Monday, February 4, 2013
Mayor Koch was an extraordinary person who did so much for the city we love.
We were extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to have interviewed him. Original post:
We republish Mover and Shaker Mayor Ed Koch's interview in memoriam:
Mayor Koch saved the City of New York from bankruptcy and in doing so restored the pride of New Yorkers. During his three terms as Mayor from 1978-1989, he restored fiscal stability to the City of New York, and he was responsible for placing the City on a GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices) balanced budget basis. He created a housing program which, over a ten-year period, provided more than 150,000 units of affordable housing financed by City funds in the amount of $5.1 billion. He created for the first time in New York City a merit judicial selection system and selected some of the most outstanding public servants to serve in his administration.
Prior to being Mayor, Mr. Koch served for nine years as a Congressman and two years as a member of the New York City Council. He attended City College of New York from 1941 to 1943. In his last year of college, he was drafted into the Army where he served with the 104th Infantry Division. He served in the European Theater of Operations, received two battle stars, the Combat Infantry badge, and he was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946. In that year, he also attended the New York University School of Law. He received his LL.B. degree in 1948 and began to practice law immediately thereafter.
He is currently a partner in the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP. He hosts a Friday evening call-in radio program on Bloomberg AM 1130 (WBBR) and is also a commentator on that same station. Mr. Koch appears weekly on NY1 television with former Senator Alfonse D’Amato. He lectures around the country, writes a weekly commentary, and his weekly movie reviews are published in The Villager.
Additionally, Mr. Koch is the author of numerous books which include Mayor, Politics, His Eminence And Hizzoner, All The Best, Citizen Koch, Ed Koch On Everything, Giuliani Nasty Man, I’m Not Done Yet: Remaining Relevant, Buzz: How to Create It and Win with It, and two children’s books which he co-authored with his sister, Pat Koch Thaler: Eddie, Harold’s Little Brother, and Eddie’s Little Sister Makes a Splash. His most recent book is entitled The Koch Papers: My Fight Against Anti-Semitism. We are extremely honored to present Mayor Koch as our latest Mover and Shaker!
Peachy Deegan interviewed Mayor Koch for Whom You Know.
Peachy Deegan: What inspired you to be involved in politics originally?
Mayor Ed Koch: The speeches of Adlai Stevenson running for president in 1956.
Of all of the offices you have held, which have you enjoyed the most and why?
Mayor. I could dramatically affect for the better the lives of 7 million people.
Once upon a time, Peachy worked in Public Finance on the TFA (Transitional Finance Authority) and we believe that came from MAC (Municipal Assistance Corporation.) During your time in office, how did MAC evolve and how did you save our city from bankruptcy?
MAC was able to sell bonds for city purposes when the city’s bonds had a junk rating and couldn’t be sold. I prevented the City’s bankruptcy by drastically cutting its operating budget, and ultimately balancing the City’s operating budget in three years, and getting back a market grade rating for the City’s general obligation bonds.
What lessons can be learned from that today in this challenging economic climate?
Do the same, as Mayor Bloomberg in fact is, cutting the budget.
Who have you enjoyed working with the most during your career and what do you value most about their character?
I could not have accomplished what I did without the cooperation of Governor Hugh Carey. I admire his superb intellect and good humor.
What do you know now about politics that you wish you new at the beginning of your career?
That symbolism sometimes is as important as substance. But never to substitute for substance.
Would you advise others to enter the world of politics? Why or why not?
I encourage everyone to provide some public service during their professional career. It will make you a better person to give something of yourself back to the city, state and county that has given all of us so much.
What do you love the most about the City of New York?
The diversity of its population.
What do you love the least about the City of New York?
The willingness of some to throw trash on the sidewalks.
We understand from listening to you during the luncheon we met you at
that major changes need to happen in Albany, including the formation of an impartial redistricting commission, balancing the budget, and ethics reform. What would you like our readers and the public to know about this topic?
The three pledges are essential to good government. In the case of redistricting, if it is not performed by an independent commission, it will result in continued unfairness favoring the election of incumbents. The two other pledges include an expansion of ethics and adopting by law a budget formulated by generally accepted accounting principles: a budget with no gimmicks.
What do you enjoy being the most: a lawyer, author, television personality or a radio personality, and why? If you like them equally what do you like about each?
Radio host. It keeps me in touch directly with lots of people, and requires that I stay very informed on the events of the day.
What movies do you enjoy the most and why?
Action movies with serious plots.
What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
I have no personal heroes, but admire most in public life, President Harry Truman and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.
What are you proudest of and why?
Removing all politics from the selection of judges (Criminal and Family Court) appointed by the Mayor; balancing the City’s budget for the first time in 15 years; creating a special fund of City monies -- $5.1 billion to build over a ten-year period 250,000 housing units (150,000 new ones and 100,000 upgraded); giving the people of New York City back their morale.
What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I am content with my current involvements. New challenges will present themselves.
What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
The French Legion of Honor.
What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
The steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
What is your favorite drink?
What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Peking Duck, 28 Mott Street.
What is your favorite Manhattan book?
E.B. White’s “Here Is New York (1949).”
If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
I’m most interested in Newark Airport. I lived in Newark for ten years.
What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
I exercise twice a week at a gym. Currently, at a medical gym to aid my balance.
What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Count the water towers within my sight from my terrace.
What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
Broadway musicals, the best being “The Capeman” by Paul Simon.
What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
The most underrated are the food carts on the streets. The most overrated are some of the movies that are overhyped every week.
What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I’m a secular Jew who believes in God and is very proud of the accomplishments of the Jewish people. I believe in the hereafter. I am not afraid of death. I believe in reward and punishment, and I hope to be rewarded.
How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?