Warm Greetings and Recognition of Edward I. Koch, 3-Term Mayor of New York City on His 88Th Birthdayby Representative Carolyn B. Maloney
Posted on 2013-01-15
of new york
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, Ed Koch is a great
American lawyer, politician, and political commentator. He served 8
years in the House of Representatives and 12 as mayor of New York City.
Koch was born in The Bronx and raised in Newark. In World War II, he served in the European theater of war, earned two Battle Stars as a Combat Infantryman and was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946. Returning to New York, he attended City College and NYU School of Law, receiving his law degree in 1948. He was a sole practitioner before serving as a partner with Koch, Lankenau, Schwartz & Kovner.
Koch became active in city and Democratic party politics as a reformer and opponent of Tammany Hall and Tammany leader Carmine DeSapio, whom he twice defeated for Democratic Party leader for the district which included Greenwich Village. He served on the New York City Council from 1967 to 1969 and the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977, before running for Mayor of the City of New York.
During the 1960s, Koch opposed the Vietnam war and marched in the South for civil rights. As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, he advocated for a greater U.S. role in advancing human rights and became a target of attempted assassination by DINA, the Chilean secret police after proposing the cut-off of U.S. foreign aid to the right-wing government of Uruguay. He first rose to city-wide prominence as a result of his opposition to a controversial attempt by then Mayor John Lindsay to place a 3,000- person housing project in a middle-class community, a move which, at the time, shocked many of his political associates.
In 1977, Koch defeated incumbent Abe Beame, renowned feminist Bella Abzug and now former governor Mario Cuomo, in the NYC Mayoral Democratic primary, and went on to win the mayoralty. In 1981 he won re-election with 75% of the vote, running on both the Democratic and Republican Party lines. In 1982, Koch ran unsuccessfully for Governor of New York, losing the primary to then Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo.
[[Page E30]] As mayor, Koch often deviated from the conventional liberal line, strongly supporting the death penalty and taking a hard line on ``quality of life'' issues, such as giving police broader powers in dealing with the homeless and favoring (and signing) legislation banning the playing of radios on subways and buses. These positions prompted harsh criticism from many proponents of civil rights.
In 1984 Koch published his first memoir, Mayor, a best-seller that was turned into an Off-Broadway musical. In 1985, he won re-election on the Democratic and Independent tickets with 78% of the vote. In 1986, Mayor Koch surprised many by signing a lesbian and gay rights ordinance after backing his Health Department's decision to shut down the city's gay bathhouses in 1985 in response to the spread of AIDS.
In 1987, when the New York Giants won Super Bowl XXI, he refused to grant a permit for the team to hold their victory parade in the ``Canyon of Heroes,'' quipping, ``If they want a parade, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie,'' a town near the Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey, where the Giants play.
In his third term, Koch suffered a stroke while in office, but continued with his duties. Koch became a controversial figure in the 1988 presidential campaign for criticizing Jesse Jackson for alleged anti-Semitism and stating that Jews would be ``crazy'' to vote for Jackson. In 1989, he ran for a fourth term as Mayor, but lost the Democratic primary to David Dinkins, who went on to defeat Rudy Giuliani in the general election.
In the years following his mayoralty, Koch became a partner in the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP and became a commentator on politics, movies and restaurants for newspapers, radio and television. He also became an adjunct professor at New York University (NYU) and a visiting professor at Brandeis University.
In 2008, Koch announced that he had secured a burial plot in the only graveyard in Manhattan accepting new burials, stating, ``I don't want to leave Manhattan, even when I'm gone. This is my home. The thought of having to go to New Jersey was so distressing to me.'' On March 23, 2011, the New York City Council voted to rename the Queensboro Bridge as the ``Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.'' Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in celebrating the 88th birthday of Ed Koch, an independent thinker, an outstanding leader and the quintessential New Yorker.