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Bush speaks, Gomez reaps

Marshall Allen

GLENDALE -- Glendale Mayor Gus Gomez had what he called “the best seat

in the house” listening to President George Bush’s speech on homeland

defense Thursday.

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Gomez sat in the front row in the East Room of the White House in

Washington D.C., when Bush announced substantial increases in the

Homeland Security Budget. Gomez was in the nation’s capital Tuesday

through Thursday this week, attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors’

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annual meeting.

Bush proposes spending $3.5 billion in fiscal year 2003 to enhance the

homeland security response of “America’s first responders” -- a greater

than tenfold increase in Federal resources. First responders include

police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

The focus of the fund increase will be on giving cities money to

purchase equipment, plan and train personnel to battle bioterrorism. It’s

hard to say at this time how much money will come to Glendale, Gomez

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said, but the city’s expenses since Sept. 11 have been higher than

normal.

Between Sept. 11 and Dec. 31, Glendale Police spent $800,000 extra in

overtime expenses, mostly related to security at movie studios and the

airport, Gomez said. About $700,000 of that amount will be reimbursed by

those receiving the services, but the city will pay the remaining

$100,000. The Fire Department also had $100,000 in overtime-related

expenses during the same time period.

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In addition to using the funds for training and equipment, the city

will also have money to conduct federal and local exercises related to

homeland defense, Gomez said. He wasn’t sure what kind of exercises these

would be.

Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge described the emphasis on

homeland security as a partnership between the federal and local

governments, Gomez said.

“We’re ready to work with the president to make sure Glendale remains

one of the safest cities in the country,” Gomez said.


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