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Hometown Girl (Now Homeland Secretary) Napolitano Returns To NYC: Speaks To Council On Foreign Relations, Visits Ground Zero, Rides Subway With Mayor, Thanks NYPD/NYFD

July 30th, 2009 · 1 Comment

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was born in New York City, returned to the Big Apple for a day-long, multi-stop, multi-mode -of- transportation tour yesterday. I followed her for most of it.

Her day in New York began with a morning speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, which focused to a large extent on the role and responsibilities of citizens in the nation’s security. (I wrote about it in the last post. A couple other news stories on the speech are here and here.)

After the q-and-a session, Napolitano headed downtown to Ground Zero to view the reconstruction work. It was her first visit to the site of the attacks which led to the creation of the Department she now runs.

Secretary Napolitano visits Ground Zero (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images North America)

From there, the Secretary went just around the tip of the island of Manhattan to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal where she met with local officials and counterterrorism experts, and then took some questions from the press.

Next, she was off to City Hall where New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly were waiting outside the subway station. After the traveling party and the 20 or so members of the press covering the visit were given a “Single Ride” MetroCard, Bloomberg led everyone down the steps and through the turnstiles.

After waiting on the platform for a few minutes, a “4″ Express arrived and we all loaded into one car to the surprise of riders already on board. It was a tight scrum as photographers and television cameramen tried to find room  to shoot the conversation between Napolitano, Bloomberg, and Kelly near one of the doors, while also keeping their balance as the train sped uptown.

U.S. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano rides the subway with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) and  New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (C) July 29, 2009 in New York City. The head of the Department of Homeland Security is scheduled for several stops in New York today, including Ground Zero, as she addresses national security issues. Napolitano has also initiated a review of the color- coded terror-alert system deemed vague by critics that's intended to inform the public on terror threats.

Straphangers Janet Napolitano, Ray Kelly,  and Michael Bloomberg (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images North America)

It was two Express stops to 42nd Street where we all got out and followed the Mayor up the steps and into the center of Grand Central Station. A podium was set up for Napolitano to announce that the City would be receiving $36 million to hire new police officers for the city’s subways.

Her next public stop took Napolitano back uptown just blocks from where she had spoken earlier in the morning. She visited the police at the 19th Precinct (which had some special significance to me as it is my local precinct and the one that my Community Emergency Response Team/CERT team works with). Below is the short video I took of the visit and her remarks:

Video of Janet Napolitano speaking to police officers at the 19th Precinct in Manhattan

Afterwards, the Secretary went next door to the adjoining Engine 39/Ladder 16 fire house. Again, she thanked them for their service. She spoke at length with firefighter Richie Rattazzi about his experiences during September 11th in front of a framed photo honoring two members of the fire house, Ray Murphy and Rob Curatolo, who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Janet Napolitano At Manhattan Firehouse by you.

NYFD firefighter Richie Rattazzi and Napolitano.

Napolitano finished the day in New York with a taping for the “Charlie Rose Show” (which can be found here) before leaving for Washington. (At that link, you will also find the video of the last time Napolitano was on the show in October of 2007. The other guest was the then relatively little known Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. It’s interesting to watch.)

A good local television story on Napolitano’s full day in New York City is here. As the Secretary had highlighted the value of the CERT program for involving citizens in her Council speech earlier in the day, I think she would be happy that I went from the fire house to join a group of about 100 fellow NYC-CERT members in an midtown office building conference room for a two-and-a-half-hour advanced training with Con Edison emergency response experts on the topic of electrical safety.

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