Local municipalities ignore Operation Tribute to Freedom.
Thursday, July 3, 2003
In between defending against terrorist attacks and planning its next bombing, the Pentagon is also dishing out money for fireworks--reportedly to protect its foundation: patriotism.
Operation Tribute to Freedom, a program out of the Department of Defense, is paying for the Independence Day activities in many US cities.
The cities of Monterey and Salinas were not offered money from the Pentagon but California cities like Hollister, Fresno and Fullerton will be participating in the program.
"I''ve never heard of that program," says Fred Cohn, deputy city manager of Monterey.
The program "provides a way for every American to demonstrate their strong support for America''s fighting force," according to its Web site. Cities participating in the program will center their festivities around the war in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and the ongoing war on terror.
The operation took flight on Memorial Day and has three motives: to spread appreciation for the troops, to close the gap between the military and citizens and to highlight the continuance of the war on terrorism.
The Department of Defense will be arranging speaking visits from veterans of the war in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom). Military leaders will also return to their hometowns to discuss the war on terror with their communities.
Pentagon officials were unavailable at press time to discuss whether the cost of Operation Tribute to Freedom rivals that of Pentagon hammers and toilet seat covers.
The program is certainly tempting for cities that are laying off employees yet spending thousands of dollars on fireworks and security during the budget crunch.
Monterey will dish out $134,000 for this year''s Fourth of July celebration, with no help from the Pentagon. Earlier this year, there was talk of not going through with the event because the city wasn''t sure if it could secure enough staff to safely cover the event, says Cohn.
To solve the cash flow problem, Monterey will pay police officers from neighboring cities to direct traffic and ensure safe partying during the Fourth of July celebration.
Of the $134,000, about one third will be used to pay police officers for the evening''s event. The heightened police force will be needed as approximately 40,000 people crowd Peninsula beaches.
This tactic is nothing new for Monterey, but the city wants to ensure that enough officers are on hand. "Last year we did not secure [as many police officers] as we planned to secure but still had a successful event," Cohn says.
Those that can find parking to attend the event can expect to see a mix of the Peninsula''s finest, including cops from Carmel, Salinas, Seaside and Pacific Grove.
"Police agencies work together all the time," Cohn says. "This is nothing special."
The police officers from the neighboring cities are not necessarily out of their jurisdiction. Any peace officer in the state of California has the right to enforce the law as long as they are within the boundaries of the state.
The Independence Day festivities are fully funded this year, but the City Council will consider cutting the money next year because of budget constraints, Cohn says. But he says the Fourth of July will cost money no matter what.
"If we did not do the evening events, we would not save $134,000," he says. "We would still have a huge influx in town and on the beach," which necessitates more police officers.
The fireworks will be launched in the bay at 9:15 near Fisherman''s Wharf. For those who wish to have their own fireworks show, cops will be issuing $500 fines.