Thursday, January 9, 2014

Councilman Andrew Cohen

(Photo by Robert Press)

Riverdale Review
By Robert Press

BRONX, NEW YORK, JANUARY 9- Before I get to my headline the swearing in of new Councilman Andrew Cohen on Sunday January 5th, the day before a small airplane landed on the Major Deegan Highway northbound before the East 233rd Street exit. 

This was a Piper PA 28 plane with a pilot and two passengers on board. The three were returning to Danbury Airport after circling the Statue of Liberty. The landing on the Deegan was just north of the Mosholu Parkway extension overpass bridge that is to be replaced starting later this year. There were some DOT workers that had closed one lane of the Deegan northbound to fill potholes for the pre construction of removing the Deegan medium so construction work on replacing the overpass bridge can be done. That will maintain three traffic lanes in each direction during the construction. The workers saw that the plane was in trouble and halted all traffic northbound so the plane could make a landing on the northbound lanes.

The three passengers were taken to Saint Barnabas Hospital with minor injuries and later released. The plane was registered to Mr. Michael Schwartz of South Salem in Westchester County. Just so you know where the exact location is, had the plane veered to the east about 100 feet it could have crashed into the Croton Water Filtration Plant being built in Van Cortlandt Park. You can go to my blog at to read more and see a photo of the plane on the Major Deegan Highway. It was removed in less that four hours and the Deegan northbound was reopened.

On to the public inauguration of Councilman Andrew Cohen. It was a cold dreary misty day with ice forming on the streets and sidewalks outside, but inside the Lehman College Lovinger Theater there was a public swearing in of the new 11th District Councilman Andrew Cohen. The program was delayed as many of the crowd arrived late due to the bad weather. However once the program started it went smoothly and professionally.

Mr. Bruce Feld the District Leader from the 81st A.D. welcomed those in attendance and opened the program. The Celia Cruz High School Chorus sang the Pledge of Allegiance, and later came back up to sing “It's Freedom” during a break in the speeches by the elected officials. The National Anthem was done by the Bronx Opera Company, who also came back between speeches. Rabbi Avi Weiss gave the Invocation. Then the speeches by elected officials came. Some said goodby to former Councilman Oliver Koppell, some said hello to new Councilman Andrew Cohen, and some said other things. New City Comptroller Scott Stringer was the first to say goodby to Oliver Koppell, and reminded Councilman Cohen that his mother lives in the 11th Council District. Stringer said that he has Councilman Cohen's cell phone number. Next up was new Public Advocate Letitia James, who likewise is also embarking on a new position in government.

Not to be outdone Congressman Engel told Councilman Cohen that he also has his cell phone number. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said that he is looking forward to working with Councilman Cohen in the Bronx which Diaz calls God’s Country. Diaz then said if you do not believe me look at the miracle yesterday on the Major Deegan Highway. U. S. Senator Chuck Schumer went back in time saying that when Andy Cohen was in high school that he (Schumer) was the congressman for the area in Rockaway where Andrew Cohen the lived. Schumer finished by saying that nobody gave the council seat to Andrew Cohen, but that he earned it the old fashioned way with hard work.

One of my favorite quotes from the inauguration has to be when Bronx Democratic County Leader Assemblyman Carl Heastie said, “County Leaders are thought of as dictators of foreign countries”. 

State Senator Jeff Klein mentioned that it was 18 years ago that he was sworn in as an assemblyman in the very same place at Lehman College. On the other hand, Congressman Charles Rangel said it was good to be back at Dewitt Clinton (his high school). State Senator Gustavo Rivera tried to be funny by saying that he walked over from his nearby apartment, but had to put condoms on his shoes. The reference was to rubbers. Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj warned Councilman Cohen now that you have been elected “be careful of what you have wished for”.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said that this is his 20th year in the state assembly, & mentioned that Councilman Andrew Cohen once worked in his office. Dinowitz then called up Councilman Cohen and State Supreme Court Judge Edgar Walker for the swearing in. Sara Cohen stood at her fathers side as Judge Walker administered the oath of office. Both Cohens raised their hands and repeated the oath of office, and the era of new Councilman Andrew Cohen was official.

Councilman Cohen usually short on words thanked all the elected officials that were in attendance, and then thanked each and every elected official and union who helped on his campaign for the council seat. Cohen said that he was a product of the public schools and that there are many problems that will be coming up in the new city council that he will be attending to. Public schools, parks, homelessness, non-profits, and other areas that will present old and new problems, and that he knows that he has big shoes to fill in replacing Oliver Koppell in the city council. Father Richard Gormen ended the program when he said the benediction. There was a reception at the Lehman College Art Gallery after the inauguration.

If you have any comments about this column or would like to have an event listed or covered in this column or on my blog you can e-mail us at or call 718-644-4199 Mr. Robert Press.

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