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Queens Chronicle

Koch’s Katz endorsement for BP: a slap at Vallone?

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Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:26 am, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

“How’s she doin’?” one might ask.

Pretty well, the answer might be, at least when it comes to endorsements.

The “she” is former City Councilwoman Melinda Katz of Forest Hills, a candidate for Queens borough president in 2013. This week, just before one of her rivals was to formally announce his campaign, Katz trumped him with the announcement that she has been endorsed by former “How am I doin’?” Mayor Ed Koch.

“I am supporting Melinda Katz for Queens Borough President,” the popular ex-mayor said in an prepared statement issued by the Katz campaign. “She is the one candidate in the race that raises the level of conversation about balancing economic development with the community in Queens. As Chair of the City Council’s Land Use Committee she achieved that balance citywide. It is why I supported her for City Comptroller in 2009, and why I am supporting her now for Queens Borough President in 2013.”

The Koch endorsement came Tuesday, one day before Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) formally kicked off his campaign for borough president. Other announced contenders include Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

Since Koch endorsed Katz several years ago in the four-way race for comptroller that was won by then-Councilman John Liu, now a mayoral hopeful, it’s possible he decided she was the best choice for borough president long ago.

But the timing of the endorsement, one day before Vallone’s kickoff event, is interesting because the councilman took a stand against the mayor, sort of, less than two years ago. That was when the Queensboro Bridge was renamed the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge. Vallone led the outcry against the change, seeing it as denigrating to Queens.

Would anybody propose renaming the iconic Brooklyn Bridge? Vallone asked. No. Why should Queens get any less respect? About three-quarters of borough residents opposed the idea, according to a poll taken at the time.

Sure, Koch had led a much-needed bridge rehabilitiation program when he was mayor, but he has no particular tie to Queens. He lives in Manhattan, and the City Council could have renamed the Manhattan Bridge for him if it wanted. But instead it renamed the Queensboro. At least we got the hyphenated Ed Koch-Queensboro name in the end, rather than losing the borough moniker altogether. And of course a lot of people just call it the 59th Street Bridge anyway (thank you, Forest Hills natives Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel).

And Vallone didn’t let it go at that. Just a couple weeks ago, he introduced a bill to ban the renaming of any piece of city infrastructure for a person who is still alive, an idea he had floated back when the bridge controversy was in the news. The Queens Chronicle editorialized in favor of the notion back then.

Maybe Koch was irked that Vallone was again bringing up the bridge renaming, as he did in the bill’s announcement, just before declaring his bid for borough president.

Another time Koch made a Queens endorsement, it was for underdog Congressional candidate Bob Turner. He became Congressman Bob Turner. We can only wait and see if Koch helps Katz that much too.

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