Pols, who want Ed Koch’s name removed from the bridge, once praised him

A mob of Big Apple Democrats are demanding the removal of Ed Koch’s name from the Queensboro Bridge – after he spent years singing his praises, a review of the records and past statements reveals.

A colorful and sharp-tongued World War II veteran, Koch served as mayor from 1978 to 1989. As a Democrat, he acquired weakness among Republicans and centrists, but has long polarized the city’s active left. Critics said he did not act quickly enough to address the AIDS crisis of the 1980s or fight crime. Cook died in 2013.

The push to remove Koch’s name from the Queensboro Bridge comes from the Jim Owles LGBT Democratic Club, whose leader, Allen Roskoff, has long held a deep grudge against Koch for his handling of the AIDS epidemic.

“Given that Ed Koch has been shown to have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people with AIDS and was patently racist, would you support a city bill to rename the former Queensboro Bridge? Do you permit your name to be used for such a purpose?” Roskoff conducted a lengthy questionnaire of elected officials and candidates. Awakened Democratic A-listers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Jamaal Bowman wasted no time in reiterating their support.

New York City Councilman Stephen Levin and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
New York City Councilman Stephen Levin and Rep. Carolyn Maloney attend a news conference calling for a memorial to be erected on the subway to commemorate Mayor Koch.
Gabriella Bass

Among the most notable calls for Koch’s removal is Manhattan Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who strongly advocated naming the bridge after Koch in 2011.

“Mayor Koch’s infectious optimism and energy have pulled New York City back from the brink and restored our confidence in the future of the city we love. Renaming the Queensboro Bridge Mayor Koch would be a fitting tribute to this great New Yorker and great American,” she said in official testimony to the city council as they considered the name change.

When Maloney faced a primary in 2010, Koch supported her. The congresswoman said she was “honoured” to have his support, calling him “one of NYC’s greatest leaders and public servants.” Friendly photos of the two together can still be seen on Maloney’s Facebook page.

In 2013, shortly after Koch’s death, she campaigned to have the 77th St.-Lexington Avenue subway station named after him, a plan that fell through because MTA rules prohibit naming subway stations after people to name.

“I loved Ed Koch. I don’t believe in naming bridges after people,” Maloney told the Post. “I have listened to LGBTQ+ leaders tell me that changing the name of the former Queensboro bridge in honor of Mayor Koch was offensive and painful to some in the community. I have therefore decided to listen to the community, walk the talk of the Allies and put my name to the cause.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) also said he was “open to a name change,” though he once called Koch “a pioneer of his time” who “undoubtedly reinvented what it means to be mayor of a big city.” When Jeffries was about to jump from the state assembly to congress in 2012, Koch cut a radio ad for him.

Councilman Stephen Levin (left) and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney hold a sign outside the entrance to the 77 Street subway station.
Councilor Stephen Levin (left) and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney hold up a sign proposing a name change for the 77 Street subway station to Mayor Edward I. Koch Way.
Keith Bedford/REUTERS

Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) said she would “like to consider” removing Koch’s name from the bridge. But in a statement after his death, she said she was “always proud and grateful for his support and will cherish the memories of working with him,” adding that Koch “embodied New York.”

“Part of being a responsive leader is listening to traditionally disenfranchised groups. Yes, I’ve reached out for support in the past, but that doesn’t mean this topic doesn’t deserve debate,” Meng told The Post.

George Arzt, a friend and former press secretary of the late mayor, said of the signers: “I think it’s certainly a betrayal of her relationship with Koch. It’s not about the chef. This is about Roskoff and these people who want to run and get the club’s support.”

Queensboro Bridge
The push to remove Koch’s name from the Queensboro Bridge comes from the Jim Owles LGBT Democratic Club.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Koch’s sister Pat Thaler said the commotion made it appear as if her brother was still alive.

“Gei gezunterheit,” she said, a Yiddish expression meaning “go in good health.” Pols, who want Ed Koch’s name removed from the bridge, once praised him


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