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Queens Chronicle

Keep it the Queensboro

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Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:38 am, Thu Mar 17, 2011.

   Two’s company but three’s a crowd when it comes to names for the Queensboro Bridge. It’s enough that it’s already known at least as well by its unofficial second name, the 59th Street Bridge. Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to rename it for former Mayor Ed Koch is a bad idea that should be shelved immediately.

   We’re disappointed in our Queens officials for not speaking out against the plan, with the single exception of Democratic Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., whose district is near the spot where the bridge ends (or should that be starts?) in Long Island City. As Vallone says, nobody would ever propose changing the name of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Queensboro deserves no less respect.

   It appears Vallone is alone on this one among elected officials, though the public is with him. A Queens Chamber of Commerce survey of business owners found that 70 percent oppose calling the bridge the Koch. The poll was admittedly unscientific, but we’d bet it reflects public opinion pretty accurately.

   Sure, Koch is worthy of some honor. He was adored by many for his down-to-earth manner and quirky habit of constantly asking, “How’m I doing?” He led the city during tough times, as it recovered from the 1970s fiscal crisis. But it also descended into ever darker depths of crime and corruption under his watch, as told in the book “City For Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York.”

   Today he’s a strong voice for cleaning up Albany. We fully support his New York Uprising movement and efforts to hold lawmakers to their promises for fair redistricting and other reforms.

   But the fact that Koch is a voice for anything today reflects one of the reasons his name should not go on the bridge — he’s alive and well. Dedications like these are typically made for people who have died — whether it’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the Jackie Robinson Parkway or Harry Van Arsdale Avenue. Naming infrastructure for the living is just plain tacky.

   Another reason to drop the idea is that Koch has no particular connection to Queens. He’s from the Bronx and represented parts of that borough and upstate areas in Congress before becoming mayor. Naming something there for him would be more suitable.

   If our bridge’s name must change — and we don’t think it must — it should honor an icon of Queens. There are a few out there. The best name we’ve heard so far is that of Andrew Goodman, the Queens College student killed by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi along with two other men, while fighting for civil rights.

   Renaming the Triborough Bridge for Robert F. Kennedy was seen by many New Yorkers as a slap in the face. Renaming the Queensboro for Koch would be more like a punch in the mouth, for residents of our fair borough. Best idea of all: Fuhgeddaboudit.

    

   Saving senior centers

    

   Agreat idea that could instantly save the 100-plus senior centers the city is threatening to close has just been put forth by Republican Councilman James Oddo of Staten Island and the other GOP members: reduced political spending.

   The city put up $44.3 million last fiscal year in matching funds for political races, forcing taxpayers to put up $6 for every $1 eligible candidates raise. That’s way too much. Cut it down to $2, the councilmen say, and you instantly save nearly $30 million.

   That would cover the $25 million cut planned by Gov. Cuomo that the city says would force the closures, with spare change left over.

   We say do it. Keeping the centers open is a far better investment than more yard signs and mass mailings.

Welcome to the discussion.