I have just finished reading Stephen Flynn’s wonderful new book, The Edge of Disaster, which is an excellent introduction on homeland security and disaster recovery issues. Three facts about current policy stand out:
1) Under the Bush Administration’s budgets, there is far more money spent by the Pentagon protecting its own domestic military installations ($16.5 billion) than protecting the rest of us.
2) In 2002, as part of the legislation creating the Homeland Security Department, Congress directed the administration to construct a list setting priorities for protecting critical national infrastructure: which energy facilities, utilities, bridges, ports, water and other crucial services are most at risk of terrorist attacks and what are the plans for protecting them. Five years later, the Administration still has not developed this list.
3) There was one important pre-9/11 success story: Project Impact, in which the federal government helped fund and worked closely with local governments in developing resilient systems that could provide services in the wake of disasters and terrorist attacks. It was cancelled by the Bush Administration.
Feeling safer yet?
Author: Jonathan Zasloff
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees.
Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses.
Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.
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