In 2004 the L.A. Weekly examined the free-spending ways of the Department of Homeland Security, calling DHS largesse to academia and local law enforcement agencies "a 21st-century New Deal for the military-industrial complex." Now, on the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a report issued by the Center for Investigative Reporting shows that much of the $1.9 billion California has received in DHS grants has been wasted. Investigators from the CIR's California Watch project found that much of the
equipment purchased with DHS grants could not, or would not be used. The report notes that more than a quarter of that $1.9 billion has gone to Los Angeles County.
"Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office transferred $661,439 in federal funds to the Los Angeles County sheriff in 2006 for a 44-foot, fast-response boat with a kitchenette and an M60 machine gun mount," the report says.
"However, the city failed to receive prior authorization from the state or the federal Department of Homeland Security. The paperwork was completed only after monitors discovered the boat, records show."
Not only that, but "[o]fficials in Los Angeles County spent $20,000 on a Chevrolet Monte
Carlo, $1,500 on a shotgun safe from the 'Homeland Security Safe Co.'
and $3,558 on 70 replica firearms, none of which were permitted under
Los Angeles, in its quest for a boat to, perhaps, clear Ballona Creek
of river pirates, is hardly alone in this spending spree. "Marin
County," the report says, "received more than $100,000 in surveillance
equipment to keep its water treatment system safe from a terrorist
But four years after the funds were awarded, state authorities found
more than $67,000 worth of the gear still boxed in its original
It had never been used . . . A number of cities and counties bought
Segway scooters for their bomb
squads. State records show that Sonoma County upgraded to the Segway
x2, outfitted with all-terrain tires, oversized fenders and a trailer
hitch." But no machine gun mount.
Competitive bids, invoices
and basic bookkeeping -- even keeping track of where purchased
equipment was stored -- were all maddeningly esoteric concepts to the
state's various city bureaucracies, according to California Watch. One
conclusion draw by the report should catch the attention of state
inspector general Laura Chick, who is tasked with monitoring federal
stimulus money sent to California:
"The chaos that surrounded
homeland security spending in California raises new questions about
safeguards as Washington proceeds to directly hand the state and those
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same communities an estimated $465.2 million in economic stimulus funds
for public safety programs as part of President Obama's attempt to save
the nation's beleaguered economy."
Click here to see slideshow of what kind of equipment DHS grants bought for California.