Saturday, February 2, 2013

NYC Forges Complex and Unique Politicians

“If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist.”
-Ed Koch

A warm and sincere appraisal and reminiscence by his friend and colleague former US Senator Alphonse appeared in today's NY Post.

‘He was loyal to his family, his friends, and his causes’
By AL D’AMATO
Last Updated: 1:50 AM, February 2, 2013

To me, Ed Koch will always be “Mr. Mayor.”

Ed Koch was a living legend. He loved New York City, fought for and defended it every day. He was a New York City icon and, throughout the years, remained a sought after voice on the important issues of the day. His number one priority was always fighting to make our communities and our country better places.

I have known the Mayor for over 30 years.

Up until last week, we saw each other twice a week, sometimes more, as we bantered on NY1 and Bloomberg Radio. I will always cherish our friendship and the good laughs we had together.

The Mayor was loyal — to his family, his friends, and his causes. He was loyal to Israel and the Jewish community. He was loyal to the Democratic Party and stood for its principles but was not afraid to cross party lines and support those who he thought would best serve our country — George W. Bush, Reps. Peter King, Bob Turner.

That is the mark of a true political leader. He could distinguish between partisanship and true leadership.

He didn’t feel the need to be all things to all people. When he was Mayor, he recognized that no one was going to agree with him on every issue. He famously said, “If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist.”

The Mayor loved to come to Mama D’Amato’s house each summer for one of her famous meals. He once asked her how much she was paid for doing those great TV ads for me, wisely telling her that she won me re-election with those ads.
I was always the small, funny-looking kid from Long Island with the funny accent, but when I was in the Senate, we were one in our fight for New York City.

Like most New Yorkers, I closely followed the transit strike of 1980. Not everyone agreed with the Mayor’s position on it, but no one will forget the infamous story of the Mayor’s standing on the Brooklyn Bridge, yelling at the people of New York to walk over the bridge because “we’re not going to let these bastards bring us to our knees!” It is so befitting now that the 59th Street Bridge bears the great Mayor’s name.

When the people of New York City voted him out, he said, “Now they must be punished.” I have to say this is a line I still use to this day.

Ed Koch was never about partisanship. He always said he was much more moderate than his supporters, and he was right. We agreed more than we disagreed.

He was a liberal with sanity!

Hizonner was the consummate New York pol, and there was never a parade that he didn’t enjoy. One of our most memorable was the Steuben Day Parade in Manhattan. During my first campaign, like every other candidate, I was desperately trying to get to the front of the parade, where all of the reporters were.

Mayor Koch was right in the front, and I attempted to get close and introduce myself. To my surprise, I was completely body-checked and upended 20 feet into the crowd by none other than former Congresswoman Bella “The Hat” Abzug.

The Mayor never let me live that down! I did eventually squirm my way in, and this was the first time I formally met Mayor Koch.

I am sure we will hear many other “Kochisms” over the next few weeks. There will never be another Mayor Ed Koch.

How are you doin’, Mr. Mayor? Just fine. RIP, my dear friend.

Al D’Amato is a former senator from New York.

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