Stopping yet another ethics reform measure in its tracks, Senate Republicans on the Investigations and Government Operations Committee voted down Senator Michael Gianaris’ bill that would prevent New York State from using public monies to reimburse campaign committees and legal defense funds. Senator Gianaris expressed frustration that his colleagues voted against reforming the current law that forced the state to reimburse the campaign committee of a former legislator for more than $1.5 million and pay out upwards of $560,000 more to his legal defense fund. Senator Gianaris introduced the bill (S.2262) in January in order to close this loophole and ensure taxpayers would no longer have to foot the bill when legislators are accused of crimes.
The Republican committee members who voted against the bill are Senators Martin Golden, Carl Marcellino, Terrence Murphy, Michael Nozzolio, and Thomas O’Mara.
“Today is another sad example of common sense reform losing the fight with twisted Albany logic,” said Senator Gianaris. “Only in this backwards ethical culture do some think it is okay that public financing for campaign committees only exists for those accused of crimes. I will continue working to close this loophole and I can only hope my colleagues will come to their senses on this issue.”
“I was proud to take part in the Love Your Block campaign, and I am glad that the love in our community for Astoria Heights Park continues to translate into tangible improvements at this playground,” said Gianaris. “I commend Lynn Kennedy and all the Friends of Astoria Heights Park for their continued efforts on this front and vow to continue working with Councilman Constantinides and Assemblywoman Simotas to preserve, protect and improve public space in our community.”
Head to the Western Queens Gazette for more on how Senator Gianaris is working with the community to improve our park.
“I am thrilled that Sunnysiders will get to enjoy the new and improved Thomas P. Noonan playground ahead of schedule, and just in time for spring. This park is not only a monument to veterans and a Sunnyside hero, but also an escape from city life that provides local children with the open space they desperately need," Senator Gianaris said about the playground ribbon cutting.
Following yet another disastrous 7 train commute, Senator Gianaris said, “The 7 train nightmare for western Queens residents continues. We have been dealing with this for months already and today's new chapter is especially troubling, with riders trapped under the river for an extended period. The status quo on the 7 line is simply unacceptable and I will continue to push the MTA to drastically improve the 7 train's performance on a day to day basis.”
Senator Michael Gianaris introduced a bill that would ban state-funded or state-sponsored travel to Indiana or other states that may emulate Indiana’s new discriminatory “religious freedom” law.
“In recent years our nation has finally moved forward on LGBT rights and it is important that we as New Yorkers take a stand to keep us from moving backwards,” said Senator Gianaris. “In order for our state to play our rightful role as a national leader on this issue, we need to send a loud and clear message all the way to Indiana that this discriminatory law must be opposed. I urge my colleagues to support this proposal, and I encourage states that have not already done so to follow our example.”
“A fare hike is always hard to stomach but given the terrible subway service in western Queens recently, this one seems to be in particularly bad taste,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “This winter the 7 train and the N, Q lines have provided one horror story after another for hardworking New Yorkers just trying to get to the office on time. I can understand if my neighbors are angry about a fare hike on top of abysmal service. I’m angry too.”
“As the first Greek American to hold elected office in New York, I am deeply proud of the many contributions Greek Americans have made to our city and our country,” said Gianaris. “It is an honor to declare March 2015 Greek History Month in the state of New York, and it is truly a pleasure each year to join so many in celebrating Greek heritage in New York as we march up Fifth Avenue.”
Senator Gianaris stated, “There is so much happening throughout western Queens that our need for better methods of traveling between our neighborhoods has never been more pressing. This service expansion represents a hard fought victory, but I will never stop fighting for improved transit service in our community.”
“Each year we come together to celebrate the contributions Greek Americans have made in shaping Queens, and each year it seems like we have even more to celebrate,” said Gianaris. “I am proud of how much our community has done to make New York an even better place to live, and that work is personified in our honorees. I extend my thanks to everyone who joined us for this celebration of Greek heritage in Queens.”
Read the Western Queens Gazette for full coverage on Senator Gianaris' annual celebration of Greek Independence.
“This major funding commitment is welcome news for all who have known Queens Boulevard as the Boulevard of Death for too long,” Senator Gianaris said regarding the funding to make Queens Boulevard safer. “We have worked to solve this problem for years and though I wish improvements would have happened sooner, I’m glad to see that steps are being taken to make this dangerous street safer. I will continue to work with DOT and our community to ensure Queens Boulevard fixes are put in place quickly and effectively as possible.”
Senator Michael Gianaris is working to see that New York State provides Long Island City High School with the nearly $7 million the school is owed as determined by a 2006 Court of Appeals decision in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case. Senator Gianaris, who graduated from LICHS, noted that his alma mater was owed more than all but two other schools at $6,709,960.29 in total. This astronomical figure averages out to more than $2,660 per pupil. Senator Gianaris has a long history of fighting for LICHS in the face of threatened co-locations and closures.
“Starving our public schools of the resources they need has led us to a crisis. It is unacceptable that this school, which has beaten back attack after attack in recent years, remains nearly $7 million dollars short of what it needs,” said Senator Gianaris. “We should be giving our kids every opportunity to succeed but instead the students at Long Island City High School have been forced to deal with bureaucratic distractions, and now we find out it's not getting millions of dollars to which it is legally entitled. I will do all I can to make sure this is rectified.”
Dear Students,Thank you for your wonderful contribution to the New York State Senate’s Earth Day Poster Contest. This year we received many outstanding posters that exemplify the creativity of the young people in the 12th Senatorial District. Each entry from my District displayed tremendous originality and vision as well as obvious concern for the ecological future of our communities and our state. I am proud of your work and that of your classmates, and encourage you to continue to study and learn more about the serious challenges that face our environment.I am pleased to announce that the winner of the 2015 Earth Day Poster Contest from my District is: Kyle Rea, And Johnathan Cauchi5th GradeSt. Joseph Catholic Academy
(Astoria, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris praised Mayor Bill de Blasio for adding the Muslim holy days of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to the public school holiday calendar, issuing the following statement.
"I commend Mayor de Blasio for adding these two holy days to our public school calendar, something many of us sought for years through state legislation that I sponsored,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “Allowing time off for Eid is a recognition of the diversity in our schools, and a celebration of the contributions our Muslim neighbors make to our city. Muslim parents no longer need to choose between their child's education and the celebration of an important religious holiday."
(Elmhurst, NY) State Senators Michael Gianaris and Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblymember Francisco Moya, Councilman Danny Dromm, Transportation Alternatives and Make Queens Safer renewed calls for passage of Senator Gianaris's legislation to crack down on drivers who kill or seriously injure others while driving with revoked, suspended or otherwise invalid licenses. This proposal (under Senate bills S2539 and S2484), which is included in Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero agenda, would make such an event a felony and would provide for the immediate impoundment of a vehicle in an accident like the one that took the life of a pedestrian on Woodside Avenue this Sunday. Assemblywoman Marge Markey carries both bills in the State Assembly.
Senator Gianaris first introduced the legislation after a truck driver without a valid license struck and killed Noshat Nahian, a 3rd-grader at PS 152 in Woodside on his way to school on Northern Boulevard in December 2013. Senator Gianaris renewed his call for these measures after Angela Hurtado was killed by a driver with a suspended license in Maspeth in January 2014. This latest incident makes three deaths in similar circumstances in just over a year.
“How many deaths at the hands of unauthorized drivers will it take before we make sure the punishment fits the crime in these cases?” said Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Queens). “It is heartbreaking to see one family after another suffer the loss of a loved one because irresponsible drivers get behind the wheel when they shouldn’t. My proposals would create a serious deterrent so that anyone thinking about getting behind the wheel without a license will think twice or face real jail time if they do so and kill or seriously injure someone. I call on my fellow legislators to pass these bills immediately before we face yet another tragedy.”
(Astoria, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas issued the following statements on the passing of former Senator George Onorato.
"George Onorato will always be part of the fabric of western Queens,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “He dedicated his long and happy life to serving others and making the communities he represented better places to live. George Onorato served our country, our state and our neighborhoods in a way that made a positive difference in people's lives. I will miss him. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. May his memory be eternal."
(Astoria, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilman Costa Constantinides and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan celebrated Black History Month at Astoria Houses in conjunction with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, The Floating Hospital, Urban Upbound, HANAC, Astoria Cornerstone, and Minor Miracles. The event celebrated the contributions of African-Americans throughout our country’s history and honored several local leaders.
“I am honored to celebrate Black History Month with so many people who have done so much for our community,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “As we celebrate the many contributions of this important community throughout the history of our country, we also honor those who have given their time and effort to improve the lives of their neighbors here in Astoria. To our honorees tonight I say thank you.”
(Albany, NY) Senator Michael Gianaris joined Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and several Democratic Conference members to introduce a package of common sense ethics reform legislation. Among the proposals are bills that would effectively ban outside income for legislators, take away pensions from elected officials convicted of felonies, create a public financing system for elections and strengthen financial disclosure laws. In addition, Senator Gianaris authored two bills that would lower contribution limits for campaigns and prevent campaign committees from being reimbursed for legal defense fees.