covering new york city for more than 10% of its reported history. some journalists have carried that credo to extremes. this is, undoubtedly, a hi pock create fall story. he announced he had produced a full-length book. a book, the editor said, you've got to be kidding. what's it called? to which the reporter, totally unfazed, replied, "russia: yesterday, today and tomorrow." [laughter] that sort of squares with one of the kids in a play said, a student was asked to define history to which he replied, more or less, it's just one damn thing after another. jon soffer's book is important
not just because new yorkers often forget our history, it's important because it tells a lot about new york and provides some object he is sons. of -- lessons. the first time i covered ed koch was probably not long after i got to the daily news in 1968. he might have just been elected to congress. reinvited a reporter along -- he invited a reporter along on a raid, he was going to expose the cruel way animals were being euthanized except when shelter officials explained the process, he changed his mind. instead of lobbing an easy, cheap shot, he was persuaded that he had been mistaken. it was the first time i met a public official willing to admit he was wrong. i knew then that ed koch was a man of conviction. these days you have to be careful about describing someone that way, a man of conviction -- [laughter] but you know what i mean.
in 1977 nobody really knew what kind of mayor he would make, and he explained later after writing one of his early books, i'm not an author, but before i became mayor, i wasn't a mayor. [laughter] a lot of benchmarks distinguished his mayorty, you'll hear more tonight. ed koch, i think, was the last mayor who laughed. he genuinely seemed to be having a great time doing his job. [laughter] [applause] he can laugh at himself. [laughter] at the times i checked the other day, i'd written 448 articles that mentioned ed koch which is terrifying to me. not to him. when he was 83, he told me that he planned to stay in manhattan for good. he had purchased a burial plot in trinity church cemetery.
[laughter] at 84 he told me he had already installed and inscribed a tombstone. he insisted he no longer carries any grudges, well, maybe just a i few. [laughter] he issued an apology or two, even confess today a few regrets at mayor, and this year at 85 he launched a revolution, a purge of the state legislature by taking aim at incumbents judged to be impediments to change. [applause] you judge a mayor, i think, by the mess that he inherits, by what he hoped to accomplish and how close he came to fulfilling his agenda. ken jackson recalled that mayor koch inherited a city that was in worse shape financially than the one that elected laguardia who was considered, of course, the gold standard of or mayors. jonathan soffer writes, quote: koch faced challenges greater
than any new york mayor of the 20th century and met many of them, producing quite simply the greatest turn around accomplished by any of them. sure, he made people angry, too, but, soffer writes, quote: that anger should not be allowed to obscure his accomplishments, that koch bravely faced one of the worst crises in new york history, restructured the city with minimal help from the federal government and kept it solvent and growing for a generation into the city we all have today. thank you, and please welcome jonathan soffer and ed koch. [applause] >> thank you, sam. that was a beautiful introtux. introduction. i wanted to start the discussion tonight by just reading a few photographs from my introduction and -- paragraphs from my i introduction and, hopefully,
this will tempt you to read more. by the end of his first term, koch was able to balance the city's budget, a feat that vastly exceeded expectations when he started in 1977. and by the end of his second term, he could launch a locally-financed $5.1 billion ten-year program to rebuild huge rares of the city including the south bronx and make them economically viable for the long term. the restoration of credit and the renewed economic growth enabled the city to borrow again and restore it to elected officials, the power to choose key projects rather than leaving the decision to unelected power brokers like felix -- [inaudible] the partner who headed the municipal assistance corporation. by the time koch left office in 1990, the 307lation of the -- population of the city had increased more than 7% -- i'm
sorry, more than 3% despite a severe recession, and the burned out so-called prairie in the south bronx was filled with newly-built houses. by 2006 new york's population had soar today a record 8.2 million, 16% higher than in 1980, largely as a result of policies laid out by the koch administration. koch pioneered the democratic party version of neoliberalism which privileged, which privileged corporate capital but also allowed for government intervention to shape and subsidize private enterprise. but he remained -- [inaudible] about creating new programs for social insurance that might burden future expense budgets. the most stunning examples are, is housing program. but koch also poured hundreds of millions of dollars into tax abatements to sub subsidize
construction of office buildings and luxury housing and to keep corporate headquarters from leaving the city. such construction was one of the primary engines of growth left in new york after the long period of deindustrialization and had the side benefit of providing a significant source of minority employment. but determining whether the city ultimately got its money's worth from the tax abatement program is difficult because i few data exist to show whether the incentive actually altered the behavior of developers. koch was both a free-wheeling showman and a hard working policymaker, but his rhetoric and policies did not always cohere. when observers tried to sum up his political ideology, for example, they often resort to paradoxes, however insufficient. for example, one historian maintains that koch, quote, talked like a republican sometimes but governed like a new dealer. more precisely, koch's pro-corporate policies made the rich richer even though he tried, though with less success,
to avoid making the poor poorer. he trumpeted the death penalty and law and order to campaign audiences but quietly promoted liberal correctional initiatives in the city's jail. he was a reformer who deprived the democratic machine of much of its patronage and established a nonpolitical system for appointing municipal judges, but he made deals with county leaders that he lived to regret when those leaders turned out to be crooks. he also publicly criticized some of the same judges so harshly that he feared -- that they feared he had compromised their independence. koch prided himself on his ability to make alliances with italian catholics as mayor and with southern whites and conservative republicans during his years in congress, but he failed to build alliances with many black leaders in his own hometown. he was tarred as a reaganite when he blamed labor unions and
overly generous pensions for the fiscal crisis and maintained an oppositional relationship with labor. but unlike president reagan, and i think to his credit, koch promoted orderly collective bargaining. koch's, koch's contradictions reflected the tensions inherent in governing an urban populace split along lines of geography, race, class and ethnicity. koch's biggest political challenge could be termed the pothole paradox. while financial and lay por elites worried about selling bonds and balancing the budget, most residents experienced the crisis in terms of their ethnic loyalties and the rising levels of crime and refuse in a city that had laid off thousands of police and nearly all street cleaners. patrol cars fell apart, and impossibly bumpy streets damaged
them further. dirty streets and crime were sometimes fused in popular culture as in the 1991 thriller, "out for justice," set in brooklyn. he's a cop, it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to take out the garbage. along those lines, sam wrote a very generous review of my book in the times, and one of the things that he said was that i had raised ed to limp yang heights -- to olympian heights, but actually, part of the job of being mayor is that someone's got to take out the garbage. it's the second toughest job in america. and so when my editor said o limp yang heights, isn't that kind of high? i pointed out that the highest any mayor can get is the highest point in new york city which is the top of the fresh kills landfill. [laughter] all right. well, that's, that's, that's a
start, and -- >> my turn? >> your turn. [laughter] >> first, i want to -- [applause] finish first, i want to say to sam, sam roberts not was he was so nice in his introduction of the two with of us, but because it's the truth, the fact is there are lots of reporters in this town, and some like some of the others, most of them hate one another, but there isn't anyone who doesn't respect sam roberts' integrity. [applause] and it's extraordinary. i'm very grateful for the many times you've covered the administration, the good columns, the bad columns, they were always honest columns. and i'm very grateful. now, let me just -- i don't want to speak more than the author
speaks, so i'll try to do the same time that he does. i've been dealt a wonderful hand. i'm 85 years old now. i probably have two, three years left. i have no fear of death. i've had many medical incidents, i've had a heart attack, stroke, quadruple bypass. when cardinal egan came to see me on this last occasion which was just a year ago june, i was in the hospital, and they thought i wouldn't pull through on two occasions. i was in there for six weeks, five of six weeks were in the intensive care section which is a very long time. so cardinal egan came to see me,
and i said, you know, your eminence, if god wants to take me today, tomorrow, he may need some legal advice -- [laughter] i have no fear. i'll go very quietly. he said, have no fear, your rates are too high. [laughter] finish it was rather sweet. it was rather sweet. i would use that, also, to tell you what i've tried all my life to do professionally is to bring catholics and jews closer together. it's been part of my professional life and my personal life. i probably -- i have gone to st. patrick's cathedral for more than 40 years of midnight mass. i'm a very proud jew. i'm secular.
i believe in god. there was a thought at some point amongst catholics that i was considering conversion. i said, it's more likely that john cardinal o'connor will convert than i will. [laughter] i had a wonderful relationship with cardinal o'conner as well. and for me that has always been the most important part of my professional life, to try to bring catholics and jews close or together. but in the interim i've had the good fortune to be elected to city council. well, the first job i got was an election for district leader where carmine de sapio was trying to make a comeback, and i defeated him by 21 votes.
it projected me because it was david beating goliath and so forth. and from that point on, i was involved. and i had a marvelous time. there, it was great experience as a member of congress, but you can't get thing really done as a member of congress. it's more a talking job. things that should be done, but you're not an executive, you can't get 'em done. but as mayor you can. and it's the greatest job imaginable. greatest job imaginable. why? because people, with respect to the governor, the president, they don't see them as part of themselves, as an extension. the mayor is an extension of every citizen of is -- of the city. that's the way they see it.
you belong to them. and i loved it. i absolutely loved it. and i think that whatever success i've had -- and i have had success, i'm very proud of what i've done and, obviously, some failures as well -- what made it possible, in my judgment because i'm an -- i'm not being mr. humble pie because if it's one thing it is, i am not humble. [laughter] but i recognize my limitations. i'm an ordinary guy. i'm an able administrator, i'm intelligent, but there are lots of those people. there are lot of those people. like harry truman. i like to think of myself as in the mold of harry truman, an ordinary guy who rose to the
occasion given that opportunity, responsibility. i said to myself in the course of my 12 years as mayor when things were difficult, look, there are lots of people out there who are much smarter than you and who could have done a better job as mayor. they didn't have the balls to run. [laughter] those who did run, the people thought you were better. so now just give it your best, and that's it! and that's what i did, and that's what made it possible, plus a sense of humor. i like to think i not only have a sense of humor, but it saved me many, many times. and when you could easily become depressed. and if you're te pressed, you -- depressed, you can't get anything done. you've got to be constantly aware, alive, respectful. that's the other very important aspect of being a public officer
in the sense that we're talking about. respectful of the rights of others. respectful of the rights of others doesn't mean you lay down and roll over. i mean, the best illustration when i was a member of congress, i used to come in early and look at the mail bags, and i would take out 20 letters. nobody else was in the office. i always got to the office at 7:30, whatever job i had. and i'd read the mail, and i would see what people were interested in. i used to get enormous amount of mail as a congressman. i was the congressman from the 17th stocking district called fold coast -- gold coast, and lindsay once had that district. and i was asked to go out to some western state to help some member of congress out there, and i spent a weekend on a farm
that fattens up cows. and the farmer said, well, what are the issues that are important in your district? i said, i can tell you with act accuracy because i read my mail. i said, the first issue is save the whales. [laughter] the secondish i -- the second issue is save the dolphins. [laughter] of and the third one is save the jews, and in that order. [laughter] so once again jutte to just -- just to just give you a feel of what i did and how i loved doing it -- and i don't look back and say, oh, gee, i miss it. i don't. i mean, i told you, i'm 85 years old. i'm very active. i have a radio show, i'm a partner in a law firm, i have a
television show, i write a commentary every week, and if you want the commentary, it's free. you give me your e-mail at the end of this meeting, and you'll have it tomorrow. and i also am a movie reviewer. i do movie reviews. you'll also get that as well. so we're in for a good evening, and thank you for coming. [applause] >> thank you, ed. i want to emphasize some of -- as sam did in his introduction -- some of the enormous difficulties that mayor koch faced when he took office in 1978. the capital budget of the city had almost been spirally shut off -- entirely shut off. ed actually could quote the exact figure, it was $850
million which sounds like a lot of money, but that was all the money there was for fixing the entire, for repairing anything in the whole city that year. and if you think of how much it costs to fix things in your house and multiply that out by eight million, you realize that that is a tiny, tiny fraction of what the city needed to keep its infrastructure in good shape and going. i mean, even though we have billions now, it's still not enough money and many bridges are in bad shape and we still don't repair things as quickly as we really ought to. and it had been like this for several years. those of us who lived in the city then can remember that it seemed like a wonder that anything that was left alone was working. i always used to marvel that the
red lights would change. and so the first problem that ed faced was how are you going to fund the rebuilding of this city? the -- how are you going to restore the city's creditsome -- credit? and he went to congress and asked them for loan guarantees. and those, this didn't actually cost the federal government any money. in fact, the federal government made a tidy profit of a couple of -- >> 7%. >> 7% of -- >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> and he, he went to the white house which was the carter administration at that point. the carter administration said, you'll never get it. but ed had come from the house of representatives, had made
alliances with both parties and showed a certain amount of just sheer genius in the selection of order of witnesses. i thought, well, who's going to go first. when i was writing the book, i thought, okay, who are they going to go first? are they going to have governor kerry, is mayor koch going to go first? well, the first two people ed got to go testify, and i'm sure it was because he had personal relationships with these people, were two republican congressmen. very, very canny move. and they're testifying before the senate committee. senator approximate meyer, senator brook had both indicated at the outset of the hearing that there was no way they were going to let these loan guarantees go through the
senate. and he, and i think, perhaps, ed koch's greatest triumph as mayor and the thing that enabled many of his subsequent accomplishments is that he convinced them, and he got it through the house, and he got it through the senate, and even jimmy carter was completely stunned by this because jimmy carter probably wasn't as good at getting legislation through congress as ed was. [laughter] this does not mean that everything was sweetness and light in new york city as we all know in the 1970s. we all had to live with the disastrous effects of the austerity and the earlier decisions by the ford administration not to really give the city the kind of, the kind of capital that it needed to maintain it. itself. and in order to restore the
city's credit, the mayor had to take the city through four years of, i'm sorry, three years of additional deep, deep austerity. and to increase that pain. that's something i hope, you know, obviously there are times when the budget has to be cut, but that kind of reduction of firing all of the street cleaners. i remember at the time i said to bobby wagner who was councilman at large for manhattan, bobby, why do the intersections flood every time it rains? bobby always knew the answer to these kinds of questions with. and he said, it's because there's only one catch basin cleaner. the machine that cleans out those sewers at the intersection
of the street that's left for all of manhattan. and that gives you an idea of, you know with, levels of government service going down, of service delivery going down to levels that are or truly, truly disastrous. and if we came back -- you know, another story, police commissioner mcgaer told me one night he got a call from his deputy that there was only one patrol car for queens. and he sent some over from manhattan. but that gives you an idea of what the effect of that kind of budget cutting is. it's not small government, it's not efficient, it's inefficient, and it's ugly, and it's dirty. finish and so as we head into advocacy of further types of austerity, it bodes well to realize that the things that government does are not always full, are not all corrupt, but
that government provides basic services. and what i want to ask ed is a lot of people say that this was a differential allocation of services to different neighborhoods as the city was recovering. i'm, i'm sure you heard this. one of the things that ed did was venture into every neighborhood in the city in regular town meetings and, you know, let people scream at him. and they did scream. so how did that get allocated? >> i will tell you. [laughter] i actually had in my 12 years 120 town hall meetings. there are 59 planning board districts in the city, and i went to many of them at least
three times, but to every one of them one or two times. and there wasn't a district that i wouldn't with go to. and some were very supportive. the middle class was very support i have of me -- supportive of me because i said, everybody wants to be middle class. i mean, the militants, the advocates who hated me, they'd say he's the middle class mayor! i said, yes, that's true! everybody wants to be middle class. the poor want to be middle class. i'm going to try to make that happen. but i also said, it's important to keep rich people in the city of new york because they have a lot of money. and they have the entrepreneurs in many respects, and we want them to investment and they are two or -- they have two or three houses, they can fly the coop at any time and, therefore, i have to be very respectful of their
comfort, in a sense. and so when people said, well, why are you fixing the road bed on park avenue? i said, because if we don't fix it, they're going to leave! they pay a lot of rent! and if they think they're getting shafted and not being attended to and that all that we're going to spend money on is the poor, then they'll leave! and our budget was $13 billion. i don't know what it is today. it's probably 60. i don't really know what it is today. billion. i wanted them to stay. the budget that we had, the 13 billion when all the complaints were coming, and the one thing i always insisted on is that when a charge was made by a reporter in a column or a letter to the
times, any of the other newspapers that i thought was unfair, false or unfair, i insisted that we correct the record by a letter from me, if possible an op op-ed, but most of the time they wouldn't take an op-ed but they would take a letter. and the reason was that if you don't send a letter of some sort when a reporter's column is just plain wrong, the next reporter use that column if it's not been contested. as fact. and while many times reporters will not acknowledge their error, the letter that i sent appears in the morgue which they refer to when they write their articles. and they will at least see our
opposition and question what was said before. so probably unlike most mayors i used responding to a fair thee well. and if i see something that's unfair, i will seek to correct it. and when i, we repaired the streets on park avenue and people said you're favoring the rich, i said, i don't think we're favoring them, but i know that if we don't repair the park avenue streets where the rents are so incredible, they're gonna leave! and i was willing to take the heat. but more important than that, i had wonderful people that i brought into government. they're exceptional. and they're still in government today. the current mayor brought a lot of them back just as i brought a lot of them back from the lindsay administration.
i was not an admirer of john lindsay, although i voted for him. but i was an admirer of the people who worked for his administration. i looked forward every year in the month of december, they chose that month, the month of my birthday, when the commissioners all get together. 200 commissioners, deputy commissioners, assistant commissioners, and we have a party. and 200 are included and 200 come. and what is so incredible about talking with them is they remember their days as commissioner or deputy commissioner as the most be vital and satisfying days of their professional lives. just as i do. they loved it. and part of it was my management
style. my management style was the following: if i appointed you, i believed you knew more about your field than i did. otherwise i don't need you. [laughter] and if you, in fact, know more and you do the job, i said to each commissioner, you're going to make mistakes and lots of stuff's not going to turn out, but i want you to be innovative, and i want you to know that when the press attacks you -- as they will, that's their job. i don't find fault with that. i will stand up in the blue room with you, and i will take the blame. i will take the blame. and i won't let it crush you. and that made them peel terrific. feel terrific. it made them feel in charge, which they were, and it allowed them to be innovative. so i was very lucky in what i did, and i want the just make one comment as it relates to
john. i'm still for the death penalty. let me ask you without having to answer, how many people -- you follow that case up in connecticut where those three people were murdered, and there's no requirement that you speak. [laughter] now, the the three people raped, the woman murdered, and they're now going through question as to whether or not they should be executed. i hope they execute the one guy who's only one guy who was tried. the next one will be tried shortly. i don't believe the death penalty should be used flagrantly. i believe it should be used in very special cases. and i've always felt that way. we've lost the battle. i mean, if you ask people today, there's a majority in this country that supports the death penalty. but the major newspapers and
lots of people -- and i don't fault them. you can be on both sides of this issue and be moral. they have won the battle. saying, oh, life of imprisonment without parole is worse than the death penalty. i don't believe it's worse than the death penalty, but it doesn't make any difference. i believe we've lost that battle. doesn't mean i have to give up. i'm not, i'm not. and so i speak out about it, and that's that aspect of it. just one little anecdote and then i'll turn it back. the first commissioner that i appointed was the police commissioner. bob mcguire. great police commissioner. he had never been in the police department. his father had been a detective.
he was very much involved in cases involving cops, generally defending them in actions involving shootings that they had engaged in. and i thought he was just marvelous. and when we announced it, i went out to this press conference and there was gabe peresman. he's still around, by the way. like me, still around. [laughter] only his hair is darker. [laughter] i said, gentlemen, bob mcguire, new police commissioner. he says, mayor, isn't this just part of the old irish mafia? [laughter] i turned to bob, and i put my
arm on his shoulder, and i said, bob, you told me you were jewish. laugh. [laughter] he turns, puts his arm on my shoulder, he says, no, mayor, i didn't say that, i told you i looked jewish. [laughter] end of story. >> of course, when i was writing the book, i said to ed, did you know that your second police commissioner, benjamin ward, who was the first african-american police commissioner grew up speaking yiddish, and he said, no. >> well, he had a bad accent. [laughter] >> anyway, the problem, but the problem is as you said, you took the heat. but when you, when you fix, when you fix the pavement on park
avenue, you don't fix the pavement on 126th street -- >> because you don't have the money. >> -- because you don't have the money, and you don't have the money year after year, people start to get angry. >> sure. >> and it starts to make you -- and it becomes a racially-divisive issue. when -- and it maintains the quality of life for the el with think -- wealthy and garbage and the pavement, the quality of the streets, the crime in the poorer -- i'm sorry, basic city services declined in the poorest areas. clearly, you can't be accused of planned shrinkage because when the story was all over, you did exactly the opposite. you rebuilt the city. but it didn't look that way in, say, 1983.
how did you attempt to deal with that anger and with that division in the city? >> i'll just respond to that briefly so you can continue. there were constant attacks. you're balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. that was the line. in fact, horton, ray horton who was an advocate with another academic wrote a book. and in their press release they said, and he balanced the budget op the backs of the poor. it's in their press release. it isn't in the book. he did not say that in the book, but he said it in the press release. i called him in. i said, where in your book -- because i knew it wasn't
there -- do you support this premise that we balanced the budget on the backs of the poor? well, mayor, we didn't say that. so i said, but it's in your press release, and that's what the room 9 reporters are going to use. why don't you go down there and say it's not in your book. well, we're not really good at press relations. really? [laughter] and as a result of that, i never, ever participated in anything ray horton was in charge of. and he was in charge of, he was the directer of the citizens' budget commission. they would have dinners, and they would invite me. i mean, mayor's the big guy on the block. i said, no, i will not come. so we always had to feet that. -- fight that. but on a positive level what i said to our budget people was
press down the budget and show how much goes for the poor. well, i had a wonderful budget directer, jim brigham. just wonderful. came from missouri. in fact, i picked him because he came -- he was with morgan stanley, i think, and he had been lent to the city under beam, and i met all the people, and we had wonderful people in the budget office. i had probably six people i could have picked. i picked him for the following reason. i said, the congress -- which liked me because i was there and they got to know me, and tip o'neill said the legislation that jonathan referred to, the lending the city a billion, $650 million, they did it for me. they wanted me to succeed. but i said, they don't like new
yorkers, they hate new yorkers because they think they're all jewish. [laughter] i mean, t a fact. it's not -- it's a fact. it's not anti-semitism, i'm not making that allegation. i'm saying they don't like the attitude that new yorkers have. it's too brash for them. and so i said to myself, if we want their cooperation, we've got to get somebody that they identify with. that their automatically going to believe. and i said, this guy from missouri, they're going to believe him. [laughter] in addition, he looks like a second lieutenant from the british army in the first world war. [laughter] so that's aside from his brilliance. i mean, but they were all brilliant. there were six or so, as i say, that i could have taken. he was someone i believe they would automatically believe.
identification, you know? midwest, that sort of thing. and it worked out that way. so i asked him, i said, jim, how do we convince the people, the opinion makers that we're not balancing the budget on the backs of the poor? i mean, we're allocating as best we can. he said, easy, mayor with. he said, 25% of the budget goes to education. 25. or black and hispanic. whites had fled the system. so 25% of our budget, total budget was going, basically, to minorities. and they were the poor in the city overwhelmingly. he said, another 25% goes to the human resources administration. they don't give money to middle
class people or to rich people. that only goes to poor people. so that's 50% of the budget right off the top goes to poor people, said he. and then if you take every other service like sanitation, we put more money in the, in the poor neighborhoods because there's more trash to pick up. they don't have con si yernlg people. and so the stuff's out on the street. or the fire department. there are more fires in the poor parts of this town than there are in the rich parts of this town. cops! you put the cops where the crime is. the crime is in the poor neighborhoods, and it's the poor people who are being killed and assaulted, and the cops are there to save them!
so if you went through every one of the approximately 50 services that the city provides, overwhelmingly the monies spent were going to help support poor people. senior citizens, they're poor. large numbers of minority, large numbers are white. but they're poor. after he put all those figures together showing that more than two-thirds of the operating budget were spent on poor people, overwhelmingly minority, he said we made the case, but nobody's going to believe it because it's not what they want to hear. >> is it just not what they want to hear, or is it a difference between looking at the situation from those numbers and the lived experience of being in a very
difficult city school in harlem or bedford stuyvesant or, you know, on the upper west side for that matter? the lived experience of having vacant lots that are full of garbage, and the city's not making the owner clean it up. the lived experience of not having those services is different from the way it looks on the budget which you know because you were out there. and i think that's, you know -- >> there wasn't enough money to do what you and i and the people who were living in those neighborhoods would like to see donement and -- done. and there never will be. never will be. but we did the best we could with the monies that were available, and of the monies that were available, not enough. two-thirds of that money went to help the poor people of this town. and we couldn't do better than that. but we never expected it would
convince anybody, but i wanted it on the record, and it is on the record. >> by the way, just on the ray horton thing. as with many things, i interviewed ray horton for the be book, and so both versions of the story, ed's andhis, are in the book. >> what did he say that is different than what i -- [laughter] >> oh. >> what did he say? >> i think he said it's not in the press be release, but to tell you the truth, i'd have to look it up in the index, and i don't think we have time to do that. [laughter] >> i'm telling you that he said to me, and i don't think he would deny it, that we didn't put it in the book, we put it in the press release. and when i asked him to tell the press that, he said, no, we don't feel comfortable with the press. something along those lines. that's what he said. [laughter] >> uh, let's see.
where should we go? [inaudible] >> sure. >> probably one of the most difficult, one of the most difficult decisions that ed had to make with -- and one of the most difficult agencies to handle, and the administration before it found people who could run the agency went through several people who were failures at running the agency, and it was, it was one of the -- it was probably the toughest position to fill of all the agencies. and a key one. health care was probably -- and one of the theses of the book was that health care costs and the failure of the various federal administrations in the 1970s and be 1980s to federalize the cost of health
care as ed koch proposed in 1980 and as the democratic party advocated in it platform in 1980 really contributed mightily to the costs of the fiscal crisis. now, any budget is what we call overdetermined. that means that there are a whole bunch of factors, even any one of which by itself can push the budget over the limit. but if you look at the cost of -- and this is documented in my book -- if you look at what new york city was paying through its share for medicaid plus the amount of subsidy that it paid to the health and hospitals corporation, the city hospitals' agency, to pay for care for uninsured people, that ran from -- for every year of the koch administration that ran from 40% of the budget gap, and for several, and for a couple years exceeded 100% of the
budget gap. in other words, for some years the entire budget gap in the city's financial plan could be attributed to paying for costs for health care costs for uninsured people. in order to brick those costs -- bring those costs down, very difficult decisions have to be made. no politician wants to close hospitals. politicians want to open hospitals. and some of the city's hospitals, like everything else the city was running, were in very, very bad shape, indeed. now, a hospital -- there was a hospital in harlem called -- [inaudible] hospital. it was the first hospital in new york city that allowed african-american physicians admitting privileges. and this was a huge milestone, and it was controversial.
another historically-black hospital, a private one, arthur logan hospital, had just closed a few months before. >> that was beam. >> under beam. and so other mayors had kept the hospital open even though the quality of care there for emergency services was not great. as ed will tell you, the chief medical officer of the hospital was a dentist, and it wasn't accessible to the -- the building wasn't accessible to the handicapped. so there were managerial reasons for closing this hospital. but in the political context of harlem for various political reasons, and i go into this in the book, a lot of it has to do with transition from a segregated health care system to an integrated health care system
and some of the implications of that for both black patients and for the black middle class. this was a very politically-sensitive topic. so mayor lindsay had kept it open, mayor beam had kept it open, and when ed was running for re-election -- i'm sorry, when he was running for election in the runoff in 1977, ed got the support of the main political leadership in harlem; basil paterson, charlie rangel, carl mccall and other leaders, fred samuel. and in part because he had promised to keep sidenum open. he gets to be mayor and sees the full situation x he says -- and he says, this is a terrible hospital. we're going to close it. but this has horrible political repercussions in terms of his
relationship with the black political establishment. because they had a constituency to represent, and they had gotten a promise from ed, and as they saw it, he broke ha promise. he broke that promise. >> true. >> and the result was enormous, not only enormous demonstrations at the time -- there was a sit-in in the hospital, there were big demonstrations around the hospital, and eventually it closed. but it created a tremendous, it created a lingering kiss trust and -- distrust and lingering bad relations between koch and leaders of the black community. charlie rangel in the course of this, the rhetoric got quite over the top. charlie rangel at one point compared mayor koch to bull
connor. because he was mad. and what he was really mad about was, you know, he told ed at one point, you made me a district leader again. i have to be here fighting for this damn hospital, and i could be a lot more effective paying attention to the business of the ways and means committee in washington for the city. so ed has a strong sense of justice. he hued to what seemed to be the right managerial decision. but at the same time in terms of the politics of the city, in terms of the politics of race in the city, it was, it was a decision that had political costs that weren't worth the $6 million that it would have cost to fix up the hospital which eventually, actually, they spent -- in a more affluent time, somebody spent the $6 million, and there's a clinic
that columbia runs of what is now condos. >> okay. it was a very painful moment many time. you have to understand -- moment in time. you have to understand that new york city then had 17 city hospitals and no other city in the country -- chicago, l.a., any city -- had more than one. we had 17. and as was alluded to a moment ago, the payment to the hospitals by the city unlike in the private sector a hospital can't manage its bills, it goes into bankruptcy. the city hospitals knew we would bail them out with city tax funds. and that's what we did. and jonathan conveyed it was an enormous impacting aspect which
could have put the city into ultimate bankruptcy. not the hospital, but the city which would include the hospitals as well. and i was told by our professionals that for 30 years every mayor -- wagner, lindsay, beam -- had, every one of them had said, we're going to close this hospital. and then because of the counterpressure and the anger said, no. and we decided that we would, we would open four clinics in place of the hospital, and the hospital had such a bad reputation that probably not accurate, but the cops would say if i'm shot in the foyer of siden ham, get me out of there. [laughter] that's what they said.
and the other probable myth but nevertheless believed was that no one had ever survived thoracic surgery at that hospital. so the medical people said, close it. the budget people said, close it. i said, okay, i will do it. yes, i'm violating a commitment i made, but it doesn't make any sense to keep that commitment, and i'm not really violating it because i'm opening four clinics. not like removing, you know, medical care from the neighborhood. we were going to provide better medical care. and when we tried, for example, to upgrade medical care by having the physicians at sidenham affiliate with columbia presbyterian and go through as though there were a wing of
columbia presbyterian and report to the chiefs at columbia presbyterian, the sidenham chief said, no, we're not going to give up our chiefs, you know? every hospital has a chief in different departments. so it was to upgrade -- jonathan made reference to it -- it can't have an entrance on the ground floor. you have to carry a stretcher up a staircase to get into the hospital for the emergency cases. it can't go on that way. and so i decided, yes, we will close it. well, there was an enormous storm. the person i felt most badly about was the city councilman, fred -- >> fred samuel. >> fred samuel. he was a wonderful man. he's now dead. i tried to explain it to him
and, obviously, he was very nice, but it was a wound. okay. so we closed it. there were riots and sit-ins, and we ultimately prevailed. just a brief episode, the police commander who went in to take repossession of the hospital which was empty except for the sit-ins of people, maybe 15 of them, he -- we had cut off electricity, he opens the door at midnight, and he says, don't be afraid. you know me, i'm so and so. i won't hurt anybody. and the lights were on. and he said, we're going to take you out. and you have to come peacefully. we don't want anybody hurt. this is what he told me happened the next day. and they said, we have to caucus. so they cause caucused. they said, we'll go