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Edward Irving Koch (December 12, 1924 - February 1, 2013) was an American lawyer, politician, political commentator, movie critic and reality television arbitrator. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 and three terms as mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989.
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- It is somewhat unfortunate that there is a problem in Ireland and I hope the English do get out of Ireland.
- Statement during Prince Charles's visit to New York (June 17, 1981), quoted in Michael Leapman, "New York Irish halt Royal ballet", The Times (June 18, 1981), p. 1
- I've said it before and I'll say it again, England get out of Ireland.
- Speech in an Irish public house in New York for the launch of an Irish television show (February 11, 1982), quoted in Michael Hamlyn, "Koch war of words upsets UN", The Times (February 12, 1982), p. 6
- You don't have to be born in New York City to be a New Yorker. You have to live here for six months. And if at the end of the six months you walk faster, you talk faster, you think faster, you're a New Yorker.
- Interview ("What Makes a New Yorker"), New York: A Documentary Film, directed by Ric Burns, released in a series of episodes from 1999 to 2003
- You ask Israel to cease building settlements on the West Bank, which are intended not only to house Israelis, but to provide a defense bulwark when the Islamist armies of the surrounding states, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria – Assad or his opponents – and Iraq, again try militarily to crush Israel. Will Britain come to Israel's aid? I recall when in one of those wars, Britain declined to deliver to Israel tanks it had purchased from your country. Britain under Chamberlain participated in the Munich sellout of Czechoslovakia. What you and your European colleagues are doing now is repeating the sellout, this time of Israel. The Czech Republic, mindful of what happened to it, is the only European country to vote no to Palestinian statehood. When one of your predecessors told the world that he offered "peace in our time," he wrote himself into history as a disgrace. How will history on this issue recall you? Why would you expect Israel to cooperate in its intended lynching?
- Letter to David Cameron, quoted in Elad Benari, "Koch: Judea, Samaria Essential to Israeli Security", Israel National News (January 3, 2013)
- New York: Simon and Schuster.Mayor: An Autobiography.
- It is not possible to remake the world. You can fix parts, but you can't remake the world.
- Yet how do you govern in a city where everyone thinks he or she is the best and can do it better than you? You do it by conveying that you are giving everything you have, and you demonstrate that what you are doing is what they would be doing if they were in your place. You become their hand on the wheel of government. People want to touch you, praise you, harangue you, love you and hate you. And as Mayor, you must be able to accept it all and at the same time not become overwhelmed by the praise or overcome by the abuse.
- p. 346
- I have as my shield ever before me that public service is the noblest of professions if it is done honestly and done well. I know that in the private sector, no matter how much money you make (and it's nice to make money) you can't have the sense of satisfaction that comes at the highest levels of government from helping improve the lives of millions of people. I know that every Mayor of New York since Fiorella LaGuardia has been measured by the public and has measured himself against the image of the Little Flower. He has created the standard. I am hopeful that at the end of my Mayoral career, whether that be another six or ten years, I will have left such a positive mark. I believe that I will, but only the historians will be able to make that judgement.
- p. 346
- I am Mayor of a city that has more Jews than live in Jerusalem, more Italians than live in Rome, more Irish than live in Dublin, more blacks than live in Nairobi and more Puerto Ricans than live in San Juan. It is a tremendous responsibility, but there is no other job in the world that compares with it. Every day is new. Every day is dangerous. Every day is filled with excitement. Every day has the possibility of accomplishing some major success that will impact positively on the lives of the citizens of the City of New York. Every day I am both humbled and made even more proud than the day before.
- p. 347
Citizen Koch (1992)
- New York: St. Martin's Press. Citizen Koch: An Autobiography.
- I remember walking down Eighth Street one Friday morning, and being stopped by one of my constituents, an elderly lady who approached me, wanting to talk. "How'm I doing?" I said, in what was becoming the signature greeting of my political career. "Congressman," she said, "you're doing just terrible. How could you support those yellow-bellies? My grandson is in Vietnam, and here you are supporting those yellow-bellies in Canada." "Ma'am," I said, as gently as I could manage. "I don't want to try and persuade you, but let me tell you my position. I think the war is wrong. I think that ultimately we have to bring our boys home. We've ruined too many lives, the draft dodgers' and the deserters' among them. It is time to heal. Now, I understand you see things differently, and I hope your grandson is okay, but this is my position. I hope you'll ultimately agree with me, but it's not necessary that you do. We will never agree on everything." Then I added, "But other than that, how else am I doing?" "Other than that, you're doing wonderful," she said, and we both laughed.
- p. 111
- Incidentally, my "How'm I doing?" phrase grew out of my first term as a Congressman. I used to come home to New York every Friday when Congress was not in session, and hand out literature at the twenty-five major subway and bus stops in my district. Every Friday morning, I'd be at one of them. I wanted to stay in touch with my constituents and give them the opportunity to talk to me, so I did not miss a week. Typically, I would hand out a reprint of some statement I had made in Congress that week and include a little box telling people to write to express their opinion and help me to implement my suggestions. I asked them to send me copies of their letters, and that's how I communicated with them. Hundreds of my statements were copied in letters in the course of a week, as a direct result of my bus and subway stops; the originals were sent to the President, or his Cabinet members, among others.
Of course, my constituents were not always happy to see me, particularly at seven o'clock in the morning when they were running to catch the subway. They had other things on their minds than communicating with their Congressman. Most of them were in such a hurry that they probably saw me as an impediment. Perhaps they thought I was crazy; after all, it wasn't an election year- what the hell did I think I was doing?
I was trying to get attention, but it wasn't easy. When I first started, I would say, "Good morning," and people would rush by me, into the subway. A few would say, "Good morning," but that was about it. I don't think they were being rude, just indifferent, distracted. Then one morning, just to vary the routine a little, I said, "I'm Ed Koch, your Congressman. How'm I doing?" And people responded. They actually stopped. Sometimes they told me I was doing lousy, but they always stopped. And they talked to me, and I listened.
- p. 112
- Right away, I knew I was onto something, so I kept at it. I started to use the phrase in my newsletters and press releases. When I campaigned for reelection, I used it in my speeches, and everywhere else it seemed appropriate. "How'm I doing?" became associated with me, as it still is to this day. Years later, after I became mayor, the writer Ken Auletta, among others, condemned me for my slogan. There were a lot of people who used to criticize me for using it as often as I did, but for some reason Auletta's derision has stayed with me. He wrote that instead of saying, "How am I doing?" I should be saying, "How are we doing?" I thought to myself, You dope. Do you think anyone could stand at a subway stop at seven in the morning saying, "How are we doing?" and expect an kind of response. That's the way a teacher talks to her children: "How are we doing today?" It's patronizing. Worse, it sounds foolish. Corporations pay millions of dollars for slogans and logos, and most times people don't remember them. And it didn't cost a nickel. I wasn't about to give up a good thing.
- p. 112-113
- There has been, and will always be, a special relationship between me and the people of New York city. It's really quite extraordinary. I cherish this relationship dearly, and at the same time, I am humbled by it. It transcends politics. I've devoted my life to the city, and if the response to this brief hospitalization is any indication, the devotion has been returned.
I hope this relationship never changes, although I suspect it will, over time. My plan is to keep it going for as long as I can, because I've only just started on this third career of mine. If it is to be my last act, then I'd like it to be a long one, and a productive one, and I'd like to work up until the last moment. For now, though, I'm still here, and I'm still whole, and I've got a lot left to do.
- p. 270
Ed Koch on Everything (1994)
- Death penalty: The death penalty will not solve the problem of crime, but it is more than merely symbolic. There are some people who commit murder that so subvert society that they deserve nothing less than a death sentence. I believe, as does the Supreme Court, that some people will be deterred by it.
- p. 61
Quotes about Koch
- On a dusty wall of McSorley's Old Ale House, the oldest Irish tavern in New York City, hangs an autographed portrait of the late New York Mayor Ed Koch. Koch inscribed a pro-IRA slogan below his portrait and above his signature, an apparent appeal to the tavern's Irish Catholic owners: "England out of Ireland."
Koch was, of course, one of the Democratic Party's most vocal supporters of Israel's settlement enterprise. He smeared critics of the occupation of Palestine as "terrorist supporter[s]." The irony of his inscription can hardly be overstated.
- Max Blumenthal, "‘England out of Ireland’ — Ed Koch’s hypocrisy", Mondoweiss (July 30, 2013)
- The hurt in my heart and the agony in my soul were of such intensity that when I was home and first got the news of a national homosexual bill similar to the one in Dade County, all I could do was cry. This bill, HR2998, would have the effect of making it mandatory nationwide to hire known practicing homosexuals in public schools and in other areas. With all the thousands of other letters I received from groups all over the country dealing with pornography, abortion, TV violence, ERA, and various other things, all I could do was weep for America. There are no words in the English language strong enough to describe the grief I felt.
- Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story (1977), Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company, p. 53
- NOTE: The bill referenced was introduced in the House of Representatives, 95th Congress by Edward I. Koch (D-NY) on 2 February 1977, and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Education and Labor the same day. No further action on the bill ever took place. Contrary to Bryant's claims, the actual summary of the bill was: "Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on affectional or sexual preference in: (1) public accommodations; (2) public facilities; (3) public education; (4) federally assisted opportunities; (5) equal employment opportunities; (6) housing; and (7) educational programs receiving Federal assistance."
- Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story (1977), Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company, p. 53
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