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Bring on the games

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Doctoroff estimates that the games will generate $12 billion in regional economic growth. In order for JFK to get the most benefit out of the Olympics, it will have to begin making improvements now.

We won’t know until 2005 if New York will get the nod from the International Olympic Committee, but the city would do well to begin preparing for the games today.

Where were the unions?

"There is power. There is power in a band of union men."

Given the gravity of the economic crisis that the city faced, it seems that things have worked out about as well as anyone might have hoped.

For those city workers who lost their jobs, this must be a most difficult time. Unemployment in the city is at a record high and finding a decent job must be a daunting experience. Nevertheless, the city was able to avoid massive layoffs and some of the service cuts dearest to the hearts of the people of Queens have been restored.

Nobody likes paying higher property taxes and the return of the sales tax on clothing is particularly annoying. The higher income tax will affect many families who do not consider themselves wealthy.

Still, all in all the mayor and the City Council have done an excellent job under enormous pressure. Despite differences, they were able to hammer out a budget on deadline that will keep the city afloat, at least for one more year. The state Legislature could learn from their example.

The one group that did not step up to the plate is the municipal unions. Although the union leaders say they were prepared to offer hundreds of millions of dollars in concessions, in the end they gave up little or nothing. The union leaders could and should have agreed to a longer work week and employee contributions to health benefits. Without hurting members already in the pension system, the unions could have agreed to pension plans for new hires that would be more in line with pension plans offered for similar work in the private sector.

The bottom line is that the welfare of their members is linked directly to the long-term financial health of the city. There is still time for the unions to shoulder part of the burden of getting New York City back on track. That may call for making decisions that will make them less than popular with the rank and file.

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