February 1, 2013

Ed Koch, New York's feisty mayor, dies at 88

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

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Ed Koch was a famously combative politician who rescued New York City from near-financial ruin during three terms as mayor.

AP

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In this Aug. 30, 2004, photo, former New York Mayor Ed Koch speaks at the first day of the Republican National Convention in New York.

AP

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Reaction to death of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch:

"In elected office and as a private citizen, he was our most tireless, fearless, and guileless civic crusader. Through his tough, determined leadership and responsible fiscal stewardship, Ed helped lift the city out of its darkest days and set it on course for an incredible comeback." —New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
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"Although we disagreed on politics ... I have found that he was never a phony or a hypocrite. He would not patronize or deceive you. He said what he meant. He meant what he said. He fought for what he believed." — Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network.
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"He's the guy who saved our city. He paid off the loans on the federal government, ahead of time. So he did a lot of good stuff." —Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins.
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"Ed Koch personified the spirit of New York. New York's mayor for life is now New York's mayor for eternity. May he rest in peace." — U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.
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"He once said, 'I don't want to leave Manhattan, even when I'm gone. This is my home.' Ed Koch will never leave New York City. He will exist forever in our hearts, and in the millions of lives he touched." —New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

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"Ed Koch embodied the highest ideals of public service, and his life was dedicated toward making New York— the city and our state — a better place for all." — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
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"New York would not be the safest big city in America today if Ed Koch hadn't spearheaded one of the most important criminal justice reforms in New York City's history as mayor: selecting Criminal Court judges based on merit instead of political connections." — Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
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"We will miss his keen mind, sharp wit and absolute devotion to making a great city the best in the world. While we mourn his loss, we know that the legacy of his mayoralty, his commitment to civil rights and affordable housing, and his civic leadership long after he left City Hall, will live on for generations." —New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

In 1982, he made a run for governor against then-Lt. Gov. Cuomo. But his bid blew up after he mouthed off about life outside the big city.

"Have you ever lived in the suburbs?" Koch told an interviewer about a possible move to Albany. "It's sterile. It's nothing. It's wasting your life." He said life in the country meant having to "drive 20 miles to buy a gingham dress or a Sears, Roebuck suit."

It cost him the race.

Koch's third term was beset by corruption scandals, one of which ended in the suicide of a top party boss in 1986. Also, Koch's friend and commissioner of cultural affairs, former Miss America Bess Myerson, stepped down after being accused of trying to influence the judge in a court case involving her boyfriend.

Koch fell out with many black voters for purging anti-poverty programs and saying, among other things, that busing and racial quotas had done more to divide the races than to achieve integration. He also said Jews would be "crazy" to vote for Jackson during the civil rights leader's 1988 presidential campaign.

Racial tensions were running high at the time because of the deaths of two young black men who were set upon by gangs of whites in 1986 and 1989.

Koch later said the simmering tensions didn't lead to his defeat. "I was defeated because of longevity," he said. "People get tired of you. So they decided to throw me out."

But he also said his biggest regret as he left office was that "many people in the black community do not perceive that I was their friend."

On Friday, Jackson said in a statement that Koch's "leadership and legacy will never be forgotten in New York City, New York state or our nation."

Koch wrote 10 nonfiction books, including "His Eminence and Hizzoner," written with Cardinal John O'Connor. He also turned out four mystery novels and three children's books.

He played himself in the movies "The Muppets Take Manhattan" and "The First Wives Club" and hosted "Saturday Night Live." In 1989's "Batman," Gotham City's mayor bore a definite resemblance to Koch.

At 83, Koch paid $20,000 for a burial plot at Trinity Church Cemetery, at the time the only graveyard in Manhattan that still had space. He had his tombstone inscribed with the last words of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by Islamic militants: "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish."

The funeral will be Monday at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan. Dignitaries including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Ido Aharoni, the Israeli consul general in New York, will be among the speakers, a person familiar with the arrangements, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AP.

Koch is survived by his sister, Pat Thaler, and many grandnieces and grandnephews.

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Additional Photos

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In this March 8, 1987, photo, New York Mayor Ed Koch gives a lift to Broadway dancer Ann Reinking during a performance of political satire on at the annual Inner Circle gathering of the New York Press Club in New York.

AP

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In this Oct. 17, 1980, photo, New York Mayor Ed Koch gestures as he escorts Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan into Gracie Mansion in New York.

AP

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This 1944 file photo shows Ed Koch during his service in the U.S. Army in France.

AP



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