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Council Speaker Corey Johnson is pulling a Rodney Dangerfield — enrolling in college amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson, while participating in a recent virtual meeting held by Manhattan Community Board 4, revealed that he’s taking online night college classes with the Columbia University School of General Studies.
“I’m a freshman and undergraduate at 38 years old! At 38 with zero college credits I’m getting a college education,” Johnson gushed during the Jan. 6 meeting.
In the 1986 comedy, “Back to School,” the late Dangerfield played wealthy businessman Thornton Melon, who registers for college to encourage his freshman son, but Johnson is going back for personal advancement after encouragement from a colleague.
Johnson said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer persuaded him to enroll in the Columbia program. Brewer earned her degree from the same Columbia program when she was 47.
Johnson was actually taking part in a college freshman orientation session when he “ducked out” to give a virtual update to the local board, which covers Manhattan’s West Side neighborhoods he represents.
He emphasized he’s taking two online classes part-time in the evening and insisted they “do not take away from my day job.”
Johnson graduated from Masconomet High School in Massachusetts in 2000. A co-captain of the football team, he made national headlines when he came out as gay to his teammates.
Johnson, who considered but ultimately declined to run for mayor, is term-limited and will complete his term this year.
He was elected speaker of the New York City Council by his peers in 2018.
“Bravo!” one of the board members said of Johnson’s willingness to start college as an adult.
The joy quickly dissipated as Johnson agreed to take a few questions before returning to freshman orientation. The school of political hard-knocks ensued.
Board member Delores Rubin, a leader of the Hells Kitchen Neighborhood Coalition, reamed out Johnson over the deteriorating conditions in the area because of the increasing number of homeless people packed into hotels there during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, you hadn’t had the opportunity to join us over the past few months. We have heard incredibly sorrowful and scary stories from the folks on that block,” Rubin said, referring to the homeless situation on 36th Street.
“What I’m asking this evening is not why we have not seen you in this conversation, what I’d like to know is if you can commit for the rest of your stint as speaker to use the full weight of the speaker’s office to start working on a long-term solution for the housing situation for our homeless. Because right now we are not seeing leadership.”
“We would have expected that our council member would be our voice. And I did not see your voice.”
Johnson responded, “Well, your facts are wrong, Dolores. And the tone of your question I take offense at. For whatever reason you’ve always been slightly confrontational with me for years. So I’m not surprised that at all tonight at the tone you’ve taken.”
CB4 chairman Lowell Kern felt compelled to defuse the spat between Johnson and. Rubin.
“Wait a minute! Wait a minute!. Corey, hang on a second. I don’t need any of this at the meeting. This is not personal ….I’m not going to let this degenerate into a fight between the two of you,” Kern said.
Johnson said he introduced a comprehensive program to address homelessness last year.
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