The nation’s Homeland Security Secretary will be meeting with about 30 of the nation’s governors Monday in Des Moines. The discussion comes amidst complaints from the country’s urban leaders who say their areas deserve a larger share of federal spending from the Homeland Security agency. Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack says he has “no quarrel” with the concerns governors from states like New York are expressing. “This is an issue that’s going to be discussed and I think that the states with large urban centers have a legitimate concern about whether or not there are adequate resources being provided by the federal government to protect transit systems, for example, to make sure that the urban centers like New York and Chicago that might be significant projects are protected,” Vilsack says. But Vilsack says the feds shouldn’t “shortchange” smaller states like Iowa to pay for improvements in security in urban areas. According to Vilsack, Iowa has an equally compelling case to make when it comes to getting federal financial support for steps to protect the food supply. “One cow with Mad Cow disease can wreak havoc in the cattle markets, can substantially disrupt the economy of many states, so it’s important for…small states to have adequate resources to protect the food supply,” Vilsack says. “I think we have to ask ourselves whether as a nation we’re allocating enough resources to homeland security, whether we’re as smart about homeland security as we need to be.” The discussion the governors will have with the Homeland Security Secretary is closed to the public. Vilsack says he will ask for more specifics on what is being done to combat the potential of nuclear terrorism. “As significant as what’s happening in London and other places, there are a lot of issues with atomic weapons that nobody really knows exactly where they are or whether they’re adequately secured,” Vilsack says. “What are we doing as a nation to secure ourselves against nuclear terrorism?” Vilsack says he’s impressed with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and expects him to brief governors on a “re-design” of the agency. Iowa is part of a five-state, regional effort to coordinate a response to an act of agroterrorism, but has lost federal financial support for the initiative. Vilsack made his comments during an appearance on Iowa Public Television.
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