One of the most colorful and outspoken mayors in the history of New York City, Ed Koch, has died. He was 88.
Koch died of congestive heart failure early Friday morning at a hospital in Manhattan. He had suffered from a variety of health problems since leaving City Hall more than 20 years ago.
A three-term mayor of New York, Koch earned a reputation as a feisty but enthusiastic promoter of his city. He was fast-talking, opinionated and sometimes rude. In office, he quickly became a celebrity, appearing on talk shows and in movies. Reporters sought him out for quotes around-the-clock because of his ability to say something outrageous at any time.
Koch described his no-nonsense style in a 2007 interview with VOA.
"You mustn't be afraid. Many people, particularly those in public office, are afraid of the press. I was never afraid of the press, because I knew more than they did in matters of government, and so I had no hesitation in discussion and debate with them. You have to be an expert on the subject matter you are in control of. And you must not lie or exaggerate. (BEGIN OPT) People lose respect for you after a while when they understand that they can't trust your facts and your figures." (END OPT)
Under his watch from 1978 to 1989, New York dug itself out of near-financial collapse. He imposed tough fiscal policies and instituted sharp budget cuts.
During his tenure, the city regained its financial footing and experienced a construction boom. But his time in office also was marked by charges of corruption among his political allies, as well as racial tensions in the city and an increase in crime and homelessness.
After leaving office, Koch continued to seek the spotlight, appearing on TV as a political pundit, movie reviewer, food critic and judge on the popular reality show, "People's Court."
He described his outlook to VOA in 2007.
"Be yourself. I believe I've done that all my life and I believe people have had confidence in me. So that when I was elected mayor and the city was on the edge of bankruptcy, I said 'If you follow me, I will lead you across the desert and we will prevail!'"
In a 2009 interview with the New York Times, Koch said he had few regrets about his time in office.