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Former Queens Borough President Remembers Tough Period For Mayor Koch

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Claire Shulman was Queens Borough President for several years when Ed Koch was mayor, and she says he was always committed to the borough and the Queens Democratic Party. But his relationship with the party led to serious troubles during the mayor's final term. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

Claire Shulman said she will always remember Ed Koch as a loyal friend whom she respected and loved. And when it came to politics, Shulman said, the Queens Democratic Party, or machine, as it's often referred to, loved him even more.

"Koch knew how to win, and indeed he did," Shulman said. "Any Democratic Party would love him because he was such as big attraction."

The machine was also an attraction for Koch, who relied heavily on party bosses across the city. But in the mid-1980s, some of those bosses became embroiled in a pay-to-play corruption scandal that eventually rocked City Hall.

Koch was never suspected of any wrongdoing, but a Bronx boss was convicted and Queens boss Donald Manes committed suicide in 1986 while under investigation. Manes was also Queens borough president at the time, and Shulman was his deputy.

"It was a very depressing, sad moment in the mayor's life," Shulman said. "It was his watch. And it was certainly a sad moment in my life."

Shulman became borough president after Manes' death.

"This is my first inauguration, to show you, that was during those terrible times, and Ed Koch was there for me," she said.

She said that while the incident may have stained Koch's legacy, it didn't tarnish it.

"Both he and I and the people around us survived," she said.

She said the mayor went on to help build a great city.

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