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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’

Thursday, 17 April 2014 10:55

The Nassau County district attorney’s (DA) office makes a cameo appearance in Empty Mansions, an incredible book about Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the Manhattan-raised heiress whose generosity and eccentricities were legendary.

Now that Ryan Murphy, a creator of television’s “Glee,” has optioned Empty Mansions’ film rights, I imagine a scrum of top actresses are vying to play Clark.


Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done

Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:53

Farmingdale-based Sustainable Long Island is hosting its eighth annual Sustainability Conference on Friday, April 4, at Carlyle on the Green, at Bethpage State Park.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and traditionally draws hundreds of people from all walks of life: government, business and not-for-profits. This year’s theme is “Accomplishing More Together.” Tickets are $75 per person, which includes the cost of lunch.


Soccer’s Greatest Minds Head To Hofstra

Thursday, 27 March 2014 12:02

Hofstra University’s International Soccer Conference was being discussed as far back as the institution’s 2012 academic salute marking the New York Mets’ 50th anniversary, according to the event’s co-directors.

Given the time and effort it takes to pull one of these things together, Hofstra needed the past two years to solicit scholarly papers and recruit luminaries to the four-day (Thursday, April 10 through Sunday, April 13) extravaganza, which comes on the eve of the June 2014 World Cup in Brazil.


Garden City Hotel’s Multimillion Makeover

Thursday, 20 March 2014 17:08

A friend of mine told me about his eight-year-old son’s surprisingly discerning taste in hotels, and offered an anecdote to illustrate the point.

When he traveled on business, and brought the family along, they usually stayed at Westins, my friend explained. Then, they traveled for pleasure, and their destination dictated a night at a Best Western. Moments after walking into the latter, his disapproving eight-year-old son said, “Dad, I thought you said we were staying at the Best Westin!”


‘Irish Writers In America’ Has Tales To Tell

Thursday, 13 March 2014 13:04

Professor John Phelan, one of my favorite teachers when I was at Fordham University, foreshadowed my future as a newspaper pundit.

In critiquing one of my papers, Phelan wrote at its conclusion that I sounded “like Jimmy Breslin sounding off at the bar.” I was thrilled. Breslin, a Daily News columnist at the time, was an idol of mine. Alas, I recall the grade I received on that assignment tempered my initial enthusiasm.


District Attorney’s Office To Get Its Close-Up

Thursday, 06 March 2014 12:47

Manhattan District Attorney (D.A.) Robert Morgenthau was facing a spirited Democratic primary challenge from a former judge in 2005, but his opponent had trouble finding anything substantively negative to say about Morgenthau.

The reason I know this: a city-based tabloid newspaper reporter called me weeks before the election, asking whether it was legal to have a Manhattan driver’s license while at the same time registering and insuring a car in Dutchess County, where auto insurance premiums are much lower. The answer: yes, so long as the insured vehicle is primarily garaged in Dutchess County. I was the director of public affairs for the New York State Insurance Department at the time and knew immediately the question pertained to Morgenthau because he met those criteria.


Islanders Begin Long-Shot Bid For Playoffs

Thursday, 27 February 2014 12:55

Preparing for the return of the 2013-14 New York Islanders without their top scorer, John Tavares, is much like contemplating the fate of the 2014 New York Mets without their best pitcher, Matt Harvey.

Tavares’ season ended when he was injured while playing for Canada in the Winter Olympics. Harvey is unable to pitch this year because of off-season elbow surgery.


Election-Year Politics Drive MTA Tolls

Thursday, 20 February 2014 13:38

State lawmakers are allocating $7 million, and want the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to do the same, so Staten Island’s private-passenger and commercial E-ZPass users can pay less when crossing the MTA’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

I bring this Staten Island tale to a Nassau County audience because the governor and state legislators, when making this announcement on Feb. 6, inadvertently volunteered information they usually keep quiet. The MTA’s board, over which the governor has outsized influence, generally does what Albany’s elected officials tell them to do.


Valentine’s Day Boxing For Lovers & Fighters

Friday, 14 February 2014 11:11

Boxing fans often marry people who don’t share their passion for the sport, a circumstance Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing, The Paramount and ESPN have recognized in developing a fight card for Friday, Feb. 14.

Fans who have made arrangements to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their spouse over the weekend of Feb. 15-16 can attend on Feb. 14 the six professional boxing matches being held at The Paramount in downtown Huntington starting at 7:30 p.m. Situated at 370 New York Ave., and open since September 2011, the Paramount holds upwards of 1,555 people.


The Newsmaker/Author’s ‘Write-Hand’ Man

Thursday, 06 February 2014 12:24

A book with Long Island connections is making news this week in Florida and among political insiders nationally.

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Wing Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat (Dutton), which was published on Tuesday, Feb. 4, was co-authored by Ellis Henican, a writer and commentator probably best known for his Newsday column. Crist is married to the former Carole Oumano, a Roslyn High School graduate.


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Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: