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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

Newsletter is Back and There's a Lot of Good News to Share

Dear Neighbor,

The newsletter is back! We send the newsletter once a month so we don't clutter your mailbox and keep you up to date on everything going on in the community, as well as opportunities to influence government decisions by making your voice heard.

Thank you to all the residents who came out to the polls in the Primary and General Elections, where we won with 7,847 votes at 75% and 22,514 votes at 81% respectively. This is a testament to our partnership and shows that empowering residents helps to govern honestly and inclusively—and it's the best way to get things done.

During the blackout period when we could not send government newsletters because of our pending elections, we won Universal School Lunch, launched ferry service and opened Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island, rolled out bus countdown clocks, broke ground on $35 million in improvements to the East River Esplanade, signed tenant safety legislation I authored into law, and I was even recognized as one of the best Council Members by City and State.

Last month we broke ground on $1 million in renovations to the East River Esplanade in partnership with the Hospital for Special Surgery, cut the ribbon on a new laboratory building with Memorial Sloan Kettering, made progress on rezoning Sutton to stop supertall skyscrapers, passed two bills so that schools ensure no child goes hungry and train teachers to support GSAs, passed legislation to open the city's $85 billion budget and welcomed the Technion Israel Institute of Technology world tour.

As November starts I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and take this opportunity to invite everyone to my annual holiday party on Tuesday, December 5th, 5-7pm. RSVP

Regards,


Ben Kallos
Council Member

 

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

November 27
9:45AM - 11PM
Medicare Open Enrollment Event

November 27
6:30PM-8:30PM
Community Town Hall, Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island

November 30
6:30PM
College Affordability Excelsior Scholarship Forum

December 7
7:30PM
Mayor's Town Hall

January 7
1PM-3PM
State of the District 

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

November 14
6PM – 7PM
Brainstorming with Ben

November 30
6:30PM-7PM
CitiBike Street Skills Class

December  5
5PM – 7PM
Holiday Party

SUMMER HIGHLIGHTS

  1. August
  2. September
  3. October

OVERDEVELOPMENT

  1. Sutton Rezoning at City Planning Commission
  2. Scaffolding Bill Gets Hearing
  3. Marijuana Smoking at 180 East 88th Street
  4. Height Protections for Upper East Side

EDUCATION

  1. Ensuring No Child Goes Hungry (Bill Passed)
  2. Support GSAs in Public Schools (Bill Passed)
  3. Silicon Island: Technion Israel Institute of Technology World Tour
  4. Fighting to Fund Hunter Science Campus Construction

PARKS & ENVIRONMENT

  1. Breaking Ground on East River Esplanade Construction at HSS
  2. It's My Park Day
  3. Banning Toxic Pesticides from Parks
  4. Climate Works for All Building Retrofits

PUBLIC HEALTH

  1. New MSK Center for Laboratory Medicine Ribbon Cutting
  2. Senior Health Fair Success
  3. American Academy Committee on Nutrition and Obesity
  4. Asphalt Green Swim Meet

GOOD GOVERNMENT

  1. Open Budget (Bill Passed)
  2. Oversight of Mayor's Management
  3. Questioning City Technology Costs

TRANSPORTATION

  1. Plan to Fight Double Parking and Move Deliveries Off-Hours
  2. Bike Safety Helmet Fitting
  3. Bernie, Bill and Ben

COMMUNITY

  1. Protesting Gun Violence with Congress Member Maloney
  2. Know Your Rights for Immigrants at Islamic Cultural Center
  3. Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach
  4. Youth Action March
  5. Building Service Worker Helping Hand Award
  6. Honoring former Community Board Chair David Liston
  7. Halloween Neighborhood Celebrations

OFFICE UPDATES

  1. Legislative Corner
  2. Free Legal Clinics
  3. Here to Help
  4. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS 

  1. City Council Events
  2. Community Board Meetings
  3. New York City Police Department
  4. Community Events For Adults
  5. Community Events For Children

Updates

Press Coverage
Crain's New York
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gamma's victory was short lived, however, as Ben Kallos, the Upper East Side's city council member, vowed to snip the newly created lifeline once the proposal lands on his desk.

"I disagree with the grandfathering clause, and I plan to remove it from this application and move forward," he told Crain's.

Read more

Press Coverage
Curbed
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The neighborhood rezoning already has the backing of several elected officials, most notably City Council member Ben Kallos, who represents the area. He has vowed to remove the City Planning-proposed clause when the project comes before the Council next month, so this tussle is far from over.

Read more

Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Thursday, November 16, 2017

The application now heads to the City Council, where chances don’t look great for Gamma to escape the zoning change. Local Council member Ben Kallos, who backed the a local community group’s efforts to rezone the area, indicated that he plans to remove the grandfathering clause from the application. The City Council tends to defer to the local council member when it comes to land use applications. The council is expected to vote on the zoning change by the end of the month.

Read more

Press Coverage
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, November 16, 2017

The council’s Committee on Governmental Operations voted to pass legislation sponsored by Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side) that would require the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) to create a secure website and mobile app for residents who want to register to vote online.

“Democracy should be a click away. We are used to filling out forms online with the click of a mouse and voter registration should be no different. You should be registered and receive a confirmation by email, just as with any other website,” Kallos said in a statement. 

Read more

Press Coverage
AM New York
Thursday, November 16, 2017

The area’s councilman, Ben Kallos, said he fields complaints daily about overdevelopment and is worried the city is not ready to absorb the population boom it is experiencing.

“They don’t have the school seats we need for the people living here and moving here,” he said. “The Second Avenue Subway is already surpassing ridership goals and they are adding more and more trains.”

Read more

Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Before introducing democracy voucher legislation or the CFB post-election report, however, Kallos is looking to see one of his currently-pending campaign finance reform bills passed in the waning days of this legislative session. Co-sponsored by 29 members in the 51-seat Council, the Kallos bill would increase the public matching threshold for how much candidates can receive relative to the spending limit in their races (there are lower thresholds for City Council races than borough-wide and city-wide races).

The bill had a hearing in April and Kallos said he is pushing to see it passed this term. The Manhattan Democrat saw his online voter registration bill passed on Tuesday by the governmental operations committee he chairs. The full Council is expected to pass it on Thursday and de Blasio has indicated he will sign it into law.

The de Blasio administration has indicated support for Kallos’ bill to increase the public matching threshold, which would allow candidates to run their campaigns based more on smaller, matchable donations (eligible donations up to $175 are matched six-to-one, to a certain percentage of the spending threshold, which Kallos’ bill would increase).

Read more

Press Coverage
The New Yorker
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Since the shutdown of Gothamist and DNAinfo, there has been talk among laid-off staff members of seeking funding to start a new local-news outlet to replace what’s gone. Their experience with Ricketts, several said, has only confirmed their belief in the importance of unions in protecting the rights of workers. On a recent afternoon, former staffers held a rally at City Hall, at which politicians, union leaders, and reporters from other publications showed up in solidarity. It was a muggy, overcast day. Peterson, the Guild director, told the crowd, “We come not to mourn but to organize.” Whitford, wearing a black T-shirt and black jeans, spoke later. “Anyone out there thinking of unionizing, don’t be scared by what happened to us, because this is the worst that can happen,” she said. Later, Ben Kallos, a city-council member from the Upper East Side, told the crowd, “Head over to Broadway, see a little show called ‘Newsies.’ I don’t want to give the end away, but the workers always win.”

Read more

Press Coverage
WNYC: New York Public Radio
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Currently, the only way to register to vote online in New York is through the Department of Motor Vehicles. The catch is you need to have a driver's license or a non-driver id card to use that system — a system that has experienced some hiccups.

City Councilman Ben Kallos said voter registration should be as easy as calling for an Uber. He sponsored a bill to create an online portal through the website of the city's Campaign Finance Board.

"New York City residents would be able to go online, put in all of their information and they could sign on a piece of paper and take a picture, or just sign with their finger or with a stylus," said Kallos.

The key here: the voter registration forms would rely on digital signatures. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an opinion last year saying they're legal, paving the way for online voter registration.

"The bill sponsored by Councilman Kallos marks a key step forward in the fight for more accessible elections, allowing New York City to begin to bring our electoral process into the 21st century," Schneiderman said in a statement.

Read more

Press Release
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

 New York, NY– Following a historic low in voter turnout in New York City’s 2017 General Election for municipal offices, the New York City Council Committee on Governmental Operations today passed legislation to implement online voter registration. The legislation is slated for passage by the New York City Council on November 16. Relying on an opinion by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman which allows online voter registration by localities, Council Member Ben Kallos authored the legislation, which will require the City’s Campaign Finance Board to create and maintain a secure website and mobile app allowing New York City residents to register to vote online.
 
Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia offer limited forms of online voter registration according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York currently only allows residents with a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driver license, learner permit or non-driver identification to register online. However many residents of color cannot use New York State’s only online voter registration system as Hispanics are twice as likely as Whites to not have identification (10%) and Blacks are more than two and half times as likely as Whites not to have identification (13%) according to Project Vote.
 
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman paved the way for this legislation to pass in April of 2016 when he issued and Informal Opinion to Suffolk County officials advising that “online voter registration, including use of electronically affixed handwritten signatures is legal in New York State.”

Read more

Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

On Manhattan’s East Side, the number of traffic collisions involving cyclists is on pace to continue on a downward trend: to date, there have been 228 collisions involving cyclists in 2017, down from 350 in 2016 and 373 in 2015, according to NYPD data. The number of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians injured in collisions on the East Side dropped over the same period.

Since 2012, 1,194 cyclists have been injured in collisions with motor vehicle on the East Side, but none have been killed, according to an analysis of NYPD data covering East Side zip codes from 26th to 96th Streets performed by the office of Council Member Ben Kallos. Thirty-nine pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles over the same period, along with 2,722 injured. Since 2012, no pedestrians have been killed in collisions with bicycles in the East Side zip codes covered in the analysis.

Police in the 17th and 19th precincts have issued 1,557 summonses to bicyclists so far this year, mostly for running red lights and failing to give pedestrians the right of way. Motor vehicle operators received nearly 16,000 summonses in the two precincts over the same period, including 1,541 to drivers for not giving the right of way to pedestrians.

Read more