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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry

Reform and the GOP

Friday, 11 March 2011 00:00

Beyond their passion for Democrats, most New York editorial boards and good government groups also share a belief in the magical municipal powers of taxpayer-funded campaigns and non-partisan redistricting.

Both bad ideas are circulating in Albany. Yet the Republicans can win the public debate on these issues, even as The New York Times’ editorial page, Citizens Union and former New York City Ed Koch label GOP state lawmakers as the enemies of reform. Far from it, the Republicans should say. Their 32-30 majority in the state Senate, populated with legislators from New York’s suburban and upstate districts, is the only thing standing in the way of a state government that is controlled completely by Democrats from New York City, as was the case in 2009 and 2010. The current fundraising and redistricting processes put the Republicans in the position they enjoy in Albany today. Moreover, the best way for the GOP to lose their majority in the state Legislature’s upper chamber between 2012 and 2020 is to surrender unilaterally the inherent fundraising advantages which come from being an incumbent state Senator, and to limit the influence they’ll have over the process this year of redrawing the state’s Congressional and state legislative district lines.

 

Nassau’s NIFA Fight

Friday, 04 March 2011 00:00

The Mangano administration has expended too much energy trying to discredit the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), the state-created entity, which has enacted a control period over the county’s finances. It didn’t have to be this way, and a course correction is warranted.

Rather than suing NIFA—and that lawsuit can be dropped by Nassau County, the plaintiff—County Executive Edward Mangano and his allies in Mineola should employ tactics used by most successful boxers in their winning bouts: conserve energy, and counterpunch effectively. The combatant on the losing side of a fight is rarely knocked out. The vanquished boxer usually collapses due to exhaustion, or because their spirit has been broken.

 

New Thinking Needed

Friday, 25 February 2011 00:00

Nassau’s roadways are packed, and finding affordable housing remains a challenge, explaining why Sustainable Long Island’s proposed public policy remedies to these problems are gaining a broader audience.

“We built Long Island for cars,” said Sarah Lansdale, executive director of Sustainable Long Island, which will hold its 5th annual sustainability conference on Friday, March 4 at Carlyle on the Green, Bethpage. The morning keynote speakers are state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a Nassau native and former state Assemblyman, and Woody Tasch, chairman and president of Slow Money, a group which allocates capital to start-up food enterprises. Moreover, Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) has confirmed that he’ll be there as the afternoon session’s keynote speaker.

 

The Blink of an Eye

Friday, 18 February 2011 00:00

Showing again a shrewd sense of timing, NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip released on Tuesday, Feb. 1 his memoir, In the Blink of an Eye (Hyperion), which he co-wrote with Newsday columnist Ellis Henican.

It will debut at #11 on The New York Times’ nonfiction bestseller list on Sunday, Feb. 20, the same day NASCAR fans will enjoy their Super Bowl, the annual running of the Daytona 500 in Florida.

 

Skaters’ Legacy

Friday, 11 February 2011 00:00

U.S. figure skaters who’ve won Olympic gold medals become household names, and many of them appear in Rise, a compelling documentary about the greatest American skaters you’ve probably never heard of.

Before Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill, there was 16-year-old Laurence Owen, who won the 1961 U.S. women’s figure skating championship and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And long before Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano burst onto the scene, there was 16-year-old Doug Ramsay, winner of the 1960 U.S. men’s junior figure skating title.

 

Fischer’s Endgame

Friday, 04 February 2011 00:00

The late Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) made news last year but not the way he would have liked.

The Brooklyn native and one-time world chess champion’s remains were exhumed from his grave in Iceland as part of a dispute over the disbursement of his estate. The media went into overdrive because of the circumstances. Fischer, who left no will, was alleged to have sired a girl who was 8 years old at the time of his death, and her mother sought what she deemed to be her daughter’s rightful inheritance. A DNA test determined Fischer was not the girl’s biological father.

 

NY History Lesson

Friday, 28 January 2011 00:00

President Harry Truman said the only thing new in this world is the history that you don’t know.

The thought came to mind while reading a fascinating book Governor Andrew Cuomo has reportedly been touting to his colleagues, The Man Who Saved New York: Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975 (State University of New York Press, 2010). The 193-page tome, co-written by former state Senator Seymour Lachman and former Newsday reporter Robert Polner, offers observers of the 2011 political scene perspective on the upcoming budget battles in New York State and New York City. To make things clear, the ‘New York’ the co-authors allude to in the title is ‘New York City,’ and it is the city’s brush with insolvency that drives the narrative.

 

Hofstra Hoops

Friday, 21 January 2011 00:00

Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex opened in 2000 and has been an excellent, inexpensive place to watch Division I basketball games over the past decade.

There’s full chair back seating for spectators, and just about every one of the arena’s 5,046 seats offer a good view of the court. And, if you haven’t been to the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead yet, the Hofstra men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams are giving fans a reason to visit during their 2010-2011 campaigns.

 

Newsday’s Narrative

Friday, 14 January 2011 00:00

Newsday has excitedly been telling its readers to mark Thursday, Jan. 20 on their calendar. That is supposedly the day the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) may seize financial control of Nassau’s county government.

Now, why would NIFA go down this path when the voters hired a county executive as well as 19 county legislators to govern? Well, NIFA is empowered as a state public benefit corporation to intervene if NIFA’s board of directors deems the county budget unbalanced. The county’s margin for error is small, with NIFA allowed to step in if a deficit in excess of 1 percent ($26 million) of the county’s annual operating budget ($2.6 billion) is detected, or if NIFA’s board believes such a situation is imminent.

 

Super Mess Looms

Friday, 07 January 2011 00:00

The National Football League’s (NFL) team owners voted last year to have the February 2014 Super Bowl played at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, marking the first time ever a Super Bowl will be played at an open-air, cold weather site. It was, and is, a terrible idea.

Perhaps the Atlantic seaboard blizzard of December 2010 might get the NFL’s owners to change their collective mind, especially since the strength of last week’s storm peaked on a Sunday afternoon and prompted the NFL’s postponement of the Sunday, Dec. 26 night game in Philadelphia, PA. The Philadelphia Eagles-Minnesota Vikings contest was instead played on Tuesday evening, Dec. 28. The Super Bowl is always held on a Sunday and, in a nod to the extraordinary size of its television audience, begins in late afternoon so the game concludes in prime time.

 

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