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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry

Distracted Walkers

Friday, 25 May 2012 00:00

The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who said he received no respect, liked to talk about the time he was arrested for jaywalking.

A crowd gathered to watch the police officer take him out of the intersection for walking against the traffic light, Dangerfield explained. Making matters worse, one bystander shouted, “Don’t take him alive!”


Payson’s Legacy

Friday, 18 May 2012 00:00
Casey Stengel, the New York Mets’ manager in their inaugural season, was one of the first two individuals inducted into the Mets’ Hall of Fame. I imagine few Mets fans, however, can name the other.

Yet Joan Payson (1903-1975), a Manhasset resident who purchased a nearly 80 percent ownership stake in the Mets when they were first created, is finally getting her due thanks to two native New Yorkers now working at academic institutions in Ohio and Connecticut.


Redeveloping LI

Friday, 11 May 2012 00:00

The Wall Street Journal published an excellent article last week about how the economic turbulence of recent years, coupled with $4 a gallon gasoline, has given rise to transit-oriented developments (TOD).

TODs are residential real estate projects built near train stations and commercial districts. They give people easy access to mass transportation, and are situated within walking distance of local businesses.


LIRR Rides Return

Friday, 04 May 2012 00:00

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is restoring half-hourly midday service, between Monday and Friday, on the Port Washington branch starting on Monday, May 14.

This is great news for the commuters in northern Nassau who had fled to their cars since late 2010, unwilling or unable to wait an hour for the next train to arrive. But the episode also highlights something the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) often downplays: fare box revenue—the money generated for the MTA when riders pay out of their own pocket to purchase a ticket—matters.


A Survivor’s Tale

Friday, 27 April 2012 00:00

Plato is credited with saying people should be kind because “everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

While I’ve never met Millie Werber of Great Neck, her hard battle to survive World War II, first in Poland and then in Germany, has been memorably chronicled by Werber and Eve Keller in the just-published Two Rings: A Story of Love and War (PublicAffairs, 2012).


GOP’s Prez Primary

Friday, 20 April 2012 00:00
New York State’s registered Republicans will go to the polls on Tuesday, April 24, to choose who they’d like to see as the GOP’s presidential nominee, even though the outcome is no longer in doubt.

The news last week that former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania was suspending his campaign gives former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney a clear path to the nomination, although Long Islanders who pick up a ballot at their regular polling place on April 24 will see four candidates’ names listed. Besides Santorum and Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas also filed delegate slates in each of the state’s 29 Congressional Districts (CDs).


Going Nassau’s Way

Friday, 13 April 2012 00:00
The Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) succeeded the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Long Island Bus (LIB) system effective Jan. 1, 2012. More than three months later, NICE announced it was keeping all 48 of the routes it inherited from LIB while expanding service to Jamaica, Queens from Hempstead and Freeport, and reducing it elsewhere.

The primary reason is that the NICE, operated on Nassau County’s behalf by Veolia Transportation, has a much better sense today about where, and when, its 35,000 riders travel. Moreover, Veolia calculated that its redesigned schedule will allow NICE to generate $106 million in revenue by year-end 2012. That’s how much money Veolia said it would need to operate NICE, a bus system financed through a combination of fare revenue (riders pay $2.25 per trip) and governmental subsidies. The county will contribute more than $2 million to fund NICE in 2012 whereas Nassau paid the MTA over $9 million last year to underwrite LIB.


Changing Seasons

Friday, 06 April 2012 00:00

Being a Mets, Islanders and Jets fan has always been a challenge but it is hard to recall the last time the Yankees, Rangers, and Giants were simultaneously riding this much higher than their cross-town rivals.

The Mets had their 2012 home opener on Thursday, April 5, at CitiField, a stadium built on the premise that corporate America’s spending habits, circa 2006, would continue for the balance of the 21st century. This epic miscalculation will hurt the team’s finances for the foreseeable future. As for the on-field product, I was very dry-eyed when the Mets traded outfielder Carlos Beltran during the 2011 regular season and made no effort to re-sign free agent shortstop Jose Reyes. The Mets had both Beltran and Reyes for years and made the playoffs once. The Major League Baseball Network, in its pre-season 2012 analysis of the Mets’ prospects in their five-team division said the Mets, if everything goes right, will finish no higher than third place. Still, the Mets do have some young talented position players, such as Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, as well as up-and-coming pitchers like Dillon Gee and Jonathan Niese, so all is not lost.


Nassau’s Freezing

Friday, 30 March 2012 00:00
Nassau County governmental employees received more grim news last week when the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) announced it was again using its statutory power to freeze their wages for another year.

NIFA’s action means there will have been no wage hikes for the county’s 7,600 plus member workforce dating back to April 2011, and continuing through the end of March 2013. The dollar savings to Nassau’s general fund are significant: $35 million that would otherwise have been allocated for contractually mandated wage hikes is paying other bills.


Senate Scramble

Friday, 23 March 2012 00:00

Can you name the former Congressman who was the Republican Party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2010? Probably not, although you may know his daughter, one-time American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi.

Her father, former Rep. Joseph DioGuardi of Westchester County, won a three-candidate GOP U.S. Senate primary in September 2010, winning the right to face U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in November 2010’s general election, where Gillibrand prevailed with 63 percent of the vote. Senator Gillibrand is currently filling out the final two years of former Senator Hillary Clinton’s six-year term, and must run again in November 2012 to secure another six years in the U.S. Senate.


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