Bloomberg: ‘Ed Koch, I assume, is smiling right now’

bloomberg-ed-koch-i-assume-smiling-right-now
Bloomberg in Grand Central Terminal on Friday. (Dana Rubinstein)
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Asked this morning about his most memorable interaction with Ed Koch, Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered up the following anecdote.

"Campaigning, I think it was in Jamaica, in front of the bus station there, or something or other," said Bloomberg. "A cold winter's day and we're out shaking hands. And one time, somebody came up and I was by the subway stairs and I shook their hands and I said, 'Would you like to meet Ed Koch, former mayor?' And the guy said to me, 'No,' and walked off. And Ed said to me, 'You can't please all the people all the time.'"

Ed Koch died at 2 a.m. this morning from congestive heart failure. He was 88.

In the decade preceding his death, he and Bloomberg established what was, by all appearances, a warm relationship. (Koch did not feel the same warmth for Bloomberg's predecessor, having published a collection of columns under the title Rudy Giuliani: Nasty Man.)

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Bloomberg top aide and confidante, Patti Harris, came from the Koch administration, and Bloomberg today guessed it was she who first introduced them.

In 2011, Bloomberg named the Queensboro Bridge in his honor.

This morning, following a ceremony marking the centennial celebration at Grand Central Terminal, the mayor took some questions from the press about the passing of his friend.

How would Bloomberg describe the Koch personality?

"Irascible," said Bloomberg, adding, "I don't know why I thought of that, it just popped into mind."

Later on, he amended his answer slightly.

"I do remember having long conversations with him about, do people care that they agree with you, or that they think you're genuine?" he said. "And Ed and I both agreed it is the genuineness that mattered. People would prefer, I suppose, if you're on their side. But they really don't remember that...they do remember that you believed. They do remember that you could articulate why you believed it. And I think if you have to pick one word, in addition to irascible, but one that's maybe even more insightful, he's genuine. Ed Koch was a genuine person."

A couple of days ago, Bloomberg spoke with the late, three-term mayor. He was tired and they didn't talk for long, but Bloomberg said, "It's the first time that he didn't have the sparkle in his voice."

Koch's funeral will be held on Monday, and on Tuesday, there will be a shiva in his honor at Gracie Mansion.

"It's a sad day for the city, but on the other hand, if you have to go, going and leaving this kind of a legacy and slowly winding down without any pain and suffering and still having the ability to communicate with people is probably the ways to do it," Bloomberg said. "Ed Koch I assume is smiling right now."

Here's Koch talking about having a bridge renamed in his honor: