who was attending the 75th annual
U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently
singled out San Diego for having one of the nation's best
emergency communications systems, a feat the city managed
with the help of federal grants.
This time last year, the Department of Homeland
Security removed San Diego from its list of cities
eligible for Urban Area Security Initiative grants – one
of the most lucrative of the department's grant programs –
saying the city was not at high risk for a terrorist
attack or a natural disaster. Sanders was widely praised
for keeping pressure on federal officials to reverse that
decision, which the department did this month.
Sanders said he spoke Wednesday with one of President
Bush's special assistants for governmental affairs about
making the anti-terrorism grants permanent. Right now,
Congress must decide each year if the program will get
“It doesn't mean (San Diego would) get it permanently,
but that the money would be there for homeland security
issues” for the entire nation, Sanders said. “(White House
officials) basically said it's something they'll look at.
We had better reception with our senators and our
congressional delegation, honestly.”
Sanders also used his time here to promote federal
legislation that would create a new grant program for
interoperable communications, which can help local law
enforcement and emergency agencies better communicate with
“We're back here telling people that we have very close
cooperation between federal, state and local agencies –
and that (San Diego) is a good test bed” for emergency
communications funding, the mayor said.
The mayor met with all five members of San Diego's
congressional delegation and with the state's two U.S.
senators, Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. He
participated in conference panels on increased crime rates
and on climate change, speaking at the latter event about
San Diego's successes in energy conservation, including a
city Environmental Services Department building that uses
a fraction of the energy and half the water of comparable