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MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2005
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EDITORIAL

U.S. should investigate price of U.N. renovations

Sen. Jeff Sessions seems to be on to something in questioning the price of the United Nations' proposed renovations to its 39-story headquarters in New York City.

The United Nations is asking the U.S. government to lend it $1.2 billion for the project, but Mr. Sessions charges that it's gold-plated. He cites developer Donald Trump's offer to do the work for a mere $500 million.

Mr. Trump knows something about gold-plating, with his luxury casinos, hotels and lifestyle. The United Nations doesn't need such luxury, but the fact that Mr. Trump figures he could do an appropriate job for less than half the price is significant. He is not likely to build something tacky.

"Someone's going to make a fortune on this," Mr. Trump commented.

Sen. Sessions, R-Mobile, says other New York renovators' estimates add credibility to Mr. Trump's. Mr. Sessions believes a $600 million loan is sufficient.

Unlike some people, we think the United Nations does a worthwhile job of defusing world tensions and addressing humanitarian needs, so we are not inclined to criticize everything it does. And we assume the United States' economy benefits from the United Nations' presence.

But this project's cost should be reviewed carefully before our government agrees to finance it.

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