Three Massachusetts towns south of Boston were part of a federally funded first-of-its-kind test program to link their police department computers. Designed for exact and rapid exchange of information, Lakeville, Raynham and Taunton had received $460,000 under the Homeland Security Act.
When the funds dried up, it appeared that the program would be another added to to the growing list of wasted monies given to failed projects. But the Lakeville officials literally took matters intoo their own hands. The town's Police and Fire Chiefs grabbed shovels and dug a 1000 foot ditch themselves for the fiber optic lines to be laid in the ground. There was no money to pay the contractor for the excavation.
Obtained from a source at the House Homeland Security Committee the list that follows is just a small sampling of how Homeland Security funds are being spent:
Mason County, Wash.: $63,000 for a biochemical decontamination unit that is currently sitting in a warehouse with no one trained to use it.
Montgomery County, Md.: $160,000 for 8 large-screen plasma TVs.
Santa Clara County, Ca.: $250,000 for air-conditioned garbage trucks.
Converse, Tx.: (Are you ready for this one?) $3000 for for a trailor to transport riding lawn mowers to a local track for lawn mower racing.
Missouri: $7.2 million for 13,000 haz-mat suits for every law enforcement official; it seems that they forgot about the men who actually do the jobs.
South Dakota: (1) $30,000 for a paging system for the State Agriculture Fair. (2) $14,000 for communications equipment for criminals to assist in disaster response.
It is reassuring to know that there are not enough funds for a fiber optic network between towns, but they throw open the coffers for rap songs, plasma TVs, lawn mower trailers and ATVs.
It's nice to know that if I were to visit Montgomery County, Md., I could watch a ball game on a large-screen television! ...And to think that all this time I thought I was going to have to load my lawnmower on the back of my pick up truck to get to the big race! I am ready to ignore suspicious packages, shady looking foreigners and mysterious explosions! I'm feeling so much safer now! How about you?