Ed Koch Has Lost His Way On David Weprin
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Ed Koch has lost it.
The 86 year-old 105th Mayor of New York City who served from 1978-1989 has gone off the deep end.
He’s always been a bit odd.
He’s always been a stand up guy.
His style, outspoken manner and in-your-face approach to politics has earned him the admirations of New Yorkers – in addition to four terms in Congress and three terms as Mayor.
But it was well over 20 years ago that he left elective office and he still is a New York icon (and now he’s a bridge too).
He started reviewing movies for the Trib in 1990 – I think – and is self publishing his reviews on the web today. His regular commentaries are also available by email.
His opinions on movies and the world are frequently a bit off.
But Ed is bright, knows New York, has a good heart and damn, does he speak his mind.
But when it comes to the election to replace resigned troubled Congressman Anthony Weiner in the 9th C.D. Ed’s synapses have misfired.
Now don’t get me wrong, in every – well, most — election there are choices. And in the Special Election on Sept. 15th there may be reasons to support little-known Republican Bob Turner over well-known David Weprin. But when Ed Koch cites support of Israel as the major reason for him crossing party lines and endorsing Turner, he is either disingenuous or his sharp intellect is sharp no longer.
This paper and this writer are not ready to take sides in this one, but we know David Weprin as one of the most active, outspoken supporters of Israel in New York today. The Queens Orthodox Jew has been consistent in that position for his entire public life. We really don’t know of any record on Israel for Bob Turner.
During this ridiculous process, Koch has made reference to the fact that Weprin’s father Saul, former Speaker of the New York State Assembly was one of the few New York Jews who did not support him over Mario Cuomo – and as Koch pointed out – Ed Koch has a long memory.
The former Mayor has also taken to voice his extreme dissatisfaction with President Obama over Israel, Medicare and more. It seems that Koch believes Obama will be watching the 9th CD and take a message from the voters — if they reject Weprin, they reject Obama.
Ed, give me a break.
President Obama continues to shine and represents the best things this country stands for. While many would prefer a more extreme or intransigent position on Israel, only the most extreme would think of suggesting that the President is not committed to fully supporting the Middle East’s only Democracy.
While many would prefer Obama to espouse an unwillingness to compromise on tweaking the American longstanding social safety net, Obama is committed to preserving Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the American way of life. He also recognizes that to deal with the Republicans in Congress who control one house and have a voice in the other, he must compromise. But any but the wealthiest Americans are better off with Barack Obama and his Democrats’ point of view than the Tea Party strongly influenced Republicans.
And by the way Ed, the President is not basing his foreign policy on the outcome of the 9th C.D. Special Election.
And Ed, David Weprin is the established stronger ally of Israel.
And Ed, if David’s father supported Mario Cuomo over you, and now you are looking for retribution, Saul will never know.
If the main issue in the 9th CD is Israel – and it shouldn’t be – David Weprin would be the clear choice.
If the consideration is helping President Obama achieve the best for the average American, he needs every Democrat he can get in Congress.
If the issue is getting even for the acts of the father, you are not the Ed Koch I remember.
Ed, stick to movie reviews.
Jay Walder Is Not Casey Jones, Jumps From NYC
By Henry J. Stern
Jay Walder is no Casey Jones.
Unlike the iconic railroad engineer, who kept his hand on the throttle while his train plunged down curving tracks to disaster (and by doing so saved the lives of many people) the MTA chief Jay Walder did not even complete two years at the helm of the transit authority before he jumped ship for a more secure and lucrative berth in a private, profitable transit system.
Walder was not shanghaied in the dead of night; he is going voluntarily to MTR (Mass Transit Railway), a railroad colossus headquartered in Hong Kong. Any idea where they might bank?
Actually, Walder had a number of good reasons for his secretive flight from New York and the MTA. The first is the impoverishment of the system he is leaving. The MTA has consistently been undersupported, not given enough money to operate, let alone to build and maintain the system in good repair. Before he came, they overspent wildly, in part because of bureaucracy, over-engineering, and weakness before unions, as well as traditional corruption, particularly in construction and real property. Walder did not want his reputation endangered by too many years presiding over a system subject to those perils.
Second is the apparent indifference of Governor Cuomo to the plight of the MTA, and the absence of any effort to develop a relationship with Walder. It was not nearly as bad as Governor Paterson, who refused to speak with Lee Sander, Walder’s predecessor, or even to return his calls, because Sander had been appointed by his predecessor, Governor Spitzer.
Walder chose to accept what could be the best transit job in the world, at a multiple of the salary which was begrudged to him in New York. He thus avoided the fate of his predecessor.
Last week, I watched The Call on New York 1. People called and emailed the station to express their views on Walder. Almost all were very negative, with the exception of Richard Ravitch, the former lieutenant governor, as well as MTA chair. Ravitch was highly complimentary, as was Mayor Bloomberg. The hostile attitude of the public came because of the service and personnel reductions that Walder was obliged to make because of the lack of public funds and steadily rising expenses, most but not all of which were uncontrollable. How many years should one devote to serving people who think you are doing a lousy job, when in fact you are doing a very competent job at an obviously thankless task?
One could tell that many of the disgruntled callers were transit employees or union activists. Even so, there were precious few callers who admired the service they received from the MTA or its departing chairman. If there were an attempt to jam the switchboard, it succeeded. If there were not, the negative sentiment was more authentic. Of course, no one likes waiting for a train on a hot platform, being squeezed or crushed inside a car, or being delayed for an indefinite period, whether by “the dispatcher” or by “train traffic ahead.”
The underlying fact is that the transit system is in a financial bind comparable to that which faces the United States, except that it cannot run up $14 trillion in deficits and then ask for more. Sooner or later, probably sooner, fares will rise and interest on the MTA’s indebtedness will increase. The State and City, traditional sources of additional funding, are, as we know, undergoing severe fiscal problems and highly unlikely to substantially increase transit subsidies, if indeed they are willing to retain them. One cannot mention state aid without recalling with sorrow the disgraceful decision of the New York State Assembly to eliminate the commuter tax on May 17, 1999, a date which will live in infamy in mass transit history. How long should Walder remain at the helm of a ship which takes on more water each year?
We believe that Jay Walder is, by and large, a decent, honorable, hard-working and competent bureaucrat, who will be missed after he is gone. He is not an inspirational figure, nor did he attempt to be one.
“Speak truth to power” is a noble slogan, but truth is better spoken by those with no power than by those with some. People with intermediate degrees of power are likely to lose what little they have if they engage in unappreciated candor. Those outside the Beltway (or its local equivalent) are less subject to the whims of the authorities.
We wish Walder the best in his new adventure. The search for a successor should begin at once. It will be a real challenge to the Governor and the MTA to find someone as knowledgeable and professionally skilled as Walder. But once such a person is hired, s/he must be given the appropriation that is needed for the MTA to do the job right.
P.S. It is ironic that people now go from New York to Hong Kong in order to triple their wages.