Senator Michael Gianaris honored Astoria resident and former Marine Sergeant Roman Baca as an inductee into the New York State Senate Veteran’s Hall of Fame. The Veteran’s Hall of Fame pays tribute to New Yorkers whose gallantry in the U.S. Armed Forces is complemented by service to their communities. Mr. Baca, co-founder of Exit12 Dance Company, was officially inducted into the Veteran’s Hall of Fame at a May 19th ceremony in Albany.
“It is an honor and privilege to celebrate the service Roman has provided to our nation and to our local community,” said Senator Gianaris. “One of my most important jobs is to make sure our veterans have the necessary support to succeed upon returning home, and Roman has dedicated his life to helping fellow veterans in an innovative and creative way. I thank him for his service to our country and for his continued work on behalf of all those who keep our nation safe.”
As Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal instituted a new religious freedom law, Senator Michael Gianaris urged Governor Cuomo and New York state legislators to permanently oppose discriminatory religious freedom laws by enacting his legislation that would ban state-funded travel to any state that enacts a new discriminatory religious freedom law in the future.
“We took swift action as a state to combat Indiana’s discriminatory law last month, but we did not go far enough in asserting that New York would stand opposed to any new such laws in the future,” said Senator Gianaris. “Clearly other states did not get the message that discrimination will not be tolerated by the Empire State. I urge Governor Cuomo and my fellow legislators to pass my bill immediately and make clear that we will not stand for discrimination against our fellow citizens.”
“School overcrowding is a crisis directly affecting the lives of teachers, students and parents in western Queens every day and it must be dealt with immediately,” said Senator Gianaris. “Our neighborhoods are growing and more needs to be done to ensure infrastructure keeps pace. I will never stop fighting to provide our kids with the resources they deserve, and I will work to make this education infrastructure bank a reality quickly enough to solve the problems plaguing PS/IS 78 and so many other schools in western Queens.”
“The people of New York are entitled to know where their senators stand on this critical issue right now,” said Senator Michael N. Gianaris of Queens, the deputy minority leader, who led the effort to force a vote on the Senate floor.
Read more about Senator Gianaris and the Senate Democrats making an ethical stand on the Senate floor in The New York Times.
Senator Michael Gianaris honored his predecessor George Onorato in Albany, adopting a resolution in his memory that recognized his many accomplishments and celebrated the life of the former New York State Senator and Astoria icon. Onorato, who recently passed away after a lifetime of serving his country, his city and his borough, was remembered by Senators throughout the state as members of his family observed from a place of honor in the Senate chamber.
Family members in attendance were Senator Onorato’s daughter Janice Onorato, his daughter-in-law Moreen Fried, his niece Valerie Onorato, and his niece Maria Onorato-Filacamo.
“It is impossible to walk down a street in Astoria without bearing witness to something George Onorato did to make our neighborhood a better place to live,” said Senator Gianaris. “George dedicated his long and happy life to serving others. He served our country, our state and all of western Queens in a way that made a positive difference in people's lives. I was proud to call him my friend, and I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate his accomplishments and his life.”
On Tuesday May 5th Senator Michael Gianaris honored Rachel Thieme, Executive Director of Sunnyside Shines, at the annual New York State Senate Women of Distinction Ceremony in Albany. The ceremony provides Senators across New York State with an opportunity to honor outstanding women whose contributions to their neighborhood have enriched the lives of those in the community.
“Rachel and Sunnyside Shines are perfect embodiments of the wonderful character of our neighborhood,” said Senator Gianaris. “More and more people are finding out that Sunnyside has among the finest restaurants, cultural institutions and public spaces in all of New York, and Rachel’s work is a huge part of that. From our two new public plazas on Queens Boulevard to Taste of Sunnyside, Rachel makes our neighborhood a better place to live and I couldn't be prouder to recognize her as a Woman of Distinction.”
The Daily News looks at Senator Gianaris' fight to reform a law that would prevent public money from reimbursing legal fees to campaign committees and legal defense funds.
“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 ok 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.”
Roman Baca is a Marine Iraq War veteran and the Artistic Director of Exit 12 Dance Company. Exit 12 is a contemporary dance company, committed to creating and performing works of high cultural significance that inspire conversations about worldly differences, and the lasting effects of violence and conflict on communities, families and individuals. Through movement, Exit 12 educates audiences about the reality of war, advocates diversity and mutual understanding through cultural exchange, and champions the humanity and dignity of all people.
Rachel Thieme has served as the Executive Director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District in Sunnyside, Queens since 2012. In this role, she works with business and property owners to promote, beautify and enhance the Sunnyside commercial district.
Under her leadership, the organization has collaborated with a variety of community partners to revitalize two areas under the elevated 7 train and transform them into welcoming public plazas.
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.”