Think of Koch when you cast next vote for mayor

Steven Spinola

President, Real Estate Board of New York

New York City’s lost its most famous cheerleader and one of its truly great Mayors on February 1st.  Ed Koch used to say after leaving City Hall that he wanted to stay relevant.  Well Ed, you did just that, right up to the 88th year of your wonderful life.

I had the privilege of working for Mayor Koch from his first day as Mayor in 1979 through May of 1986 when I became President of REBNY. 

In 1983, Ed appointed me as President of what is now the Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Serving NYC as part of the Koch Administration was one of the greatest honors in my life. 

I had one clear directive from Ed on how to do my job, “Be honest and do what is in the best interest of the citizens of New York.” 

Ed understood that economic development meant jobs and additional tax dollars to pay for essential services and to rebuild our infrastructure.  He viewed incentives not as give-a-ways, but necessary investments into New York’s future. 

Mayor Koch knew that like all important initiatives, politics should not drive the decision.  Ed never asked me to select or not select a particular developer for a project.  He left that to professionals, although reporters never believed it.

Ed will be remembered for many of his one liners.  “How am I doing,” became perhaps his most famous.  Ed actually cared what people answered to that question.  He always wanted to know everyone’s opinion.  He stayed relevant because he had an opinion on just about every possible issue. 

Politicians, officials, reporters and ordinary citizens, not just from New York, but from around the country cared what Ed Koch thought.  He happily shared them on TV, radio, newspapers and emails. They covered everything from his weekly movie experience to his passion and concern for the State of Israel.

One of my favorite Ed Koch lines was his description of himself as “a liberal with sanity.”  Whatever Ed was, it was exactly what New York needed. 

As we move into the 2013 election year for Mayor, we have an opportunity to keep Ed Koch relevant.  As New Yorkers decide who they want to support and ultimately vote for, we should think of Ed and what he stood for his entire life. 

He loved his City more than anything, and he was willing to say no, even to New York’s most powerful forces. Ed spoke out on every issue that affected our City, even when his beliefs were unpopular and he never stopped working for his City.

In short, Ed Koch practiced what he preached to me and I guess all of his top appointments, “Be honest and do what is in the best interest of the citizens of New York.”

Let’s keep Ed Koch relevant and remember this remarkable man whenever we vote or need to make an important decision.

Thank you Ed for the wonderful opportunity you gave me and the example you set.  Thank you for getting New York through one of its most difficult periods. Thank you for continuing to be relevant.

In other REBNY News:

Submissions for the Most Promising Commercial Salesperson of the Year Award 2012 are now being accepted. The deadline is 5 pm Friday, Feb. 15. The award, presented at the April 25 Members’ Luncheon, recognizes current and potential achievement as well as “high moral character and ethical behavior.” The Broker A or Management A of each REBNY member firm conducting commercial brokerage will be allowed to submit one nominee through a one-page description of the candidate’s qualifications.  For more information contact Desiree Jones at djones@rebny.com.

It’s your last chance to submit transactions for the Sales Brokers Committee’s Most Ingenious Deal of the Year 2012 Awards. The deadline is 5 pm Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. Sales, leases or finance transactions, regardless of size, are eligible, and will be judged based upon ingenuity, creativity and professional skill. The three awards for the Most Ingenious Deal of the Year will be announced at the Annual Sales Brokers Cocktail Party on April 23, 2013 at the 101 Club, 101 Park Avenue. For submission forms and more information contact Desiree Jones at djones@rebny.com.

The 15th Annual Residential Management Awards Leadership Breakfast honoring Michael Rothschild of AJ Clarke Real Estate as The Residential Management Executive of the Year will be held 8:30 to 10 am on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at The Roosevelt Hotel, 45 East 45th Street. Shaun Donovan, United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is the Keynote Speaker. For sponsorship and table reservation information, contact Cindy Ramotar at cramotar@rebny.com or 212-616-5232.