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About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildi...  (More)

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Remembering Andy Cohen

Uploaded: Dec 30, 2015
I first met Andy Cohen when he appeared alongside Kelly Fergusson at a neighbor’s get-together introducing the two candidates. In spite of his lack of palpable background in Menlo Park issues, it quickly became apparent that he did have distinguishing chops – to speak extemporaneously, experience as an Administrative Law Judge, a Navy veteran from the Vietnam War era. He was immediately likeable, and his aura overshadowed Kelly. This certainly wasn’t the effect that anyone expected.

So Kelly and Andy emerge from the election victorious. After a few weeks a group started to meet Saturday’s at Andy’s house – his kitchen cabinet. We would go over the weekly council packet and the agenda. We’d go over the history of issues. This group was not a residentialist love fest, but rather brought together people from a variety of backgrounds and Menlo Park locales. It was like a graduate school seminar. A couple of hours and you were mentally spent.

We’d disperse from these meetings assuming we’d know Andy’s thinking. However, frequently we were surprised to hear him afterwards on the council dais – huh? Where’s that come from? He could generate a lot of eye rolling amongst his own fans. I started to suspect that his thinking was greatly influenced by the last person to lobby him, or perhaps even an occasional astrologer.

The Saturday groups were educational, but disbanded after a year or two. It was really a lot of work, it was getting repetitive, and he absorbed all the parties, issues and nuance by then.

Andy really had a heart for the disadvantaged. One example was when Palo Alto was planning an opportunity center near the PAMF clinic, and he wanted Menlo Park to contribute in some fashion. This probably arose from his sensitivity to veterans. We had to bring his attention on Menlo Park rather than Palo Alto.

Andy was passionate. Occasionally Andy would enter a rant from the dais, such as the occasional theme of how the “Almighty Dollar” drove Menlo Park. This was Andy.

Andy was also a swimmer at Burgess pool, and was frequently accompanied around town by his dog Sheila. He grew up in the New York borough of Queens (Astoria, I think, like Archie Bunker.)

You done good, Andy.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Truth is good, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks,
on Jan 3, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Thanks, Stu.
This is a fair and honest remembrance of Andy Cohen. There's so much more but I will let the deification process run its course posted under the Almanac article about Andys death. Let us never forget Andy's vote against the Rosewood Hotel that was based on his deep animosity towards Stanford University. His vote was unimportant and the hotel was approved, giving MP the hotel tax it so badly needed.
Why don't you post more often?

Posted by Good counsel, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jan 3, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful remembrance, Stu. Though we may not always have agreed with everything he did, there was never any question that his intentions were honorable and his goals always to serve the people of Menlo Park. He was generous even with difficult people, of whom there are many in our city, and bribes and blandishments did not affect his behavior. Wish I could say the same about the current council.

Posted by Menlo Voter., a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Jan 3, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Wish I could say the same about the current council."

you CAN say the same unless you have some evidence to the contrary. If you do have such evidence, I'd love to see it, but since none of the other "residentialists" have been able to provide any concrete evidence to back up their specious accusations, I'm guessing you won't have any either.

Shame you have to use the death of a fine man to post garbage.

Posted by Truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jan 3, 2016 at 5:16 pm

This is not the place to discuss the current council, but I knew Andy very well and I appreciate his efforts on behalf of those of us who want to enjoy living and raising our families here. He was proud to be a residentialist. Too bad that term has become an insult. Nothing wrong with wanting Menlo Park to be a great place to live, and I thanked him many times for his pro-resident stance.

Posted by resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jan 4, 2016 at 10:08 am

Thanks Stu for a great encapsulation of a fine, idealistic, inclusive, good-hearted, brilliant, and quirky man who did his best to make Menlo Park a good place for all residents. Andy was proud to be considered a residentialist. So am I. I also count him as a friend.

@ Menlo Voter It's really unfortunate that you feel a need to label others based on your own interpretation of ONE person's comment, and proceed to post your own garbage. Stop, please.

Posted by Menlomaniac, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jan 4, 2016 at 9:36 pm

What I liked most about Andy is that the progressive former mayor who helped get him elected in 2004 had absolutely no influence over him while Heyward & Kelly who also received her backing were like obedient lap dogs acquiescing to her every wish and command.

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