2013-02-06 / Political Page

New York Bids Farewell To Koch

Leaders from every walk of New York City life assembled at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan on Monday to bid goodbye to former Mayor Edward Irving “Ed” Koch, the city’s 105th mayor who died Friday, February 1 at the age of 88.

He was buried following the services at the non-denominational Trinity Church Cemetery in Upper Manhattan. Prior to his death, Koch had chosen former President Bill Clinton to be the principal speaker at the services, according to George Arzt, his longtime friend and spokesperson. Clinton spoke as President Obama’s representative.

Koch had also personally arranged for his private burial at the Trinity cemetery because he wanted to forever remain in Manhattan.

On his tombstone was inscribed: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish”. (These were the words uttered by journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 just before he was beheaded by a Muslim terrorist.)

Among the other speakers at the funeral services were: Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York; James Gill, Koch’s law partner; John Locicero, his political aide and longtime friend; and Diane Coffey, his former chief of staff.

The service concluded with a rendition of the song “New York, New York”, which reflects Koch’s love for New York City.

Following Koch’s death, former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, who was in office while Koch was still mayor from 1986 through 1989, had this to say of his “good friend Ed Koch”:

“Many still think Ed Koch was single. That’s not true. He was married to this city and loved it with a passion and devotion from beginning to end. I told him many times he could be one of the greatest stand-up comedians if he chose to, as well as being one of the greatest mayors ever. Perhaps one of the greatest tributes you could say about any person is that when you mention his name, a smile comes to your face, and that is how I will always remember my dear friend Ed Koch.”

Mayor Bloomberg wrote about Koch: “Early today, New York City lost an irrepressible icon, our most charismatic cheerleader and champion, Edward I. Koch. He was a great mayor, a great man and a great friend. 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. We will miss him dearly, but his good works—and his wit and wisdom—will forever be a part of the city he loved so much. His spirit will live on, not only here at City Hall, and not only on the bridge that bears his name, but all across the five boroughs.”

And Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement:

“With the passing of Ed Koch, New York has lost one of our most admired public leaders. 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. From his days on the front lines of World War II, his time in Congress, to his leadership as mayor guiding New York City through difficult years, Ed Koch never strayed from his unwavering commitment to serving others.

“No New Yorker has or likely ever will—voice their love for New York City in such a passionate and outspoken manner than Ed Koch. New York City would not be the place it is today without Ed Koch’s leadership over three terms at City Hall. Mr. Mayor was never one to shy away from taking a stand that he believed was right, no matter what the polls said or what was politically correct.

“I will miss his friendship, and we will all miss his perpetual optimism and tireless commitment to continually striving to improve our city, state, nation and world. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I send my condolences to his family and friends.”

In Koch’s relations with Queens pols, it was more nasty than cordial. He had very bitter elections against Mario Cuomo, winning one and losing one; he was on very good terms with the late Donald Manes, until Manes got jammed up in a scandal that gave Koch a big headache; he helped get Bob Turner elected to Congress; and had to overcome some “agita” from Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. before he got the Queensboro Bridge named in his honor.

In 1977, Koch, Mario Cuomo and others eyed the Democratic primary. Koch and Cuomo ended up in a runoff, which Koch won by 76,000 votes. But during the runoff campaign, signs appeared saying, “elect Cuomo not the homo”. Koch was furious and asked Cuomo to get the signs removed. Nothing was done about it and Koch won the primary, anyway. But there was bad blood between the two for a long time.

Koch always maintained a grudge against both Mario and Andrew Cuomo, but Mario Cuomo staunchly denied he ever had anything to do with the offensive signs. And two years ago, Koch endorsed Andrew Cuomo for governor.

As for Manes, toward the middle of Koch’s third term, a scandal broke out in the Parking Violations Bureau and it was investigated by Rudy Giuliani, who was the U.S. Attorney at the time. Stanley Friedman got indicted and went to jail. Manes committed suicide, ending his case.

Koch strongly denied he was in any way involved in the mess, but with all the angst generated by the story, Koch nearly had a heart attack but came out of it alright.

In 2011, when then-Congressmember Anthony Weiner was forced to resign his seat because of some embarrassing things he did on the Internet, it led to a special election for Weiner’s seat.

Bob Turner became the Republican candidate for the Queens/Brooklyn seat. Koch got interested in the race because Israel became an issue. Turner was strongly pro-Israel, so Koch endorsed him and his support helped Turner to win.

Unfortunately, he finished Weiner’s term, and in the election for the seat that followed last year, Turner couldn’t run because he didn’t live in the new district.

Overall, Koch’s first two terms were quite good, but the third one was marred by the major Parking Violations Bureau scandal and another patronage flap cen- tered at City Hall.

Koch came into office in 1978 and inherited the remains of the near-bankruptcy that had sunk his predecessor, Abe Beame. He gradually got the economy going, launched a $5 billion low-income housing construction plan that replaced acres of vacant and/or dilapidated housing.

The mayor also rehabilitated the park system, but the city’s police force was still depleted by cuts forced by the financial crisis that occurred in the previous administration. Race relations also got out of hand at times. But Koch’s upbeat personality helped to lighten things for the general population at times.

Finally, Koch was honored recently by the naming of the former Queensboro Bridge to the Edward I. Koch Bridge- Queensboro Bridge.

EX-SENATOR GOLD DEAD AT 77: Emanuel Gold, who was one of the most influential Democratic leaders in the Forest Hills-Rego Park area for three decades, died recently at the age of 77.

After serving a single term in the state Assembly in 1971-1972, Gold was elected to the state senate in 1973 and served there for 28 consecutive years through 1998. He was succeeded in the Assembly by Alan Hevesi. Another contemporary of Gold and Hevesi was Richard Brown, who went on to become the Queens District Attorney, and still holds that office.

The Gazette has received a large number of messages of condolence for the well-liked and highly respected public official. Because of limited space, we will only be able to list the names of those who sent them in. They are: U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressmembers Joseph Crowley, Carolyn Maloney and Grace Meng, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr., James Gennaro, and Dan Halloran, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, former Congressmember Bob Turner, city Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and Bishop Nicholas Dimarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn and Queens.

MALONEY LAUDS FIRST 9/11 AWARDS: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, author of the legislation that provided for awards to 9/11 workers who got sick working at Ground Zero, last week hailed the first set of award letters issued by the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

In a statement issued jointly by Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) and Congressmembers Jerrold Nadler (D–Manhattan) and Peter King (R/C-L.I.), who co-sponsored the Zadroga Act, they stated:

“These first awards begin fulfilling the promise made by the Zadroga Act: that responders, survivors and workers near Ground Zero had measurable economic harm occur as a result of the 9/11 attacks.”

They added: “This is truly great news for those who have lost so much and waited so long for help. These victims and their families can now rest a little bit easier, knowing that their claims have been validated.”

In all, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that 15 claim awards had been issued by the VCF, Maloney said.

Maloney further explained that under the Zadroga Act, the VCF compensates victims for economic losses caused by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The VCF is funded at a level of $2.8 billion over five years. Payments will be made in two installments: $800 million in the first five years and the remaining $2 billion will be available in year six of the process.

The Zadroga Act also established the World Trade Center Health Program which provides medical care for injuries and illnesses traced to victims’ exposure to Ground Zero; it is currently funded at a level of $1.5 billion over five years, Maloney said.

MENG LAUDS STORM $ O.K., IMMIGRATION REFORM PROPOSAL: Congressmember Grace Meng said in a statement last week that she was pleased that the U.S. Senate had given its approval to awarding $50.5 billion to victims of Hurricane Sandy. She also applauded President Obama and members of the House and Senate for taking the initiative “to fix our broken immigration system”.

Meng (D–Flushing) said after the hurricane funding “finally” was approved, “This funding is critical to helping our region’s neighborhoods, homeowners and small businesses get back on their feet, and now it’s one step closer toward reaching the hands of those who need it.”

Regarding immigration reform, Meng said it was “long overdue and must be a priority for the new Congress and the President’s second term”.

Meng added: “Providing a pathway to citizenship, improving enforcement of immigration laws and modernizing the legal immigration system are critical to any overhaul of our nation’s immigration laws. And any serious legislative package must address a way to reduce the backlog for legal immigrants, a problem which I have long argued must be fixed.”

EMILY’S LIST ENDORSES KATZ: Citing Melinda Katz’ “long tenure as a public servant and champion of affordable housing”, Emily’s List, the nation’s leading organization in support of women in politics, has endorsed her for Queens borough president.

Katz responded, “I look forward to working with them on progressive issues, such as social justice, civil rights and economic opportunity, all of which have been and will continue to be the focus of my career in public service.”

Katz, who was also endorsed by former Mayor Ed Koch, has served as both a state Assembly member and City Council member.

CROWLEY SUPPORTS OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION REFORM: Congressmember Joseph Crowley said last week that he welcomed President Obama’s speech on the need to address our nation’s “broken” immigration system. The president delivered the address in Las Vegas.

Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx), a leader in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, stated:

“I applaud President Obama for advancing the dialogue on immigration reform and calling for a real, meaningful solution that meets the challenges of our broken immigration system. As the son and grandson of Irish immigrants, my family’s story is not unlike that of millions of Americans across our great country. We are a nation built by immigrants, and we are stronger because of it. But our current system is not meeting our country’s needs, putting this proud tradition at risk.”

Crowley, the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, explained, “Comprehensive immigration reform is more than a national security issue or moral imperative—it is an economic necessity. I support President Obama’s call for a comprehensive approach that secures our borders, cracks down on unethical employers and provides those who are already here an earned pathway to citizenship.”

Crowley also stated: “I was heartened to see a bipartisan group of senators come together to agree on a framework for reform, and I hope the House will be as quick to acknowledge the reality of the situation as well. I am proud to be a leader in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform and will continue to work in a bipartisan way to move our country in the right direction toward improving our immigration system. This is the right thing to do for our country and our future.”

MARKEY GETS MAJOR APPOINTMENT: As Assemblymember Margaret Markey reported for her eighth term in the Assembly recently, she was appointed to the influential Ways & Means Committee by state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. It is one of the most powerful panels in Albany, reviewing all budgetary legislation, including review of the governor’s annual executive budget.

The Maspeth lawmaker declared after receiving the appointment, “It is a high honor to join this influential committee and to participate in the review of the governor’s annual budget proposals and make recommendations for adjustments that the legislature believes will better serve the people of New York. I look forward to helping shape the budget for the upcoming year in such crucial areas as economic development, education, transportation and health and human services.”

Markey said the Ways and Means budget review began last week with an agenda of joint Assembly-senate legislative hearings on Governor Cuomo’s 2013-14 fiscal year. Other hearings will continue through the month of February after which the committee will formally present recommendations.

Markey presently also serves as chair of the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Art and Sports Development and also is on the Government Operations, Labor and Racing and Wagering Committee.

LIU BACKS UNION OFFER TO END STRIKE: Following the Local 1181 Amalgamated Transit Union’s offer to end its strike recently, City Comptroller John Liu said he agreed and the city should accept the offer to end the strike.

“We urge Mayor Bloomberg to accept the ATU’s call to end their strike and return to work in exchange for further negotiations. The drivers need to get back to their routes, and the mayor needs to sit with them and the companies and negotiate in good faith. Parents and kids need reliable transportation to school—and they also need the mayor to go the extra mile to end this strike.”

The city refused the offer to end the strike, which began January 16. Local 1181 had called for a cooling off period during which the union workers would return to work if the city agreed. At issue in the strike is the union’s opposition to the city’s plan to not include protections for veteran workers in new contracts. To explain the mayor’s refusal of the union’s offer, a spokesperson said by postponing the bids, the existing contracts would remain in place next year, which the city does not want.

FERRERAS WARNS OF ATTEMPTED CHILD ABDUCTIONS: Councilmember Julissa Ferreras (D–East Elmhurst) reports she is working with the NYPD to try to identify a suspect of two recent incidents of child-lurings in East Elmhurst.

“I urge everyone to take a look (at police photographs) to help police to identify this man,” Ferreras said. “He is a predator on the loose and has now tried multiple times to harm young women in our community. Please be safe and alert.”

Ferreras recounted that last Friday morning at about 7 a.m., the police said a man in a late-model Cadillac Escalade drove up alongside a 13-year-old girl walking on Northern Boulevard near 102nd Street in Corona. The lawmaker said the man in the car began speaking with the young girl, who then approached the car, but then realized she didn’t know the man and started to back away from the car, according to police. Suddenly, the man emerged from the vehicle and grabbed the girl’s arm. But she was able to elude him and ran away.

The police say later that night the same man attempted to lure another 14-year-old girl into the car. Ferreras describes the suspect as an Hispanic male in his mid-30s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, 170 pounds and last seen wearing a black jacket, dark pants and a blue-collared shirt.

Anyone with information about the suspect or the incident, call the NYPD Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.

VAN BRAMER SEES PROGRESS IN MURDER INVESTIGATION: Commenting on the NYPD’s release of sketches in the ongoing Lou Rispoli murder case investigation, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside) stated: “Our community will never forget what these men did to Lou Rispoli. The NYPD’s release of new sketches, shows that there is progress being made on this case, but it is important we continue to raise awareness as a community. These three suspects think that they got away with a crime that robbed us of a good man who loved his neighborhood. I will not rest until I see these men punished for this heinous crime.”

DROMM CALLS FOR NYPD PROBE: Reacting to recent alleged hate crimes, Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D–Jackson Heights) issued the following statement:

“The horrific crime committed against David Rangel, an openly gay public school teacher who lived in one of the city’s most tolerant communities, is deeply distressing. While the investigation is ongoing, the crime appears to have elements of a possible anti-gay crime. As such, I have called on the NYPD to ensure it is investigated accordingly. Crime like these underscore the importance of having hate crime laws in place that protect New Yorkers from any kind of prejudice and discrimination.”

CONSERVATIVES TIE STOP/FRISK TO CURBING GUN VIOLENCE: The N.Y., state Conservative Party is urging Albany lawmakers to vote to support Stop and Frisk practices as an effective way to end or curb use of illegal guns. But in a strange twist, the party feels Governor Cuomo’s passage of the strictest gun restrictions in the nation, enacted to get illegal guns off the streets, violates their Second Amendment rights.

In a statement released by the organization, it defends police use of Stop and Frisk as long as it is based upon “reasonable suspicion”, as expressed in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. It urges legislators to continue to allow cops to follow the policy because “it is a reasonable way” to get illegal guns off the street… and to keep citizens safe.

But the gun restrictions lawmakers voted for earlier in this session are “in fact so restrictive that we and many others believe they are abridging our Second Amendment rights and will be challenged in court.

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