I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and are looking forward to a joyful winter holiday season. It is approaching one year since I became your city Council Member, and I could not be more excited to continue our work together.
If we have not yet met in person, let's not let a full year go by. On December 23, I will host a holiday party at my office from 4-7pm. I hope you can make it! Or, please join me at First Friday on December 5th from 8am-10am at my district office at 244 East 93rd Street. The event is open to all. Additionally, I am happy to come to you. For more details, look below or feel free to call me.
Today is Giving Tuesday, a day to celebrate the pleasure of giving back. Whether through Giving Tuesday or volunteering at your favorite causes, how do you give back to the community? I look forward to hearing from you.
I wish you happy holidays surrounded by friends and loved ones.
Table of Contents
1. Update: The Fight Against the Marine Transfer Station
2. Making it Easier to Vote
4. Ben In Your Building
5. Assistance from my office
6. Closing the Digital Divide
7. Free Wifi and Calls at Payphones
8. Statement on Ferguson Decision
9. Taking on Tammany
10. Funding Roosevelt Island Libraries and Hospitals
11. Emergency Preparedness Forum
12. Fighting Cancer with the Scan Van
14. Giving Tuesday
15. Using Technology to Improve Government
16. Bill Nye "The Science Guy"
17. Tribute to Andrew Haswell Green
18. New Free Senior Exercise Class
19. Participatory Budgeting: Final Call for Delegates
20. Internships Available: Apply Now
21. In the Neighborhood - Where I've Been
22. City Council Events
23. Community Events
An independent study I commissioned from the city Independent Budget Office revealed the massive waste behind the Marine Transfer Station-- and the results show that it would triple city's trash disposal costs. I call on the administration to reconsider in light of this information. Read more about it in the New York Post or watch on NY1 and WNBC.
After the Department of Design and Construction issued a flawed safety plan for construction of the site, I joined Congresswoman Maloney and other elected officials in the neighborhood expressing our deeply felt concerns and demanding additional information. The agency has promised to respond fully to our concerns. You can read the full letter on my website.
Asphalt Green has now launched an advertising campaign and so has Pledge 2 Protect. You can watch them here:
Asphalt Green Ad:
Pledge 2 Protect Ad:
Or read about them in the news:
"With Ad, Neighbors Zero In on Bill de Blasio in Truck Ramp Dispute," NYTimes
"New TV ad: 'De Blasio's dirty little secret," Daily News
I am still seeking legislative options to build a greener city and stop the MTS. Please reach out to me with your ideas. To sign up for more frequent updates, sign my petition against the dump, and learn more, please visit Please visit BenKallos.com/MTS.
Making it Easier to Vote
Voter Registration Expansion Passes
I am proud to announce the passage of my Expanded Agency-Based Voter Registration Bill. The bill adds seven more agencies to those required to provide voter registration forms and strengthens the mandate to assist residents in filling out and mailing the registration forms to the Board of Elections. After fourteen years of non-compliance with a year 2000, the city has implemented clear deadlines for agency-based voter registration and its expansion. This will make it easier for New Yorkers to register to vote--especially those who most need assistance.
Mock Voting In Schools
I was pleased to bring mock voting to PS290. In advance of the November election, PS290 students took a civics class and filled out mock ballots for city and state offices. I plan to expand this program in future years. Please contact my office if you are interested in bringing this program to your school.
Easier Absentee Voting
I introduced a bill this month to allow voters to register to vote and apply for an absentee ballot at the same time. New Yorkers who plan to be out of town on Election Day should be able to apply or update their registration as easily as possible. Read more in the Daily News.
I have been working with the 19th Precinct and community stakeholders to improve our streets through the BikeSafe program, which has already been working to spread safety vests to commercial cyclists throughout the district. The steps of the program are as follows:
1. Educational Forum: We delivered free Safety Vests, bells and lights for the 80 stores that RSVPed and attended.
2. More Safety Vests: If you see or receive a bike delivery from a person with NO safety vest displaying business name and ID number, report it to the business, 311 and my office.
3. Report Unsafe Biking: If you see wrong way or unsafe biking, remember the business name and identification number from the safety vest then report it to the store, 311 and my office. Tell the store that you can wait longer for deliveries so bikes can be slower and safer for everyone.
4. Enforcement: When you call 311, DOT and NYPD will be notified and will take the appropriate steps to resolve the issue.
In "Our Town," I wrote about my BikeSafe program to empower residents to report unsafe commercial cycling. You can learn more at BenKallos.com/BikeSafe.
I am also a sponsor on two bills sponsored by Council Member Mark Treyger that would encourage common-sense behavior-- the first to ban texting on bicycles and the second to offer bike safety courses in the place of a ticket in some cases. I look forward to continuing to work with you to keep our streets safe for every New Yorker.
Ben in Your Building
Have we met yet?
If not, I would like to meet you and 10 or more of your neighbors and will come to your home personally to answer any questions you might have and discuss what I am up to. Please call me at 212-860-1950 or email schedulerbenkallos [dot] com in order to schedule a "Ben in Your Building" event.
I am here to help and happy to be of service! 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.
Closing the Digital Divide
The New York Times recently covered my campaign with Public Advocate Letitia James and 22 other elected officials to close the digital divide. We urged the New York State Public Service Commission to ensure any merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast includes low-cost or affordable broadband for the millions of New Yorkers without it; consumer protections; and infrastructure investment. The vote was scheduled for November 13, but a deal was not reached. Instead, the Public Service Commission will announce their decision by the end of the year.
I also wrote an Op-Ed in the Huffington Post urging the New York State Public Service Commission to prioritize digital fairness and opportunity in their decision on whether or not a prospective Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger would be in the public's best interest.
Free Wireless and Phone Calls from Payphones
New York City is rolling out a new payphone--and it has free Internet and wifi. I support this plan, and we must still work hard to ensure all boroughs are treated equally. You can learn more in the New York Post and FastCompany, where I applauded the deal.
Statement on the Ferguson Decision
Following the grand jury decision in Ferguson, I released the following statement:
"'We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, … and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity' did establish this great nation. And yet, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,' as Martin Luther King, Jr. once said. Justice was not served in Ferguson. I stand with my colleagues, the city, and the nation in decrying the decision in Ferguson."
The Civil Service has long been an answer to a system of patronage, a system of corruption where government jobs go to people based on who they know, not what they know. The Civil Service offers free exams to those who are unemployed and looking for work. But once individuals take those exams, it takes an average of 441 days to find out if they qualify for a job. I am working to bring thousands of jobs to those who qualify for them in a timely fashion. I held a hearing on the topic this month and will continue to pursue the issue.
Funding Roosevelt Island Libraries and Hospitals
Roosevelt Island Library Forum
I was proud to sponsor a forum with the New York Public Library on the new home of Roosevelt Island's public library. We enjoyed a great discussion about the future of the library, a center for community and learning that will thrive for years to come. Click here to learn more about the new library's status from the Roosevelt Islander.
FEMA Funds for Roosevelt Island
As covered in the Roosevelt Islander, Roosevelt Island's Coler Hospital received $181 million in disaster preparedness funds from the federal government. I commend Senator Schumer and Mayor de Blasio for securing these funds.
An Emergency Preparedness Forum that I sponsored with Governor Andrew Cuomo on November 10 was a big success and the largest event of its kind so far. Attendees received free emergency preparedness kits and learned to develop a safety plan in the event of a disaster. If you missed it, please learn more at governor.ny.gov
Fighting Cancer with the Scan Van
I was pleased to work with Laila Amatullah and the Roosevelt Island Women's Health Organization to bring a Scan Van to Roosevelt Island, offering no-cost mammograms to screen for breast cancer. This is the second stop on the tour, which included another Scan Van Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center. I also sponsored a Medicare open enrollment event at Stanley Isaacs, because everyone deserves access to the medical services they need.
Is there another place in the neighborhood you would like to see the Scan Van? Please let me know.
For many of us, it's not Thanksgiving without turkey! I was honored to join New York Common Food Pantry to deliver prepared thanksgiving meals to NYCHA residents in our community. The program brings free Thanksgiving meals to those in need, particularly the homebound. If you are in need and would like a turkey meal on next Thanksgiving, my office will do our best to ensure you have access to the food pantry services in advance. Please contact me at bkallosbenkallos [dot] com or 212-860-1950 starting now for next season.
It was also my pleasure to spend Thanksgiving with neighborhood seniors. On Monday night, I joined the Lenox Hill Senior Center Thanksgiving Celebration. And, on Thanksgiving Day, I joined the Stanley Isaacs Senior Center Thanksgiving celebration. On this day of thankfulness, I was grateful to get to spend the day among neighbors and friends.
I was honored to deliver a proclamation to the 92nd Street Y and its Executive Director Henry Timms, declaring December 2, 2014 to be #GivingTuesday, a day where we can all give back to the causes we care about.
To learn more about #GivingTuesday, please read this piece I wrote in the Huffington Post.
Using Technology to Improve Government
$750,000 Invested in Open Government
The Free Law Founders, a group that I founded and Co-Chair, is working to spread open government in cities across the nation. The Open Government Foundation, a founding member, under the leadership of Seamus Kraft, has received $750,000 from the Knight Foundation to further our work. This is an exciting moment for seamless, transparent government that works for the people.
Too often, citizens run into bureaucratic roadblocks when dealing with government. I am working to develop a new theory of governing, that prioritizes working hard and working effectively on behalf of New Yorkers. As a software developer, I learned how to be "agile"-- adapt to change and use lessons to grow in my work. I use these lessons every day in the City Council. You can read more in a profile on the "Agile Government Leadership" blog.
MTA Data Sets
This month, the MTA released a number of new data sets as part of their app challenge to developers. I congratulate them on this move, which can be part of a new initiative to use open information to identify patterns, study problems and ultimately improve service. Want to win $10,000 by creating an app? Enter here!
Bill Nye "The Science Guy"
I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Nye "The Science Guy," who has made science education fun and accessible for decades. We need more emphasis on science and technology in local government, so we can improve our cities and educate children to become future leaders in science.
Tribute to Andrew Haswell Green
Andrew Haswell Green (1820-1903) was a tireless champion for parks in New York City at a crucial moment in history. Called "The Father of New York City," Andrew Haswell Green was key in the creation of Central Park, the New York Public Library and other city gems. Thanks to Michael Miscione, Manhattan Borough Historian, for putting on the event. As Andrew Haswell Green Park is opening on the East Side, contributing to open space in our neighborhoods, I was pleased to join in on a tribute to Andrew Haswell Green's extraordinary life.
New FREE Senior Fitness Course
A FREE senior fitness class in the John Jay bathhouse will begin on December 1 on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:30am-10:30am. 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. As a result, we hope to see even more exercise classes for our residents. What classes would you like to see at John Jay, and what times work with your schedule?
Participatory Budgeting: Final Call for Delegates
How would you spend $1 million in our neighborhood?
Participatory Budgeting empowers you to decide how one million of your tax dollars will get spent. Whether you will become a budget delegate, attend a budget expo, or just show up to vote on the final projects, I hope you will join me in getting involved, so we can champion the ideas that we believe will improve our neighborhood. I enjoyed meeting with Icelandic elected officials interested in bringing PB to their own country.
We had five neighborhood assemblies across the district in September and October, and are now beginning the process of developing and selecting the projects. If you are interested in becoming a budget delegate and moving your ideas forward, please email bkallosbenkallos [dot] com.
You can learn more or submit your ideas for projects to be funded at BenKallos.com/pb.
Winter/Spring Internships and Fellowships
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 internshipbenkallos [dot] com with a resume and cover letter. Visit BenKallos.com/fellowship to learn more.
In the Neighborhood
This month, I joined plenty of community events and celebrations. Here are just a few:
19th Precinct Community Council; East 79th St. Neighborhood Association; CIVITAS Board Meeting; JASA Pondering Politics Course; Princeton Club to discuss the Marine Transfer Station; Lexington Democrats Air Quality Forum; Wonderplay Conference at 92Y; GovTech New York City Technology Forum; New York City Bar Association to discuss open elections and the Comcast merger; Who Leads Us event to promote diversity in government; Fractured Atlas StARTup
If you have an event you would like me to attend, I will make every effort to be there. To send your invitation, please email schedulerbenkallos [dot] com or call 212-860-1950.
City Council Events
12/1 Onward: Mondays and Thursdays, FREE Senior Fitness Class
9:30AM-10:30AM, John Jay Bathhouse, East 77th St and Cherokee Place
12/5: First Friday
8am-10am, First Friday of Each 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 to rsvpbenkallos [dot] com or call 212-860-1950. I look forward to seeing you there.
12/9: Policy Night
6:30pm, 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. RSVP online.
12/15: FREE Legal Housing Clinic
3-6pm, District Office at 244 East 93rd Street, First and Third Monday of the Month
If you have any legal questions regarding housing, please come join us and reserve a time to speak with a volunteer attorney. This event was organized with assistance from Eviction Intervention Services (EIS). We are excited to announce this new service, and look forward to assisting you on legal housing matters.
You must make an appointment in advance. Please email InfoBenKallos [dot] com or call 212-860-1950 to reserve a time slot. We look forward to helping you!
12/15: Health Care Enrollment Info Session - Co-Sponsored With Manhattan Delegation
5:00-8:00pm, Gay Men's Health Crisis Center Dining Room (7th Floor), 446 W 33rd St.
Learn more about your eligibility for low-cost plans. For more information, please email jbergercouncil [dot] nyc [dot] gov
12/23: Holiday Party
4-7PM, District Office, 244 East 93rd St.
Bring a snack, friends and neighbors, and holiday cheer! We hope you can make it to the East Side City Council Office Holiday Party. RSVP today.
Mobile District Hours
Get assistance wherever you are located. Please join us at mobile district hours:
Lexington Houses: Second Wednesday of the month, 4-7PM. RSVP.
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House: Second Tuesday of the month, 4-7PM. RSVP.
Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center: Fourth Tuesday of the month, 4-7PM. RSVP.
CANCELED DUE TO THE HOLIDAY: Roosevelt Island Senior Center: Fourth Wednesday of the month, 4-7PM
12/3: A Christmas Carol
4pm, 67th Street Library, 328 East 67th Street
Bring your children to enjoy a live theater performance based on Charles Dicken’s classic, A Christmas Carol presented by the Traveling Lantern Theatre Company. Recommended for children aged 4 to 12 years old, learn more here.
12/3: The CounterCulturalists II: REBELS + BOHEMIANS
6pm - 8pm, El Café @ El Museo, 1230 Fifth Avenue
As part of their CounterCulturalists series, El Museo del Barrio has partnered with The Asian American Writers’ Workshop to present and evening honored and discussing several prominent rebels and bohemians of color, including activist Grace Lee Boggs, poet Pedro Pietri, labor activist Bernardo Vega, essayist C.L.R. James, and intellectual Eqbal Ahmad. Event is free, please RSVP and learn more here.
12/4: Identify Theft Presentation
, Carter Burden Luncheon Club & Senior Program, 351 East 74th Street
Join Carter Burden and Citibank for a presentation regarding identity theft and how to keep your information safe from potential theft. Learn more here.
12/3: Landscape Futures and the East River Esplanade
6:30pm - 8pm, The National Academy, 1083 Fifth Avenue
As part of their ‘Art, Design, and the Urban Environment’ discussion series, which focuses on local issues in the Upper East Side and East Harlem communities, CIVITAS and the National Academy present a discussion regarding ‘Landscape Futures and the East River Esplanade’. Admission is free, please RSVP and learn more at here.
12/5: Tenants’ Right Workshop
10am - 11am, Center @ Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 343 East 70th Street
Having difficult with your landlord or have questions about your rights as a tenant? As part of their monthly workshop series, the Legal Advocacy Department at Lenox Hill will present a workshop on Tenants’ Rights. Learn more here and call 212-744-5905 if you have any questions.
12/7: Holiday Tree Lighting at Carl Schurz Park
5pm - 6pm, Carl Schurz Park, East 86th and East End Avenue
Join the Carl Schurz Park Conservancy for their annual tradition, featuring carols, Cantori choir, Orbital Brass, candlelight, and seasonal treats. Learn more here.
12/8: Cornell Technion/Construction and Community Task Force Town Hall
6pm-8pm, Manhattan Park Theatre Club, 8 River Road
A presentation and discussion on the Roosevelt Island Campus. For more information, please visit construction.tech.cornell.edu
12/9: SNAP Application Assistance Event
1:15pm - 4:30pm, Stanley Isaacs Senior Center, 415 East 93rd Street
Have questions or need assistance applying for the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)? The Isaacs Center will be hosting an SNAP Application Assistance Event to help. Learn more here.
12/9: Georg Jensen: A Book Talk
6:30pm, Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue
In partnership with Scandinavia House, Friends of the Upper East Side presents a book talk with Murray Moss about his new book. His book, Georg Jensen, explores the history of the silver brand since its founding in 1904 and many of its beautiful products. $20 for non-members, $15 for members, please purchase tickets here.
12/11: Make Jewelry at the 67th Street Library
4pm, 67th Street Library, 328 East 67th Street
Join Jennifer Jacobs, who has been featured at Barney’s New York, for jewelry making at the 67th Street Library. Use marbles and wires to make bracelets, necklaces, and more. For ages 12 to 18, learn more here.
12/11: InterSchool Orchestra Holiday Concert
, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street
The InterSchool Orchestra of New York, a diverse and expansive youth orchestra program that allows any student to learn an instrument and perform, will be performing holiday selections and classics at the Isaacs Center. Concert is free, learn more here.
12/13: 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.
12/14: Second Sundays: Serendip Piano Trio
2pm, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Auditorium, 331 East 70th Street
As part of their Second Sundays performance series, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House presents the Serendip Piano Trio, who will be performing Music from the Kennedy White House Concerts: 1961-1963. Suggested donation is $5, children 12 and under are free. Learn more here and contact Lynne Mold at 212-218-0413 or lmoldlenoxhill [dot] org (lmoldlenoxhill [dot] org) for more information.
12/15: Your Family History Lifebook
, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street
Join forensic genealogists Leslie Corn and Roger D. Joslyn, who will guide you through creating a Family History Lifebook, a collection of memories, genealogical charts, and more regarding your family’s history. Learn more here.
12/16: Mt. Sinai Presentation - Diabetes: Prevention & Nutrition Management
, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street
All are welcome to join this presentation from Mt. Sinai regarding diabetes prevention and management, hosted by the Isaacs Center. Learn more here.
12/18: E 79th Street Neighborhood Association
6:00-7:30pm, Lycee Francais, 505 East 75th Street
Report on Neighborhood Safety from 19th Precinct, Including Bike, Vehicle and Pedestrian accident stats; Elected Officials/Reps reports and updates
12/20: Super Sábado: Parranda!
12pm - 5:30pm, El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue
Celebrate the holidays with El Museo at this event, which includes a parade with Bombay, a Winter Market with gifts from local artists and shops, an art making workshop, storytelling, and an orchestral concert featuring members of El System NY/NJ. Event is free, learn more here.
12/22: Nutrition Chat: Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables!
, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street
As part of their monthly nutritional program for seniors, the Isaacs Center presents on a different topic each month. In December, the topic will be “Healthy Beverages.” Learn more here.