RIP Ed Koch — He became mayor when I was in high school, and I followed his career closely and read his books. I liked him a lot. I liked his independence, frankness, in your face aggressiveness and spirit. I liked that he took on the left wing of his own party that was ruining NYC – he called himself “a liberal with sanity.” Koch did not want to hear that criminals were victims of society. Finally, there was a NYC Mayor that stood up for the police on the front lines of crime-fighting every day. He took on public union irresponsibility and tried to be fiscally responsible after NYC almost went bankrupt. I loved Koch’s friendship with Cardinal O’Connor – it was great to see leaders of these two great NYC faiths working together. There were negatives too, crime stayed bad and his administration had way too much corruption. But Ed Koch made NYC a better, more fun and interesting place, and he will certainly be missed.
I remember Mayor Koch and the Billie Boggs issue. In 1987, Koch announced a new program for removing mentally disturbed homeless people from the streets. Boggs was mentally ill and lived on hot air vent grate near 2nd Avenue/65th Street for a year and displayed troubling behavior. Koch wanted to help her and others who were mentally impaired by getting them off the streets and on medication, and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) sued to keep her homeless on the street. Here, Koch was right – the liberal with sanity – and NYCLU was “wacko” as Koch would say! To me, it was immoral to keep that poor woman on the streets without help.
I was so proud of Ed Koch when he endorsed Al D’Amato for senate re-election in 1992. Sen. Al was the #1 supporter of Israel in senate and was terrific at delivering federal aid to NY and Koch recognized this. His opponent Robert Abrams (who was a good AG) called Al D’Amato a fascist in campaign (twice), which was utterly disgraceful. Italian-Americans were embarrassed about the fascist Mussolini and saw some bigotry in Abrams’ statement. And there was Ed Koch standing with an Italian Rep over a Jewish Dem, and ripped Abrams for his vile name calling. That my friends truly demonstrates the greatness of Koch, who more than anyone put what was right over party loyalty. All modern day politicians can learn much from Ed Koch.
My favorite Ed Koch quote: ”If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist.” I feel the same!
Here is an Ed Koch story from my family — the first year I could vote was 1981 and I voted the Republican line. I came from a very Republican family. However, my family was all ready to cross party lines and vote for Koch for governor in 1982, which was a big thing in my house, but he lost in the primary to Mario Cuomo. In the general election, we strongly supported Lou Lehrman over Cuomo, who was too liberal for us. However, I was really looking forward to making Ed Koch the first Democrat candidate I ever voted for. Of course, I have voted for other Democrats since, but not telling you who…LOL!