April News

Spring is finally here, and the days are getting a little bit longer and warmer.

This month, I held budget hearings; fought against the marine transfer station; advocated to make it easier for parents to return to the workforce; demanded better bus service; worked to prevent sky-high zoning in our neighborhoods; and more. There are many more updates in the email below.

I hope to see you at First Friday tomorrow morning from 8-10 a.m. at my district office to discuss these issues and more. 

In April, you are empowered to vote on how to spend $1 million in our neighborhood this month. To pledge to vote, find voting times and see the projects on the ballot, please visit BenKallos.com/PB

Sincerely,


Ben Kallos

Table of Contents
1. Participatory Budgeting: You Decide How to Spend $1 Million
2. Fighting Against the Marine Transfer Station
Education
3. Fighting for Public Schools
4. Supporting our Schools
5. School Crossing Guards
6. Council Member for a Day
7. Summer Reading Challenge
8. Chess in the Schools
9. NYC FIRST Robotics Regional Competition
10. Student Voter Registration Day
Jobs
11. Helping Parents Get Back to Work
12. Funding Life Sciences in New York City
13. Raise the Wage!
Affordable Housing
14. Fighting Against Overdevelopment
15. Protesting Church Closings
16. Real Affordability for All
17. Extending Rent Laws
18. Rent Rollback
19. Assisting Tenants
20. Funds for NYCHA
21. Affordable Housing Opportunity
Transportation
22. Better Bus Service
23. Ferry Service
A Better Budget
24. Progress at the Board of Elections
25. NEW City Records Portal
26. Oversight Hearings
Environment
27. NYLCV Perfect Score and Green Construction
28. Food Justice
29. Roosevelt Island AVAC System Tour
Community
30. OTTY Awards
31. Honoring Big Brothers Big Sisters
32. Celebrating Easter in the Community
33. Save Small Business
34. Community Board 8
35. Three Alarm Fire
36. Free Tax Assistance
37. Mount Vernon Hotel Museum
38. Free Senior Fitness Class
39. Asphalt Green Big Swim at Asphalt Green AquaCenter
Civic Technology and Participation
40. Increasing Participation: Absentee Ballot Tracking & Same Day Registration
41. New Age of Civic Tech
42. Senior Cyber Citizens
43. DemocracyOS
44. NYU GovLab Course
Office Updates
45. Ben in Your Building
46. PlaNYC Community Ideas
47. Summer Youth Employment
48. Here to Help
49. City Council Interns
50. Legislative Corner
51. In the Neighborhood
52. City Council Events
53. Mobile District Hours
54. Community Events
 

Participatory Budgeting: You Decide How to Spend $1 Million

This spring, you will be empowered through direct democracy to vote on how $1 million in city funds gets spent in our neighborhood. For more information, including to see which projects will be on the ballot, please contact my office or visit BenKallos.com/PB

Voting locations are as follows:

Weekdays, April 13-17 (More time to vote!): District Office, 244 East 93rd St. 9 A.M. – 6 P.M. RSVP.
Weekends, April 11-12 & 18-19: District Office, 244 East 93rd St. 12 P.M. – 4 P.M. RSVP.

Saturday, April 11: Lexington Houses, 1539 Lexington Avenue, 2 P.M. - 5 P.M. RSVP.
Sunday, April 12: Stanley Isaacs, 415 East 93rd St., 2 P.M. - 5 P.M.
RSVP.
Monday, April 13: PS/IS 217, 645 Main St., 7:30 A.M. - 10:30 A.M.
RSVP.
Monday, April 13: Lexington Houses, 1539 Lexington Avenue, 4 P.M. - 7 P.M.
RSVP.
Tuesday, April 14: RI Senior Center, 546 Main St., 10 A.M. - 1 P.M.
RSVP.
Tuesday, April 14: Lenox Hill, 331 East 70th St., 2 P.M. - 6 P.M.
RSVP.
Wednesday, April 15: Eleanor Roosevelt H.S., 441 East 76th St., 11 A.M. - 2 P.M.
RSVP.
Wednesday, April 15: RI Public Library, 524 Main St., 3 P.M. – 7 P.M.
RSVP.
Thursday, April 16: Stanley Isaacs, 415 East 93rd St., 11 A.M. - 2 P.M.
RSVP.
Thursday, April 16: NYPL 67th St, 328 East 67th St., 1 P.M. - 5 P.M.
RSVP.
Thursday, April 16: NYPL Webster, 1465 York Avenue, 4 P.M. - 7 P.M.
RSVP.
Friday, April 17: PS 151, 421 East 88th St., 7:30 A.M. - 10:30 A.M.
RSVP.
Friday, April 17: Carter Burden, 351 East 74th St., 11 A.M. - 3 P.M.
RSVP.
Saturday, April 18: RI Historical Society, Visitor Kiosk, 11 A.M. - 5 P.M.
RSVP.
Sunday, April 19: St. Catherine’s Park, 1st Avenue and 67th St., 10 A.M. - 11:30 A.M.
RSVP.
Sunday, April 19: John Jay Park, 77th St. and Cherokee Pl, 12 P.M. - 1:30 P.M.
RSVP.
Sunday, April 19: Carl Schurz Park, 86th St. and E End Avenue, 2 P.M. - 3:30 P.M.
RSVP.

We held three great expos where budget delegates showcased community projects. You can read more in the Roosevelt Islander and the Main Street Wire. I hope you will join us next year, as an expo attendee or a delegate. Either way, please have a look at the projects on the ballot and consider them carefully. And, if you plan on helping determine where $1 million in taxpayer funds go, please pledge to vote.

Fighting Against the Marine Transfer Station

At a Sanitation Budget Hearing, I spoke against the Marine Transfer Station, and questioned the Sanitation Commissioner on the rising costs, moving the ramp and environmental impacts of the project. Watch online.

Here are just a few of the facts I emphasized (which were verified by the Commissioner):

  • Operations costs will rise by $43 million for four marine transfer stations in the next fiscal year--and that is not including two unopened marine transfer stations, including ours.
  • No residential waste from Manhattan currently goes to any other borough.
  • Sanitation trucks will drive from Chelsea on the West Side through residential neighborhoods to a Marine Transfer Station at 91st Street on the East Side, where garbage will be tipped, then shoveled into a compactor, then loaded into an intermodal shipping container, then loaded on a barge, then barged to Staten Island, then transfer to a Rail Car, then transferred from a Rail Car back onto a truck then to landfill or waste to energy incinerator.
  •  According New York City Department of Health, the Upper East Side has worse air quality than other boroughs with some of the highest asthma rates in the city in East Harlem and NYCHA developments within blocks of the Marine Transfer Station at 92nd, 93rd, 94th, 98th, 99th and 100th.

The commissioner also said that we are expecting a decision on whether or not they will move the ramp one block so it does not bisect the Asphalt Green playing fields in the spring. For more information on the Marine Transfer Station and our fight against it, please visit BenKallos.com/MTS

Education 

Fighting for Public Schools

With teachers, students and parents across the district, I rallied to protect public schools from Albany education proposals that would encourage more teaching to the test. I joined protests at PS 158, PS 290, PS 151, PS 527 and PS 183 to participate in a citywide day of protests for our public schools. I also held a forum in our neighborhood to mobilize against the damaging Albany proposals. Thanks to all who made our neighborhood's participation among the most robust in the city. Watch the NBC clip or one of the protests. You can also read about it in DailyKos or the inspiring blog of an East Side teacher who worked hard to fight against teaching to the test. All of our work paid off: Some of the proposals were defeated in the state budget. And we will continue to fight for public schools.

Supporting our Schools

I have continued to tour every school in the district, and last month I spent time at PS 77 Lower Lab School. I also attended functions or school auctions at PS 183, PS 158, PS 290 and Eleanor Roosevelt High School and was proud to lend my support to raising funds. If you have an event at your school you would like me to attend, please contact my office. 

School crossing guards

As I visited each school in the district, one of the top concerns raised was the need for more school crossing guards. One of the best ways to ensure that we get the number of crossing guards we need is to pay them better. I was pleased to join DC37 to announce a living wage of $11.50 for crossing guards, and will continue to focus on expanding the number and the quality of the crossing guards protecting our children.

Council Member for a Day

I am now inviting students to enter the "Council Member for a Day" essay contest. The contest is open to students attending Grades 5-8 in the district, and one winner will join me at an official session of the New York City Council. The prompt is "What I Would Do as a Member of the City Council." Please email your essay to bkallosatbenkallos [dot] com (subject: Council%20Member%20for%20a%20Day) (bkallosatbenkallos [dot] com) with the subject line "Council Member for a Day." Parents, teachers and neighbors: Please pass this along to any students who may be interested. Submissions are due May 1st.

Summer Reading Challenge

Join my summer reading challenge! Students who read five books from the NYPL lists (or your own school's list) will be honored at an end-of-summer ceremony and receive a certificate from our office.

As a student, I was always more inclined to work with computers than to read books. When I discovered science fiction, I learned to love literature — and started to spend lots of time at New York City’s world-class public libraries. I look forward to sharing this passion with you. Please visit BenKallos.com/ReadingChallenge to learn more and bkallosatbenkallos [dot] com (subject: Reading%20Challenge) (contact my office) to sign up.

Chess in the Schools
 
It was my pleasure to be part of a benefit for Chess in the Schools, a nonprofit that encourages young people to become involved in chess. This is an activity that enriches minds and helps students thrive. I introduced scientist Neal DeGrasse Tyson at the event, which drew students and supporters from across New York City.
 

NYC FIRST Robotics Regional Competition

Science and technology are essential aspects of learning. I joined NYC FIRST and the brilliant students at the Robotics Regional Competition to see firsthand what can be done with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. These students are the innovators of the future and I look forward to seeing what they accomplish.

Student Voter Registration Day

I was proud to bring Student Voter Registration Day to Eleanor Roosevelt High School. Registering our High School Seniors before they graduate is one important step we can take to promote a lifetime of voting. Following my years of registering high school seniors throughout the city with the support of the United Federation of Teachers and Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, I am proud to be a part of the expansion of this program into a citywide pilot by the Department of Education with Council Member Helen Rosenthal and the support of the Progressive Caucus. 

Jobs

Helping Parents Get Back to Work

On the last day of Women's History Month, I introduced legislation, with Council Member Laurie Cumbo and Council Member Robert Cornegy, that would make it easier for parents to return to the workforce after taking time off to raise families. 

According to the Pew Center for Research, women experience family-related career pauses at a rate much higher than men: 39% of women took significant time off, compared to 24% of men and 27% of women quit their jobs, compared to 10% of men. Of those, 31% of mothers said taking a significant amount of time off hurt their careers, compared with 18% of men. Our bill expands Workforce1 training and resources to help bridge this gap.  The legislation has support from Planned Parenthood of NYC, Women’s City Club, Lower Eastside Girls Club, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, New York Communities for Change, NYLAG and A Better Balance.

You can read the press releasewatch the press conference online, or see the coverage: CBS2, Gothamist, NY Observer, Gotham Gazette, NDT and WFUV.

Funding Life Sciences in New York City 

I am committed to the life sciences and believe that, for the sake of innovation and our city's economic growth, they must be expanded. I stood with Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and New York City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball at Rockefeller University to announce a major new initiative to develop the life sciences industry in New York City. The program will invest $150 million in public-private funds in the life sciences and expand research and development space by 150%. Here in the East Side hospital corridor, if a scientist has an idea to protect human health, they should be able to get it funded and developed in our neighborhood instead of leaving for Boston or San Francisco. I look forward to working hard to develop a vital life sciences sector on the East Side.

Raise the Wage!

I took part in a rally to convince state lawmakers to allow New York City to raise the wage to $15 per hour to account for our high cost of living. For too long, the minimum wage has stagnated and working families have struggled. Now, it is time to raise the wage.

Affordable Housing

Fighting Against Overdevelopment

Zoned height limits throughout the city were hard-earned over the years, often at great sacrifice in communities. I am concerned that a new administration plan to build up will incentivize landlords to warehouse then raze affordable housing in favor of new buildings with a fraction of the affordable housing units at monthly rents double or triple what any New Yorker can afford. I helped lead community advocates and elected officials to express those concerns last month, and look forward to engage on the essential issue of how to make New York City affordable and livable for everyone. You can read more in Crain's and Gothamist.

We knew that upzoning was coming and are ready for it. I also helped organize a letter with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and other elected officials expressing concerns about the possible rezoning plan. If you are too, you can take action by writing to the city. You can email AHOUSINGatplanning [dot] nyc [dot] gov or send letters to:
  
Robert Dobruskin
Director, Environmental Assessment and Review Division
NYC Department of City Planning
22 Reade Street, 4E
New York, NY 10007

You can also read my position on the flaws in the inclusionary housing program in Our Town

Protesting Church Closings

St. Stephen's of Hungary and St. Elizabeth's churches are two valuable landmarks of the community, but the archdiocese has slated them for closing. I stand with the congregations and the community to protest against these unfair closings, and joined services at both churches in solidarity. Bette Dewing's piece in Our Town explains the situation eloquently and serves as a call to action for all of our community to stand strong with our churches.

Real Affordability for All

At the "Real Affordability for All" rally, I joined tenants and activists to demand that our city develop a plan that will protect New Yorkers -- not special interests -- and truly be affordable for all.

Extending Rent Laws

Last month, the City Council extended New York City's rent regulation rules, which I proudly sponsored and voted for. We must protect our rent laws so New Yorkers do not get priced out of their homes.

Rent Rollback

It is time for a rent freeze--or even a rent rollback--for the tenants who have been overburdened for decades. As covered in the New York Observer, I joined advocates to demand that those tenants in rent regulated and stabilized units not see their rents rise this year, as it has disproportionately in years past. Protecting these apartments is just one piece of the puzzle that will keep our city affordable.
 

Assisting Tenants

This month, we won a significant victory for tenants at 429 E 64th St. by working with the Stahl Tenants Association to win needed repairs for the building. The building landlords have neglected  this historical building for years as they apply to turn it into luxury housing. My constituent services team was able to work with the Department of Housing to get major repairs, including lighting and a broken window.

Here are the before and after photos:

Funds for NYCHA

Senator Schumer and Mayor de Blasio announced $3 billion in federal funds for NYCHA developments harmed by Sandy, including Stanley Isaacs. The federal money will repair the residences and fortify them against the next storm.

Affordable Housing Opportunity 

Looking for an affordable apartment? Visit NYC Housing Connect and sign up to receive information on affordable housing units accepting applications. Two locations currently accepting applications that may be of interest are:

The Prospero
32 Affordable Units
100 East 118th Street

One Sixty Madison
64 affordable units
160 Madison Avenue

Apply Online.

Transportation

Better Bus Service

Bus service in our neighborhood has been problematic for too long. Commuters sometimes wait in lines around the block for buses to arrive. Buses do not come, then arrive all at once. I spearheaded an initiative to prevent further cuts in local and crosstown service, writing with a group of officials to NYCT questioning the April transit changes. Together with Congress Members Nadler and Maloney, Assembly Members Quart and Seawright, and Council Members Garodnick and Levine, we sent a letter to NYCT requesting that service on the M96, M86, M79, M72 be reviewed and improved. You can read more in AmNY. State Senator Krueger, Assembly Member Seawright, Council Member Garodnick and I also advocated to protect M15 service, as covered in Our Town. I have also been advocating that NYCT upgrade and release its data, so our best experts can work to improve our bus routes. To tell me more about your commute, please visit BenKallos.com/transit/survey

Ferry Service 

New York City issued an RFP for ferry service providers, including service between the East Side, Roosevelt Island and Astoria. This is big news that many of us fought long and hard for! I look forward to  advocating for ferry service to happen as soon as possible. To learn more, please visit BenKallos.com/Transit

A Better Budget

Progress at the Board of Elections

Reform at the notoriously corrupt Board of Elections has been one of my top goals in office, and I am pleased to report that we are making some progress. You can read in Capital New York about the fixes they have made and watch the hearing in which they reported on the progress.

New City Records Portal

I worked closely with the Department of Records Information Services (DoRIS) to unveil a new records portal, giving New Yorkers access to thousands of government publications in an easily searchable free and open source portal: nyc.gov/publications. DoRIS followed my request to create the portal in-house, using Free and Open Source Software, in order save taxpayer money and create more transparency around millions of government records.You can browse thousands of city records and historical documents. Fore more background, watch the hearing online.

Oversight Hearings

The New York City Council held a preliminary budget hearing, where I questioned the amount and growth of the city's debt. My efforts to hold the budget to a higher standard were covered in Capital New York. Then, during the first budget hearing for the Committee on Governmental Operations, which I chair, we performed oversight on eight city agencies. Read more in the Gotham Gazette. I attended the budget hearings for these agencies to advocate a more open, effective and efficient government:

Department of Financial Services (DOF): During DOF's testimony, I questioned the outstanding liability from our city's healthcare and pension costs, which will only rise in the coming decades. Combined with our relatively high debt, this causes me some concern that our city is placing itself in a vulnerable position. I am working with Council Member Garodnick on reforms to our rising healthcare costs and with Public Advocate Tish James with concerns related to making pensions available in the private sector. Watch online.

City University of New York (CUNY): I asked questions on the costs of free CUNY, to see if such a plan is feasible for New York City. I support the President's free community college plan, and have a plan to extend it to four years of CUNY for New Yorkers who learn and stay. Watch online.

Department of Education (DOE): The Department of Education agreed to meet with me to plan high school voter registration drives and mock voting in more schools to drive youth participation. I also questioned them on Breakfast After the Bell and Lunch 4 Learning, programs designed to increase student participation in free school meals. I also advocated for DOE to build the 49,000 new seats in schools projected to be needed rather than the 30,000 planned. Now, we need to bring more pre-k seats to the East Side so all New Yorkers can benefit from the program. Watch online.

Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS): Under the oversight of the Governmental Operations Committee, DCAS has had some success. Together with Council Member I. Daneek Miller, we successfully pushed DCAS to lower the amount of time between the administration of the civil service exam and establishment on the list for civil service jobs went from 439 days in FY14 to 244 days over the same span in FY15. Yet, there is still much more for DCAS to do if they are to be a truly efficient city agency. They must work to eliminate patronage and improve diversity in their workforce; establish and meet energy efficiency guidelines; and track city vehicles to reduce the unacceptable number of collisions--672 in FY14 compared to 579 in FY13. I will work with DCAS to ensure they meet Vision Zero standards. Watch online.

Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC): The LPC serves the essential role of protecting and preserving our city's historical landmarks. I have joined activists to successfully fight the LPC plan to take many historic landmark applications off the hearings calendar, but the fight is not over yet. We need to ensure they hire more staff to be able to review all applications, so it doesn't happen again. Watch online.

Law Department: A law to deter stop and frisk that many feared would lead to skyrocketing lawsuits against the city only led to one lawsuit last year, according to the New York City Law Department--yet another sign that implementing tougher rules to prevent discrimination is a positive step forward. The city has also committed to fighting rather than settling more frivolous lawsuits against it. Finally, the Law Department has begun to implement my and Council Member Brad Lander's "Law Online" bill by issuing a call for a vendor to generate the website that will contain the city's charter and laws. Watch online.

Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH): I am working with OATH to streamline and centralize their services, so it is easier to process city-issued tickets and more efficient. I look forward to working with them to achieve resultsWatch online.

Financial Information Services Agency and Office of Payroll Administration (FISA/OPA): After an error in paying out funds for City workers early, we discussed an audit that would help avoid such mistakes. Watch online.

Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT): I advocated to save city funds and encourage sharing across departments by preferring Free and Open Source Software over proprietary software--and have even introduced legislation that would do this. Watch online.

Tax Commission: There are three vacancies on the tax commission that must be filled so New Yorkers can be confident that this agency, which serves a crucial role in independently assessing taxes. Watch online.

Environment

NYLCV Perfect Score and Green Construction 

The New York League of Conversation Voters released their scorecard on environmental issues, and I was proud to get a perfect score. Leaving our city intact for the next generation is essential. That is why I introduced the "Green Construction Bill" to increase the amount of recycled material used in our roads--and reduce the amount of debris going to landfills. You can read about it in the Daily News.

Food Justice

It is my firm conviction that all New Yorkers must have access to healthy and affordable food. Last month, I spoke at the Just Food conference and the Vegetarian Food Festival, two events built around organizing for food justice. There, we discussed my resolution to ban non-essential antibiotics in factory farms, Lunch 4 Learning and Breakfast After the Bell, among other programs.

Roosevelt Island AVAC System Tour

It was fascinating to tour the Roosevelt Island AVAC System. The AVAC system is a pneumatic garbage disposal system that processes garbage on Roosevelt Island. In many ways, it is a system of the future: Cleaner, more convenient and more environmentally friendly. I hope we can work on ways to build a greener city across the five boroughs, taking lessons from Roosevelt Island.

Community

OTTY Awards 

It was my pleasure to take part in the annual East Side Our Town Says Thank You awards, where I presented to honoree Nancy Taylor of Bideawee -- the rescue shelter where I adopted my cat, Pandora, on Valentine's Day weekend 2009.  You can learn more at BenKallos.com/Pandora

Honoring Big Brothers Big Sisters

It was inspiring to present citations and a proclamation to four selfless, hard-working mentors with spirits of volunteerism on the East Side. Antonia Chong, Alan Campbell, Jolanta Kordowski and Fernando Luciano deserve recognition for their great work. Big Brother Big Sisters is one of the best things a community member can do to help at-risk kids. Learn more about becoming a big today.

Celebrating Easter in the Community

I joined Roosevelt Islanders and members of the Sutton Area Community for two Easter Egg hunts. There is nothing better than participating in community holiday celebrations, and I look forward to many more. 

Save Small Business

I am a proud supporter of The Small Business Jobs Survival Act, to provide a platform for landlords and tenants to mediate over rent disputes. Yet, we obviously need a change that goes much deeper to prevent independent businesses from being priced out of New York City. Neighborhoods should be specifically zoned to be small-business friendly. On the West Side, zoning regulations have helped protect small businesses. On the East Side, we should do the same. If you agree, please sign the petition: BenKallos.com/SaveSmallBusiness

Community Board 8

Many wonderful CB8 members recently stepped down. I presented citations for years of service to Lowell Barton, Nico Minerva, Jared Stone and David Kleckner. Thank you to them for all the great work on behalf of our community.

On a much sadder note, Lorance Hockert passed away last month. He was a leader in two Community Board 8s, one here in Manhattan and one in the Bronx. He leaves behind a legacy of selfless work, both in the community boards and in nonprofits and activism. My sincerest condolences to Lorance and his family.

Three Alarm Fire 

The morning after the enormous blast in the East Village, a three alarm fire shook the East Side at 66th and 1st, injuring five firefighters. In both instances, they showed that they are truly New York's bravest, and their hard work and courage saved lives. We owe them an incredible debt of gratitude. My office reached out to offer assistance to the displaced in the fire at 66th and 1st. Anyone seeking assistance should contact my office.

Free Tax Assistance

For those with annual incomes of $53,000 or less (with children) or of $18,000 or less (no children), you can visit in-person free New York City tax-prep centers. Click here to see all of the available locations. In our district, the free sites are located at Roosevelt Island Senior Center; Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center; and Webster Library.
 
If you have an annual income of 60,000 or less, you can get free assistance online at
nyc.gov/taxprep

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum

The New York Times has a great profile of the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum, a great cultural landmark in our district. Be sure to read the article to learn more about the museum for this 1800s-era hotel.

Free Senior Fitness Class

Please join us for FREE senior fitness classes in the John Jay bathhouse on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. Exercising is a key to good health, and I hope you will join in for these free classes.

Special thanks to the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association for requesting this class, and to the City Parks Department for working with us to reestablish this program after the previous program was canceled. 

Asphalt Green Big Swim at Asphalt Green AquaCenter

Join the Asphalt Green Big Swim on Saturday, April 25, 2015. Doors open at 11am; 11:30am is the Olympic exhibition; 12pm swim meet starts; 12pm-2pm is the benefit luncheon. The Big Swim is an incredible event that raises money to help kids from all backgrounds get fit. Visit Asphalt Green's website to learn more.

Civic Technology and Participation

Increasing Participation: Absentee Ballot Tracking & Same Day Registration

At a hearing last month of my Committee on Governmental Operations, as covered in the Gotham Gazette, we advanced bills that would track absentee ballots to assure New Yorkers their vote was counted, and allow them to register to vote and request an absentee ballot on the same day. Both measures are aimed at increasing our dismal participation rates.

New Age of Civic Tech

I joined civic tech leaders across the city with Accela Insights to discuss what's new and what's next in civic tech in city government. Whether it is putting our city laws online, ensuring residents can comment and vote on my proposals, or introducing legislation to open up more city documents, I look forward to what I can collaborate on with civic tech partners.

Senior Cyber Citizens

It was my pleasure to attend the graduation for Older Adults Technology Services. These seniors completed intensive courses on technology. I am proud to fund services to ensure more seniors gain the digital literacy they need to thrive.

DemocracyOs

You should have a say on city legislation and open channels of communication with your elected officials. That is why I am pleased to be part of the launch of DemocracyOs, a new tool that allows you engage directly with government. I am excited to support this worthy civic engagement tool. If you would like to vote on my proposals, share your opinions and get a response, or read more about my legislation, please visit BenKallos.DemocracyOs.org

NYU GovLab Course

The Civic Tech for local legislatures and legislators class taught by me and Dr. Arnaud Sahuguet, Chief Technology Officer of the GovLab, is underway. The projects are at all different stages, but they have powerful potential. I look forward to working with the innovators in the course to benefit New York City residents.

Office Updates

Ben in Your Building

The "Ben in Your Building Program" is a chance to discuss issues of importance to you and your neighbors in person, in your home. If you gather 10 or more friends, I will come to you. Please call 212-860-1950 or email scheduleratbenkallos [dot] com (scheduleratbenkallos [dot] com) in order to schedule a "Ben in Your Building" event. 

PlaNYC Community Ideas

Every four years, New York City generates a comprehensive plan for the future of our city -- our housing, our climate, good jobs, and more. This year, the city is taking your ideas. This is a great opportunity to share your views on the future of New York City, and I urge you to participate at nyc.gov/ideas.

Summer Youth Employment

Don't forget to apply for a summer job! 2015 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) application is now available at www.nyc.gov/dycd. The due date is April 10. We can assist you in your application. Please contact our office for help.

Here to Help

We are here to help. My social work team can help you find out what services you are eligible for, and assist you in your application. Some examples include:

  • For seniors: Medicare savings, Meals-on-Wheels, Access-A-Ride;
  • Housing: searching for affordable units, free legal housing clinic at my office; 
  • Jobs: training and assistance, unemployment benefits;
  • Families: Universal Pre-K, Head Start, After-School programs;
  • Finances: cash assistance, tax credits, home energy assistance; and
  • Nutrition: Food Stamps (SNAP), WIC, free meals for all ages.

Please also call me with any unresolved 311 complaints. Contact us at bkallosatbenkallos [dot] com or 212-860-1950 to get started.

City Council Interns

Interns and fellows at our Council office learn firsthand about city government, work closely with senior staff and are encouraged to pursue a project of their own choosing. If you or someone you know is interested in applying to an internship with my government office, please email internshipatbenkallos [dot] com (internshipatbenkallos [dot] com) with a resume and cover letter. Visit BenKallos.com/fellowship to learn more.
 

Legislative Corner

This month, I cosponsored two pieces of legislation that are now law.

The first, Local Law 28/2015, introduced by Council Member Treyger, establishes outreach and education efforts for our City’s youth to learn about consumer protection issues like credit card debt, student loans, and leasing or buying a car. So many young people are unwittingly saddled with debt because of a lack of financial knowledge. This law will provide needed resources to our young people to assist them in making good financial decisions.
 
The second,
 Local Law 23/2015, introduced by Council Member Ulrich, provides much needed transparency around city services our veterans are receiving. Veterans often contend with a unique set of issues and in order to best assist them, it is crucial that we have an accurate accounting of the need for, and use of, City services.

In the Neighborhood

This month, I joined plenty of community events and celebrations. Here are just a few: 

CB6, CB8, CB11, E79th Street Neighborhood Association, Guides Association, DC37 Local 1549, Isaacs and Holmes Tenants Association, Ben in Your Building at East 72nd Street, Advanced Communications Law And Policy Institute event on Universal Broadband; and more.

If you would like to invite me to a community event, please email scheduleratbenkallos [dot] com (scheduleratbenkallos [dot] com) or call my office at 212-860-1950.

City Council Events

4/3: First Friday
8am-10am, First Friday of the Month, District Office at 244 East 93rd St.
Please join me for my next First Friday event. This is a chance for me to meet you in person to discuss what's important to you and how to make our neighborhood a better place to live. Please
RSVP online or call 212-860-1950. I look forward to seeing you there.

4/14: Policy Night 
6:00-7:00pm, Second Tuesday of the Month, District Office at 244 East 93rd St.
If you are looking to become more involved in your community, please consider joining a District Five policy committee. Committees include education, environment, senior services and more. Please
RSVP online or call 212-860-1950.

Free Legal Housing Clinics
Every Thursday, First and Third Monday of the Month

We now host one clinic every first and third Monday of the month, and one clinic every Thursday from 2:30 to 6:00 p.m. If you have any legal questions regarding housing, please join us at either clinic to speak with a volunteer attorney. You must make an appointment in advance. Please call our office at 212-860-1950 or email us at InfoatBenKallos [dot] com to reserve a time slot. We look forward to assisting you!

4/10, 4/11: Organizing2.0
9 a.m. to 6 p.m., CUNY Murphy Institute for Worker Education: 25 W 43rd St 18th Floor, New York, NY 10036
Organizing2.0 is coming to New York City, and I will be joining as a guest trainer. The 2015 Organizing 2.0 conference will bring leaders, organizers, fundraisers, techies and activists together for workshops, trainings, discussions, consulting, networking, visionary speakers, and thoughtful debates about our strategies and practices. Conference passes are available for $35-$100. Scholarships are available for those who cannot pay.Childcare is available if pre-arranged, and lunches are included.
Learn more and RSVP today!

Mobile District Hours

Get assistance wherever you are located. Please join us at mobile district hours (please note the new dates and hours):

3/10: Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street
Second Tuesday of the Month, 2-5PM
3/11: Lexington Houses, 1773 Third Avenue
Second Wednesday of the Month, 2-5PM
3/24: Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 East 70th Street
Fourth Tuesday of the Month, 2-5PM
3/25: Roosevelt Island Senior Center, 546 Main Street
Fourth Wednesday of the Month, 2-5PM

Appointments after 5 p.m. available upon request.

Community Events

4/1, 4/8, 4/15, 4/22, 4/29: SNAP Assistance Walk-in Clinic
10am - 1pm, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 East 70th Street
Every Wednesday, the Legal Advocacy Department at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House hosts a walk-in clinic for SNAP assistance. They can help you determine if you are eligible for SNAP benefits, as well as assist in the application process. For more information, please call 
212-218-0429

4/9, 4/13: Medicaid: Is It For You?
4/9: 10am - 11am, Center @ Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 343 East 70th Street

4/13: 11am - 12pm, Senior Center at St. Peter's Church,  619 Lexington Avenue
Do you have questions about Medicaid? The Legal Advocacy Department at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House will host two sessions on Medicaid, including financial eligibility rules and the services covered by Medicaid. For more information, please call 
212-218-0429.

4/8: Pre-K for All Workshop: Information & On-site Applications
10:00am-11:30am, 80 Centre Street, 5th Floor Training Room
The Manhattan Family Justice Center is happy to announce we will be hosting a Pre-K for All workshop for parents. Dept. of Education staff will be presenting UPK information and taking parent applications onsite. RSVP to 
sarahfatfjcnyc [dot] org (sarahfatfjcnyc [dot] org)

4/9: Peggy Rockefeller Concert Series – Yevgeny Sudbin, piano
7:30 p.m., The Rockefeller University’s Caspary Auditorium, 1230 York Avenue at East 66th Street
Performing – Franz Joseph Haydn: Sonata in B Minor Hob.XVI:32; Ludwig van Beethoven: Six Bagatelles, Op. 126; Frederic Chopin: Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major, Op. 47; Sergey Rachmaninov: Prelude in G-sharp Minor, Op. 32, No. 12; Alexander Scriabin: Mazurka in E Minor, Op. 25, No 3, Sonata No. 9, in F Major, Op. 68 "Messe Noire"; Camille Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre. Tickets are $30, $10 for students/postdocs. Learn more 
here.

4/9: Youth Resource Fair and Career Expo
1pm - 4pm, 552 West 52nd Street
The NYPD will host their second Annual Youth Resource Fair and Career Expo to inform young adults on potential summer opportunities and connect them with companies and individuals to assist them. For more information, call or email Officer Nefta Richards of the 20th Precinct at 212-580-6412 or Nefta [dot] RichardsatNYPD [dot] org (Nefta [dot] RichardsatNYPD [dot] org).

4/10: Medicine Safety Workshop
1:15pm, Stanley Isaacs Senior Center, 415 East 93rd Street
For seniors on multiple medications, it can often get confusing when, which, and how medications should be taken. Stanley Isaacs Senior Center will host a seminar on medicine safety and ensuring that all medications are taken correctly and safely. Learn more here.

 
4/10: The Chlorine Revolution: Book Talk
7pm - 8:30pm, Hunter College, West Building Room HW714, Lexington Avenue and 68th Street
NYCH2O will present a book talk from Dr. Michael McGuire on his book The Chlorine Revolution and how chlorine became an essential part of our public water. RSVP and learn more 
here.
 
4/11: Community Health Fair
12pm - 4pm, The Mount Sinai Hospital, Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis Center for Advanced Medicine, 17 East 102nd Street
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will host their annual Community Health Fair on April 11. The fair will include free health screenings, including for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, Hepatitis C and more, and entertainment. Learn more 
here.

4/12: Latin Beat on the Esplanade!
11a.m.-2p.m., On The East River Waterfront Esplanade just south of 103rd Street--on the grass
Rain date: Sunday, April 19, 2015  

Sponsored by Friends Of The East River Esplanade(60th-120th Streets), Inc.
Stroll, run, or pedal by and stop for a few minutes or even longer to listen to the fantastic Latin music of:
Guataca Na' Ma'--featuring conga, flute, guitar and more...
FREE ice cream sandwiches from the amazing meltbakery for the first 100 to stop by!

4/12: Roses for Roosevelt: Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of FDR's Death
12pm - 4pm, FDR Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's death, FDR Four Freedoms Park will host a workshop throughout the afternoon where visitors can construct red paper roses to be 'planted' on the Park lawn. There will be a ceremony from 2pm - 3pm with folk musicians and a wreath-laying and the FDR bust. Learn more here.

4/17: 14th Annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences
 3:45 p.m., Caspary Auditorium at The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue at East 66th Street
Two presentations: “The SOS Response in Escherichia coli: A Look Back” by Evelyn Witkin, Ph.D., professor emerita, The Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; “The DNA Damage Response” by Stephen Ellege, Ph.D., professor of genetics, Harvard Medical School. Free. Learn more 
here.
 
4/17: Hack Roosevelt Island
4:15pm, Roosevelt Island Senior Center
Cornell Tech will host its first Hack Roosevelt Island tech event, beginning at PS/IS 217 as Cornell Tech student volunteers assist students with coding projects focusing on the environment. The Cornell Tech students will later work with seniors with their tech skills at Roosevelt Island Senior Center. Interested seniors must reserve a spot via email at
tdd27atcornell [dot] edu (tdd27atcornell [dot] edu) or phone at 646-632-4986 by April 10.
 
4/18: Volunteer Gardening at Carl Schurz Park
9:30am - 12:30pm, Carl Schurz Park, 86th Street Mall at East End Avenue
Join the Carl Schurz Park Volunteer Gardeners, an adult group that meets monthly to work in the park. Children must be accompanied by adults, learn more 
here.
 
4/18: Young Women's Empowerment Summit
10am - 2pm, Harlem Police Athletic League, 441 Manhattan Avenue
Join the NYPD for a day of resources and workshops aimed at empowering young women. Numerous women's organizations will be in attendance to provide information for young women regarding job readiness, wellness, dance, theatre, and more. Both young women and parents, guardians, or other supporters may attend. Register online at
bit.ly/YWES2015 and call 212-335-9064 with any questions.
 
4/18: Bohemian National Hall, History and Architecture, Walking Tour
3pm - 4:30pm, Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
Since its construction in 1896, the Bohemian National Hall has served a vital role in the Czech and Slovak community in New York City. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the NYC Landmarks Law, designer and writer Katerina Kyselica and cultural historian Majda Kallab Whitaker will present a guided tour of the Hall, a NYC Historic Landmark. Learn more
here, please RSVP with your name and the date of the tour to infoatbohemianbenevolent [dot] org (infoatbohemianbenevolent [dot] org)

4/19: The East Sixties Neighborhood Association
1 P.M., Mt Vernon Museum and Hotel Auditorium, 417 E 61st St.
An in-depth assessment of the neighborhood and guest speaker Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. For more information please email infoatesna-nyc [dot] com

 
4/19: Historic Tea Tasting
1:30pm, Mount Vernon Hotel Museum, 421 East 61st Street
Learn about different types of tea and their historic preparation in 19th century America, then have the opportunity to taste teas prepared by both historic and modern methods and compare them. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for members and students, please call 
212-838-6878 to make a reservation. Learn more here.
 
4/20: Redefining Preservation for the 21st Century: Symposium and Opening Reception
5:30pm - 7pm, New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue (Symposium)
7pm - 9pm, Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue (Reception)
To launch the Museum of the City of New York's exhibition, Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Landmarks Law, they will host a multi-disciplinary symposium on the preservation movement. Following the symposium, there will be an opening reception for the exhibition. Register and learn more 
here, tickets are $35 for the general public, $25 for students and seniors, and $20 for Museum members.

4/20: Walk-in Housing/Eviction Prevention Clinic
10am - 1pm, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 East 70th Street
On the third Monday of every month, the Legal Advocacy Department at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House hosts a walk-in clinic for eviction or other landlord-tenant issues. For more information, please call 212-218-0429.

4/21: Manhattan Town Hall - Right to Counsel in Eviction Proceedings
6:30pm - 8:30pm, Goddard Riverside Community Center, 593 Columbus Avenue
Each year, approximately 300,000 New Yorkers fight eviction in Housing Court, 90% of those without attorney representation. New legislation would change this, giving all New Yorkers the right to legal representation in Housing Court. To learn more, join numerous community organizations and officials at this Town Hall. Registration is required, please learn more and register here.

4/25: Art Wars: The Founding of the Met, MoMa, and the Whitney
11am, location provided upon ticket purchase
The Municipal Art Society of New York will present a outdoor tour focusing on museum architecture as a reflection of their founders and collection, covering the National Academy of Design, Whitney Museum, Met, and Guggenheim. Learn more 
here or call 212-935-2075, tickets are $20 for general public, $15 for members.

4/27: Intergenerational Photography Gallery
3:45pm - 5pm, Stanley Isaacs Senior Center, 415 East 93rd Street
Stanley Isaacs Senior Center will present the photography works of their Intergenerational Photography Group. The works will focus on both on the themes of the group and the relationships formed between its participants. Learn more here.
 
4/28: Saving Place: Fifty Years of NYC Landmarks Tour
6pm, Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, the Museum of the City of New York's latest exhibition will explore the law and the resulting preservation movement. FRIENDS of the Upper East Side will have a private tour of the exhibition on April 28. Please register 
here, free for members, $10 for non-members. 4/28: Roots & Branches Theater
1:30pm, Stanley Isaacs Senior Center, 415 East 93rd Street
The intergenerational theater company Roots & Branches Theater, with performers ranging from ages 20 to 90, will present two new plays. The plays, Losing the Signal and iMove focus on technology and how it can bring together, but also separate, youth and seniors. Learn more 
here.

The Center for Learning and Living Inc.
Time differs depending on the class, at 325 East 33 St.   
The Center offers a range of daytime courses for adults age 55 plus, taught by university teachers and experts in their fields. Courses include subjects such as literature, politics, history and poetry. For one fee of $245 you can take multiple classes. To learn more about our 8 week Spring session, please visit our website,
www.clandl.org for details about our courses, faculty and contact information.