Michael Gianaris

State Sen. Michael Gianaris has big plans for 2019

State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris wants to show that the party can get things done.

New York State Senator Michael Gianaris in the Senate Chamber.

New York State Senator Michael Gianaris in the Senate Chamber. Hans Pennink/AP/Shutterstock

State Senator Michael Gianaris had a big role in bringing one-party rule to Albany. As chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Gianaris was in charge of recruiting primary challengers to the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference – a group of eight Democrats who allied with the Republicans to keep them in control of the Senate. By ousting six former IDC members and recruiting winning candidates against Republican incumbents, Democrats were able to secure a Senate majority that is not only their largest in a century, but also poised to pass a litany of progressive priorities.

With the legislative session beginning this week, Gianaris is excited to put this new majority to work. Democrats are planning to hit the ground running with bills to expand abortion rights, reform election laws and pass the Child Victims Act, among other efforts. Gianaris – who is now the deputy majority leader – will be a key figure in pushing Democrats to realize their legislative agenda at a time when the party also controls the Assembly and the governor’s mansion. The lingering fallout of a deal that would bring Amazon to Long Island City in exchange for billions in tax benefits has also brought more attention to Gianaris’ district, which stretches across the western Queens neighborhoods of Astoria, Long Island City and Sunnyside.

City & State caught up with Gianaris before the holidays to discuss his plans for 2019, his ongoing response to the Amazon deal and the reason why he was eating Cheetos for dinner. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Is there anything big coming up in your district?

I assume you mean besides Amazon? We are acutely feeling the problems with the subway system. Just the other day, we had a station that turned people away – which I’ve never heard of before – because the trains stopped working and the station itself became so crowded that they told people to walk away when they were showing up to the subway. So, we have a lot of people who use the subway to commute in these neighborhoods and the problems with the viability of the system are felt to a great degree in western Queens. So I’ve been focusing on that and on affordable housing, which ties into the Amazon question as well. The rent laws and affordable housing are big, big issues that will have a huge impact on people’s lives when we improve them.

You mentioned that the Amazon project shows that legislation is needed to curb the use of nondisclosure agreements.

One of the problems that was revealed through this terrible process was that Amazon required the bidders to sign secrecy agreements, essentially refusing to tell the people they represent what they’re doing in their name. I don’t think there’s any reason for that to be a process that our government should participate in and I’m going to propose that we ban that in the future.

What’s an example of a proper process that could have been a model for bringing Amazon to Queens?

That’s a good question. I’ll have to give that some thought. I know that this process was unprecedented in its scope and the bidding that was required of all the localities and in the secrecy that was part of the process – down to the point that it required the localities to notify Amazon of any public records requests, so they could fight against it. It was a level of control of an economic development process that was unprecedented and the problem is the shifting of power from government to corporations. We see it with the way economic development funds are normally allocated in New York. The governor has a bidding process where companies and entities that want the economic development dollars compete with the state. In this case, all the states and cities are competing with the giant corporation having the control. We have shifted to a very dangerous template where corporations are dictating policy instead of governments.

What should we expect in January in terms of legislation?

Progress. I believe this is going to be one of the most productive sessions in New York’s history. There are a number of issues that were kept on the shelf by Senate Republicans that we hope to move on relatively quickly.

What are you particularly proud of accomplishing this year?

The fact that we were able to get not only a Senate majority, but a substantial one, that I think was not only the result of the blue wave that hit the country. It was the culmination of years of effort, of playing my part in getting the conference to a place where enough voters and donors and political supporters had confidence in Andrea Stewart-Cousins and in myself to entrust us with such a large majority. It is going to be transformational for this state and we’re anxious to show in 2019 that things have really changed and it’s not just more of the same.

So how does Sen. Gianaris unwind?

I’d say dinner and a movie and bike riding for exercise.

And some pretty good Cheetos?

These are regular Cheetos puffs, but I had one hour of free time between my last meeting and my next event so it’s the best I could do today, unfortunately.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.