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Edward Irving Koch (born December 12, 1924) was the Mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989.
Ed Koch was born in Crotona Park East, in the Bronx. His father was a furrier , and in the Great Depression, with the sale of fur coats down, the family moved to Newark, New Jersey. He attended City College of New York from 1941-1943. He was drafted into the Army where he served as an infantryman with the 104th Infantry Division, landing in Cherbourg in September 1944. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946. In that year, he began attending the New York University School of Law. He received his LL.B. degree in 1948, was admitted to the bar in 1949, and began to practice law.
He was elected Democratic Party district leader of Greenwich Village 1963-1965, was delegate to the State convention in 1964, elected to New York City Council in 1966, was the Democratic-Liberal U.S. Congressman from New York's 17th District from 1969-1973, and U.S. Congressman from New York's 18th District from 1973-1977, a total of nine years as a Congressman.
A lifelong bachelor, his sexuality became an issue in the 1977 mayoral primary against Mario Cuomo with the appearance of placards and posters (disavowed by the Cuomo campaign) with the slogan "Vote for Cuomo, not the homo." Koch denounced the attack, later saying "No, I am not a homosexual. If I were a homosexual, I would hope I would have the courage to say so. What's cruel is that you are forcing me to say I am not a homosexual. This means you are putting homosexuals down. I don't want to do that." He has generally been less explicit in his denials in later life, and refused comment on his actual sexual experiences, writing "What do I care? I’m 73 years old. I find it fascinating that people are interested in my sex life at age 73. It’s rather complimentary! But as I say in my book, my answer to questions on this subject is simply Fuck off. There have to be some private matters left."
Koch attributes some measure of credit for his victory to Rupert Murdoch's decision to have the New York Post endorse him over Cuomo.
He resigned from Congress on December 31, 1977 to become the 105th Mayor of New York City for three terms from 1978-1989. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from New York in 1980. In April of that same year, he successfully broke a strike by the city's subway and bus operators, invoking the state's Taylor Law , which prohibits strikes by state or local government employees and imposes fines on any union authorizing such a strike which steadily escalate each day the strike continues. The strikers returned to work after eleven days.
In 1981, City College of New York awarded Koch a B.A. degree. His catch-phrase as Mayor was "How'm I doing?".
In 1982, he ran unsuccessfully for Governor of New York, losing the Democratic primary to Cuomo.
He was re-elected as Mayor in 1981 and 1985. In 1989, he ran for a fourth term as Mayor but lost the Democratic primary to David Dinkins, who went on to defeat Rudolph Giuliani in the general election.
As Mayor, Ed Koch is credited with restoring fiscal stability to the City of New York, and placing the City on a budget balanced according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). He also established a merit selection system for Criminal and Family Court judges, and established extensive housing programs. He issued an executive order prohibiting all discrimination against homosexuals by City employees. A second executive order binding suppliers of the City to the same standards was eventually struck down by court order insofar as it applied to religious organizations, which were exempted from civil rights legislation by State law. John Cardinal O'Connor and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York were participants in the lawsuit against the executive order.
In 1986, Mayor Koch signed a gay rights ordinance for the city after the City Council finally passed the measure (on March 20), following several failed attempts by that body to approve such legislation. Despite his overall pro-gay-rights stance, he nonetheless backed up the New York City Health Department's decision to shut down the city's gay bathhouses in 1985 in response to concerns over the spread of AIDS. The enactment of the gay-rights measure the following year placed the city in a dilemma, as it apparently meant that the bathhouses would have to be re-opened because many heterosexual "sex clubs" — most notably Plato's Retreat — were in operation in the city at the time, and allowing them to remain open while keeping the bathhouses shuttered would have been a violation of the newly-adopted anti-discrimination law. The Health Department, with Koch's approval, reacted by ordering the heterosexual clubs, including Plato's Retreat, to close as well (Plato's Retreat then moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it reopened under the new name "Plato's Repeat").
His administration was tarnished when two close associates, Donald Manes and Stanley Friedman , were found to be corrupt. Shortly afterwards the Mayor suffered a stroke in 1987 while in office, but was able to continue with his duties.
In the years following his mayoralty, Koch became a partner in the law firm of Robinson, Silverman, Pearce, Aronsohn, and Berman LLP, (now Bryan Cave LLP) and became a commentator on politics (but also reviewing movies and restaurants) for newspapers, radio and television. He also became an adjunct professor at New York University and was the judge on a television show, The People's Court, for two years. Together with his sister Pat Koch Thaler, he has published a children's book, Eddie, Harold’s Little Brother.
Koch had a minor heart attack in March 1999.
Koch has always been a registered Democrat, but he ran as both a Democrat and a Republican in the 1981 election for Mayor. He has 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 prompting harsh criticism of him from the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and many African-American leaders, particularly the Reverend Al Sharpton. He also demonstrated a fierce love for New York City which some observers assert he carried to extremes on occasion: In 1984 he went on record as opposing the creation of a second telephone area code for the city, claiming that this would divide the city's population; and when the National Football League's New York Giants won the Super Bowl in January of 1987, he refused to grant a permit for the team to hold their traditional victory parade in the city, quipping famously, "If they want a parade, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie" (the latter being a town in New Jersey adjacent to East Rutherford, site of the Meadowlands, where the Giants play their home games). Since leaving office, he has frequently endorsed prominent Republican candidates, including Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg for Mayor, Al D'Amato for U.S. senator, George Pataki for Governor, and, in 2003, George W. Bush for President. In 1980, as Mayor, he invited Ronald Reagan to Gracie Mansion shortly before that year's Presidential election, in which Reagan easily defeated Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter — a move widely seen as a tacit endorsement of Reagan on the part of Koch.
A practicing Jew, he now writes defending Israel and combating anti-Semitism. He is
now a contributor to Newsmax, a conservative magazine. He also appeared in the documentary Fahrenhype 9/11 defending President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and blasting Michael Moore.
Books by Ed Koch
- Koch, Edward I. (1980). The Mandate Millstone. U.S. Conference of Mayors. ISBN B00072XPA8.
- Koch, Edward I. (1981). How'm I doing? The Wit and Wisdom of Ed Koch. Lion Books. ISBN 0874603625.
- Koch, Edward I.; Rauch, William & Luce, Clare Boothe (1984). Mayor. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0671495364.
- Koch, Edward I. & Rauch, William (1989). Politics. Horizon Book Promotions. ISBN 0671532960.
- Koch, Edward I. & O'Connor, John Cardinal (1989). His Eminence and Hizzoner: A Candid Exchange : Mayor Edward Koch and John Cardinal O'Connor. William Morrow & Company. ISBN 0688079288.
- Koch, Edward I. & Jones, Leland T. (1990) All The Best: Letters from a Feisty Mayor Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0671693654.
- Koch, Edward I. & Paisner, Daniel. (1992). Citizen Koch: An Autobiography St Martins Printing. ISBN 0312081618.
- Koch, Edward I. (1994). Ed Koch on Everything: Movies, Politics, Personalities, Food, and Other Stuff. Carol Publishing. ISBN 1559722258.
- Koch, Edward I. & Resnicow, Herbert (1995). Murder At City Hall. Kensington Publishing. ISBN 0821750879.
- Koch, Edward I. & Staub, Wendy Corsi (1996). Murder On Broadway. Kensington Publishing. ISBN 1575661861.
- Koch, Edward I.; Staub, Wendy Corsi & Resnicow, Herbert (1997). Murder on 34th Street Kensington Publishing. ISBN 1575662329.
- Koch, Edward I. & Staub, Wendy Corsi (1998). The Senator Must Die. Kensington Publishing. ISBN 1575663252.
- Koch, Edward I. (1999). Giuliani: Nasty Man. Barricade Books. ISBN 156980155X.
- Koch, Edward I. & Graham, Stephen P. (1999). New York: A State of Mind. Towery Publishing. ISBN 1881096769.
- Koch, Edward I. & Paisner, Daniel (2000). I'm Not Done Yet!: Keeping at It, Remaining Relevant, and Having the Time of My Life. William Morrow & Company. ISBN 0688170757.
- Koch, Edward I. & Koch Thaler, Pat (2004). Eddie, Harold’s Little Brother. Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 0399242104.
Books about Ed Koch
City For Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York - Wayne Barrett