Opinion

Infrastructure bonding: Pay now, or pay more later

By MICHAEL SAHN// A recent front page article in The Wall Street Journal entitled “Localities Opt for Less Debt over New Infrastructure” reports that local governments are not borrowing to pay for desperately needed infrastructure improvements – despite the fact that interest rates for government bond issues for infrastructure have dropped to their lowest levels in 20 years, Why? Government officials are hesitant to take on long-term debt in a fiscal environment in which they…


Big projects deserve better environmental oversight

By MICHAEL SAHN // This year’s state budget includes hundreds of millions of dollars for big projects on Long Island, including a proposed bridge or tunnel to Westchester and a deep-water port in Shoreham, a new customs station at MacArthur Airport and money to beef up the Ronkonkoma and Nassau Hub projects. There’s funding for new R&D facilities, an engineering school, even money for a third track on the LIRR. If we are going to…


Can entrepreneurship keep you young?

By JOHN KOMINICKI // New Hyde Park resident Mary Putre is on the waiting list for “Shark Tank,” the insanely popular TV show on which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a group of cranky investors. They say it could take another year or so to get her on camera. That’s not because her product – a snow shovel to which icy sludge will not stick – is a potential victim of climate change. The wait reflects…


Russian space geeks hitch their wagon to a star

Have an extra $7 you can’t figure out what to do with? You could help launch the first manmade star. That’s the smallest Kickstarter donation level for Mayak, a giant reflector some renegade Russian scientists hope to put into orbit this summer, making it the brightest object in the night sky. Um, Kickstarter? Yes. These are private, nongovernment scientists who have spent two years designing, building and stratosphere-testing the device, which Roscosmos, the Russian NASA,…


Infrastructure and other fashion necessities

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s promise of millions of dollars in new infrastructure projects for Long Island is a lot like getting socks and underwear for your birthday. They’re useful, but a bit of a letdown when you’re hoping for a new bike. And the governor has certainly been handing out Schwinn Phantoms in other parts of the state. $4 billion overhauls of LaGuardia and JFK airports. $1 billion to spruce up the Javits Center. Hundreds of…


Marvin Minsky and the future of the workplace

By JOHN KOMINICKI // Marvin Minsky, a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence whose work helped create the personal computer and the Internet, died in Boston over the weekend at the age of 88. The son of a noted NYC ophthalmologist, Minsky attended a string of private science and prep schools, then Harvard and Princeton, before settling in as a professor at MIT. There, with colleague John McCarthy, Minsky founded the school’s Artificial Intelligence…


Apartment development claws its way back

By JOHN KOMINICKI Getting an apartment on Long Island is a lot like ordering a lobster. Well, except one of them doesn’t have mushy green stuff inside. (And if it does, I suggest you don’t rent it.) No, I’m referring to the concept of “market price,” which is usually what the menu says next to the lobster entrée. It’s restaurant-speak for “We plan to charge you the most we possibly can.” And so it goes…


Hedonism in the time of inflation

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly consumer price index today, showing a modest 0.2 percent increase, the first rise in three months and pretty much in line with what economists expected. That’s called a ho-hum headline. Luckily, the back story is far more interesting. The BLS compiles the index by surveying prices on more than 80,000 products and services, including everything from food and housing costs to health care and transportation, even “other”…


Clean water advocates are flush with ideas

Cutting the ribbon on a new shopping center used to be an elected official’s dream photo-op. Today, it’s unveiling a septic system install. That’s real progress on a couple of fronts. First, there is scientific evidence that suggests Long Island will actually sink if anybody builds another shopping center here. More importantly, it shows that sewage has finally taken its rightful place, front and center, in the minds of local pols. And about time. The region’s…


Technology, the toast of San Francisco

San Francisco voters took to the polls Tuesday for what was billed as a referendum on technology, specifically how techsters have ruined the city by driving up apartment prices, turning private homes into Airbnb hotspots and popularizing yoga pants. And then there’s the $4 toast. Available at the Mill, a self-dubbed “coffee and bread” place on Divisadero Street at Alamo Park, the toast has come to symbolize what has been called “the epic wave of…


On LI, being young is a moving experience

By JOHN KOMINICKI // A lot of young Long Islanders complain about not having a cool place to live, but my twentysomething daughter is not one of them. She already has a cool place: Her bedroom in my house. She thought it was cool when she was 12, anyway. I’ll try to get an update the next time she emerges. (My wife and I haven’t dared go in there since 1999.) There are, in truth, many…


From potatoes to chips, innovation got us here

By JOHN KOMINICKI // Long Island has always taken great pride in being its own place – as the Cradle of Aviation, as a World War II manufacturing hub and America’s first suburb. Over the years it’s bragged about its oysters and potatoes, about building the Apollo moon lander and producing wines so good the locals couldn’t afford them. For the most part, we still can’t. Most recently, Long Island has focused on becoming the nation’s…


Because science makes lousy TV ads, perhaps?

By J.L. KOMINICKI Yay. We’re first at something. Low-paying jobs in the hospitality sector. OK, that’s not quite the message Gov. Andrew Cuomo was putting out ahead of the July 4 weekend, but you don’t have to squint hard to find the ugly truth in his latest press release. What he wanted us to read was that New York posted a record $100 billion in tourism-related economic activity last year and retained its position, ahead…


Putting on the Shvitz

By J.L. KOMINICKI // Can you build a $500 million brand on flash alone? If you’re Justin Bieber, apparently so. Otherwise you need a product, and a pretty good one at that. Still, flash can give you a powerful head start, as we’re learning from the incredible success of Dollar Shave Club, the California-based men’s grooming platform that completed a $75 million raise this week, a short nine months after closing on a $50 million…


Think big, but don’t act like it

By J.L. KOMINICKI Those of us trying to scale a business got a free lesson from McDonald’s this week on the dangers of getting too big to pivot. I know, I know, we should all have such problems. But the tighter your niche, the quicker the potential of getting to a size at which market changes become a very big deal. Which is where Mickey D’s has found itself. McDonald’s, as you know, was built…