I hope you are staying warm! The temperatures have dropped and snow has begun to fall, so if you need city services, please contact 311 and my office. The good news is that Staten Island Chuck did not see his shadow on Groundhog Day. Let's hope he is right, and that we are due for an early spring.
My birthday is coming up this week, and I am happy to reflect on the past year. If you have not already seen my year in review newsletter, please have a look. I was also honored to be profiled after one year in the City Council in Our Town.
I look forward to seeing you at my "State of the District" this Sunday. If you have not reserved your seat, please RSVP.
Below, you can read about protecting tenants, increasing youth participation, helping the homeless through the annual HOPE street survey, protecting our schools, a CitiBike Expansion forum, lowering the cost of college, a new course I am teaching for free at NYU, and more.
You will also see how I celebrated Martin Luther King Day. What did you do to commemorate the day? Write back to this newsletter and let me know!
Table of Contents
1. Fighting the Marine Transfer Station
2. State of the District
3. Public School Funding
4. Helping the Homeless
5. Citi Bike Forum
6. Free Course at NYU
7. Winter Snow
8. Honoring Our Officers
9. Martin Luther King Day
10. Tenant Blacklist
11. Free CUNY
12. E-Hails in New York City
13. Youth Vote
14. Better Bus Service
15. Church Closings in the District
16. Protecting Privacy and Security
17. Fighting for Affordable Housing
18. Digital Democracy
19. Women’s Issues Committee Hearing: HPV and Choice
20. Honoring Big Brother Big Sister
21. Youth on Community Boards
22. Remembering Teri Slater
24. Dental Van
25. One Year In
26. Free Senior Fitness
27. Here to Help
28. City Council Interns
29. In the Neighborhood
30. City Council Events
31. Community Events
Fighting the Marine Transfer Station
I joined a rally against City Council Bill Intro 495 – a dangerous new proposal that could direct huge amounts of city trash into residential neighborhoods. I oppose this bill and believe it threatens the safety of East Side residents, will drive up citywide costs and wrongly harm residential communities, as covered in Capital New York.
The Department of Environmental Conservation is currently planning to open up a month-long comment period to accept comment on air quality in the neighborhood and to assess the need for a public hearing on the reissuing of the Marine Transfer Station Permit. Along with Senator Krueger and other East Side officials, I have already requested that the DEC hold such a hearing. Now, it is time for the community’s voice to be heard, as well. Pledge 2 Protect will be collecting testimony in advance of the comment period. Please submit the testimony to my office and to Pledge 2 Protect.
The New York Times recently came out in support of moving the ramp so that it does not bisect Asphalt Green. While I support moving the ramp, I remain firmly committed to stopping the Marine Transfer Station.
State of the District
Please join me for the "State of the District" this Sunday, February 8, at 1 p.m. at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Auditorium at 430 E 67th Street. I will be discussing issues in the neighborhood, laying out a plan for the year ahead, and highlighting excellent community groups and schools. RSVP.
Public School Funding
Join me, educators, community activists and parents to learn how the current budget proposals in Albany will hurt the schools in our district.
Join us on Friday, February 27th:
Church of the Holy Trinity
3:30pm, 316 E 88th St.
Helping the Homeless
I hope you will take a moment to read about how you can help the homeless in my Our Town column. Please join me and 3,000 volunteers for the 10th Annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) on starting at , to canvass the neighborhood and count how many people are living unsheltered. Training is available from DHS at Hunter College for a team that will survey the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island. Sites available throughout the city on a first come first served basis. Volunteers must be at least 18 or at least 16 and accompanied by an adult. The information collected will help their outreach teams improve support and services for our city’s homeless population. Please visit http://on.nyc.gov/hope-2015 or call me so I can help get you registered to volunteer.
Citi Bike Forum
Do you want a say in how CitiBike operates in our neighborhood? With the bike share program expanding, it is essential that our community has a say. The Department of Transportation is holding a forum that I am co-sponsoring on CitiBike on the East Side. Please join us:
Thursday, February 12
Sessions Begin at 6pm and 7pm, Christ Church, 524 Park Avenue (at 60th St.)
Free Course at NYU
Starting in early March, I will be teaching a free course at the Governance Lab (GovLab) Academy at New York University for those with I will be co-teaching with Dr. Arnaud Sahuguet, Chief Technology Officer of the GovLab, most recently a product manager for Google.org.
The course, entitled "Civic Tech for local legislatures and legislators," will run eight weeks from March 2 to April 24 of this year. I will be coaching individuals on projects such as constituent engagement, crowdsourced lawmaking, enhanced drafting and archiving of local laws and rules, and other tech-enabled strategies for enhancing legitimacy and effectiveness in municipal legislatures and among local regulators. The head of the GovLab, Beth Noveck, is the former White House Director of Open Government, and I am grateful for her support in putting on the class. Learn more and apply.
A recent winter storm was projected to be one of the biggest in New York City’s history. We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. I went on CNN to spread a message of calm and urge New Yorkers to take the storm seriously. Because New Yorkers did so, our city was up and running the next day. In this case, the National Weather Service was off by 40 miles and they have apologized for the error. Because of this, we were able to send resources from all across the state to help dig out Long Island.
All in all, I am glad that no one in the city got hurt. If you missed it, here is some coverage from the satirical newspaper the Onion. Thanks again to those of you who checked in on your neighbors, shoveled snow and kept our city going.
Honoring our Officers
I voted with the City Council to rename city streets in honor of NYPD Officers Ramos and Liu, who were killed in December in the line of duty. We welcomed their families and precincts the event. They will be remembered always for their heroic actions.
As a Council, we are also advocating to guarantee officers new bulletproof vests to replace old, outdated ones. We need to ensure that the NYPD is safe and protected.
Martin Luther King Day
It was my pleasure to celebrate Martin Luther King’s legacy on both MLK Day and his birthday, alongside so many New Yorkers. There is a long tradition of Martin Luther King Day acting as not a day off but not a day of service.
This was my second year of joining the New York City Coalition Against Hunger Annual Servathon. Please email me if you would like to join next year.On Martin Luther King's birthday, I was proud to join 32BJ SEIU and airport workers for the second annual protest and march and demonstration. Everyone deserves to earn a living wage. Finally, I attended the 18th Annual Heschel-King Interfaith Service Park Avenue United Methodist Church with Christians and Jews for a healing moment in race relations for our city.
Our country still has a long way to go until the vision of Martin Luther King is realized, and honoring his legacy is a necessary part of moving ourselves forward. What did you do on Martin Luther King Day?
Imagine going to housing court once and ending up on a “tenant blacklist” that makes it difficult to find another place. According to the Daily News, that is the reality for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Over the past decade, there have been serious efforts to combat the blacklist, including making the names more difficult to access and requiring landlords to disclose to tenants if any information is being used against them.
I introduced legislation, the Anti-Tenant Blacklist Bill, which would make it a human rights violation to use a tenant’s housing court status as a reason not to rent to them, enforceable by complaints filed with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. You can read more in Gothamist and AM New York.
I support Obama’s free Community College plan and would like to expand it to cover all four years of a CUNY education. You can read more about my proposal in the Daily News. It would forgive ten percent of student loans each year for those who work and stay in our city, contributing to our tax base and growing opportunity for the next generation.
Students are being saddled with crushing debt in a difficult economy. A college education should not be a privilege for only a few. If we forgive the loans of CUNY students who work and stay, we can build a generation of opportunity for those who work for it.
E-Hails in New York City
I testified before the TLC on their new proposed e-hail rules to encourage them to modernize and innovate by adopting my Universal E-Hail proposal. The TLC’s new e-hail rules passed, which I think are a good step forward towards allowing yellow and green cabs to compete in the new marketplace. I hope they will take it further by adopting my proposal to create a city app and one central interface for all apps to e-hail through. You can read the testimony, watch video of it online or read more in AM New York.
I introduced a bill to help young adults register to vote. Our young people often participate less in the democratic system—but I believe encouragement and ease of registration would change that.
My bill, covered in City & State Magazine, would require High School students in public and private schools receive voter registration forms from the Department of Education by improving upon the decade long-unenforced Young Adult Voter Registration Act (YAVRA). Under the new legislation, students would receive the forms in the classrooms and at graduation.
In 2012, I worked to distribute the forms to schools before I was running for office, and last year, I proposed a Young Adult Voter Registration Day with Education Chair Danny Dromm.
Better Bus Service
When I first got into office, one of top complaints was bus service--both excessive wait times and watching multiple SBS buses go by while waiting endlessly for the local bus. In fact, the Straphangers Campaign recently awarded the M79 the "Pokey Award" for slowest bus in the city. I am a big fan of bus time, an app that allows you to use your phone to see when the next bus will arrive, and recently invested $600,000 in participatory budgeting funds to display the wait times at buses across the district.
Now that we have the information, I thought it was important to analyze it. Over the past year, I have worked with developers and the MTA to make the information available so people can see when service is not up to par. After encouraging Beta NYC members to create an app, two of them did so. You can check it the NYC Bus Performance App from developers Nathan Johnson and Ash Kamel here, and read more in Gotham Gazette.
Church Closings in the District
Multiple Catholic churches are on the slate for closure on the Upper East Side, according to the New York Times. I am fighting alongside other people of faith to keep the Church of Our Lady of Peace and the Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. If you are interested in helping, please let me know, and if your church needs my support, I am here to help. It is important that we support our faith community who provide so many services to our neighborhood.
Protecting Privacy and Security
Last month, I introduced legislation with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer that would establish regulations on city agencies to protect the privacy and security of resident information. Cybersecurity was highlighted in Obama’s State of the Union, and for good reason: Recent breaches against governments and private companies have brought the need to protect data to the fore. You can learn more in Capital New York.
Fighting for Affordable Housing
AirBnB drives up the cost of affordable housing, lacks safety standards and disturbs neighbors. At a rally on the negative effects of AirBnB, I spoke about the need to protect our city of renters and limited affordable housing stock. You can read more about in the New York Post.
If you are interested in digital democracy, the UK Speaker of the House of Commons just put out a comprehensive report that outlines their efforts to promote digital democracy and openness in England. I am proud to have contributed my findings from one year in the New York City Council and a lifetime of transparency advocacy to the report, and and look forward to continuing to act locally and think globally as we improve transparent democracy throughout the world.
Women’s Issues Committee Hearing: HPV and Choice
This month, we held a hearing of the Women’s Issues Committee to discuss two matters that affect all of us – reproductive choice and the HPV vaccine. I am a proud sponsor of two resolutions that support protecting a woman's right to choose on a federal level. Department of Health officials testified to encourage more New Yorkers to get vaccinated for HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. If you would like more information about the vaccine, please visit the Department of Health website.
Honoring Big Brother Big Sister
Did you know that January is National Mentorship Month? It was my pleasure to honor Big Brother Big Sister for 110 years of matching mentors with vulnerable children to improve lives.
Youth on Community Boards
Resolution 115, introduced with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, in support of allowing 16 and 17 year olds on Community Boards, passed the City Council with widespread support. That led to the passage of a law in Albany sponsored by Assembly Member Nily Rozic and State Senator Andrew Lanza.
The proposal earned broad support from editorial boards: amNY, Queens Tribune and Staten Island Advance. Now, it is time to put it into action. I joined the Manhattan Borough President at an event where we met dozens of teenagers over pizza and discussed joining their local community boards.
Remembering Teri Slater
I am deeply saddened to report the loss of Teri Slater, a friend to many, a committed preservationist and a longtime member of Community Board 8. She has fought over-development and devoted her life to the community. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.
You can now make an appointment to get your NYC ID. This ID allows you access to great arts, cultural and recreation facilities, and it is open all who live in New York City. For more information, please contact my office or 311, or visit nyc.gov.
The NYU Dental Van, whose work I support, came to public schools in our district, offering high quality care to kids. I was proud to visit the staff and kids at the Dental Van to thank them.
One Year In
In case you missed it, I hope you will have a look at this interview in Our Town, One Year In for Councilmember Kallos and my year in review newsletter.
It was a pleasure to serve for one year, and I look forward to discussing the year ahead with you at the State of the District on February 8th.
FREE Senior Fitness
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.
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.
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 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:
El Museo del Barrio's Three Kings Day Parade; Institution of Jennifer Reddall as the next Rector of the Church of the Epiphany; The Sovereign Annual Meeting; Stanley Isaacs Tenants Association; 175 E. 79th St. Board Meeting; CB6 Full Board; Sutton Area Community Annual Meeting; E. 79th St. Neighborhood Association; East Harlem IDNYC Event; CB11 Full Board; Holmes Towers Tenants Association; CB8 Full Board; Mass Mob to Keep Open the Church of Our Lady of Peace; Moms Rising; and an AIPAC gathering.
I am also seeking to visit every school in the district and visited PS 151 this month. I hope I can visit yours soon, if I have not already. 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
Mondays and Thursdays, FREE Senior Fitness Class
10am-11am, John Jay Bathhouse, East 77th St and Cherokee Place
2/6: 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 call 212-860-1950. I look forward to seeing you there.
2/10: Policy Night
6:00-7:00pm (PLEASE NOTE: Time has changed), 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.
2/12: CitiBike Forum with Department of Transportation
Thursday, February 12
Sessions Begin at 6pm and 7pm, Christ Church, 524 Park Avenue (at 60th St.)
Have your voice heard in the process of expanding CitiBike in our neighborhood.
2/2 and 2/16: 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!
2/27: Education Conference
3:30pm, Church of the Holy Trinity, 316 East 88th Street
Join us in district as we discuss better schools and better jobs for teachers. RSVP.
Mobile District Hours
Get assistance wherever you are located. Please join us at mobile district hours (New Hours):
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House: Second Tuesday of the month, 2-5PM.
Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center: Fourth Tuesday of the month, 2-5PM.
Roosevelt Island Senior Center: Fourth Wednesday of the month, 2-5PM
Appointments after 5 p.m. available upon request.
2/3: FDR Four Freedoms Park Tour
1:00pm, FDR Four Freedoms Park, 1 FDR Four Freedoms Park, New York, NY 10044
Every Saturday and Sunday there is a free guided tour of the FDR Four Freedoms Park open to the first 20 participants who show up.
2/3: Katchkie Farm Food Station FDR Four Freedoms Park
11:00am-4:00pm, FDR Four Freedoms Park, 1 FDR Four Freedoms Park, New York, NY 10044
Every Saturday and Sunday there’s a Katchkie Farm Food Station at the Park that serves local and organic foods.
2/4: Book Talk
6:30pm, 75 E 93rd street, NY, NY.
Friends of the Upper East Side will be hosting a book talk from author Sandra Nunnerley. The cost of the event is $15 to members and $20 to non- members. Tickets can be purchased at friends-ues.org/events
2/6: Workshop - SNAP Benefits
, Center @ Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 343 East 70th Street
As part of their monthly workshop series, presented by the Legal Advocacy Department, the Center @ Lenox Hill Neighborhood House will hold a workshop on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Learn more here.
, 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.
, David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, Columbus Avenue and West 63rd Street
, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Auditorium, 331 East 70th Street
As part of their Second Sundays performance series, featuring professional music, dance, and theater groups on the second of each month, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House presents a performance from the award-winning Young People’s Chorus of New York City. Suggested donation is $5, children 12 and under are free. Learn more here.
2/9: Affordable Care Act Presentation
, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street
Medical students from the Mount Sinai chapter of Doctors for American will be presenting at the Isaacs Center regarding the Affordable Care Act, its impact on health insurance enrollment, and how you and your family can benefit from it. Learn more here.
2/10: Pedestrian Safety Presentation
, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street
Representatives from the Department of Transportation will be at the Isaacs Center to present on pedestrian safety and ways you can stay safe while walking. Learn more here.
2/18: Brokaw Mansion, A Landmark50 Event
6:30pm, Ukrainian Institute, 2 E 79 Street, Manhattan, NYJoin FRIENDS as we explore and celebrate this catalyzing moment in the history of the Landmarks Law as part of the commemoration of its 50th Anniversary! Tickets can be purchased at friends-ues.org/events
2/23: Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables
, Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street
As part of their monthly series on healthy eating for seniors, the Isaacs Center will host a presentation on February’s topic, the importance of combining both physical activity and a healthy diet. Learn more here.
2/25-2/27: AICF Mobile Care Clinic
By Appointment, Interchurch Center, 61 Claremont Ave. New York, NY 10027
The AICF Mobile Care Clinic will be providing No-Cost Breast Cancer Screenings in Manhattan. There are no out-of-pocket costs; uninsured and insured are all welcome. Please call 1-877-628-9090
1/7-2/13: Kindergarten Applications
For children born in 2010, the application period opens on January 7 and closes on February 13. Placement offers will be distributed in early April and pre-registration at schools starts in April. Like last year, families can apply online by visiting www.nyc.gov/schools/kindergarten, over-the-phone by calling (718)935-2400 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday or in person at one of the Family Welcome Centers: http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/NewStudents/WelcomeCenters/default.htm