Friends, family, dozens of senators and other officials, including Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gathered under a Park Avenue synagogue’s stained glass dome Wednesday to pay tribute to New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday at the age of 89.
The touching service included many moments of laughter and tears. But the highlight was the eulogy by Mr. Biden, who joked about how Mr. Lautenberg never stopped one-upping him during the 25 years they served together as close friends in the senate.
At the end of last week, Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks announced he would officially represent the United States at former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s funeral, a country he’s dealt with in the past as a senior member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Politicker caught up with Mr. Meeks to ask how the Latin America trip went before a Monday morning press conference announcing new flood insurance legislation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“I thought that the trip was very good,” Mr. Meeks replied. “I was welcomed there by both members of the opposition as well as people close to President Chávez. As you know, I got to know President Chávez quite well. I think that though controversial–there were many things that I disagreed with–that he did have his heart on the poor. When you look at the thousands upon thousands of people that were in the streets mourning his death, Venezuela is clearly a country that is in mourning.”
The funeral for former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will be held tomorrow and a New Yorker will be representing the United States at the event–Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks.
“I am honored to be a part of a delegation that will represent the United States at the Funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday, March 8,” Mr. Meeks, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “My deepest sympathies go out to the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela. Venezuela is an important nation to the Western Hemisphere. I remain committed to building the relationship between our nations. As always, I stand in continued support of the Venezuelan people especially at this time of mourning.”
At Temple Emanu-El in the Upper East Side this morning, hundreds of New Yorkers–including a small army of elected officials–braved ice-cold wind gusts and swarms of reporters to pay their respects to former Mayor Ed Koch, who passed away last Friday. The long list of top-tier politicos in attendance included current and former governors, mayors and senators. And every one of them had a fond memory of Koch to share.
“My last conversation with him was when I went to his office to ask him to support me for comptroller.” Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer recalled, for example. “I prepared. I expected to have a long conversation. He looked up at me and said, ‘I endorse you. Go win. Goodbye.'”