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Rather than cutting libraries, recreation centers and junior lifeguards, why doesn’t Mayor Jerry Sanders just do what all the big Wall Street boys have been doing when they find themselves swimming in red ink — call up Hank Paulson and ask for a dollop out of his $700 billion honey pot?

That’s exactly what three other big city mayors have decided to do. The Associated Press reported that mayors Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Shirley Franklin of Atlanta and Phil Gordon of Phoenix sent a letter to Paulson, the treasury secretary, asking for a slice of the bailout Congress authorized primarily for financial institutions.

From the AP story:

Nutter said cities are facing an economic crisis not seen since the Depression and need help just like financial institutions.

“I want to make sure that cities and metro areas are at the table, that their voices are being heard, that our challenges and problems are well understood, so that we can get relief,” Nutter said.

President-elect Barack Obama has also called for some sort of aid to state and local governments so they don’t have to raise taxes or lay off workers while the federal government is trying to revive the economy, but he hasn’t proposed or endorsed a specific aid plan.

The three mayors proposed providing loans to help cities pay pension costs. They also want $50 billion in loans for investment in infrastructure, and additional one-year loans to cities unable to borrow cash because of the tight credit markets.

Jay Goldstone, the city’s chief operating officer, called the plea for a slice of the bailout “a good idea.”

DAVID WASHBURN

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