Friday, February 09, 2007

Strings attached to Cheese Making Hamlet
The fire department in the tiny Berkshire hamlet of Cheshire needed a new fire truck, it asked Uncle Sam for a little help.The response last month was stunning: a $665,962 homeland security grant.
The award was nearly 26 times the annual budget of the volunteer fire department in the town of 3,500. And the rub: The department is not allowed to spend it on a fire truck.

That is correct. Your lying eyes did not deceive you. Under this theory, if your town does need radiation detection equipment that costs $50,000, the federal government should be sending you $450,583 that can only be spent on polarized sunglasses.

Just as Boston, New York, and Washington complained last year when their homeland security grants were reduced while other less likely terrorist targets received more, the Cheshire money seemed to underscore the puzzling nature of some of the agency's spending habits.

The town does have the Cheshire Cheese Monument, a sizable concrete sculpture of a cheese press commemorating a 1,450-pound cheese hunk given by town elders to Thomas Jefferson in 1801. But its value as a terrorist target is not readily apparent.

First they come for the cheese. I think this town of 3,000 was shortchanged with the $665,962. Besides, what town needs fire equipment anyways? I am encouraged that Homeland Security is not wasting our money at a time when we are running up massive deficits. Granted, they have done all they can for New York, LA, DC, and for the victims of Katrina, so perhaps they should throw cash to hamlets that want firetrucks. But, in such a time, we must all suffer. No fire trucks for you. You get to buy ummmm something else ok? They should be happy. They are the smallest town in Massachusetts to get a grant, and their grant was larger than all the bigger cities.

To be serious a second, they are allowed to purchase new uniforms, run advertisements, and pay people money for days when they had to take time off from work to be volunteer firefighters. No truck though. That just wouldn't make sense.