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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry

Eyes On The Prize: The Open U.S. House Seat

Friday, 31 January 2014 00:00

New York’s 4th Congressional District (CD), covering much of central and southern Nassau County, has not had an incumbent not seek re-election since 1992, and history is repeating itself in 2014.

The late Rep. Norman Lent (R-East Rockaway), who retired from the 4th CD seat at year-end 1992, served not one day of his 20-plus years in the U.S. House of Representatives when the Republicans held a majority in the House. All of that changed in 1994, when the GOP won control of the U.S. House for the first time in decades, and they have held it every year since then, with the exception of 2007-2010.


‘The Biggest Loser’ Trainer Packs A Punch

Friday, 24 January 2014 00:00

Nearly a decade ago, Cara Castronuova was not only a Hofstra University student, but also climbing to #2 on USA Boxing’s list of top-ranked amateur fighters, having won the coveted Golden Gloves at Madison Square Garden.

“When I wear my Golden Gloves, guys always come up to me and ask who my boyfriend is. They know the necklace and assume a guy won them for me,” said Castronuova, who plans on fighting again, possibly internationally.

“I fought at 119 pounds,” Castronuova explained, during a recent interview, adding it was only a little less than the 125 pounds she typically weighs. “I was squeezing the last bit of fat off my body by eating like a nun, and running my neighborhood every night after work.”


Two Open Senate Seats Pose Challenge To LI’s GOP

Thursday, 16 January 2014 12:43

Former state Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr.’s (R-Merrick) New Year’s Eve resignation, coming after state Senator Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said he would not seek re-election in 2014, is posing a dilemma for the Island’s Republican leaders.

With Senators Fuschillo and Zeldin in office, the GOP held every state Senate seat in Nassau and Suffolk, a total of nine altogether. This voting bloc gave Long Island outsized influence in the state Legislature’s upper House, a chamber where 30 Republican state Senators had since January 2013 joined forces with a few breakaway Democrats to act as a much-needed check on the Cuomo administration and the Democrat-dominated state Assembly.


LIRR Unions Get Big Boost From Obama Panel

Thursday, 09 January 2014 13:24

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) made a strategic mistake recently when it said that its planned 2015 fare hike may be reduced to four percent from 7.5 percent.

In essence, the MTA, the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) parent, was announcing it’ll forgo an estimated $200 million in fare box revenue in 2015, given the MTA’s improved financial standing. The MTA conveyed this message as the LIRR was telling an emergency presidential panel, in early December, that the LIRR could only give the bulk of its unionized employees a cumulative general wage increase (GWI) of four percent over a five-year period, dating back to 2010 and extending into 2014. Meanwhile, advocates for most of the LIRR’s unions, representing about 5,500 of the LIRR’s approximately 6,400 employees, were trying to convince this panel its members deserved a GWI of 18.5 percent over a six-year period (2010-2015).


Hockey And Football Are In The (Cold) Air

Thursday, 02 January 2014 00:00

The Jets’ and the Giants’ seasons are over, but fans of outdoor sports have other options in January 2014.

Yankee Stadium, for instance, will host the New York Rangers twice in late January as part of the four-game 2014 Coors Light National Hockey League (NHL) Stadium Series. It is the first time the Yankees’ home field has been used as an NHL venue, and the ice rink will be placed between third and first base. The Rangers will face the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 12:30 p.m., and then the New York Islanders on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 7:30 p.m. Both contests are considered road games for the Rangers. The two other Coors Light NHL Stadium Series show-downs are being held in Los Angeles (Jan. 25) and Chicago (March 1). None of them will involve the Rangers, Devils or Islanders.


Long Island Gets Its Own News-Talk Station

Friday, 27 December 2013 00:00

WRCN-FM is giving Long Island’s news junkies a post-Christmas Day gift.

Effective Thursday morning, Dec. 26, the Ronkonkoma-based WRCN-FM, found at 103.9 on the dial, will convert to an all-news and talk station from one which had, for the past few weeks, exclusively played Christmas music. Its target audience is Nassau and Suffolk residents wanting to know the day’s breaking stories, and the latest weather and traffic information. WRCN-FM’s all-news format will be supplemented by news-driven talk programs and live coverage of New York Islanders and Long Island Ducks games.


Teddy Roosevelt’s Failed Assassin Gets His Close-Up

Thursday, 19 December 2013 11:25

The newspapers were filled with stories about income inequality, immigration, and a Republican Party seeking to distance itself from the legacy of its most recent GOP president.

Yes, 1912 was an amazing year, and Gerard Helferich has brilliantly made the past come alive in his just-published Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin: Madness, Vengeance, and the Campaign of 1912 (Lyons Press). The assassin, John Schrank of New York City, is a name that’s been lost to history because Schrank’s attack on the former president of the United States in October 1912, outside a hotel in Milwaukee, Wis., caused limited physical damage to Roosevelt.


Pols Must Back Mass Transit To Beat Traffic

Thursday, 12 December 2013 09:51

Federal, state and city lawmakers have the power to reduce the region’s traffic congestion while also promoting mass transit. If the past is prologue, they will decline to use it.

Congress, for instance, has until the end of this month to extend a law allowing mass transit users (e.g., bus, subway, commuter rail) to use up to $245 in pre-tax dollars toward their monthly commute. The federal government already allows $245 in pre-tax dollars to be used by drivers each month for their parking expenses, a figure which will increase to $250 on Jan. 1, 2014. The monthly pre-tax limit for transit users will fall to $130 on New Year’s Day should Congress fail to act on this matter by year-end 2013, something which happened in late 2011. D.C.’s inaction left transit users at a competitive disadvantage to drivers in 2012.


Cuomo Campaign Taps Taxpayers For Help

Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00

The Cuomo administration has expended millions of taxpayer dollars for television ads aimed at promoting state government and burnishing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s image. The latter goal is a tough sell, a Siena College Poll indicates.

The current taxpayer-funded TV advertising campaign began around Sandy’s one-year anniversary, and steers viewers to, The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. Narrated by actor Chazz Palminteri, the slick spot closes with a visual tag line which says “Better than before.”


Film Vividly Recounts 1993 LIRR Massacre

Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00

The just-released Long Island Railroad Massacre is a compelling documentary about one of the most notorious crimes in Nassau’s history, and a must-see if you lived here in the early 1990s.

Charles Minn, its director, will screen the film on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 2 p.m., at the Cinema Arts Theatre in Huntington, and preside over a question-and-answer session afterwards. The date has significance. Twenty years earlier, on Dec. 7, 1993, six commuters were killed and 19 other people were wounded by a gun-wielding Colin Ferguson while traveling eastbound on the LIRR between the New Hyde Park and Merillon Avenue stations. Investigation Discovery (ID), a cable channel, is airing the film as Terror on a Train on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 10 p.m. ID is carried on Cablevision’s Channel 171 and FiOS’s Channel 123.


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