Bloomberg's Big-Town Blues

Rebuilding lower Manhattan so it can robustly resume its role as the financial capital of the world is essential not only to New York but to the entire United States.

That's why the city's next mayor, Michael Bloomberg, needs more money from Congress - and soon - to recover from the Sept. 11 calamity that was really an attack on the whole country.

Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire who paid out more than $40 million for his campaign, can use his entrepreneurial skills and knowledge of the financial industry to help the 16-acre World Trade Center site remain an active business site. (See story, page 1.)

But he has more to do. He must act quickly to restore a sense of security in the city while also reviving its economy, which some analysts say may shrink by $100 billion by 2003. The final public costs of recovering from the tragedy may reach $40 billion.

Unlike 1975, when the city went bankrupt and then-President Ford snubbed it, the city now has the compassion of most Americans. And it also has the pride of New Yorkers, who may put civic duty above profit. Bloomberg can tap into that goodwill.

He and New York Gov. George Pataki, both Republicans, can work with President Bush to keep politics out of the funding decisions.

And after the debris is removed from ground zero, top officials must carefully guide the process of choosing an appropriate memorial, one that both honors the victims and inspires the conscience of every visitor to stand vigilant for the freedom and other values that the attack tried to destroy.

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