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Former Mayor Ed Koch is volunteering for the Repubilcan National Convention - seriously! A volunteer effort, NYC2004, has been launched to show Republicans (and the country) how great New York and New Yorkers are. In the press conference yesterday, the Mayor emphasized that job creation the convention will bring, citing the success of other conventions in helping jumpstart summer business, which is usually slower. Former Mayor Koch said, "You don’t have to be a Democrat to love New York. Hosting the Republican National Convention will reinforce for the world that among the many things New Yorkers do well is to pull together – New Yorkers have always banded together to lend a hand. And we will do just that to make the Republican National Convention a resounding success.”

Hmm. Gothamist certainly supports a notion of community, being a part of a New York we can be proud of, and volunteer work. But no way are we volunteering for the convention - we still have beef with the GOP for the whole cruise ship thing. Full page ads for NYC2004 are running in the city's newspapers (click the image above to see the full ad), and there will be outdoor ads as well. Gothamist does think this picture of an elephant trying to eat Ed Koch is pretty sweet. [Slightly related: Gothamist on Ed Koch's movie reviews.] The NY Times's Michael Slackman writes about the effort, "Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican who has been cautious about appearing too close to President Bush, and Mr. Koch, a Democrat who has endorsed Mr. Bush for re-election, sounded as if they were trying to persuade New Yorkers to behave when the Republicans come to town."

If the volunteer effort is extended past the convention, then Gothamist is totally on board. In the meantime, some great NYC volunteering opportunities: NY Cares (a variety of activities, such as teaching computer skills to seniors); God's Love We Deliver (help prepare or deliver food to those with HIV and their families); Big Brothers and Big Sisters (be a big sibling!); and ask your nearby hospital, community center, etc., if you can help out - they'll most likely say yes.

Gotham Gazette has a nice two-sides-of-the-story look at the Republican party and New York City with one column about why the GOP is not like NYC and another about why NYC could like the GOP. The GOP hasn't set up with its convention site yet, but the NYC GOP has one. There are also the Counter Convention and RNC Not Welcome in NYC sites.