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Third Term’s the Charm?

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Ed Koch was a popular mayor through his first two terms, then he saw his third hobbled by corruption scandals throughout city government. Maybe Bloomberg should learn from his predecessor and go gracefully. “Ego,” says Jimmy Breslin, who won a Pulitzer at the Daily News covering the late Koch years. “It destroys everything. Two terms is plenty for anyone, because nobody is indispensable.” Criminal-defense lawyer Michael Dowd, one of Breslin’s key sources, thinks mayors just get worn out. “Elected officials get tired, and their watchfulness may wane as their term runs longer,” Dowd says. “Koch certainly seemed to trust various city agencies and officials, to his detriment.” Plus, says Henry Stern, Parks commissioner under both Koch and Rudy Giuliani, eight years of battling the city’s tough media climate takes its toll. “Mayors become increasingly paranoid because of the constant hammering by the press,” he says. But Koch—a Bloomberg supporter—isn’t buying it. “Every term has a problem,” he says. “We had a problem of corruption, but it could have happened in my first term. I feel I rebuilt the city in my third term by rehabilitating 250,000 city apartments with affordable rents.”

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