Archive for Monday, August 11, 2008

Decision to skip Leavenworth as NBAF finalist was unfair, angry lawmaker says

August 11, 2008


A state legislator on Monday expressed anger after a report indicated that Leavenworth had a high score as a possible location for a federal biosafety lab but was leapfrogged as a finalist by politically connected Mississippi.

"You get a good grade and get eliminated? That just isn't fair," said Rep. Marti Crow, D-Leavenworth.

The Associated Press reported that the Department of Homeland Security ignored evaluations of government advisers to select Flora, Miss., as a finalist for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, known as NBAF.

The experts had ranked Flora, Miss., 14th out of 17 applicants with a score of 81. Meanwhile, Leavenworth had a score of 92, among the highest of those applying, but didn't make the final cut.

In addition to Flora, Miss., the finalists include Manhattan, Kan., Athens, Ga., San Antonio, Granville County, N.C., and Plum Island, N.Y., which is where the biosafety lab currently is located.

Mississippi's lawmakers include the chairman of Homeland Security's oversight committee in the House, and the senior Republican on the Senate committee that will fund construction of NBAF.

"I am extremely disappointed in Homeland Security, and very upset that homeland security issues would be subject to political pressure," Crow said.

Homeland Security's Undersecretary Jay Cohen chose Mississippi to be in the final group. A department spokeswoman, Amy Kudwa, told the AP that the agency's internal committee reviews "did not appropriately consider the unique contributions certain consortia committed to make in their proposals." Mississippi, for example, promised to work closely with Battelle Memorial Institute, a Homeland Security contractor that already manages some national labs elsewhere for the Homeland Security and Energy departments.

While Crow was dismayed about the omission of Leavenworth, other Kansas officials held their fire.

"Kansas' strategy is unchanged," said Tom Thornton, president of the Kansas Bioscience Authority. "As we have from the beginning, we are encouraging the Department of Homeland Security to keep the selection process focused on the merits," he said.

But U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Topeka, whose district includes both Leavenworth and Manhattan, said the report raised concerns. "Kansans should be able to trust that, moving forward, the selection process will be fully transparent and accountable," Boyda said.

Homeland Security is scheduled to pick a site by the end of the year.


CarterFaucheaux 9 years, 10 months ago

IT'S NOT FAIR!!!you sound like a 12 year old. grow up.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 10 months ago

I think in the end Kansas was only going to get one "finalist" and Manhattan must have been the better pick.

jeksdairy 9 years, 10 months ago

What's the fuss? Mississippi has no assets that would contribute to this facility. Kansas does. We have world class research, talent, the animal health companies. Yes, we live in a political world, but no one plays politics with homeland security. We need this facility and the best place is Kansas.

clyde_never_barks 9 years, 10 months ago

Wow, way to be on the governor's team there Marti. I thought this was something she wanted really bad. It is good for Kansas - and if it is good for Kansas, then it must be good for leavensville.Aren't you on the team Marti? Fingers are pointing?

oldnavycdr 9 years, 10 months ago

$500,000 to DC lobbyist and what do you get? It will be interesting to see just what.

dagopman 9 years, 10 months ago

Why didn't Boyda fight harder? She needs to be held accountable!

farmgal 9 years, 10 months ago

jmadison (Anonymous) says:Does anyone really want a lab with potential biopathogens plunked down in Kansas? Keep the darned thing on an island off the coast of Long Island as far away from Kansas as possible.----------------------Couldn't agree more. I see the decision as a positive and not a negative.

BigPrune 9 years, 10 months ago

It will stay where it is now. Unbeknownst to the contenders in this farce of a race, the "we might want to stay on Plum Island" excuse was only recently revealed. Of course this was following the press reports of what might happen if there was an "accident" if it were located somewhere else. The "we might want to stay on Plum Island" revelation was to cushion the blow to all the states that tried to get it to relocate.The Federal Government has to make it look like the selection process is above board, when in reality, it is not at all. That's how they operate. It's just their way of doing business, and they will say after their official announcement that "it's just business."

jmadison 9 years, 10 months ago

Does anyone really want a lab with potential biopathogens plunked down in Kansas? Keep the darned thing on an island off the coast of Long Island as far away from Kansas as possible.

BigPrune 9 years, 10 months ago

My prediction:This thing will remain in NY. This whole thing is typical of how the federal government operates with the exception it is in the public eye.The decision was made years ago to remain at their current place. They had to put out feelers to satisfy Federal criteria that other cities would be considered for when they get their chunk of money for a new facility. Well, the others were considered, were found to not be good enough, so they'll stay put. Plus the expense of relocating staff and their families is a major factor in staying.Frankly, these news releases shouldn't even make the page.

igby 9 years, 10 months ago

Love it when lawmakers are angry, especially Dems.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 10 months ago

We don't need this thing in Kansas. Just imagine if an "accident" were to happen. The results would be devastating.

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