Breaking News: Bronx Born Former Mayor Edward Koch Has Died (A Sad Day for New Yorkers)!

| February 1, 2013 | 0 Comments
Ed Koch

Ed Koch

Edward I. Koch, the outspoken three-term New York mayor who led the biggest U.S. city from the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1970s and boosted the spirits of crime-weary residents, has died. He was 88.

Koch died at 2 a.m. Friday of heart failure at New York-Presbyterian Columbia Hospital, spokesman George Arzt said. Koch had been moved into intensive care Thursday afternoon. The funeral will be held on Monday at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.

Koch had returned to the hospital on Jan. 28, two days after being released following a week-long stay to treat water in his lungs and legs, the Associated Press reported. Koch also was hospitalized in December for pneumonia and flu and three months earlier for anemia.

Serving from 1978 through 1989, Koch presided over the Wall Street-fueled economic boom of the 1980s, turning a $1 billion budget deficit into a $500 million surplus in five years. He restored the city’s credit, doubled the annual budget to $26 billion and oversaw $19 billion in capital improvements. His subsidized housing plan produced more than 156,000 new and renovated units.

Koch’s in-your-face style, straight talk and catchphrase “How’m I doing?” endeared him to New Yorkers wracked by the lingering fiscal crisis, the Son of Sam serial murders and the arson and looting that erupted after a blackout in July 1977.

Commuters walking across the Brooklyn Bridge during the first day of an 11-day transit strike in 1980 were startled to find the bald, 6-foot-1-inch mayor cheering for them. He called critics “wackos,” welfare advocates “poverty pimps,” told visiting Soviet schoolchildren that their government was “the pits” and said a crack-smoking lawyer accused of killing his daughter should be “boiled in oil.”

It was that style and straight talk that enabled Koch to work both sides of the political aisle and get things done.

“Ed Koch was one of the giants of our generation and respected by Americans across the country who respected his candor, humor and love of country,” said Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax and a friend of Koch. “He set an example for other public figures when, again and again, he was able to rise above party labels for the public good.”

Koch was a regular contributor and blogger to Newsmax.

‘Eccentric Uncle’

He was “some mad combination of a Lindy’s waiter, Coney Island barker, Catskills comedian, irritated school principal and eccentric uncle,” the writer Pete Hamill said in 2005 during a panel discussion at the Museum of the City of New York, which hosted an exhibition on the recovery since the 1975-76 fiscal crisis. “He seemed to be everywhere at once.”

By 1985, Koch, a Democrat, had become the most popular mayor since Fiorello LaGuardia four decades earlier, winning 75 percent of the vote in his bid for a third term.

Four years later, after corruption scandals rocked his administration and his criticism of civil-rights leader and presidential candidate Jesse Jackson angered some black voters, Koch was defeated by David Dinkins in the Democratic primary. Koch maintained his loss had nothing to do with the scandals or accusations that he had become a polarizing figure.

“The real reason was longevity,” he said in a 2004 interview. “You have to know when to get off the stage.”

Bronx Born

Edward Irving Koch was born in the Bronx on Dec. 12, 1924, the second of three children of Russian-Jewish immigrants Louis and Joyce Silpe Koch. His father was in the garment business. Koch attended City College of New York from 1941 to 1943, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II. He was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant in 1946.

After the Army, Koch entered New York University School of Law, receiving his degree in 1948. He opened a small law practice.

Koch became active in Democratic politics, working for presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956 and becoming a member of the Greenwich Village Independent Democrats, a dissident liberal faction of the party. Koch challenged the old-line Democratic organization that was still known as Tammany Hall.

After serving two years on the City Council, Koch in 1968 won election to the U.S. House of Representatives, a victory considered an upset against the Democratic machine. During his nine years in Congress, he spoke out against the war in Vietnam and advocated federal aid for mass transit and health care for the elderly.

[kkytv id=”uKb-c4OvTos”]

Mayoral Race

Koch entered a seven-person Democratic mayoral primary in 1977, beating chief rival and future New York Governor Mario Cuomo for the nomination. The September primary was marred by mean-spiritedness that included posters saying “Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo,” an apparent attempt to say the unmarried Koch was a homosexual. The Cuomo campaign denied it was behind the signs.

Koch took office as mayor in January 1978 after winning the November general election against Cuomo, who ran on the Liberal Party ticket.

He succeeded Abraham Beame, who in his single term as mayor struggled with the worst fiscal crisis in the city’s history. Beame’s lack of charisma — his speeches were so bland that many people couldn’t remember what he said, according to the New York Times — stood in stark contrast to his successor. Koch never seemed to stop talking, about anything.

Publicly Accessible

He was always approachable to reporters and members of the public. On weekends, New York residents could often find the mayor on the porch at Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence, chewing the fat with passers-by. He also would call impromptu news conferences.

Saul Pett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the Associated Press, summed up the mayor this way in a 1981 profile:

“He’s the freshest thing to blossom in New York since chopped liver, a mixed metaphor of a politician, the antithesis of the packaged leader, irrepressible, candid, impolitic, spontaneous, funny, feisty, independent, uncowed by voter blocs, unsexy, unhandsome, unfashionable and altogether charismatic, a man oddly at peace with himself in an unpeaceful place, a mayor who presides over the country’s largest Babel with unseemly joy.

Source: Newsmax

A message from the Editor:

Hip Hop Enquirer would like to send our condolences to the entire Koch family and their love ones. I personally remember how the former mayor turned the city of New York around as a young person in growing up in the city. His hard nose approach to the problems in the city back in the 70’s  was what made NYC a great place today. You will be missed Mr. Koch.

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