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About Ben Kallos

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos was praised by the New York Times for his “fresh ideas” and elected in 2013 to represent the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and East Harlem along with all 8.4 million New Yorkers in the New York City Council.  He grew up on the Upper East Side with his mother, who still lives in the neighborhood, and his grandparents, who fled anti-Semitism in Europe. As Vice-Chair of the Jewish Caucus he has been an ardent advocate for Israel and supporter of Jewish causes.

As Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee where he has sought to root out patronage, de-privatize government, eliminate billions in waste, expand elections, and to use technology to improve access to government.  He has become a leading advocate for education, affordable housing, public health, sustainable development and transportation improvements and safety.  His office is open and transparent, with constituents invited to decide on how to spend one million dollars on local projects in the district as well as to join him in a conversation on the First Friday of each month, or he will go to them if they can gather ten neighbors for “Ben In Your Building.”

Most Recent Newsletter

Affordable High-Speed Broadband Internet for Low-Income Youth & Seniors

Today, over one million low-income youth and seniors now have access to affordable high-speed internet.

As of 2015, more than 730,000 households in New York City do not have broadband, nearly 1 in 4 in Brooklyn and 1 in 3 in the Bronx, leaving them on the wrong side of the digital divide.

In 2013, I promised to secure affordable broadband for low-income New Yorkers from our internet franchisers. In 2015, when Charter Communications sought to merge with Time Warner Cable, I joined Public Advocate James testifying at hearings and advocating for the Public Service Commission to require any company acquiring Time Warner Cable help bridge the digital divide by providing low-income residents with low-cost high-speed broadband Internet which was secured by Governor Andrew Cuomo and an order of the Public Service Commission. Today, over one million low-income youth and seniors will have access low-cost high-speed broadband Internet. Learn more from the release, the announcement, or coverage in the New York Daily News, DNAinfo, and NBC

Spectrum Internet Assist
$14.99 per month for 30 Mbps downloads and 4 Mbps uploads, email and more
No contract, no cost for modem and no activation fees

Spectrum Internet Assist Eligibility
Families with children in public schools who receive free or reduced cost lunch
Seniors (over 65) who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Prospective enrollees must clear outstanding debt to Charter/Time Warner Cable/Bright House Networks from previous 12 months and may not have had broadband subscription within 30 days of signing up.

Visit SpectrumInternetAssist.com or Call 844-525-1574

We are one step closer to "Universal Broadband" and I will continue to fight until every New Yorker has access to affordable high-speed Internet and no one is left on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Updates

Press Coverage
AM New York
Friday, March 3, 2017

If you work in Manhattan and have the gift/luxury of a lunch break, you’ve probably used a POPS without knowing it.

POPS, or privately owned public spaces, can be sunny or shaded plazas or sitting areas in indoor atriums, where you can enjoy your sandwich away from the desk.

At worst, these POPS are barren, vacant lobbies, or simply (and illegally) inaccessible.

Why does that matter beyond the fact that you can’t find a place to nibble your sandwich? Because there’s no such thing as a free POPS: each one was set aside for the public by property owners or developers in exchange for building bigger or taller towers and thus renting out more commercial space.

A new City Council effort aiming to get developers to stick to their end of the bargain has a particularly juicy case study: Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, which was able to build taller in exchange for setting aside public spaces.

The public part of Trump Tower has received significant attention since Trump descended the escalator in June 2015 to announce his presidential run.

Read more

Press Release
Thursday, March 2, 2017

New York, NY— The New York City Council Progressive Caucus stands with the family of Ramarley Graham to once again demand transparency, accountability, and justice from the NYPD. Five years have passed since Ramarley Graham was killed, and yet his family has still not gotten the answers and justice they deserve. Officer Richard Haste has not been disciplined or terminated from employment, internal trials have not taken place for Sergeant Scott Morris or Officer John McLoughlin, and there has been no transparency related to the scope of the overall investigation. We call on the NYPD to enact disciplinary measures against Officer Haste and immediately schedule the disciplinary trials of Sergeant Morris and Officer McLoughlin. Refusing to do so sends a message that misconduct will be tolerated and is a violation of public trust and safety.

"No family should be made to wait five years for justice," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "Ramarley's Graham's death was avoidable and his family deserves answers now. I stand with Ramarley's family in demanding more transparency around the actions that led to his death."

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Newsletter

Dear Friend,

March marks the beginning of Participatory Budgeting. During this period you have an opportunity to vote on how to spend $1 million in our community. Voting will be available at dozens of Participatory Budgeting voting sites throughout the district and by absentee ballot. Make sure your voice is heard by requesting your absentee ballot today or committing to vote.

In February the New York Times covered an Education Committee hearing where legislation I introduced was discussed. My bill would require the Department of Education to report on the number of applications each school receives, how many offers it extends and where students live as well as show where students end up when they leave their neighborhoods to attend school. Many East Side residents are familiar with the Pre-Kindergarten shortage. This legislation would offer deeper insight and transparency into the problem so we can ensure no child is turned away from his or her neighborhood school.

Do you love Art? In March my office is taking part in our annual Sotheby's Student Art Show where hundreds of local students of all ages will showcase their artwork at the world famous Sotheby's. The show's opening reception will take place March 23 at 5pm sharp. You can RSVP by emailing artshowatbenkallos [dot] com

We finished off February with a focus on city management, including a Committee on Governmental Operations hearing on how to help residents and businesses avoid getting quality of life violations. As the City Council reviews the Mayor's Preliminary Budget, I will continue to push for performance budgeting to ensure every taxpayer dollar is getting results.

Sincerely,

 

Ben Kallos

Council Member

SPECIAL EVENTS:
 
March 11, 10am-2pm
Shred-a-Thon
 
March 23, 5pm-7pm
Sotheby's Student Art Reception

March 25 - April 2
Vote on How to Spend $1 Million

March 29, 6pm-8pm
Cornell Tech Town Hall

April 1, 2pm-6pm
Free Bike Helmet Giveaway
 
 
DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

March 3, 8am-10am
First Friday

March 14, 6pm-7pm
Brainstorming With Ben

 

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Press Release
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New York, NY – Over 538 privately owned public spaces (POPS) attached to 329 buildings face new legislation which imposes steep fines for bad landlords who violate the terms of their agreements with the City. In exchange for turning part of the building lot into an open or green space for public use, developers are typically allowed to build taller than the zoning code allows. The building owner is responsible for maintaining the space. Despite this legal requirement, many building owners have illegally closed off these spaces to the public or sought to use them for another purpose. The legislation is authored by Council Member Ben Kallos with sponsorship by Council Member Dan Garodnick, who together represent the POPS-dense Upper East Side, as well as Council Member David Greenfield, Chair of the City Council Committee on Land Use.

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Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Council member Ben Kallos of Manhattan, a sponsor of the legislation, said the attention surrounding Mr. Trump’s campaign led to enforcement efforts that other buildings had escaped. Council member Daniel Garodnick is also a sponsor of the legislation.

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Press Coverage
City Limits
Friday, February 24, 2017

The council members, including Margaret Chin, Corey Johnson, Rosie Mendez, Daniel Garodnick, Ben Kallos, Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez, expressed concern that the regulatory agreement had been crafted without significant input from HDFC stakeholders, that the regulation was “one-size-fits-all,” that additional restrictions could hurt stakeholders’ leveraging ability, among other concerns.

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Newsletter

Download Newsletter in PDF

Democracy works best when residents are empowered to have an impact on the decisions of government. Over my three years in office, I hope you have had an opportunity to make your voice heard at First Friday, Brainstorming with Ben, Ben-In-Your-Building, a neighborhood meeting, in a petition or by calling or emailing me. Here is just some of what we’ve accomplished together:

  • 14 laws passed to make government more transparent and honest, to improve democracy, and to improve quality of life
  • 523 pre-kindergarten seats added to the district
  • 57,000+ square feet of park space opened to the public
  • 35,000 children protected by moving the Marine Transfer Station ramp from Asphalt Green
  • $47 million secured for parks in the neighborhood from City Council district funds, the City Budget and private partnerships
  • $6.8 million invested in STEM education in our local public schools and free lunch for all middle schools
  • Rent frozen for more than 1 million rent stabilized tenants in the city 2 years in a row through advocacy at RGB
  • Over 19,480 violations issued to unsafe drivers and bikers for safer streets in 2016

Thank you for your partnership. Countless community leaders and residents have helped, and together we have accomplished so much. Make your voice heard with monthly updates at BenKallos.com/subscribe

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos
Council Member District 5

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Press Coverage
Chalkbeat New York
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

While some of that information is already publicly available, Kallos wants to gather more details and make it available in a single report.

He also hopes to expand the bill to include information about Pre-K for All applications to help reveal what he sees as unmet need. Kallos said that 54 percent of families who applied for pre-K on the Upper East Side, part of his district, were not offered seats in their zip code in 2015.

“The Mayor’s promise of ‘Pre-Kindergarten for All’ must include enough seats in every neighborhood,” Kallos said in a statement. “Parents in my district are giving up on our public schools and with it our government, and parents who can’t afford private school are being forced out.”

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Press Coverage
Gothamist
Monday, February 27, 2017

City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents a broad swath of Midtown East and the Upper East Side, on Wednesday introduced a bill requiring expanded disclosure on school enrollment, part of an effort to address a space crunch that has half of the city's public school students attending overcrowded schools.

Under the terms of the proposed bill, the Department of Education would make publicly available aggregated and disaggregated data on the number of applications and admissions granted for each school in the city, as well as enrollment numbers and expected open seats for the next school year. This data would be further broken down by grade level and the community school and council districts of residence for students, as well as their zip codes.

"We need to better track what schools people are applying to, how many folks are being turned away from schools, and have a better sense of where they're ending up so we can re-adjust programming," Kallos told Gothamist.

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Press Release
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Geographic Diversity Would Be Added as Measure in NYC Public Schools

 
New York, NY – The number of children from each neighborhood who apply to attend a particular school, the number of seats available at each school, how many offers of admission were made, and total enrollment in all public schools would be counted under a new bill from Council Member Ben Kallos. The legislation will be heard in a February 28, 2017 hearing of the Committee on Education titled “School Planning and Siting for New Capacity.”

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