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The ex-mayor died this morning at 88 of coronary heart failure.
New York Times article.

Mr. Koch’s 12-year mayoralty encompassed the fiscal austerity of the late 1970s and the racial conflicts and municipal corruption scandals of the 1980s, an era of almost continuous discord that found Mr. Koch at the vortex of a maelstrom day after day.

But out among the people or facing a news media circus in the Blue Room at City Hall, he was a feisty, slippery egoist who could not be pinned down by questioners and who could outtalk anybody in the authentic voice of New York: as opinionated as a Flatbush cabby, as loud as the scrums on 42nd Street, as pugnacious as a West Side reform Democrat mother.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Perhaps being on the NRA enemies list was too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ItsJessMe, renzo capetti, Aunt Pat

    much (or maybe the NRA offed him, but we don't want to start any conspiracy theories).

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 04:29:32 AM PST

    •  He was the right person for the moment. (4+ / 0-)

      He was defeated by his own success, and by staying around too long...which was, in turn, because he couldn't get elected to anything wider.  

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 04:49:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He had little to no success (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        What he had was a loud mouth, a near continuous press conference, a huge ego, and the ability to con the press and a certain amount of the voting public.

        His administration was the most corrupt in the last half century, with continuously rising crime and disorder.

        •  New York was worse off before him... (0+ / 0-)

          ...and it was worse off for quite a while after him.  I suppose there's some contorted argument to be made that he's responsible for that, but I'm not too interested in hearing it.

          You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

          by Rich in PA on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 11:47:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, no (0+ / 0-)

            New York was better off before him and his tenure coincides the the nadir of quality of life in New York.

            The fact that things were so terrible under Koch admittedly was caused by the failures of his predecessors, and the full impact of their failures were felt under Koch. But that impact wasn't felt as Abe Beame was leaving office. It was felt under Koch.

            Koch's greatest weakness was that despite his rhetoric and reputation, he had little interest in governing, and so things got much worse than they needed to get during his tenure. Crime, building abandonment, homelessness, drugs all peaked under Koch.

            And things were immediately better after him. Crime began to decrease under Mayor Dinkins, one of the city's more underrated mayors. By contrast, Koch who was always selling aspects of the city for his political survival, had made a ridiculous deal with the police union by which they gave up preventing or fighting crime -- even the pretense of doing so -- and just cruised around in their squad cars or sat in their station houses. I remember the exact day when Dinkins ordered the police out of their cars and back on to the beat, and life changed over night in my barely gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood with police officers walking up and down Nostrand Avenue. Giuliani built on the drop in crime rates that Dinkins achieved. But Koch had little interest in crime (or any other aspects of municipal governance) outside of the upper east side and Greenwhich Village.

            So you have it exactly wrong. Things were better immediately before Koch and better immediately after Koch.

  •  he seemed to come from greenwich village (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Dave in Northridge

    I think he was said to be gay, which was tolerated, surprisingly, for then. Used to see pix of him in The Village Voice. The caption was always: 'How'm I Doin'?' I think Bess Myerson was a social event companion. Miss America.

    pronounced kotch, not coke.

    clime parches on. terms: ocean rise, weather re-patterning, storm pathology, drout-famine, acceptance of nature.

    by renzo capetti on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 05:52:18 AM PST

  •  Our Greatest Cheerleader (8+ / 0-)

    Reading the comments on all the local papers, they are almost universal in praise for Mr. Koch.

    Yes, he was loud, could be obnoxious and conceited, but overwhelmingly, we New Yorkers loved him.

    It is rare to tear up at the death of a retired political leader, but I find myself doing just that right now.  He saved this city.

    The obituary in today's NY Times ends with this line:

    Besides his sister, a former dean at New York University whom he saw regularly in later years, Mr. Koch is survived by New York itself, as an old friend put it a few years ago.

    No truer words could ever have been said.

  •  Rest in peace, Ed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eddie C, renzo capetti

    I voted for him a couple of times, to keep him in Congress and to make him Mayor. You knew that Ed wasn't going to do anything to hurt the City, and he did a lot to help it too.

    We don't have a lot of people like him in politics any more.

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall (h/t cooper888)

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 06:58:55 AM PST

  •  RIP to the worst mayor of my lifetime (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devis1, sfbob

    I realize this isn't the time to assess his legacy, but I'm kind of shocked that parts of the press and public are praising him as a mayor, as opposed to as a personality.

    He ran the most corrupt administration of my lifetime and perhaps of the last 60 years.

    Other administration were more incompetent (Lindsay, Beame) or callous (Giuliani), but Koch takes the prize for being the most corrupt.

    As is often pointed out, he didn't personally have his hand in the till, but virtually everyone around him did -- with his knowledge and consent -- because that was the way he could stay in power even as New York slid into ungovernability during his tenure.

    When we think of New York as a place of unspeakable crime and disorder, we are thinking of the Koch years.

    Koch, once a reformer early in his career, turned city governance over to a coalition of real estate moguls, outer borough party bosses, and city dependent contractors, while running a continuous circus of press conferences.

    Three of the five borough party bosses, on whose power Koch depended, were revealed to be arch crooks -- Meade Esposito of Brooklyn, Stanley Friedman of the Bronx and Donald Manes of Queens -- and two went to prison, while Manes committed suicide.

    Koch's political schtick was to rile up hatred and fear among working class whites in Staten Island, parts of Queens and southern Brooklyn, while handing over the goods to corporate and real estate executives, and giving the police union cart blanche to kill people.

    Koch basically campaigned continuously against African American New York, often to the point of incoherence -- but it worked. Permanently and publicly hating on black people was a way to get elected three times, but it wasn't a way to govern.

    The coalition he built was pretty much was Giuliani inherited and depended on as well. Now that the vast population of Queens is multi-culti, that alliance is dead and Staten Island remains the last outpost of white ethnic permanent outrage.

    RIP Ed Koch -- the worst mayor of my lifetime.

  •  You'll be missed Mr Mayor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    renzo capetti, sfbob

    New York never had a better cheerleader.  I doubt anyone else could have overseen the resurgence of NYC as well as Ed Koch.  His first re-election campaign was the first campaign I ever worked on as a voting age adult.  I learned a lot about the political process and the life-cycle of a campaign.  He stayed too long (no one should have 3 terms in that job), but one could never doubt his love of his city and what he accomplished in helping to restore NY to it's greatness.  

  •  Twilight was bleak for Ed Koch. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, devis1, sfbob

    He supported George W. Bush in 2004 (and before and after), literally arguing that all domestic issues don't matter because Iraq was such a great idea to stop terrorist.

    That was the most consequential contribution of his last decade of political life -- supporting Bush because of his biggest mistake, a mistake that killed tens upon tens of thousands for no defensible reason.


    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 07:18:03 AM PST

    •  I saw him as DINO in his later years (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He routinely endorsed Republicans for major races and moved pretty far to the right as a talk radio host and was an ardent neocon in foreign affairs and was a bigtime proponent of capital punishment.

      And, like so many other NYC Democrats, he put his personal grudges before the good of the party.

      But otherwise, RIP.

  •  I suppose Ed Koch is lucky (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that he survived Jack Newfield (of the Village Voice).

    What an obituary that would have been.

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 08:47:51 AM PST

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