News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics
Koch funeral highlighted by eulogies from associates
The elected officials, current and former, are all collected in camera's eye view at the front of Temple Emanu-El, including former President Bill Clinton, who spoke. Ex.-Gov. Mario Cuomo, current Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, ex-Sen. Al D'Amato, current Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and former mayors Rudy Giuliani and David Dinkins, clustered nearby Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
But the last three speeches were probably the most significant behind the families', coming as they did from associates who knew him better than the better-known political celebrities. It was his political and government work friends managed to apply a coating of humor to Koch's well-known and widely-indulged vanity and boorishness.
James Gill, law partner of the late mayor, and father of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's investigation commissioner, Rose Gill Hearn, said people would come up to him on the street and urge him to return to City Hall. Gill said he would reply, " No, the people threw me out and now the people must be punished.”
John LoCicero recalled that he met Koch in 1963 and Koch urged him to join the Village Independent Democrats. LoCicero said he replied that Koch was doing so because LoCicero was Italian. “He said 'you're right.' I was shocked. And I'm thinking, 'here's a guy who says what he thinks,' and I was hooked.”
LoCicero spoke of Koch asking a Chinese representative at a parade if he wished to defect, and how Koch, despite his advice, insisted on talking to Staten Islanders about abortion and Upper West Siders about the death penalty.
Diane Coffey, a former aide, recalled a fight after which she wouldn't speak to Koch for three days. He called her in and said the chill was affecting the office. She said he should apologize and he did. Then he opened the door and announced, “Diane was wrong, but I apologized.” She spoke of how in his last days he asked Bloomberg to speak at the funeral.
With uniformed police hoisting the coffin out of the massive synagogue, the organ played “New York, New York.” People applauded. He's to be buried in a plot at a nondenominational area of Trinity Church cemetery in Manhattan. The headstone has the last words of reporter Daniel Pearl before he was executed by terrorists.