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  • Welcome to the new Viewsday! We've relaunched with a new format that highlights our columnists' voices. You'll see more posts, new types of content and discussions from social media. Keep reading!
  • It jars, then swallows.
    Rattling nerves, struts and engines.
    Beware: the pothole.
  • Graceful pretty deer.
    Eat crops, carry ticks, cross roads.
    Sssshhhh. Hunters coming.

  • Kepert went to court.
    Sought five votes, got them. Lesson?
    Every vote counts.
  • Remembering Otis Pike, one of LI's best representatives

     Former Rep. Otis G. Pike, a maverick Riverhead Democrat who served nine terms in Congress armed with a cutting wit and led a 1970s House investigation into CIA activities, died in Florida, his daughter Lois Pike Eyre said. He was 92. (Handout)

    The late Otis Pike certainly was one of the most stellar representatives Long Island ever sent to  Congress. Intelligent, effective and classy — the bow tie set a tone — he was key to getting Fire Island designated as a national seashore and a voice of conscience on notorious CIA behavior.

    Pike’s death yesterday Monday at age 92 is prompting a lot of memories about the sharp, often self-deprecating wit that truly set him apart from the pack in Washington.

    A Democrat first elected in 1960, his First District then covered all of Suffolk County. It was significantly Republican, but nothing compared to the legendary GOP machine across the border in Nassau County. “I’ve always said I’m surrounded on three sides by water and on the fourth by Republicans,” a joke the New York Times included in its obituary.

    Pike stories include the time in 1977 when he stood on the House floor to skewer colleagues who wanted a pay raise of $12,900 to be automatic, not wanting to be held accountable for it back home.  Among the faction demanding a vote, Pike took to the floor to say  said he had stumbled across an ancient madrigal in the medieval literature section of the Library of Congress. He said it was written by Publius Ethicus and it "was apparently scored for 535 voices, largely male, but with a large number of male singers in the upper registers who had been castrated.

    To the tune of "I've Been Working On the Railroad," the madrigal goes, like this, Pike said:

    1st Canto

    I've been working in the Congress Most of every days .
    I've been working the Congress finding ways to raise my pay .
    Have to raise it without voting, It would never pass. Anyone who voted for it would be out on his own.


    We are all so pure, we are all so pure
    We are all so ethical and pure, pure, pure

    Pike, a ranking member of the House Armed Services committee, often skewered the Pentagon. He had the credibility to do so, he would say because he was a Marine pilot who flew bombing missions in the Pacific during World War II. He stopped a bill that would have given millions of dollars to top brass sitting in cushy desk jobs by spinning around and pretending to fly on the House floor. 

    Tony Marro, the former editor of Newsday and Washington bureau chief, recalls that at some point during the debate, Pike  shared a meal with reporters in the House dining room. Pike told them that he had been “ace” pilot, which back then meant he had to have shot down five planes. But Marro recalls that in a classic Pike quip, he quickly added that he had been shot down twice and once crashed his plane, destroying two other U.S. planes on the ground at the same time. “He had -- unfortunately -- been a Japanese ace. 

  • He had a hammer.
    And he turned, turned, turned us all.
    Goodnight, Pete Seeger.
  • MacArthur sheds flights.
    Hope there is a plan. Right now?
    No way to D.C.
  • Never before has my attention been more focused on the actions of a groundhog than it will be come Sunday morning.

    In fact, I think I can say with near-certainty that unless I am someday chased by a pack of the varmints hell-bent on tearing me apart for some perceived slight, I will never be more groundhog obsessed than I am right now.

    This winter is just on my last nerve. The cold is endless and vast to the point that my native South Carolinian family has fallen into that deepest of northern hallucinations, the belief that on the rare occasion the mercury jumps to 31 degrees and sun shines that means “it’s nice out.” The cold has been (nearly) endless and soul-crushing. The rock salt and sandy mud, no matter how much we clean, now cover every inch of my floors, my Boston terrier, my car and, I think, my soul.

    Local governments are reporting they’ve reached or will soon reach their budgeted limits for plowing, sanding and salting. Local parents have reported they’ve reached or will soon reach their tolerance for snow days, late starts, early dismissals and, honestly, the unplanned time spent in the same room with their kids baying out demands for hot chocolate and grilled cheese sandwiches.

    And the worst part is that we know, barring a groundhog-shadow miracle, the worst is yet to come.

    For me, as much as I enjoy the Superbowl, which falls on Groundhog Day this year, I also face it with a sense of dread, because it’s the last thing to look forward to for months. Seriously, what good happens in February? Valentine’s Day? Please. For a guy who is been married 14 years, my biggest wish for Valentine’s Day is that CVS not run out of the stuff I’ll need to keep from looking like a complete loser husband when I dash in to the store on the way home from work, frenzied and sweating, at 7:45 that night. The weather in February (it gifted us with a three-foot blizzard) often makes January look like April in Paris, and the thing I most like to do when the weather is pukey, watch meaningless sporting events on television while I lie supine on the couch, is horrible post-Super Bowl. When I say meaningless sporting events, I do not include anything quite as utterly inconsequential as mid-season hockey or NBA games.

    The legitimate sporting goes dormant for like seven weeks, then blooms into life, like the weather, with March Madness, the Masters, baseball and post-season NBA/NHL excitement. Until then, I might as well let my wife and daughter have control of the remote and settle in for shows about young love, the construction of ornate cakes and hushed discussions about honor conducted in old English manor houses.

    March is even worse because it’s such a teasing letdown. Throughout February, as winds and snow pummel us, we somehow convince ourselves each year of the sleet-addled hallucination that March 1 will magically bring warm breezes and blooming flowers, rather than the howling, frigid winds that are that month’s actual calling card.

    Sunday morning my attention will turn to Punxsutawney Phil. I know his shadow doesn’t magically affect the weather, but I can’t bear the thought of six more weeks of winter, and sometimes faith in magic is all we’ve got.
  • Party in turmoil.
    Clean debt bill stuns GOP.
    Boehner rule: He blinks.
  • A call for a friend.
    A call to keep schools open.
    Bill’s steep learning curve.
  • Chaos in Ukraine.
    What are we watching? Protest?
    Or the start of war.
  • Some places use potatoes. Others opt for liquid cheese. Still others choose beer waste, tomatoes or corn.
    In Suffolk, they’re looking at sugar beets.
    To keep roads from icing.
    Suffolk Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) has proposed legislation that would require county public works officials to study the feasability of using an extract of sugar beets to help keep roads clear of ice and snow.
    As crazy as it might sound at first blush, it’s an idea worth exploring.
    Hahn’s legislation is part of a national trend as municipalities scramble to deal with a harsh winter and shortages of salt. Mixing beet juice — or, as some refer to it, beet molasses — with salt brine helps the mixture adhere better to roads, significantly lowers the temperature at which the mixture will continue working, and reduces the amount of salt needed, which could be a savings for taxpayers. In addition, advocates say the mixture is less caustic which reduces corrosion for cars and pollution for streams.
    Locally, Sag Harbor and National Grid use beet juice, as does the New York State Thruway.
    Beet juice also is being used in municipalities in Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio and Pennsylania, among other states, as well as in British Columbia in Canada.
    Hahn’s bill passed out of committee Tuesday and will be considered by the full legislature next Tuesday.
  • Filler: Suffolk budgets rationally for red light cameras, unlike Nassau

    It looks like Suffolk County officials are taking a very realistic approach to budgeting revenue
    from speed cameras in school zones, which is very much to their credit…and very much to Nassau officials’ discredit.

    This matters because as Nassau County administrators and union representatives work to get a deal put together that would lift the wage freeze the Nassau Interim Finance Authority imposed three
    years ago, the big bones of contention are how much such deals will cost and h
    ow they will be paid for.

    NIFA would prefer that any deal to lift the freeze save just as much as the wage freeze itself
    does, through changed work rules, benefit levels or wage scales.

    But county and union officials have, in addition to trying to find a way to make granting annual raises as cheap as not granting them, promoted ways to increase revenue  to pay for lifting the wage freeze. The flaw in that argument is that  the county, with an annual deficit running between $80 million and $100  million, needs more revenue even with pay scales stuck. Even if County Executive Edward Mangano and his administration  can bring in more money, that doesn’t mean it should go to cops and other union workers. Property owners who’ve been waiting for tax refunds for years might like to have a crack at that new revenue, too.

    But before you can decide where new revenue ought to go, you have to  project how much it’s going to be. Or you could, as advocates for a deal now on the table have been, just wish upon speed cameras as if they were shooting stars.

    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently proposed that both Nassau and Suffolk counties get speed cameras in school zones. Nassau has actually budgeted revenue of $8 million to $12 million per year from such cameras in its multi-year plan.

    But in the context of a new deal to lift the wage freeze, proponents say  Nassau’s cameras can bring in $32 million per year, which would be 64 tickets per school day for each camera, at $50 each, and with a 100 percent collection rate.

    Suffolk officials, it turns out, are estimating that each of their cameras will ticket 20 people per day, and collect on about 70 percent of the violations.  And if you apply those numbers in Nassau, you get the $8 million to $12 million per year revenue estimate that the county itself included in the multi-year plan, before visions of thawing wage freezes began dancing in their heads.
  • Federal courts should continue to put Guantanamo detainees on trial

    by Alvin Bessent

    Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is on trial right now in  lower Manhattan for conspiring to kill Americans.
    His lawyers wanted Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9-11 attacks, to testify, but a federal judge  decided today not to allow it.

    If you didn’t know all that, you’re not alone. The trial has been as quiet and uneventful as the hundreds of other terrorist trials conducted in  federal courthouses since 9-11.

    Makes you wonder what all the fuss was about back in 2009 when U.S. Attorney  General Eric Holder announced plans to put Mohammed on trial in lower  Manhattan. Holder dropped the idea like a hot rock when real estate and business interests and a chorus of elected officials wailed about the potential disruption and security concerns.

    Mohammed and dozens of others have been in prison at Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade without being convicted of anything. The federal courts have proved they’re up to the job.

    We should let them do it. Put  the detainees on trial, convict the guilty and then properly bury them  in prison.

    It’s the American way.
  • Remember when ping
    was the other half of pong?
    Now, a macabre ghost.
  • Stony Brook $pends on the arts

    The last few years have seen a growing emphasis in educational spending on STEM programs, and with good reason. The country desperately needs more people trained in science, technology, engineering and math, a need that will only increase with time.

    But in the midst of that embrace of our high-tech future, it’s nice to see that some schools are still investing in the arts and humanities.

    In a letter sent Friday afternoon to Stony Brook University faculty, staff and students, president Dr.
    Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced the details of a new initiative that will see the school spend $1 million over the next four years on the arts, humanities and social sciences.

    The initiative consists of four programs: six fellowships for social sciences graduate students, three humanities faculty fellowships, a guest artist residency program that will provide an opportunity to bring two artists in residency to Stony Brook, and 25 travel awards for faculty to present papers at national or international conferences.

    “I have enthusiastically embraced these initiatives for their potential to promote innovative research and creative endeavors by both faculty and graduate students and make an impact on scholarship that can be measured and evaluated,” Stanley wrote in the letter.

  • Amazing column on Reshma, a paranoid schizophrenic has risen above her illness to fight for others @PeterGoldmark
  • Crucial school election in Hempstead tomorrow -- a district cheating its kids of decent education @newsdayopinion
  • #bookcon2014 in hall waiting for Veronica Roth. The reading world is young, female and enthusiastic. Must find column topic #newsday
  • Insightful new op-ed by former Newsday editorial page editor James M. Klurfeld on the the Middle East chaos:

    Klurfeld: Strange bedfellows in the Israel-Gaza equation - Newsday

    NewsdayWill we be left with another ineffective cease-fire?
  • Like this deal? $400K payout for retiring village police chief for unused sick, vacation and personal days.
  • The best drugs for cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes can cost ppl who can least afford it thousands of $$ a month. #aca
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