Ed Koch, Flamboyant Former New York City Mayor, Dies | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Ed Koch, Flamboyant Former New York City Mayor, Dies

Ed Koch, the colorful three-term mayor who led New York City through its financial crisis in the '70s, has died.

George Arzt, a spokesman for the former mayor, tells NPR's Joel Rose that Koch died of congestive heart failure around 2 a.m. ET Friday. The former mayor was 88.

As Joel writes, Koch's "larger-than-life personality was well-suited to the nation's biggest city but could also get him in trouble." The Democratic mayor, says Joel:

"Was famous for asking his constituents this question: 'Hey! How'm I doing?' He insisted this was more than just shtick. He told NPR in 1981 that he really wanted to know. 'Some people have said that's a mark of insecurity. Gee, I have to be patted on the back, how'm I doing,' he said. 'I want you to think about this: Do you know people in public life who are sufficiently secure to ask people to rate them?' "

"[But] Koch's mouth finally cost him his job as mayor. His relationship with African-American voters — never great to begin with — soured for good when he suggested that Jews would be 'crazy' to vote for Jesse Jackson in 1988. The next year, Koch lost the Democratic primary to David Dinkins, who went on to be the city's first African-American mayor. Koch never ran for office again, but he never left the public eye, either.

"He did a stint behind the bench on the People's Court; he hosted a popular talk radio show; and he stayed active in politics, endorsing causes and candidates he favored, with little regard for party affiliation."

The New York Times leads its obituary by saying that Koch "parlayed shrewd political instincts and plenty of chutzpah into three tumultuous terms as mayor of New York with all the tenacity, zest and combativeness that personified his city of golden dreams."

And our colleague Jim O'Grady at WNYC writes that Koch:

"Decided that what the city needed was a leader with an active will and gigantic personality. Specifically, his. You'd see him everywhere: On TV and at community meetings, astride the Brooklyn Bridge with the commuting masses during a transit strike and throwing out the first ball at Shea Stadium, to mingled cheers and boos. His nasal hectoring and pressed-forward posture became the sound and style of the city during the 12 years of his three terms in office. On his watch, the budgetary bleeding was stanched and the municipal books were balanced. And New York City began to show faint glimmers of recovery."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Lowly Worm Is Back! Richard Scarry Jr. Brings Dad's Manuscript To Life

The younger Scarry, also an illustrator, found a draft of Best Lowly Worm Book Ever! in his dad's Swiss chalet. He says all that was missing was the final art, "so that's what I did."
NPR

A Food Crisis Follows Africa's Ebola Crisis

Food shortages are emerging in the wake of West Africa's Ebola epidemic. Market shelves are bare and fields are neglected because traders can't move and social gatherings are discouraged.
NPR

Uber Greases The Wheel With Obama's Old Campaign Manager

Uber is hiring David Plouffe, the mastermind of Obama's 2008 campaign, to power its own political strategy. What can a tech-savvy political animal offer a ride-sharing service?
NPR

Native Stories From Alaska Give Gamers Something To Play With

The video game Never Alone draws on a traditional Inupiaq story and the actual experiences of native Alaskan elders, storytellers and youth.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.