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Ways of the World

Carol Stone, business economist & active Episcopalian, brings you "Ways of the World". Exploring business & consumers & stewardship, we'll discuss everyday issues: kids & finances, gas prices, & some larger issues: what if foreigners start dumping our debt? And so on. We can provide answers & seek out sources for others. We'll talk about current events & perhaps get different perspectives from what the media says. Write to Carol. Let her know what's important to you:

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Ed Koch, 1924-2013

The New York Times obituary of Mr. Koch ran to over 5,000 words.  We'll be briefer here.  It's actually not necessary to be long-winded to get across why he mattered to New Yorkers.  I've read a number of articles about him since Friday and numerous of his great one-liners.  His spirit and approach to being the Mayor of New York seem to me most concisely presented in these few paragraphs by one of his press officers, Evan Cornog, now a writer for Newsday.
Much of the press about Koch . . . misses how dedicated he was to the actual day-to-day governing of the city. . . [During the time] I worked for him, what impressed me above all was that nearly all the time, the question he was trying to answer was: What was the best choice for the entire city?
This is not to say that he didn't care about his political career, but he had sufficient confidence in himself, and in democracy, to feel that if he found the right answer to that question often enough, his career would take care of itself. And he was right. Of course, he didn't always find the right answer, and at times political expediency shaped the course of policy more than he would have liked. But in the years I worked for him, I never saw him less than passionate about the city he led.
He came across as a man with a big ego, but he was eager to surround himself with the best commissioners and deputy mayors he could find, and displayed no fear of being overshadowed (as if)."[1]
Koch, a Democrat, more than once endorsed Republican candidates in various local and even national elections.  In this current era when bi-partisanship seems hardly to exist and political rhetoric seems increasingly harsh, here's one quote of his we like a lot:  "If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, great, vote for me.  If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, then see a psychiatrist."  He didn't need absolutely everyone to agree with him on every thing, and other people might obviously have valid opinions too.  This approach meant he could get things done:  he balanced the City's budget and renewed its vision of a future.

Finally, the cartoon on the Newsday website spoke to us:

We echo the cartoonist, Walt Handelsman: "Rest in Peace, Mr. Koch."  And the New York Post headline on February 2: "You Done Great!"

[1]Both the quote and the cartoon appeared on the Newsday website on February 1, 2013, and were accessed by us February 3, 2013.

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