Tag Archives: mike gianaris

Tony Avella joins NY State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

State Senator Tony Avella is joining the New York State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), he announced Wednesday. 

He will be the fifth member of the breakaway faction of Senate Democrats — led by Jeffrey Klein of the Bronx — who share majority control of the chamber with Republicans.

“Under Senator Klein’s leadership, the IDC has developed a clear, progressive agenda for New York’s working families,” Avella said. “They have shown an ability to get big things done, without the dysfunction of years past.”

The cross-aisle conference, formed in 2011, also includes Senators Diane Savino of Staten Island, David Valesky of Oneida and David Carlucci of Westchester.

Avella, elected to the Senate in 2010 after two terms in the City Council, is also the only member from Queens.

State Senator Malcolm Smith, of southeast Queens, joined the conference in December 2012 and helped the IDC and Republicans take leadership. Klein stripped Smith of his IDC membership, however, after his arrest last year on federal corruption charges.

Conference members praised Avella for his passion and knowledge.

“Senator Avella has built a career fighting for those who are most in need, so I am thrilled to welcome him to the IDC,” Carlucci said. “He has the experience, passion and know-how to make a major impact on state policy.”

Klein said Avella’s public service experience makes him the “type of seasoned legislator who knows how to get things done.”

“He will be a major asset in our fight to make New York more affordable for working families,” Klein said.

The switch, however, is said to hurt Senate Democrats’ efforts to reclaim control in the chamber.

Senate Democratic Conference spokesperson Mike Murphy said in a statement that it was “unfortunate that progressive policies continue to be stymied because of divisions created by senators who choose to empower Republicans.”

Astoria Senator Mike Gianaris, the deputy minority leader, declined to comment.

The move also upset some of the senator’s usual supporters.

“It’s  disloyal and it’s not fair to the people of the 11th Senate District who have worked very hard for Tony over the years,” said Democratic State Committeeman Matt Silverstein. “What he did was self-centered and disgraceful.” 

Avella is up for re-election this year. He dropped out of a contentious race for Queens borough president last year, citing “unfinished business in Albany” as a major factor to his decision.



Op-Ed: Western Queens business growth fuels our economy

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Western Queens is home to a growing number of large and small businesses that have aided in our neighborhood’s economic recovery. I am proud to be an advocate for job creation in western Queens, whose diversity makes us one of the most welcoming neighborhoods in the country, as well as a hub for economic development.

Our community is an example of the kind of responsible development that allows large corporations and small businesses to thrive off each other. Partnering with local Business Improvement Districts, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and my fellow elected officials to draw more businesses and jobs to the neighborhood, in recent years we saw the arrival of major organizations like jetBlue, the New York City Department of Health and the CUNY Law School.

Coupled with the opening of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and the renovated Museum of the Moving Image, these projects have increased the number of jobs available to western Queens residents, while causing more people to come to our neighborhood every day and frequent our local businesses. As the effort to create more jobs continues, I will make sure our additional infrastructure keeps pace with the overall growth of the neighborhood.

Thanks to the state’s film tax credit I championed, the film industry has been an economic success story in an otherwise difficult economy. Western Queens is home to three major film production companies, Silvercup Studios, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Broadway Stages, which produce the bulk of New York City’s film and television projects. In New York City alone, more than 100,000 New Yorkers are employed each year to work on an average of 200 films and more than 100 television shows.

Local businesses also benefit from the additional customers working on the many nearby film projects. Last year, the film industry generated $6.9 billion in economic activity across the state and brought 30,000 new jobs to New York City— a huge number for an industry that employs 130,000 people overall.

One of the most exciting new elements of our neighborhood is its growing tech culture. I have been deeply involved in developing that industry to ensure it improves our neighborhood, maintains our quality of life and responsibly adds to western Queens’ growing reputation as a hub for tech-based businesses and entrepreneurs. The construction of the Cornell-Technion Applied Sciences campus on Roosevelt Island, as well as the tech-based Coalition for Queens and the new Factory of the Future, owned by the world’s largest 3-D printing company, will enhance western Queens’ tech environment, bringing more industry experts, businesses and jobs to the neighborhood and establishing western Queens as the next Silicon Valley.

The boom in business development occurring in western Queens has helped us weather the recession and made our neighborhood a destination for residents and visitors alike. I believe western Queens is a model of the kind of community whose residents, small businesses and large corporations work together to fuel our economy while enhancing our quality of life.

Michael Gianaris represents the 12th Senate District, which includes Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside, LIC and parts of Ridgewood and Maspeth.

Gianaris bills would make NY toughest on guns

| brennison@queenscourier.com

In the wake of multiple massacres across the country and an increase in shootings citywide, a state politician is calling for New York to become the nation’s leader in gun control.

State Senator Michael Gianaris introduced a bevy of bills in Albany that would strengthen the state’s gun laws, making them the toughest in the country.

“There’s been a rash of incidents not only around the country, but in New York. It’s clear that gun violence is getting out of control,” Gianaris said. “I think people in this state are fed up, they’re saying enough is enough, it’s time to make some sensible changes to keep guns off the street.”

Shootings in the city are up 12 percent this year, the senator said.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which ranks states on the strength of their gun control laws, ranked New York fourth in the nation behind California, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Gianris worked with the Brady Center on the bills that, if passed, would strengthen the areas the Brady Center found the state to be weak — firearm trafficking and background checks.

Purchasers of firearms would also be required to complete a safety training course, limit purchases to one per month and close several loopholes.

Similar laws are already on the books in New York City, where residents can only purchase one firearm every 90 days, a bill sponsored by Councilmember Peter Vallone.

On the national level, Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued to call out President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for their relative silence on guns.

“Just two weeks after the tragedy in Aurora, we’ve seen another mass shooting,” the mayor said Monday in Richmond Hill. “And still the two presidential candidates have not given the American public a plan to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”

He said his attempts to reach out to the candidates have been met with “deafening silence.”

“The two presidential candidates cannot continue avoiding an issue that is one of the most serious threats we face as a nation,” Bloomberg said.

Gianrias agreed federal intervention is necessary.

“Ultimately, the best answer would be a solution coming out of the federal government or Congress, because we can improve New York as best we can and we should, but there is still guns coming in from out of state because other states have even more lax laws.”