Ed Koch has an enemies list. He also has a friends list.
Now in his mid-80s, the former New York City mayor has emerged from political retirement to take arms against the sea of troubles flowing from the dysfunctional New York State legislature.
A few months back, the octogenarian citizen activist founded New York Uprising, which asks lawmakers to sign three pledges committing themselves to major political reform. One pledge focuses on toughening up ethics regulations, another on reforming the state’s budget process, a third on putting an end to gerrymandering.
Any state lawmaker who fails to sign is, to Koch, a “bum”: “Throw the bums out!” is the electoral fate for non-signers and pledge-breakers that he enjoins upon New Yorkers. Reviewing the details of the pledges, I’m not sure that if I were a candidate I’d endorse every provision myself. Maybe I’d sign two out of the three pledges, or something. And I wish Koch were promoting state legislative term limits and voter initiative and referendum as well.
So far, 91 lawmakers have signed on, 210 have declined. But the campaign has been getting decent coverage in the media, including a recent article in the New York Times. One thin-skinned assemblywoman threatened to sue in response to being called an “enemy of reform,” which is the kind of publicity you can’t buy.
Reforming Albany was never going to be easy. But the iron is hot. Good luck, Mr. Koch.