Why A NY Uprising Hero Should Not Be A Bridge
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
I like Ed Koch.
Ed Koch is my hero – now, even more than before.
As the Mayor of New York City for 12 years, (1978-1989) he made us feel good – it was his own personal brand of the “Fun City” theme initiated by John Lindsay two terms earlier. Only for Ed, it was “How’m I Doin’?”
Somewhere in the house, I have an autographed copy of his 1984 bestseller, “Mayor.” In the office, still unpacked from our November move, is a picture of me and Ed taken at Gracie Mansion way back in his early days as Mayor – it’s black and white. If I can locate it, I’ll share it with you if space allows. Ed even became a movie reviewer for my papers when I was President of News Communications in the 1990’s. He’s continued reviewing movies to this day – sharing his thoughts on movies in the Huffington Post, and on politics and the world to an email list.
|Ed Koch and Mike Schenkler at Gracie Mansion in the 1980s.|
But Ed Koch is my guy. He and Mike Bloomberg tower over the other Mayors I’ve encountered – and I’ve met them all since John Lindsay, who was first elected in 1966.
But Ed didn’t become my real hero until he was out of office for more than two decades and well into his 80’s. Last year, at age 85, Ed decided to lead New York’s reform movement, aimed at trying to fix what is broken in Albany. As head of NY Uprising, he has preached, bullied, led and implored candidates and elected officials to sign onto the reform pledge with the centerpiece being independent redistricting. This month, Ed was in Albany greeting the elected “heroes of reform” and still urging the “enemies of reform” to sign on.
He’s one of my heroes.
He’s one in a million.
I like Ed Koch.
A Hero But Not a Bridge
I oppose renaming the Queensboro Bridge for Ed Koch. The iconic structure is ours – the people of Queens take pride in it. It is the only iconic structure named for our borough. It is part of the heart and soul of Queens.
My hero Ed is from Manhattan – he’s all Manhattan. But I wouldn’t support naming it for anyone. We need something mighty and soaring and iconic of our own. Queens needs the Queensboro Bridge – we’ve had it for more than a century.
“They wouldn’t do it to the Brooklyn Bridge,” was Councilman Peter Vallone Jr’s first phone call to me. I was sold before hearing from Peter but was excited that perhaps the Council wouldn’t go along with the Mayor’s proposal. Vallone has bravely taken on the Mayor who has proposed the name change and his seemingly acquiescent colleagues at the City Council ready to allow Queens to be diminished. Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Dan Halloran have joined in opposition. The rest of the Queens delegation is woefully silent or pathetically supportive of this shameful act.
The Speaker of the Council would not be moving this bill if the Queens delegation opposed it. The entire Council would not be backing this measure if the Queens delegation spoke up in opposition. It is the silence of inaction that will take our Bridge and hand it over to the Manhattan-centric City to name for a Manhattan hero.
There are a lot of things which could be named for Ed Koch – although I’m one of those who believe the government should not be naming things for the living.
In the Schenkler book, requirement No. 1 is that you had to have lived an honest and good life; requirement No. 2 is that you’ve had to have done something exceptional relating to that which is named for you; and requirement No. 3 is that you have to be dead.
Ed Koch deserves something special, but I hope it’s not for many more years that I advocate for “Ed Koch Central Park.”
Ed Koch is my hero.
Please leave the Queensboro Bridge alone.
Out of the Closet And Into the Cooler
By HENRY STERN
The forces of good scored a major victory in the indictment of State Senator Carl Kruger, Assemblyman William Boyland and six accomplices in a bribery ring that goes back five years.
Until now, corrupt legislators had been picked off by the authorities one at a time, and their venality, although felonious, was relatively limited in its scope. This time a big fish has been nabbed, along with his bottom-feeder associates.
The investigation was helped over the years by co-operating public officials seeking lighter sentences. Brian McLaughlin was the first to go; he gave up the late Anthony Seminerio, who was taped in expletive-laced conversations with Kruger’s confederates.
We wonder how many more legislators, particularly from Brooklyn and Queens, are shivering at the prospect of future undesired contact with law enforcement agencies. The Aqueduct casino conspiracy of 2010, although well publicized, has not yet led to indictments. Since the plot was foiled, there may be insufficient grounds to send the plotters upstate. If they should be incarcerated, however, they will be counted as residents of their home districts downstate, thanks to their Democratic colleagues in the legislature who wanted to minimize Republican districts upstate.
The daily press gave substantial and well-merited attention to the arrests.
The 53-page criminal complaint, obtained by Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a position formerly held by Robert Morgenthau and Rudy Giuliani, contain intercepted telephone conversations between the alleged conspirators, including an Assemblymember who died in prison.
For nine years, we have railed against public corruption, starting with former Councilman Angel Rodriguez in our first column (3/21/02). Whenever one wrongdoer is found out, however, it seems that another rises to take his or her place. The system is remarkably enduring.
We believe that most public officials are honest and decent. Unfortunately, many are held in low regard because of the derelictions of their colleagues. It is also true that very few officials are concerned with the misconduct of their fellow legislators; they are much more comfortable ignoring fraud or corruption by their next door neighbors and running mates. These don’t commit crimes themselves, but they are quite tolerant of those who do. There is no honor code in Albany.
Most New Yorkers are relatively satisfied with the people who represent them. This is in part because over the years they have received publicly-funded mailings or relied on constituent services. They may have met their local representative in the park, on the street, or in a church or synagogue. Voters may identify by gender, orientation or ethnicity with the name they see on election posters.
In addition, challengers to politicians are usually even less well known than the incumbents. That is why the re-election rate is so high, and why legislators have more to fear from prosecutors than from electoral rivals.
Nonetheless, the indictments are good news. We are aware that an indictment is merely an accusation, and a jury must be convinced of the defendants’ guilt. Kruger has hired a fine lawyer in Benjamin Brafman, who while representing him will no doubt divest his client of a good portion of his allegedly ill-gotten gains.
We suggest you read as much as you care to of the U.S. Attorney’s complaint, and particularly the transcripts of the defendants’ telephone conversations. A reasonable person would be hard pressed to develop a scenario under which the alleged conspirators would not be at fault.
It will probably take over a year before this matter is disposed of. We have on occasion quoted an old Greek saying, which was rendered in English in 1640 by George Herbert: “The mills of the gods grind slow, but they grind exceeding fine.”
Let justice be done.