Ed Koch

Koch Regretted His Upstate Jibe

As Liz pointed out in today’s morning memo, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch regretted his mocking of upstate in a 1982 Playboy Magazine interview in which he criticized the area’s “small-town life” and “gingham dresses.”

In fact, Koch told Liz back in 2010 that had he been elected governor over Mario Cuomo that year, he would been the best governor for upstate.

“Wasn’t I stupid? Stupid! Well it wasn’t really a question of changing my mind,” he said in that 2010 interview on Capital Tonight. “It was, I said them, in jest to a reporter who was disparaging the city of New York and I was conveying to him how the city meant so much to me. ”

Koch lost that race in part thanks to a big turn out in western New York for Cuomo, while he narrowly won the city itself. Overall, Cuomo would capture 67 percent of the upstate vote in the Democratic primary and that ill-fated interview in Playboy was given the lion’s share of the blame.

“But in any event, New York State is one of the great, most beautiful states in the union, and had I won the governorship I would have done more for upstate than any governor who, in fact, was elected. It’s outrageous that unemployment is so high upstate.”

Silver, Skelos, Klein Mourn Ed Koch

Here’s the statement from Speaker Sheldon Silver on the passing of Ed Koch.

It is with great sadness that I mourn the passing of the inimitable Ed Koch. Born and educated in New York City, the son of Jewish immigrants, a staunch supporter of Israel, Ed was a man I respected and a friend I treasured.

We served the people of Lower Manhattan together, and I remember fondly walking the neighborhoods with Ed and witnessing the charisma and empathy he brought to every encounter. I am proud to have had him as my congressman and mayor.

Ed’s path through life led from the Bronx to the battlefields of Europe back to the skyscrapers of Manhattan. He was a visionary who used his political acumen to bring his dreams to fruition and to blaze a trail wide enough for a generation of New Yorkers to follow.

The resolve with which he fought for his city, state, and country forged an admirable legacy. Thanks to his leadership as mayor, the City was transformed. From restoring fiscal stability, to building affordable housing, Ed’s mayoralty fueled a metropolitan renaissance.

A decorated veteran, Ed never hesitated when it came to fighting necessary battles. He went to war when his country called him. He served the people as a City councilman, congressman, and mayor, and remained a devoted public servant long after his time in office. Looking at the tenacity with which he continued to advocate for the issues dear to his heart – transparency in government, access and equality for the citizens of this city and state – one could argue that Ed never left office.

Although our opinions sometimes diverged, I will miss his colorful character, his bold spirit, and his sharp wit. A great New Yorker has passed away this morning. May he rest in peace.

And here is the statement from Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, who butted heads with Koch in past years over redistricting. Koch specifically called out Skelos for not living up to the pledge he made to Koch’s group NY Uprising to support independent redistricting.

With the passing of Ed Koch, New York has lost one of its true larger-than-life political leaders. He had a passion for public service, and an outsized personality to match.
As a Congressman, Mayor and political commentator, Ed Koch brought enthusiasm to everything he did, and he never stopped fighting for the causes he believed in.
All those who knew or worked with Ed Koch, or were fortunate enough to meet him, understand today that he’ll be sorely missed by the people of New York.

And here is Senate Independent Democrat Leader Jeff Klein’s statement on Koch’s death.

“Ed Koch was a rare breed of politician. I learned that first-hand while interning on his second reelection campaign. It was my first foray into politics, and it was an experience that I will never forget.

“Mayor Koch was a brash, honest, and unyielding reformer. But what set Ed Koch apart was that he always took the time to articulate his argument in thoughtful and compelling terms. During his years in and out of elected office, New York was the better for it.

“As many of us valued, there was never any hiding the ball with Ed Koch. Whether we were discussing policy or politics, I always knew exactly where he stood. That’s something that many in public life have tried to emulate, but few have had the courage to replicate.

” I send my deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will all miss him.”

Pataki On Koch Death: ‘Happy To Call Him Friend And Share The Ride’

Our inbox is getting filled up with lots of statements on the passing of Ed Koch.

This one just came in from former Governor George Pataki who received Koch’s endorsement when he ran for Governor for the first time in 1994, unseating Mario Cuomo.

“The ‘elevator’ of life, like politics has its ups and downs and no one enjoyed the ride more than our great Mayor, Ed Koch. From his outspoken honesty, to his great New York accent, Hizzoner was larger than life. His wit, his wisdom, his candor and his irrepressible spirit will be sorely missed. I was so happy to call him friend and share the ride.”

RIP Ed Koch

After a flurry of misinformation this morning, a spokesman for Ed Koch confirms that the outspoken former New York City mayor has indeed passed away at the age of 88.

The cause of death was congestive heart failure, according to George Arzt.

The funeral will be Monday in Manhattan at Temple Emanu-El, and it will no doubt be attended by political dignities of all stripes.

Koch was a larger-than-life character who could swing from completely irascible to totally lovable in a matter of moments.

In other words, he was a true New Yorker.

He remained active in city and state politics until the end, and he was a frequent Capital Tonight guest.

I will miss him.

Koch In Intensive Care

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, 88, is in the intensive care unit at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Hospital, his spokesman confirmed this afternoon.


George Arzt said Koch’s cardiologist, Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, wanted to “monitor the mayor more closely.” He did not provide any additional details.

Koch has been in and out of the hospital over the past several weeks. He was readmitted on Monday after being released two days earlier following treatment for water in his lungs and legs. The former mayor also was showing an iron deficiency.

Koch initially went to the hospital on Jan. 19. He also was hospitalized in December with a respiratory infection and in September with anemia.

The former mayor has remained active in NYC and state politics in recent years, mounting an aggressive statewide refom campaign during the 2010 election cycle. But he has also not shied away from the inevitable. Back in 2008, he purchased  a burial plot in Trinity Church Cemetery, saying: “The idea of leaving Manhattan permanently irritates me.”

Koch’s ill health kept him from campaigning as planned on behalf of President Obama in Florida late last year. The September hospitalization, during which he received several blood transfusions, also caused Koch to miss the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

But he nevertheless monitored the proceedings, and managed to make his displeasure known when the DNC removed from the party platform three sentences mentioning support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Also removed were the words “God-given” and a reference to Hamas and a pledge to isolate the organization until it “renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.”

The party quickly scrambled to restore these passages to the platform during a rather disorderly voice vote.



Koch Back In Hospital

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch is back in the hospital this weekend after swelling built up in his ankles, his spokesman said.

Koch, a contributor to NY1’s Wiseguy segment on Inside City Hall, was admitted to the hospital this morning, and it is unclear how long he will stay.

This is the third time in the past six months that the former mayor and good-government crusader has been hospitalized.

Koch was admitted to the hospital most recently in December when he was treated for a respiratory infection.

Koch Hospitalized

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch is in the hospital today after being admitted with a respiratory infection, his spokesman George Arzt said this afternoon.

Koch, who turns 88 next week, is being treated with antibiotics at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Arzt said.

The former mayor was admitted to the hospital back in September, the same week as the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and was treated for anemia.

Koch in recent years became a force for good-government in New York, pushing lawmakers and legislative candidates to run on his platform of independent redistricting and ethics reform in Albany.

Ed Koch’s Ordeal

Everyone has a Sandy story, including Ed Koch.

Koch emailed the following recap of his storm experience to the list of people who receive his regular commentaries and movie reviews:

“When I woke up on Tuesday morning, I had no electricity in my apartment. After being told by my doorman that it could be off for five or more days, I decided to leave the building, even though it required walking down 16 flights of stairs.”

“The concierge assigned a young man to carry my suitcase and accompany me down the stairs. I was very grateful for his assistance, good humor and his flashlight. The descent wasn’t easy because of my physical condition. (I have spinal stenosis, a pacemaker, congestive heart failure and walk with a cane.) After about a half-hour which included several rests we arrived in the lobby.”

“I then traveled by car over the George Washington Bridge to my sister’s home in New Jersey. She lives in a wonderful assisted-living complex, and although she had no electricity, a generator provided access to a working elevator which I took to her apartment on the fourth floor. I stayed overnight and on Wednesday morning went to my office in midtown Manhattan where I wrote my movie reviews and this commentary.”

“New Yorkers are resilient. Nevertheless, these catastrophes make us appreciate the importance of energy to the world as much as fire was appreciated by prehistoric mankind. When I think of the problems others in the city had during the storm, including over 100 homes burning to the ground, heart attacks, lethal injuries as a result of accidents including falling trees, and 75 people nationwide who lost their lives, I realize how lucky most of us have been, suffering primarily inconvenience.”

“I saw my cardiologist, Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, today, and he said the feat of going down 16 stories established that I am stronger today than I was when he last saw me before the storm. That’s good news.”

The 87-year-old Koch was hospitalized last month for several days (just as Democrats were fighting down in Charlotte over the removal of language regarding God and Jerusalem from their party platform at the national convention). He was treated for anemia, receiving several transfusions at the time.

Thankfully, he appears to be recovering well.

Koch Backs Murphy, Blasts ‘Ryan-Grimm Budget’ In NY-11

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch is poised to deliver what I believe is his second congressional endorsement in this general election cycle, announcing his support of Democrat Mark Murphy, who is trying to oust freshman GOP Rep. Michael Grimm in NY-11.


In a statement released by Murphy’s campaign, Koch said he has gotten to know the candidate in recent years and has been impressed by his “commitment to Democratic values, his political pragmatism, and his understanding of the issues affecting middle class families today.”

“There is a strong feeling across the city and country that the middle class is under attack,” Koch continued.

“The policies in the Ryan-Grimm budget are hostile to Medicare and Medicaid and other safety net provisions which protect the middle class and the poor. Of course the wealthy – millionaires and billionaires – are protected.”

“We need members of Congress who will fight for the middle class and those in need of a helping hand. Mark Murphy will fight back in Congress and be a strong voice for middle class families and others in need who are struggling.”

The “Ryan-Grimm budget” is, of course, a reference to the controversial budget plan proposed by Congressman-turned-vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, on which Grimm twice voted “yes.”

The strategy of linking Republican congressional candidates – both incumbents and challengers alike – to Ryan’s budget plan is one that is being employed by Democrats all across New York and the nation.

Democrats were practically gleeful when Mitt Romney selected the Wisconsin congressman as his runningmate – especially here in New York where his proposals, particularly when it comes to overhauling Medicare, played a key role in Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul’s upset special election victory in a GOP-dominated WNY district last spring.

Koch, who spent several days in the hospital being treated for anemia, said he will hit the campaign trail on Murphy’s behalf “in the days ahead”, but didn’t provide any specific dates or events he plans to attend. He also said he will “get other Democratic leaders involved in this campaign.”

The NY-11 fight isn’t in the top tier of competitive House races in New York, but it is nevertheless worth keeping an eye on. The race does have sleeper potential, thanks to the FBI probe of Grimm’s fundraising and recent arrest of his bundler, Ofer Biton.

In August, the DCCC added Murphy to its list of “Red to Blue” candidates, which highlights the race in hopes of drawing donors from around the nation. Murphy’s campaign touted an internal poll this past summer that showed his opponent with a double-digit lead, but under the magic 50 percent mark.

NY-11 includes all of Staten Island and a piece of Brooklyn. It’s Democrat-dominated, but has an unusually high number of Republicans for a NYC district and also trends fairly conservative. Koch appeals to a certain brand of conservative Democrat – particularly Jewish voters.

(In case you were wondering, the other House candidate who has been endorsed by Koch this year is Grace Meng. He backed the Queens assemblywoman after she won the June 26 primary in the newly drawn Brooklyn/Queens NY-6).

From Hospital Bed, Koch Stews Over DNC Platform

Ed Koch is being treated for anemia at New York Presbyterian Hospital. The 87-year-old former NYC mayor has received several transfusions – two pints of blood in total – and is undergoing a battery of tests. He hopes to be released soon – perhaps as early as tomorrow.

But even in his weakened state, Koch still has politics on his mind, and his attention is focused on Charlotte, where the Democrats are gathered for the 2012 national convention.

“He’s very upset with the platform on Israel,” Koch spokesman George Arzt told me in the lobby of the New York delegation hotel this morning.

“The public officials who have called him from here – (NYC Council Speaker) Chris Quinn, (Reps.) Jerry Nadler, Eliot Engel – all he wants to do is talk to them about the platform and how this could have happened.”

“This” is the removal from the platform of three sentences that identified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel forever more. The 2008 platform included the following:

“Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Also removed was a reference to Hamas and a pledge to isolate the organization until it “renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.”

Israel has long been Koch’s chief policy concern. His anger over the Obama administration’s Israel policy caused him to endorse Republican Rep. Bob Turner over (Jewish) Assemblyman David Weprin in last year’s special election for former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s NY-9 Queens/Brooklyn seat (which doesn’t exist anymore, thanks to redistricting).

Koch made it clear his support of Turner, whose defeat of Weprin in a Democrat-dominated district was a big for the GOP with national implications, was intended to send a message to the administration.

The message was received loud and clear. Obama set about wooing Koch after Turner’s win. The former mayor didn’t need much convincing. He changed his tune on Obama, issuing him an early endorsement and agreeing to campaign for him in Florida this election season. (His health might prevent that from occurring now).

Arzt told me he sent Koch’s office a copy of the platform, and he was read the offending passages, which appear on page 38.

“He wants to see if this can be rectified,” Arzt said.

“They have already passed it, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be modified at a later time, or perhaps the president could say something about Israel in his speech. (Sen.) Chuck (Schumer) has been talking to (Obama advisor David) Axelrod on the issue.”

Arzt said it’s “too early” to say if Koch will be angry enough about this to rescind his endorsement of Obama.

And Koch isn’t the only one distressed. NYC Councilwoman Tish James, whose Brooklyn district includes several Hasidic neighborhoods, including Crown Heights, told me her constituents were “blowing up my email” as soon as they learned of what Democrats are insisting was an “omission, not a commission.”

James said she is assuring everyone who contacts her of Obama’s staunch support of Israel, but admitted the task is made more difficult by this platform dust-up.

She also said the omission, which was apparently done due to a desire by the platform committee to focus on economic, social and environmental issues and not foreign policy, has given the Republicans an “opportunity” on which to slam Democratic candidates – from Obama on down, something they are doing with zeal.

“I think President Obama has not said enough of what he has done for Israel,” James allowed. “He has not told his story, and that has been a liability for the administration. He really needs to get the narrative out and he needs for his deputies and for others to talk about all that he has done for Israel.”

This situation has forced a number of Democrats into a difficult position.

This morning, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose GOP opponent, Wendy Long, seized on the missing Israel lines right away, was forced to say she “disagrees” with the party platform, while simultaneously lauding the Obama administration.

An update on Koch’s health: According to Arzt, Koch “as a low level of oxygen in his blood, so he doesn’t think he’s going home today.” A final decision won’t be made until later this afternoon.

Arzt said the former mayor, who was known for “eating like a horse,” has been eating very lightly of late – “not like the Ed Koch of old” – and has also been complaining about a lack of strength.

“He’s expressed to me in the past how weak he was. He was saying he couldn’t even bring his briefcase to work, couldn’t carry his briefcase to work,” said Arzt, who told me Koch made peace several years ago with the idea that his time left on the planet might soon end. (He purchased a burial plot in Manhattan back in 2008).

“I think he’s comfortable with it in his own head,” Arzt said. “He talks about it a lot. But I think for us, the people who worked in his administration, you know, we’re not prepared to let him go yet.”