Ed Koch Victory Speech

Ed Koch Victory Speech

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On November 3, 1981, Edward I. In his exuberant acceptance speech, Koch thanks his fellow citizens.

Forget the Contrarians: Ed Koch Was A True Liberal

Robert W. Snyder, director of the American Studies program at Rutgers-Newark, is writing a book on New York City from LaGuardia to Bloomberg for Cornell University Press. He can be reached at [email protected]

Ed Koch as mayor. Credit: Flickr/LCB

Ed Koch was laid to rest with applause for leading his city out of the despair of the 1970s with bluff, bluster and chutzpah. Yet the Koch mayoralty, for all its theater, was also a turning point. In complex and contradictory ways, Koch hastened the shift from a liberal New York that dates to the 1930s to the more conservative city of today. His record bears marks of both.

When I interviewed Koch in 2010 for a book about New York City from LaGuardia to Bloomberg, he said he wanted to be remembered as the mayor who restored the city’s confidence after the fiscal crisis balanced the city’s budget built affordable housing on a massive scale and reformed the process of selecting judges to take the politics out. All three were measures (excepting perhaps the pride in budget balancing) that any liberal Democrat could endorse. Yet his style and policies gave him a reputation as a conservative.

When Koch entered City Hall in January 1978, he inherited a city shaken by crime, the fiscal crisis of 1975, racial and ethnic conflict. Conservative assaults had undermined the generous urban liberalism that had been a hallmark of New York City government since the days of Fiorello LaGuardia and the New Deal. Koch described himself as “a liberal with sanity,” thereby maintaining a link to his roots while wooing more moderate and conservative supporters. With limited resources at his disposal, Koch restored confidence in part by projecting irrepressible optimism and outrage. The combination won him support and coverage in the press. Although he could be kind in private, in public he was frequently acerbic -- and there was indeed something compelling about a mayor who dismissed his critics as “wackos.”

Yet Koch’s verbal firepower served him badly in one area: race. The new mayor built a strong base of support among moderate Jews and Catholics, but his approach to black activists and politicians could be combative -- at times, needlessly so. Amid austerity-driven budget cuts that hurt racial minorities and the poor, this set up repeated confrontations.

As New York’s non-Hispanic white population went from being a majority to a minority, the mayor occupied a diminishing political base in a city scarred by ever more rancorous race relations. If there was tragedy in the Koch administration, it was in the mayor’s failure to lead the city’s working class and middle class whites, the children and grandchildren of immigrants, into a more constructive relationship with African Americans.

In housing, in keeping with his older liberal incarnation that affirmed the power of government to improve people’s lives, Koch’s actions spoke better than his words. Working with nonprofits, public-private partnerships, and community organizations, the Koch administration rebuilt devastated areas like the South Bronx and saved neighborhoods threatened with housing abandonment, like Washington Heights. Low and moderate income New Yorkers, among them African Americans and Latinos, benefited significantly from these initiatives.

Yet here again, as Koch’s biographer Jonathan Soffer shrewdly points out, the Koch legacy was mixed. He may have built more affordable housing, but he also embraced economic development through financial and insurance industries, gentrification, and high-end real estate that sharpened economic inequalities. Koch defended these strategies as the only way to revive New York’s economy after its industrial base collapsed. Socially liberal but critical of labor unions (especially during the 1980 transit workers’ strike), he left to his successors an economically more vigorous but economically more unequal city.

Koch left office after he lost the 1989 Democratic primary to David Dinkins, who was elected on a platform of racial healing. Dinkins, the city’s first African American mayor, served one term before narrowly losing a reelection bid to Rudy Giuliani. Under Giuliani, New York achieved neither racial justice nor racial peace. Koch remained in the headlines as a newspaper columnist, television commentator, and all-around kibitzer. If he remained moderate to liberal in his domestic policies, his views on international affairs -- especially on Israel -- frequently put him in a hawkish camp. In 2004, in the middle of the Iraq War, he endorsed George W. Bush for president.

The former mayor’s conservative strain won him the affection of the New York Post, a once liberal newspaper that has been a conservative voice since Rupert Murdoch bought it in 1976. Yet if Koch’s stances and rhetoric on volatile issues like race, Israel and the death penalty marked him as a conservative, his belief in strong, honest, effective government -- especially on domestic issues -- marked him as part of New York City’s liberal tradition.

Contrary to he beliefs of free-market fundamentalists, the Koch record on affordable housing demonstrates that government can change things for the better. But even more important than any one policy decision, it was Koch’s embrace of politics, government and public life that gives his legacy affinities with the liberal tradition.

Unlike former mayor Rudy Giuliani (a prosecutor) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (a businessman) Koch was proudly and effectively a politician. He was neither an autocrat nor a CEO, but a political man at home with public life and public debate. He was far more accessible to the news media than his successors, and overall he had a far greater appreciation for the value of dissent and freedom of speech in a democracy. It was the Giuliani administration, not the Koch administration, which treated journalists as nuisances. And while Koch’s record on police-community relations was not perfect, it was the Bloomberg administration -- not the Koch administration -- that conducted the mass arrests seen at the 2004 Republican convention in New York City.

In 1982, during Koch’s first term in office, more than 700,000 demonstrators marched through Manhattan and gathered in Central Park to support disarmament and a freeze of nuclear weapons. Koch marched with them (with a Greek group from Queens) in support of a bilateral freeze. As difficult as it is to imagine a march of such scale being welcomed in New York City today, it is equally hard to imagine a mayor joining in.


Following are excerpts from the text of a victory speech by Mayor Koch last night at the Sheraton Centre in Manhattan:

I love this job and I love this city, and I am proud of what has been accomplished. I told the people the truth. I spelled out what had to be done, and we did it. It wasn't easy, but we did it.

Of course, tonight I want to thank my campaign workers for the terrific job they did. I also want to thank the people of our five boroughs for supporting me. But even more, I want to thank them for standing together and turning this city around.

New Yorkers, you are the magnificent seven and a half million, and because of you New York City has a future again. I am grateful for the chance you have given me for another four years. I cannot promise you that I will work any harder, because I've given the job all I've had. But I can promise you that I can do all I can to build on the successes and to learn from my mistakes.

I promise you that my next administration will place even greater emphasis on the delivery of basic services, on the rebuilding of the city's physical plant, on making government more productive and responsive.

I promise you also that I will do all I can in the next four years to ease racial tensions, to heal wounds, to unite the city. While I do not intend to abandon principle or fiscal realism, I believe I have an obligation to reach out and to ask those who have been dissatisfied with my record, who have opposed me in the past, to join in finding acceptable ways to end discrimination, to offer hope to the poor, to pull this city together.

New York must continue to be a beacon to people from all over the world, who by their diversity have made this city unique. But there is a difference between diversity and divisiveness. For us to prevail, we must resist division by race, resist division by neighborhood, by ethnic origin, by class. We must be united. We must also unite with other cities to bring home to Washington the compelling case for urban America.

My election on both the Democratic and Republican lines demonstrates that the fight to save our cities is not a partisan fight, either in New York or the rest of the country.

We won the fight to save New York. We will win the fight to save our cities throughout the nation. All of us here love this town. It doesn't make a difference if we are Democrats or Republicans, or white or black or brown, or Hispanic or Asian. It has given us so much. Each of us has to give something back greater than that which it has given to us. That's difficult, but we have to find a way to do it. And out of this town's diversity, its strengths, its traditions, its various ethnic, racial, religious roots, somehow or other, we have worked together. We can do it. and I promise you we will.

Koch Takes a Victory Lap on N.Y. Congressional Race

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch voiced deep satisfaction with the victory of Republican Bob Turner over Democrat David Weprin in the special election for New York’s Ninth Congressional District September 13—and with his own impact on that race.

But in an interview with the Forward, the longtime Democrat at times seemed fact challenged when asked to explain what had moved him to urge voters in the strongly Democratic district to vote for the Republican as a way to “send a message” to President Obama over what Koch saw as his failure to support Israel.

“He [Obama] put the onus on the lack of negotiations on Israel,” said Koch, referring to a key Middle East policy speech by Obama last May.

In his May 19 policy speech, Obama called on Israel to accept the borders that existed between it and Jordan in 1967, along with land swaps to accommodate Israeli security needs and the existence of Israeli settlements, as the basis for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority for a Palestinian state.

But according to Koch, President Obama should have also put forward a list of demands for Hamas, the violent extremist group that controls the Gaza Strip and denies Israel’s right to exist, before asking Israel to accept the 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations.

“He should have told Hamas that they need to renounce terrorism, but he did not do so,” said Koch, “He should have demanded they accept the legitimacy of the state of Israel and at the end of the negotiations acknowledge Israel is a Jewish state.”

Koch insisted, incorrectly, that Hamas is part of a coalition government with Fatah, the PLO faction that controls the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority. He said this meant President Obama was in fact asking Israel to sit down and negotiate with Hamas. An agreement forged last April between Fatah and Hamas to form a coalition government has run afoul, at least for now, due to unresolved disagreements between the two groups and has yet to be implemented. Hamas is not part of the current Palestinian government, which, according to Israeli security officials, has worked effectively to oppose terrorism and has repeatedly voiced its acceptance of Israel’s legitimacy.

In his Middle East policy speech, the president acknowledged that news about a Fatah – Hamas agreement “raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel,” and three days later, speaking to a gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby, Obama made clear that the United States continues to insist that Hamas “accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements.”

But Koch also took issue with what he understands as Obama’s demand that Israel return to pre-1967 borders, which he described as “indefensible.” In his AIPAC speech Obama made clear that he does not expect Israel to withdraw to these borders. “It means that the parties themselves -– Israelis and Palestinians -– will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means,” the president said in his May 22 address.

“If the U.S. does not demand that Hamas accept Israel’s right to exist then there will be no land swaps because Hamas wants all of Israel, including Tel Aviv,” Koch said when asked about this. Koch nevertheless stressed his support for a two-state solution for the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.

But Koch, who has won praise from Jewish Republicans and whose messages to the Jewish community have been circulated by Obama critics, has concerns that go beyond the Palestinian issue. The former mayor told the Forward he was worried about the administration’s response to other recent events in the Middle East, specifically the breakdown of Turkish-Israel relations and the attack of an Egyptian mob on the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

“I was hoping the president would say that an attack by Turkey or Egypt on Israel would be perceived as an attack on the United States,” said Koch, adopting the language used by NATO allies—of which Israel is not a member—to describe their mutual military reliance policy.

“Do you think Obama would not intervene if Israel is attacked?” “I don’t know,” Koch replied, “If he’d say so it would satisfy me.” At the same time, Koch pointed out two issues on which he thought the president deserved praise. “I think President Obama should get high scores for fighting the Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence,” Koch said, adding that other Western countries that expressed support for the Palestinian bid for statehood “should be excoriated for it.”

Koch also commended Obama’s involvement in bringing the crisis involving Israel’s embassy in Cairo to a peaceful end. The administration’s intervention with Egyptian authorities to stop the attack on the embassy was highly praised also by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Now, having helped achieved a congressional victory whose message he hopes Obama will hear, Koch is waiting to see what happens. If Obama doesn’t change direction, Koch told the Forward, the Democrats will be short at least one vote in New York.

“If he doesn’t do the things I think are reasonable, I will not vote for Obama for another term. I will probably not vote for a Republican candidate either,” Koch said, “I’ll just stay at home.”

But Koch stopped short of declaring he would switch party affiliation. He is still a Democrat, the former mayor said, just one who has been known to cross party lines when he thought his party members were getting things wrong.

In 2004 Koch did just that when he endorsed George Bush’s reelection bid and turned his back on fellow Democrat John Kerry. While not ready to put his weight behind a Republican this time, the former mayor is more than willing to take on President Obama over his Israel policy.

Koch disputed Democratic analyses of the Ninth Congressional District vote that concluded Israel was only one factor in a race that was largely lost over the economy and the backlash over Anthony Weiner, the Democrat who was forced to give up the seat last June due to a sex scandal.

“The polls show that many of the voters held Israel as an important issue,” said Koch.

Contact Nathan Guttman at [email protected]


Nathan Guttman

Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Koch Takes a Victory Lap on N.Y. Congressional Race

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Koch was born in Crotona Park East section of The Bronx borough of New York City, [5] the son of Yetta (or Joyce, [6] née Silpe) and Louis (Leib) Koch, Polish-Jewish immigrants from Kozliv and Uścieczko in Eastern Galicia. [7] He came from a family of Conservative Jews who resided in Newark, New Jersey, where his father worked at a theater. As a child, he worked as a hatcheck boy in a Newark dance hall. [8] He graduated from South Side High School in Newark in 1941. [9]

In 1943 he was drafted into the United States Army, [10] [ non-primary source needed ] where he served as an infantryman with the 104th Infantry Division, landing in Cherbourg, France, in September 1944. He earned a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, a World War II Victory Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge for service in the European Theater of Operations. After V-E Day, because he could speak German, Koch was sent to Bavaria to help remove Nazi public officials from their jobs and find non-Nazis to take their place. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946. [5] [11]

Koch returned to New York City to attend City College of New York, graduating in 1945, and New York University School of Law, receiving his law degree in 1948. Koch was a sole practitioner from 1949 to 1964, and a partner with Koch, Lankenau, Schwartz & Kovner from 1965 to 1968. A Democrat, he became active in New York City politics as a reformer and opponent of Carmine DeSapio and Tammany Hall. In 1962 Koch ran for office for the first time, unsuccessfully opposing incumbent William Passannante, a DeSapio ally, for the Democratic nomination for the State Assembly. [ citation needed ]

In 1963, Koch defeated DeSapio for the position of Democratic Party leader for the district which included Greenwich Village, and Koch won again in a 1965 rematch. [12] Koch served on the New York City Council from 1967 to 1969. [13]

U.S. Congressman Edit

Koch was the Democratic U.S. Representative from New York's 17th congressional district from January 3, 1969, until January 3, 1973, when, after a redistricting, he represented New York's 18th congressional district until December 31, 1977, when he resigned to become Mayor of New York City. [14]

Koch said he began his political career as "just a plain liberal", with positions including opposing the Vietnam War and marching in the South for civil rights. [15] In April 1973, Koch coined the term "Watergate Seven" when, in response to U.S. Senator Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.'s indicating that one of the men in Watergate scandal had been ordered in the spring of 1972 to keep certain senators and representatives under surveillance, he posted a sign on his office door reading, "These premises were surveilled by the Watergate Seven. Watch yourself". [16] At about the same time, Koch began his rightward shift toward being a "liberal with sanity" after reviewing the 1973 controversy around then-New York City Mayor John Lindsay's attempt to place a 3,000-person housing project in a middle-class community in Forest Hills, Queens. Koch met with residents of the community, most of whom were against the proposal. He was convinced by their arguments, and spoke out against the plan, shocking some of his liberal allies. [17]

Koch was active in advocating for a greater U.S. role in advancing human rights within the context of fighting Communism. He had particular influence in the foreign aid budget, as he sat on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. In 1976, Koch proposed that the U.S. cut off military aid and supplies to the military dictatorship of Uruguay. In mid-July 1976, the CIA learned that two high-level Uruguayan intelligence officers had discussed a possible assassination attempt on Koch by Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), the Chilean secret police under dictator Augusto Pinochet. The CIA did not regard these threats as credible until after the September 1976 assassination of Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C., by DINA agents coordinated by Operation Condor. After that, Director of Central Intelligence George H.W. Bush informed Koch of the threat. Koch subsequently asked both the CIA and the FBI for protection, but none was extended. [18]

Mayor of New York City Edit

Koch briefly ran for Mayor in 1973, but garnered little support and dropped out before the Democratic primary. He threw his support to State Assemblyman Albert H. Blumenthal, but Blumenthal's bid was derailed by a scandal and he came in third. [19]

1977 election and first term Edit

In 1977, Koch won the Democratic primary in the New York City mayoral election, defeating Bella Abzug, Mario Cuomo, and incumbent Abe Beame, among others. Koch ran to the right of the other candidates on a "law and order" platform. According to historian Jonathan Mahler, the New York City blackout of 1977 that happened in July, and the subsequent rioting, helped catapult Koch and his message of restoring public safety to front-runner status. [20]

1981 election and second term run for governor Edit

In 1981, he ran for reelection as mayor on both the Democratic and Republican Party lines in November he won, defeating his main opponent, Unity Party candidate Frank J. Barbaro, with 75% of the vote. [ citation needed ]

In 1982, Koch ran unsuccessfully for Governor of New York, losing the Democratic primary to Mario Cuomo, who was then lieutenant governor. Many say the deciding factor in Koch's loss was an interview with Playboy magazine in which he described the lifestyle of suburbia and upstate New York as "sterile" and lamented the thought of having to live in "the small town" of Albany as governor. Koch's remarks are thought to have alienated many voters from outside New York City. Among the events of Koch's second term as mayor were the Brooklyn Bridge's 100th anniversary, the appointing of Benjamin Ward as the city's first ever African American police commissioner in 1983, the emergence of the AIDS as a public health crisis, extensive media coverage of Bernhard Goetz's shooting of four African-American teenagers in the subway in 1984, and the United Nations' 40th anniversary. [ citation needed ]

Koch often deviated from the conventional liberal line, strongly supporting the death penalty, adding 3,500 officers to the NYPD in the 1980s, [21] and taking a hard line on "quality of life" issues, such as giving police broader powers in dealing with the homeless and signing legislation banning the playing of radios on subways and buses. These positions prompted harsh criticism from the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and many African-American leaders, particularly Reverend Al Sharpton. [ citation needed ]

In 1984, Koch published his first memoir, Mayor, which became a best-seller and was adapted into an off-Broadway and later Broadway musical, Mayor. [22]

1985 election and third term Edit

In 1985, Koch again ran for reelection, this time on the Democratic and Independent tickets he defeated Liberal Party candidate Carol Bellamy, Republican candidate Diane McGrath, and Right to Life candidate Rabbi Lew Y. Levin with 78% of the vote. [23] [ self-published source ] [24] During the campaign, Koch visited the late Lubavitcher Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, seeking his blessing and endorsement. [25]

In 1986, Koch signed a lesbian and gay rights ordinance for the city after the City Council passed the measure (on March 20), following fifteen years of failed attempts by that body to approve such legislation. Despite his overall pro-lesbian and pro-gay-rights stance, he nonetheless backed up the New York City Health Department's decision to shut down the city's gay bathhouses in 1985 in response to concerns over the spread of AIDS. The enactment of the measure the following year placed the city in a dilemma, as it apparently meant that the bathhouses would have to be reopened because many heterosexual "sex clubs" – most notably Plato's Retreat – were in operation in the city at the time, and allowing them to remain open while keeping the bathhouses shuttered would have been a violation of the newly adopted anti-discrimination law. The Health Department, with Koch's approval, reacted by ordering the heterosexual clubs, including Plato's Retreat, to close as well. Also in 1986, he participated in Hands Across America and in the Statue of Liberty's 100th anniversary celebration. The career-ending face slashing of model Marla Hanson, the paralyzing shooting of NYCPD detective Steven McDonald, crack cocaine and its related gangs, the Robert Chambers "preppie murder" case, the Howard Beach incident, and the racially motivated murder of Yusef Hawkins also happened during Koch's third and last term. [ citation needed ]

Koch consistently demonstrated a fierce love for New York City, which some observers felt he carried to extremes on occasion: in 1984 he went on record as opposing the creation of a second telephone area code for the city, claiming that this would divide the city's population and when the National Football League's New York Giants won Super Bowl XXI in January 1987, he refused to grant a permit for the team to hold their traditional victory parade in the city, quipping famously, "If they want a parade, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie" (a town in New Jersey adjacent to the East Rutherford site of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, where the Giants play their home games).

In his third term, Koch's popularity was shaken after a series of corruption scandals, touched off by Donald Manes's suicide and the PVB scandal, which revealed that he had acceded to the requests of political allies (most notably Queens Borough President Manes, Bronx Democratic Party official Stanley M. Friedman and Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman Meade Esposito, an American Mafia associate long perceived as New York City's preeminent political leader) to stack city agencies with patronage appointments. There were no allegations that Koch obtained any financial benefit from the corruption, but the scandals undermined Koch's claims that he ran a patronage-free municipal government. Michael Tager attributes the scandals not to Koch's failures but to the steadily declining power of the Democratic machine and its bosses' desperate efforts to reverse the collapse. [26] [27]

Koch suffered a stroke in 1987, but recovered and was able to continue his duties. [28]

In July 1987, Koch proposed banning bicycling on Fifth, Park and Madison Avenues during weekdays, but many bicyclists protested and had the ban overturned. [29] [30]

It has been said that race relations in Mayor Koch's last years were not good. [31] He became a controversial figure in the 1988 presidential campaign with his public criticism of Democratic candidate Jesse Jackson, who surprised many political observers by winning key primaries in March and running even with the front-runner, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. As the April New York primary approached, Koch reminded voters of Jackson's earlier anti-semitic statements, and said that Jews would be "crazy" to vote for Jackson. Koch endorsed Tennessee Senator Al Gore, who had run well in his native South, but hadn't won 20% in a northern state. As Koch's anti-Jackson rhetoric intensified, Gore seemed to shy away from Koch. On primary day, Gore finished a weak third place with 10% of the vote and dropped out of the race. Jackson ran ten points behind Dukakis, whose nomination became assured after his New York win. [ citation needed ]

In 1989, Koch ran for a fourth term as mayor but lost the Democratic primary to Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins, who went on to defeat Rudolph Giuliani in the general election. Koch's criticism of Jesse Jackson had angered many black voters and was cited as a major reason for his defeat. [ citation needed ]

Post-mayoral years Edit

In the years following his mayoralty, Koch became a partner in the law firm of Robinson, Silverman, Pearce, Aronsohn, and Berman LLP (now Bryan Cave LLP) and a commentator on politics, as well as reviewing movies and restaurants for newspapers, radio and television. He also became an adjunct professor at New York University (NYU) and the judge on The People's Court for two years (1997–99) following the retirement of Judge Joseph Wapner. In 1999, he was a visiting professor at Brandeis University. Koch regularly appeared on the lecture circuit, and had a high-rated talk show on WABC radio. He also hosted his own online movie review show, The Mayor at the Movies. [32]

On August 12, 1993, a street in southern Tel Aviv was named after Koch in a ceremony attended by him alongside prominent Israeli and American dignitaries. [33] [34]

In 2004, together with his sister Pat (also Pauline) [6] Koch Thaler, Koch wrote a children's book, Eddie, Harold's Little Brother it tells the story of Koch's childhood, when he tried unsuccessfully to emulate his older brother Harold's baseball talents, before realizing that he should instead focus on what he was already good at, which was telling stories and speaking in public. [ citation needed ]

On March 23, 2011, the New York City Council voted to rename the Queensboro Bridge the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. [35] Later, city councilman Peter Vallone (D-Queens) introduced legislation banning the naming of New York City property after people who are still alive, but the legislation failed. [36]

Koch formed an organization called New York Uprising to push for statewide redistricting reform. In April 2011, he publicly upbraided 42 state legislators he claimed had broken their promises to support redistricting reform. [37]

In May 2011, Koch sat for a portrait by Dmitry Borshch that has been exhibited at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, DePaul University, Brecht Forum, and CUNY Graduate Center, and is included in the Catalog of American Portraits at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. [38] [39] [40]

"Mayor at the Movies" Edit

In the summer of 2009, Koch began appearing in weekly movie review segments for an online show, Mayor at the Movies. [41] He was an avid moviegoer who often saw two or three movies a weekend. Although he was invited to private screenings, Koch preferred to see films with a public audience and was often approached by moviegoers who were surprised to find him there. His reviews were outspoken and wry, with his rating system consisting not of stars but of a "plus" for a good film or a "minus" for a bad one. [ citation needed ]

He had a particular passion for independent cinema and documentaries, but enjoyed dramas and action films as well. In addition to Mayor at the Movies, [41] his film reviews were regularly featured on The Huffington Post [42] and in the New York newspaper The Villager. [43] Koch also appeared in more than 60 Hollywood films and television shows as himself, including Sex and the City, Spin City, and Double Rush, and also hosted Saturday Night Live. [44] [45] A documentary about his life, Koch, had its world premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 8, 2012, and was released theatrically on February 1, 2013 (coincidentally, the day of Koch's death). [46]

Political endorsements Edit

After leaving office, Koch frequently endorsed prominent Republican candidates, including Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg for mayor, Al D'Amato for U.S. Senate, Peter T. King for U.S. House, George Pataki for governor, and, in 2004, George W. Bush for president. Koch also endorsed Democrats, including Eliot Spitzer for governor in the 2006 election. He endorsed Bill Bradley for president in 2000. [ citation needed ]

Koch took back his endorsement of Spitzer in the aftermath of the governor's prostitution scandal. He said, "At the time the prostitution episode emerged, I commented that nothing could explain his behavior other than the fact that he had a screw loose in his head. Probably several." [47]

Though Koch supported Giuliani's first mayoral bid, he became opposed to him in January 1996, and began writing a series of columns in the New York Daily News criticizing Giuliani, most frequently accusing him of being authoritarian and insensitive. In 1999, the columns were compiled into the book Giuliani: Nasty Man. He resumed his attacks, and had the book republished, in 2007, after Giuliani announced his candidacy for president. In May 2007, Koch called Giuliani "a control freak" and said that "he wouldn't meet with people he didn't agree with. That's pretty crazy." He also said that Giuliani "was imbued with the thought that if he was right, it was like a God-given right. That's not what we need in a president." [48]

Koch originally endorsed Hillary Clinton for president during the 2008 campaign, [ citation needed ] then endorsed Democratic nominee Barack Obama in the general election. In his endorsement of Obama, Koch wrote that he felt that (unlike in 2004) both candidates would do their best to protect both the United States and Israel from terrorist attacks, but that he agreed with Obama's domestic policies much more and that the idea of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin ascending to the presidency "would scare me". [49] In 2010 he rescinded his support for Obama, saying that Obama could very well harm American–Israeli relations. [50]

In 2011, Koch endorsed Republican Bob Turner for Congress, because Koch "wanted to send a message to Obama to take a stronger position in support of Israel." [51]

In October 2012, Koch told Al Sharpton that after a conversation with Obama about his position on Israel he was satisfied, and endorsed his reelection. [52]

Early in 2013, Koch endorsed Christine Quinn in the Democratic primary for that year's mayoral election. [53]

Other political statements Edit

Koch often wrote in defense of Israel and against anti-Semitism. He also appeared in the documentary FahrenHYPE 9/11 defending President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and blasting Michael Moore. Koch was quoted in the film saying of Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11, "It's not a documentary, it's a lie."

Koch praised New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, saying that he had the right approach in reducing government spending and refraining from raising taxes. [54]

Koch was an early supporter of the Iraq War. In July 2007, Koch wrote that he was "bailing out" of his previous support for that war, due to the failure of the United States' NATO allies, and other Arab countries, to contribute to the war effort. Koch wrote, "I would support our troops remaining in Iraq if our allies were to join us. But they have made it clear they will not." He added that the U.S. must still "prepare for the battles that will take place on American soil by the Islamic forces of terror who are engaged in a war that will be waged by them against Western civilization for at least the next 30 years." [55]

On April 8, 2010, [56] Koch wrote a piece in The Jerusalem Post excoriating what he saw as increasing anti-Catholicism in the media, largely made evident by coverage of the priest sex abuse scandals. While denouncing the abuse, Koch wrote, "the procession of articles on the same events are, in my opinion, no longer intended to inform, but simply to castigate." He also wrote that he believed that many in the media, some themselves Catholic, exhibited such anti-Catholicism largely because of their opposition to the Catholic Church's teachings on such issues as abortion, homosexuality, and artificial contraception. He stated that, while he opposed the Church's teaching in all these matters, he firmly believed that the Church had the right to espouse these beliefs and to expect its members to espouse them as well, calling the Church "a force for good in the world, not evil." [ citation needed ]

Koch was a lifelong bachelor, and his sexual orientation became an issue in the 1977 mayoral election with the appearance of placards and posters (disavowed by the Cuomo campaign) with the slogan "Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo." Koch denounced the attack. [57] Writer and LGBT rights activist Larry Kramer, who often criticized Koch for not doing more about the HIV/AIDS crisis in the city, publicly alleged that Koch was a closet homosexual. [58]

In 1989, Koch was interviewed about a book he had coauthored with Cardinal John J. O'Connor. When the interviewer asked Koch to clarify his views on homosexuality relative to O'Connor, Koch responded, "I happen to believe that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality. It's whatever God made you. It happens that I'm a heterosexual." [59] He once told New York magazine, "Listen, there's no question that some New Yorkers think I'm gay, and voted for me nevertheless. The vast majority don't care, and others don't think I am. And I don't give a shit either way!" [58] [60]

He was frequently accompanied at political functions by his friend Bess Myerson, whose presence was regarded by some observers as an effort to defuse rumors of his alleged homosexuality. [61] [62] [63]

In the 2009 film Outrage, David Rothenberg (who served as New York City Human Rights Commissioner in the Koch administration) "went public with his knowledge of Koch's boyfriend, Richard Nathan (who died of AIDS in 1996), who told him Koch made it clear that he had to leave town soon after Koch was elected mayor." [64] According to AIDS activist Rodger McFarlane, "Dick was threatened, physically threatened and financially threatened . and he was terrified, in the middle of the night, leaving the city." [64]

Shortly before he died in 2009, former New York City senior assistant corporation counsel Dennis deLeon accused Koch of sexual harassment during a visit to Koch's apartment. Koch "dismissed the story mockingly" in a conversation with journalist Andy Humm in 2011. [65]

Koch died of heart failure on February 1, 2013. [66] He was a resident of Greenwich Village for most of his adult life at the time of his death, he lived at 2 Fifth Avenue, overlooking Washington Square Park. [67]

His funeral took place on February 4, 2013, at Temple Emanu-El, a Reform Jewish congregation in Manhattan. [68] Because of Koch's fierce loyalty to Israel, the Israeli Consul-General to New York City spoke. Former president Bill Clinton also addressed the congregation, serving as President Obama's representative. New York City Police Department helicopters gave a fly-over at the service. [69] [68]

In April 2008, Koch had purchased a burial plot in Trinity Church Cemetery so that he could be buried in Manhattan. It is the only graveyard in the borough that is accepting new burials. He chose to put the last words of the late journalist Daniel Pearl on his tombstone: "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish." [70]

A practiced public speaker since his days stumping for Adlai Stevenson, Koch was well known for his quips and one-liners. [71] A few include:

(On the occasion of his primary loss to David Dinkins) "The people have spoken. and they must be punished." [71]

"I'm the sort of person who will never get ulcers. Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I'm the sort of person who might give other people ulcers." [71]

"If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist." [71]

Edward Irving Koch was born in December 1924 in the Bronx to a Jewish immigrant family. Koch spent served in the US Army in World War II, and participated in the Allied landing at Cherbourg in 1944. Because he spoke German, Koch was tasked with helping to de-Nazify the German province of Bavaria, helping the Allied leadership replace Nazi officials with non-Nazis.

Koch returned to New York and attended City College, eventually earning a law degree from NYU. Koch served as a lawyer for many years and became active in local New York politics, becoming a major figure who stood in opposition to the corrupt Tammany Hall political machine headed by Carmine DeSapio. In 1963, Koch shook up the New York political world by winning an election against DeSapio for the position of Democratic Party leader for the district that included Greenwich Village, and repeated this performance in 1965. Koch then served on the New York City Council from 1967 to '69, before being elected to the US House of Representatives.

During his time in Congress, Representative Koch opposed the Vietnam War, supported the Civil Rights movement, was a Cold Warrior, and argued for a greater emphasis on promoting human rights in the nation's foreign policy. Koch ran for Mayor for the first time in 1973, but garnered little support. However, he tried again four years later and gained a much larger following. Incumbent Mayor Abe Beame was running for reelection against the backdrop of New York's tumultuous summer of 1977, which saw skyrocketing crime rates, the "Son of Sam" serial killings, the disastrous Blackout of July '77, the NYC government going into bankruptcy, and a general sense that the city was sliding into chaos. Koch's law and order platform made his popularity skyrocket, and he won the largest share of votes in the Democratic primary, besting Mayor Beame. The r election was between the top two vote-getters, Koch and Mario Cuomo (then the Secretary of State for the State of New York). Koch won the runoff against Cuomo with 54% of the vote.

The Last Mayor of New York City

Koch came into office with his work cut out for him. The crises of the recent past had left NYC with many issues to deal with. This was reflected in the pop culture of the time, with New York City being the setting for crime thrillers such as The Warriors, Fort Apache, the Bronx, and the post-apocalyptic thriller Escape from New York. The dominant image of the city had become one of crime and decay (as noted by Mick Jagger in the Rolling Stones' hit song "Shattered"). Koch immediately set out to change this, making efforts to curb crime by adding 3,500 police officers to the NYPD and taking a stern stance on quality of life issues. Koch also made efforts to get the city's finances in order.

The Killing that Awakened the City that Never Sleeps

A new documentary reflects on the killing of a Black teenager in 1989, drawing parallels to today’s Black Lives Matter protests.

Muta’Ali Muhammad’s powerful Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn is history written with thunder and lightning. His evocative nonfiction film returns to the scene of the crime and the uprisings that followed a 1989 murder.

The ninety-nine-minute documentary recounts the racist killing of an innocent Black teenager in New York City, and details how the ensuing unrest took place against the backdrop of a major election.

Storm Over Brooklyn is the latest in a growing cinematic wave reflecting real-life injustices against Black Americans, including David Midell’s new nonfiction film, The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, about the November 2011 police shooting of an elderly man in White Plains, New York.

It deals with a different kind of killing than that of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville. It’s about lawless vigilante justice—as in Ahmaud Arbery’s February death in Georgia and the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

On August 23, 1989, Yusuf (alternately spelled Yusef) Hawkins was surrounded by a mob of baseball-bat-wielding whites. But instead of being bludgeoned to death, the sixteen-year-old was actually shot.

Hawkins’s “crime”? Attempting to buy a used car while Black.

His coldblooded murder at the hands of these assailants galvanized New York City’s tempestuous racial politics, just as the culturally insensitive, crotchety Mayor Ed Koch ran for an unprecedented fourth term. Koch was defeated in the September 1989 Democratic primary by Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins, an African American. Dinkins went on to beat Republican Rudolph Giuliani, then a law-and-order U.S. Attorney, in November’s general election, prevailing to become NYC’s first Black mayor.

Lenora Fulani, the 1988 presidential candidate of the far-left New Alliance Party, and filmmaker Spike Lee are glimpsed in the film—as is a scene of Lee’s hard-hitting Do the Right Thing, which pit Blacks against Italian-Americans in Brooklyn and opened only a month before Hawkins's death.

The Nation of Islam’s firebrand, Minister Louis Farrakhan, speaks at Hawkins’s funeral at a Baptist Church, attended by the welcomed Dinkins, while Governor Mario Cuomo, Giuliani, and Koch are heckled. Farrakhan tells hundreds of people, including officials: “God sometimes uses the innocent to send a message. . . . While power is in your hands, you must do justice.”

Arguably, Storm Over Brooklyn’s most imposing onscreen presence is the Reverend Al Sharpton. Viewers accustomed to seeing Reverend Al championing and eulogizing police brutality victims such as George Floyd, will be shocked at his 1989 persona.

Sporting long, processed hair and medallions, Sharpton provides a militant counterpoint to Dinkins. He burst upon the scene in 1986 after a baseball-bat-wielding mob chased three Black men and caused the death of one at Howard Beach, Queens.

Sharpton was widely viewed as a rabble-rouser and even as a “charlatan,” because he had supported Tawana Brawley and the African American adolescent’s subsequently unproven claims that she had been abducted and abused by four white males. In any case, Sharpton—who founded the National Action Network—bravely leads many Yusuf Hawkins-related direct actions including one where Sharpton “looked down and saw this knife sticking out of my chest.”

Fortunately, Sharpton survived the January 12, 1991, stabbing and throughout the film appears in news clips and a contemporaneous interview, presumably for the filmmakers. It’s striking to compare today’s svelte, graying clergyman, who now seems like a movement elder statesman, with the brash “outside agitator” of three decades ago.

Hawkins’s absentee father, Moses Stewart—who had reentered Yusuf’s life shortly before his death—also figures prominently in Storm Over Brooklyn. Other family members are seen in archival footage and contemporary interviews, including the slain teen’s mother, Diane Hawkins, brother Amir Hawkins, cousins Darlene and Felicia Brown, and Hawkins’s friends, who all recall the young man with the high-top hairstyle. With his insider access, Muhammad, grandson of actors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, poignantly and palpably illustrates the grief and trauma caused by these violent hate crimes.

An emergency medical technician summoned to care for the stricken Hawkins in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, opens the documentary, portentously commenting: “Some calls you never forget.”

In clips and original interviews, Storm Over Brooklyn tells the story of Hawkins’s death through the perspective of law enforcement, attorneys, and residents of the Italian-American neighborhood who were rocked by the murder and the civil disturbances that followed.

The film covers the struggle to convict Hawkins’s killer and assailants. Joey Fama was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to more than thirty-two years to life in prison. He maintains in an interview apparently from prison that he didn’t shoot Hawkins. Others, including Keith Mondello, were convicted of lesser charges, sparking outrage and fresh protests.

Storm Over Brooklyn reveals the motive behind the assault on Hawkins and his three friends, who were looking into buying a used car they saw advertised. Resident Gina Feliciano was celebrating her eighteenth birthday, and her purportedly spurned boyfriend Mondello believed she’d invited Black and Latinx people to attend her party in the largely de facto segregated neighborhood. In a fateful case of mistaken identity, Hawkins and his buddies were ambushed because they were incorrectly thought to be Feliciano’s guests.

This gripping documentary takes us back inside the crime that woke up the city that never sleeps, and suggests that Hawkins’s killing may have been the catalyst for the election of New York City’s first Black mayor.

It remains to be seen whether the uprisings of 2020 in response to an endless list of racist murders will impact the November presidential election.

The must-see Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn premieres August 12 on HBO.

Transcript: Clinton's Victory Speech

Nov. 7, 2000 -- HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much. I mean, wow, this isamazing. Thank you all. Thank you.

You know, we started this great effort on a sunny July morning inPinder’s Corner on Pat and Liz Moynihan’s beautiful farm. And 62 counties, 16 months, three debates, two opponents and six blackpantsuits later, because of you, here we are.

You came out and said that issues and ideals matter jobs matter,down state and upstate health care matters education matters theenvironment matters Social Security matters a woman’s right tochoose matters.

It all matters. And I just want to say from the bottom of myheart: Thank you, New York.

Thank you for opening up your minds and your hearts,for seeing the possibility of what we could do together for ourchildren and for our future here in this state and in our nation. Iam profoundly grateful to all of you for giving me the chance to serveyou.

I will do everything I can to be worthy of your faith and trust,and to honor the powerful example of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

I would like all of you and the countless New Yorkers andAmericans watching to join me in honoring him for his incredible half-century of service to New York and our nation.

Senator Moynihan, on behalf of New York and America, thank you.

And I thank Chuck Schumer for his generous support andfriendship.

He has been and will be a great champion for the peopleof New York. And I very much look forward to fighting by his side inthe United States Senate.

I want to thank both of my opponents, Mayor Giuliani andCongressman Lazio.

Congressman Lazio and I just spoke. I congratulate him on ahard-fought race, and I thank him for his service to the people of NewYork and Long Island. And I wish him, Pat and their two beautifuldaughters well.

I promise you tonight that I will reach across party lines tobring progress for all of New York’s families. Today we voted asDemocrats and Republicans tomorrow we begin again as New Yorkers.

And how fortunate we are, indeed, to live in the most diverse,dynamic and beautiful state in the entire union.

You know, from the South Bronx to the southern tier, fromBrooklyn to Buffalo, from Montauk to Massena, from the world’s tallestskyscrapers to breathtaking mountain ranges, I’ve met people whosefaces and stories I will never forget.

Thousands of New Yorkers from all 62 counties welcomedme into your schools, your local diners, your factory floors, yourliving rooms and front porches. You taught me. You tested me. Andyou shared with me your challenges and concerns about overcrowded orcrumbling schools, about the struggle to care for growing children andaging parents, about the continuing challenge of providing equalopportunity for all, and about children moving away from their hometowns because good jobs are so hard to find in upstate New York.

Now, I’ve worked on issues like these for a long time. Some ofthem for 30 years, and I am determined to make a difference for all ofyou.

You see, I believe our nation owes every responsiblecitizen and every responsible family the tools that they need to makethe most of their own lives. That’s the basic bargain I’ll do my best to honor in the United States Senate.

And to those of you who did not support me, I want you to knowthat I will work in the Senate for you and all New Yorkers. And tothose of you who worked so hard and never lost faith, even in thetoughest times, I offer you my undying gratitude.

I will work my heart out for you for the next six years. And Iwouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the steady support of so manypeople. I want to thank Charlie Rangel, Nita Lowey, and the entireNew York Democratic congressional delegation, my future colleagues.

I’m very grateful for the support of our Democratic statewideelected officials and my good friends, Carl McCall (ph) and ElliottSpitzer (ph).

I want to thank Shelly Silver (ph) and all the Democraticassembly members, and Marty Connor and all the Democratic members ofthe state Senate. I want to thank all of my upstate friends whocouldn’t be here tonight, including Tony Maccello (ph), Bill Johnson,Jerry Jennings (ph), Mike Breslin (ph), Mark Thomas (ph), all thecounty chairs and other elected officials.

And thank you to all of my down-state friends, Andy Spano (ph)and the county chairs and all the elected officials, and particularlymy friends right here in New York City, the city-wide officials, theborough presidents, the City Council members. And two great friends,former Mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins.

And somebody just yelled: “Don’t forget Long Island.We got beat up out there.” And I am grateful to everybody from LongIsland.

And I want to thank all my friends in the state Democratic Partyleadership, Judith Hope (ph), Mike Shell (ph), Denise King (ph).

And to all the hard-working labor leaders who really helped turnout the vote today, Dennis Hughes (ph) and Dennis Rivera (ph), RandyWeingarten (ph), Lee Saunders (ph), Brian McLaughlin (ph), Tom Hobart(ph), Danny Donahue (ph), Ed Malloy (ph), and the other local, stateand national labor leaders whose support was so crucial.

And I want to thank all of the people who started volunteeringwith me from the very beginning.

You knocked on doors, you raised funds, you built rallies, youdid everything necessary to bring us to this point.

And today, I want to thank the 25,000 volunteers fromall across the state, who started phone banking, knocking on doors,giving out palm cards the minute the polls opened at 6:00 a.m. anddidn’t stop until the last voter left. You made a difference in thisrace, and I’m very grateful to you.

And I want to thank Harold Ickes, my campaign chairman BillDeBlasio, my campaign manager and Gigi Georges, the coordinatedcampaign director. And I want to thank the best, hardest workingcampaign staff any candidate has ever had.

And, finally, I want to echo Chuck Schumer in saying that I knowI would not be here without my family. And I want to thank my motherand my brothers, and I want to thank my husband and my daughter.

You know, because this campaign was about ideas and issues, wehave a lot of work to do.

And I am looking forward to doing that work with all ofyou, from one end of the state to the other.

I, tonight, am just overwhelmed by the kindness and support thatI’ve been given. And I will work my heart out for the next six yearsfor all of you.

Ed Koch: History Of New York City Mayors

Most people know about or have heard about former New York City mayor Ed Koch, whether they live in the city or have never even visited. His outgoing personality and charm helped make him a household name. Whether you loved him or hated him, it’s hard to deny the impact that Koch made on the city that he was deeply devoted to. Ed Koch was born on December 12, 1924 in the Crotona Park East area of Brooklyn in New York City. His parents were Louis and Yetta Koch. The family lived in Newark, New Jersey for several years to be closer to the theater where Louis worked. One of Ed’s first jobs was serving as a hat check boy at a dance hall in Newark.

Mayor Ed Koch graduated from Newark’s South Side High School in 1941. He was drafted into the U.S. Army two years later. Ed Koch was an infantryman with the 104th Infantry Division during World War II. He would later receive a World War II victory medal, a European-African-Middle Eastern campaign medal and a pair of campaign stars for his involvement in the United States’ efforts in Europe during the war. He rose to the rank of sergeant before being honorably discharged from the Army in 1946. After returning to America, Ed Koch attended the City College of New York and the New York University School of Law in New York City. Ed Koch earned his law degree in 1948 and practiced law independently from 1949 to 1964. He was a law partner in the firm Koch, Lankenau, Schwartz and Kovner frm 1965 until 1968.

Mayor Ed Koch’s first foray into politics was his decision to run for the Democratic nomination for the New York State Assembly in 1962. Ed lost to the incumbent candidate William Passannante that year, but he didn’t let that defeat discourage him. He ran for Democratic Party leader in the Greenwich Village district in 1963 and defeated Tammany Hall member Carmine DeSapio. Koch won re-election in 1965 before moving on to the New York City Council from 1967 to 1969.

Mayor Ed Koch served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 until 1977. He was the Democratic representative for New York’s 17th congressional district from 1969 to 1973 and represented the state’s 18th congressional district from 1973 to 1977 after redistricting. During his time in office, Koch was against the civil rights marches in the South and the war in Vietnam. He supported efforts against Communism and furthering human rights.

Koch initially described himself as a “plain liberal.” However, he wasn’t afraid to cross party lines from time to time. Ed surprised many liberal Democrats when he opposed New York City mayor John Lindsay’s plan to construct a brand new 3,000 person housing development in the Forest Hill neighborhood of Queens. Koch decided to speak out after discussing the proposal with local residents and learning that many of them didn’t like the idea.

Mayor Ed Koch belonged to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Relations while he was in Congress. In 1976, he recommended that the U.S. government terminate its supply shipments and military support of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Uruguay. Later that summer, members of the CIA were made aware of the fact that several Uruguayan intelligence officers had talked about possibly using Pinochet’s secret police, the Direccion de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA) to terminate Koch. This revelation wasn’t taken seriously until Augusto’s opponent Orlando Letelier was killed in September of that year. Letelier was assassinated in Washington D.C., where he had been hiding in exile. Future president George H.W. Bush, who was the CIA’s Director of Central Intelligence at the time, told Ed Koch about the threat on his life. Ed Koch requested protection from both the FBI and the CIA, but they were not granted.

Edward Koch first ran for mayor of New York City in 1973. He didn’t receive much support and eventually dropped out of the Democratic primary. He ran again in 1977 and secured the Democratic party’s nomination. The city’s blackout in the summer of 1977, the rioting that followed and Ed’s “law and order” campaign that focused on public safety are what many consider to be Koch’s keys to success in winning the election that year.

Photo: National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ed Koch would remain the city’ mayor until December 1989. Some of the events that occurred during his time in office were”

– The 100th birthday of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1983

– The shooting of four teenagers in a New York City subway car by Bernhard Goetz in December 1984

– The United Nations’ 40th anniversary in 1985.

– The Statue of Liberty’s 100th anniversary celebration in 1986

Mayor Ed Koch approved the addition of 3,500 city police officers during the 1980’s and allowed officers to have more authority in handling the homeless. He was also a strong supporter of gay and lesbian rights. It was no secret that Ed lived his city, although some thought he took his devotion to his hometown a little too far at times.

Mayor Ed Koch ran for governor of New York in 1982, but lost the Democratic primary to Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo. During the campaign, Koch was quoted in a Playboy magazine article as having called upstate New York life as “sterile.” He also expressed a strong dislike for being required to live in Albany, New York if he was elected governor in that article. Those sentiments are what some say persuaded many voters to cast their ballots against Mayor Ed Koch in the election.

Some of Mayor Ed Koch’s actions were controversial. His position on crime and proposed banning of radios on city buses and subways drew harsh criticism by prominent leaders in the African American community and from the American Civil Liberties Union. He backed the city’s health department when they closed New York City’s gay bathhouses in 1985 due to rising AIDS cases, despite his pro-lesbian and gay rights stance.

Mayor Ed Koch’s third term as mayor didn’t go quite as smoothly as the first two. Several corruption scandals showed that Mayor Ed Koch had allowed some of his Democratic allies to fill a number of city agency job openings with people who were loyal to the party. No evidence was found that Koch recouped any financial benefit from these appointments, but it did contradict his assertions that his city government offices were devoid of any kind of patronage.

Ed Koch also suggested prohibiting bicyclists from riding along Madison, Park and Fifth Avenues Monday through Friday. Enough public outcry forced this decision to be reversed. He also received criticism for backing Al Gore and siding against Jesse Jackson in the 1988 Democratic presidential primary. Koch had previously supported Jackson, but changed his stance as he reminded voters about anti-semitic statements that Jackson had previously made. Ed also suffered a stroke in 1987, but was able to recover enough to fulfill his duties as mayor.

Mayor Ed Koch ran for his fourth term as New York City mayor in 1989. However, by that time his popularity, especially among black voters, had decreased significantly. He lost in the Democratic primary to David Dinkins. Dinkins went on to defeat Rudolph Guiliani in the mayoral election. Mayor Ed Koch’s political career was officially over.

After leaving the mayor’s office, Ed Koch returned to practicing law. He became a partner at the firm Robinson, Silverman, Pearce, Aronsohn and Berman LLP. He also served as a political commentator and as the judge on The People’s Court from 1997 to 1999. Koch was an adjunct professor at New York University, a visiting professor at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts and lectured regularly across the country.

Ed Koch loved watching movies. He even hosted his own movie review show, Mayor At The Movies, in 2009. Many of his reviews were also published in The Villager and The Huffington Post. He appeared in over five dozen movies and television productions. Ed also co-wrote a children’s book, Eddie, Harold’s Little Brother, with his sister Pat Koch Thaler in 2004. The book describes Ed as a young child trying to copy his older brother’s athletic prowess until he discovered his own strengths and talents.

Ed Koch continued to speak out against anti-semitism and anti-Catholicism in his later years. He endorsed both Democratic and Republican mayoral, congressional and presidential candidates throughout his post-mayoral career. He created the group New York Uprising to ask for redistricting reform across the state, and later spoke out against state legislators who didn’t uphold their pledges of support for Koch’s efforts.

Ed Koch passed away on February 1, 2013 from heart failure. He was buried three days later at Trinity Church Cemetery in Brooklyn. Many prominent local and national politicians and celebrities attended the service.

Ed Koch was a very outspoken person. He wasn’t one to sit back and just observe things that were going on in the world around him. He liked stirring things up from time to time, even if he would later receive criticism or backlash for what he said. Koch could definitely get on people’s nerves as well. One of his famous quotes was “I’m the sort of person who will never get ulcers. Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I’m the sort of person who might give other people ulcers.” Undoubtedly he did but he’s also one of the most revered and admired New York city leaders. Ed Koch will most assuredly remain very highly thought of in peoples’ minds for many more years to come.

"Koch": The Weirdly Well-Timed Documentary About The Complicated Ex-Mayor

The prototypical New Yorker died on the day a new documentary about him was released. It's a decent, if superficial, survey of his life and work.

From a Labor Day parade down Fifth Avenue in 1981.

Ed Koch, mayor of my childhood — what a tainted legacy he has left upon his death at age 88. In showman-like form, Koch died on the day the documentary about him, Koch, by Neil Barsky, was released in New York. It must have saddened the ex-mayor not to go to the movie's premiere earlier this week. He loved movies, and he loved attention.

After taking office 35 years ago, Koch brought New York back from its late-1970s apocalypse — the graffiti lessened, there weren't piles of garbage in the streets, and crime began to go down. He made the city better, and then, by the time of his embarrassing ouster in 1989, worse again. He had several downfalls. A trio of hideous race-related crimes (the death of a 66-year-old black woman, Eleanor Bumpurs, by a white police officer as she was being evicted the death of Michael Griffith in Howard Beach after he was chased by white teenagers onto a highway and 16-year-old Yusuf Hawkins, shot and killed by white kids) to which he had a tone-deaf response was what New Yorkers are most likely to remember. There was also his disastrously inept response to the AIDS crisis in New York City. And then there was all the corruption he was eventually shadowed by in his third term, even though none of it directly touched him. (That last one is confusing after all these years: Who was Donald Manes again, and why did he stab himself and then drive around Queens? I had to Google here's a good WPIX report from 1986 that the station reposted in the wake of Koch's death.)

Koch is a good survey about his mayoralty and his recent thoughts on his tenure, and just listening to him talk vérité is fascinating — during a Yom Kippur break fast, his own relatives disagree with his right-wing stance on the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy he refers to Andrew Cuomo as a "schmuck" after Cuomo doesn't pay homage to him on the night of Cuomo's victory in the governor's race.

If you lived in New York during the Koch era, Koch is interesting and nostalgic to watch and remember. It does not, however, dig too deep. The slew of ugly race-related deaths are barely mentioned. The gay issues are delved into more, but it's not confrontational. Barsky does directly asks Koch about his sexuality, for instance, and Koch gives his standard (in recent years) response about privacy, adding: "I have taken the position in response to the basic question: It's none of your fucking business."

That's during a section of the film about AIDS and how Koch's closetedness may or may not have affected his response to it. Koch's rumored ex-boyfriend, Richard Nathan, is mentioned, and Koch says: "Richard Nathan was a friend of mine. He was publicly gay. He worked on my campaign. He wanted — as many people who worked on my campaign wanted — to be a commissioner. I said, sorry, we're picking the best. And he left town."

The 2009 Kirby Dick documentary, Outrage, asserted that Nathan and Koch were indeed lovers, and that after they broke up, Nathan did not feel safe in New York anymore, and therefore left the city. Hmm. Wouldn't you like to know which is true?

View this video on YouTube

It's hard not to feel sorry for the solitary Koch as he wanders through the documentary. As he's filmed in the back of a cab driving through Times Square, which he was instrumental in changing from pornville to touristville, he offers thoughts about the evolution, adding, "I've never been to a Red Lobster." (He may be speaking for all of New York there.)

The Cuomo dis is particularly poignant, even though you can also imagine that, yes, it's a busy night for the Governor-elect. But it represents a reversal: In the 1977 mayoral race, Koch triumphed over Mario Cuomo, whose "Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo" guerilla operation didn't work — Koch's friend Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America, who was a popular New York political and social figure, was enlisted as his beard to counteract the homophobic campaign, and it worked. (HBO, please make a movie about the Myerson/Koch friendship!)

In the end, the heteronormative Cuomo dynasty defeats Koch, and here, Barsky's direction and storytelling is extremely effective. It's pathetic because Koch makes it so: He seems to keep showing up in places where people may or may not want him. As Andrew introduces his father during his victory speech, Koch walks down the hallway to his apartment — alone.


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