It was a tough first week in January, losing so many people dear to me, but then there was the elation and celebration of seeing the third woman in over three decades take the reins of our borough of Queens. This was followed by hearing that a beloved photographer, always on the scene, Ira Cohen, had passed away. And then Dr. Mary Andrea Miranti had a healthy baby girl. That’s the roller coaster of life!
It was standing room only for the inauguration of Melinda Katz, officially sworn in by our new mayor, as the borough president of Queens. In attendance were the two powerful women preceding her, Claire Shulman and Helen Marshall, who received extended applause from the packed audience. It was a testament to their effectiveness and popularity in the borough.
Melinda, despite her youthful looks, has already proudly and professionally served our borough for 20 years, in the Assembly, City Council and at Borough Hall, under the guidance of the legendary Claire Shulman. You couldn’t learn from a better master and Melinda gracefully acknowledged that in her dynamic remarks.
It was an impressive group of well wishers, both on the stage and in the audience. I was happy to see that the community board leaders from around the borough sat proudly with the multiple elected officials filling the many rows on stage. They work tirelessly and knowledgeably for their communities. Since it was a big stage at the stunning Queens College LeFrak Concert Hall, I think the Business Improvement District leaders could have been there too. They work at the grass roots level for their business strips and have enhanced every neighborhood they serve. After all, a community’s strength can be quickly seen by a successful business strip where vacancy rates are minimal.
Everyone I spoke with was impressed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who got a standing ovation. He made a powerful, short visit to give Melinda her oath of office. I wish he had stayed longer to mingle with the impressive crowd gathered to honor her, but he was there and that’s what counted. We all worried that since our Queens Democratic chair, Joe Crowley, had not originally backed the mayor’s choice for City Council Speaker, it might have a negative impact on our borough, but Melissa Mark-Viverito was voted in unanimously and was on the stage sitting next to Melinda. Perhaps hatchets have been buried.
Hopefully Melinda will take a clue from Claire Shulman, who developed a close working relationship with the mayor at the time, Rudy Giuliani. It resulted in more projects coming to Queens than ever before in our history. Time will tell …
If the love, respect, and goodwill felt in the halls of Queens College on inauguration night continue, exciting days lay before us. We all wish her great success, as she leads us into the future. Next week, I’m attending our new Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ inauguration. I look forward to sharing the experience with you!
Respects to Ira Cohen, master photographer
It was a shock to learn that dear Ira Cohen, who has photographed all of us for decades, will no longer be on the scene. He was such a gracious, friendly, warm person. He worked for my competitor and we always kidded that if I was in the picture it wouldn’t get into the paper, but he took it anyway. I tried to be on the end so I could easily be cropped out. After all, I didn’t want to negatively impact anyone’s chance of having his photo in the “other” paper.
If I ever needed it, Ira always offered to send me photos of an event. Such was his generous nature.
I will miss seeing his smiling, welcoming face wherever I go. Rest in peace, dear Ira.
As we went to press, a new life came into the world. Dr. Mary Andrea Miranti welcomed a daughter, Sophia Phelomina, on Tuesday, January 14. Both mother and baby are doing well.
From sadness to joy to sadness again.
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