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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry

Party Switch Fiascos

Friday, 10 August 2012 00:00

Gore Vidal, the legendary 86-year-old writer, died last week and one of his obituaries noted that Vidal’s four favorite English words were, “I told you so.”

It is a sentiment I must reluctantly invoke, while calling attention to my observations from 2009 and 2010, following a New York Post report this month that state Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) met recently with the state Republican committee’s leadership team about running for New York City mayor as a Republican in 2013.


New Jersey’s Jets

Friday, 03 August 2012 00:00

Hofstra University and the New York Jets announced last week that the Jets’ planned practice session at Hofstra, which was to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 21, had been canceled.

This is the second straight year the Jets are not making their one-day-only pilgrimage to Hofstra. The institution’s Hempstead campus was the site of the Jets’ annual training camps from the late 1960s through 2008.  


Plum Island’s Future

Friday, 27 July 2012 00:00

The federal government wants to sell Plum Island, situated near Long Island’s North Fork, but is there a buyer who wants an 840-acre parcel where today more than 40 foreign animal diseases (FADs), such as hog cholera and African swine fever, are being studied?

Oh, and if Plum Island’s use since the 1950s as a place where the federal government has also developed technologies to mitigate the risks of FAD-caused catastrophic economic losses isn’t enough of a turn-off, its location may give pause to a prospective buyer, too.


Nassau Hub Reset

Friday, 20 July 2012 00:00

Newt Gingrich said that President Obama’s public approval ratings have sagged because his campaign’s mantra has evolved from “yes, we can,” to here is “why we couldn’t.”

Bringing the analogy closer to home, Nassau’s voters made it clear in a non-binding referendum nearly a year ago that they had no interest in having the county’s taxpayers borrow upwards of $400 million to build a new Nassau Coliseum and a minor league baseball stadium in Uniondale. It would have been constructed at the 77-acre, county-owned site north of Hempstead Turnpike that is commonly known as the Nassau Hub. The August 2011 referendum had the avid support of county executive Edward Mangano and New York Islanders owner Charles Wang but was voted down by a decisive 57-43 percent margin, meaning these two entertainment and sports venues would never be built, at least not with taxpayers providing the bulk of the financing.


Capitol Hill VIPs

Friday, 13 July 2012 00:00

Barclays’ interest-rate manipulation scandal has generated headlines but less attention has been paid to the Capitol Hill figures that benefited financially when Countrywide Financial Corp. did something comparable on their behalf.

How Countrywide Used its VIP Loan Program to Influence Washington Policymakers, a report prepared for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was released July 5 and offers an eye-opening window into D.C.’s world of crony capitalism.


Uncovered Campaigns

Friday, 06 July 2012 00:00
New York’s print and broadcast media outlets collectively made in-kind contributions this spring to the re-election campaigns of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. House Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) by refusing to acknowledge the people who want their jobs.

Newspapers, radio, and TV stations, with few exceptions, boosted Senator Gillibrand and Rep. McCarthy by ignoring for months the three candidates who competed in the state’s Republican U.S. Senate primary election on Tuesday, June 26 as well as the two rivals who competed in the Republican and Conservative primary contests in New York’s 4th Congressional District (CD) on that same day.


LIRR’s Quiet Cars

Friday, 29 June 2012 00:00

Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) riders know that the LIRR’s good news usually comes with a disclaimer, and its bad news is either withheld or chronicled in complaints filed by a U.S. attorney (e.g., the LIRR’s disability scandal).

But let’s focus for the moment on June 2012’s good news, and the disclaimer. The LIRR announced that effective Monday, June 18, it was expanding its Quiet Car Pilot Program “to include all peak single-level electric trains that operate to/from Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal during the rush hours,” according to a LIRR pamphlet left recently on riders’ seats.


GOP Primary Battle

Friday, 22 June 2012 00:00

The registered Republicans in Nassau County’s 4th Congressional District (CD) are being asked on Tuesday, June 26 to choose their nominee for the U.S. House seat which has been held for nearly 16 years by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola).

Nassau County Legislator Fran Becker (R-Lynbrook) is the GOP’s official choice, and Becker won a 2010 Republican Congressional primary against one of the challengers he’ll face later this month, Frank Scaturro, a Hempstead resident who grew up in New Hyde Park. One difference in this election cycle is that the Becker-Scaturro race on June 26 is a head-to-head match-up whereas two years ago a third candidate also ran, finishing far behind both Becker and Scaturro. Legislator Becker, president of Becker & Associates and a Certified Financial Planner, lost to Rep. McCarthy in 2010’s general election.


Aqueduct Debacle

Friday, 15 June 2012 00:00

The region’s newspaper editorial boards have embarrassingly cast their lot with Governor Andrew Cuomo since he took office in 2011 so, when the centerpiece of the governor’s 2012 State of the State address fell apart this month, what did they do?

If you were an editorial page writer last week at either The New York Times or The New York Daily News, you scolded the Committee to Save New York (CSNY), a legal political entity charged with burnishing the governor’s image, for accepting money from gambling interests. Now, that is hilarious.


Belmont Weekend

Friday, 08 June 2012 00:00
Belmont Racetrack will be at the center of the sports world on Saturday, June 9, as I'll Have Another attempts to win thoroughbred horse racing’s Belmont Stakes and become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

In keeping with tradition, Garden City and Floral Park will host Belmont Stakes-related street fairs this weekend but, in a break with the past, the two communities are holding their events on separate days.


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