Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ed Koch letter to the Editor of the Daily News

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On Monday of this week, I read the newspapers of New York City, as I do every day.  In the Daily News was an op ed article by Douglas Schoen, someone I have known since I ran for Mayor back in 1977.  Overall, the article was his telling the world and Mayor Bloomberg how much Schoen admired him.  I concur in that admiration and supported Michael Bloomberg in his three successful elections for Mayor.

Schoen in the course of expressing his admiration decided it was necessary at the same time to denigrate three earlier three-term Mayors of New York City which included Fiorello La Guardia, Robert Wagner and me.

I have a rule which I’ve lived by since first running for office back in 1962 for Assemblyman, which, by the way, I lost.  I’ve actually run in 23 elections, counting 1962 and including primaries, runoffs and general elections.  Of those 23, I won 20 and lost 3.  My rule is that, if I am attacked and I believe unfairly, I will respond in writing.  I thought Schoen was outrageous in his attacks on LaGuardia and Wagner, two of New York City’s greatest Mayors, and candidly, I thought outrageous in his attack on me.  So I sent a letter to the Daily News giving my reasons for my upset, which was not published.

I thought you might like to see and read the letter which follows.

April 17, 2012

Letters to the Editor
Daily News
4 New York Plaza
New York, NY   10004
To The Editor:

          I read with distress the reference to three three-term mayors in an op ed written by Douglas Schoen and published in the Daily News of April 16, 2012.  Mr. Schoen sought to buttress his admiration for Mayor Mike Bloomberg by extolling his virtues and accomplishments as mayor, while at the same time disparaging the other three-term mayors.  I am a supporter and admirer of Mayor Bloomberg and campaigned for him in all three of his elections.  I have said many times that the people of New York City have been lucky to have him as mayor and that his vision and accomplishments have made it possible for the city to achieve new heights and to come through the Great Recession far better than any other metropolis in the country.  He is not adequately appreciated and will be very much missed when he leaves office at the end of his third term on December 31, 2013.

          Having said that, I am appalled by Schoen’s references to two great mayors, Fiorello LaGuardia and Robert F. Wagner, as well as to me.  He described LaGuardia as having, “left the city in 1945 with a massive debt and a bloated bureaucracy.”  He described Wagner and his third term as “portrayed as a ‘city in crisis’ by the New York Herald Tribune in 1965.”

          Schoen described me as “Ed Koch faced a seemingly endless series of corruption scandals during his third term; those reduced his approval ratings to as low as 33% by June 1989.”

          I believe we – the city’s pre-Bloomberg three-term mayors in the city’s modern era -- deserved better.

          Schoen’s tactic of putting the three of us down in a cavalier manner in order to heighten his admiration for Mike Bloomberg would be described by the political cognoscenti as “tuches lecker,” a Yiddish expression loosely translated as “fawning butt kisser.”

          I have known Mr. Schoen for many years and, in fact, have used his services on occasion.  Long ago, I lost confidence in his integrity and accuracy.  I write this response because of a principle I adopted when I entered politics and ran for the first time for public office in 1962, and that is, if I believe I am unfairly attacked, I respond in writing.  Understandably, I much prefer the description of me by the historian Jonathan Soffer in his biography, Ed Koch And The Rebuilding of New York.  On page 399 Soffer wrote, “Koch’s tireless and personal lobbying campaign for federal loan guarantees, along with other management reforms, led to a balanced budget by 1981 – quite simply the greatest turnaround accomplished by any New York mayor in the twentieth century, including Fiorello La Guardia.  When Koch promised Congress in 1978 that he would balance New York’s budget, few believed he would accomplish what the Emergency Financial Control Board had been unable to do, much less do it one year early.  When he left office, debt service costs were reduced to about 11 percent of the city budget, down from 25 percent at the height of the fiscal crisis.  Despite many missteps and limitations, Koch laid the foundations of municipal government and political economy for the next twenty years, rebuilt areas of the city destroyed by fire and abandonment, and exceeded expectations when he took office.  If he had not succeeded, the cancerous erosions of neighborhoods would have continued, and today New York might resemble other deindustrialized, segregated, Rust Belt hulks like St. Louis or Detroit, where attempts at ‘renaissance’ have failed.”

All the best.

Edward I. Koch

1 comment:

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