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According to Mayor Masiello, the main stumbling block to balancing the budget is city workers and their unions -- not over $10 million a year in tax breaks to big business; not sweetheart no-bid contracts to waste disposal firms owned by political cronies; not the 47 percent of property in Buffalo that is untaxed; not the use of millions of tax dollars for glitzy waterfront boondoggles and a fancy hockey arena.

Somehow, none of this waste and criminal chicanery merited the anger and attention of the mayor when he gave his state of the city address.

Instead, his speech followed the outline provided by the banker-dominated Financial Plan Commission and fits right into the national attack on the economic and social gains made by working and poor people.

Mayor Masiello is scapegoating the workers who collect garbage, maintain the streets and parks, fight fires, staff the city offices and purify the water.

City workers are not the ones who have pocketed billions of dollars by "downsizing" companies and closing plants, laying off thousands of other workers and eroding Buffalo's tax base while increasing the demand for social services.

City workers are not responsible for the city's financial woes. Like most of us, these men and women struggle to provide for their families. The mayor shouldn't think he can attack them without opposition from their families, friends, neighbors and fellow unionists.


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