January 2016 News: Happy New Year! State of the District, Quality of Life and Managing the City
Happy New Year! I hope you had a happy holiday season with family and friends. I would like to send a special thank you to all who attended the holiday party at my office and made it so wonderful.
This past year I was most focused on fighting overdevelopment, maintaining quality of life, and improving access to affordable housing and government benefits to help New Yorkers that need it most. Please join me as we usher in the New Year at my annual State of the District on January 10th, as we reflect on our accomplishments and plan for 2016, please RSVP.
TABLE of CONTENTS
- Better Management for New York City
- Improving Quality of Life
- Superscrapers and Zoning
- Affordable Housing
- Automatic Benefits Don’t Miss Out
- Help the Homeless
- Discretionary Funding
- PARKS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
- Citizen Preparedness Corps Training
- Rockefeller Ground Breaking
- Carl Schurz Park Playground
- Senior Fitness Class a Success
- Climate Works for All
- 86th Street Subway Station Wi-Fi
- Second Avenue Resurfacing
- Cornell Tech, P.S/I.S Computer Science Program
- Trevor Day New School Opening
- DOE Universal Pre-K
- Bronx Science Launch Labs
- Roosevelt Island Library Community Meeting
- TECHNOLOGY AND REFORM
- Reforming Campaign Finance ahead of 2017 Elections
- City Council 2.0 New Website
- Hack for Heat
- Office Hours at Civic Hall
- JOBS and EQUALITY
- Construction Safety
- NYCHA Sandy Recovery Jobs Available
- Out of This World Job Opportunity: Become an Astronaut
- NYCHA Tech Job Training
- Emergency Snow Laborers Needed
- Would You Like to Be My Neighbor? Affordable Housing on 93rd Street
- Community Board
- OFFICE UPDATES
- Legislative Corner
- In the Neighborhood
- Here to Help
- Legal Clinics
- Mobile District Hours
- Ben in Your Building
- City Council Events
- Community Resources
- Community Events
The Wall Street Journal covered my concerns that the Mayor’s Management Report (MMR) was “setting the bar too low.” The MMR is the annual public report card on City government and is critical to managing and evaluating the City’s performance. Unfortunately, according to my analysis the MMR failed to set performance targets more than half the time and when it did 35% of the time targets were set below current performance standards, which if followed would make conditions in our city worse.
The Post, covered an oversight hearing that I chaired on the Mayor’s Management Report noting the city had planned for an increase in homelessness. This was followed by the resignation of Department of Homeless Services Commissioner the next day. The Mayor’s Management Report cannot set the bar too low on important issues like public safety, public health, or helping homeless off the streets. I look forward to working to get our Management reporting and the city back on track.
Thousands of quality of life violations are issued to the Environmental Control Board every year for things like leaving trash in the streets, un-shoveled sidewalks, construction companies working outside of hours or not following the safety regulations, and stores violating health regulations. Unfortunately, many of these fines go unpaid to the tune of $1.6 billion dollars. The Daily News covered a package of legislation I have introduced with Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland to make sure that if the City issues a fine for quality of life violations, the fine gets paid and will empower the city to revoke licenses and permits to offenders who simply pay fines as a “cost of doing business.” In November we had a hearing and hope to pass the package of legislation soon.
We have an opportunity to protect our neighborhoods, to build a city that is affordable for all New Yorkers with a strong middle class, with necessary school seats to educate the next generation, and with a new zoning plan that must be amended to reflect the voices and expertise of our city’s community boards. That is why I testified before the City Planning Commission on Zoning for Quality and Affordability and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. I want to the thank everyone who took part. To learn more please read reports funded in part by my office on how zoning would affect our neighborhood by CIVITAS and Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts or my testimony.
As we fight overdevelopment city-wide, DNAinfo covered my efforts to protect the residents in existing affordable housing in my district in danger of being forced from their homes by new development. Charles Fernandez, a neighbor who has been living on East 58th Street his entire life, is under afraid of losing his home from damage that could occur during the demolition of adjoining buildings for the Sutton Place Superscraper. We must protect our neighbors and make sure developers know that they cannot bully our seniors. Please sign the petition to prevent the Sutton Place tower from going up at http://benkallos.com/petition/SuttonPlace
The New York Daily News and NBC covered my latest legislation that requires owners of affordable housing to register those units with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) who would in turn create a centralized database that accepts a single universal application for all affordable housing. Landlords have received over $1 billion dollars in tax breaks and abatements to build affordable housing, but the City has no way to verify the affordable units were built. Recent investigations by ProPublica, in which I was featured, found that up to 50,000 units of affordable housing are being hidden from New Yorkers. Our City is in desperate need of affordable housing and we cannot allow landlords to hide even a single unit of it from the public. Please help ProPublica investigate New York City Rents.
Homelessness has been on the rise with 23,416 children, 17,071 parents, and 12,845 single adults in our shelter system and the more than 3,100 people on our streets as of this Christmas. I've been working with DHS and the community to get unsheltered people living on the street the help they need. Here is how you can help: If you see someone sleeping on the street whom you think is homeless, please call 311 within one hour and ask for them to dispatch a “homeless outreach team.” The operator will connect you with the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) who will ask about where you saw the person, what they looked like, and offer you a call back to report on the status of your call. The whole process should take less than five minutes. Download the NYC 311 App (Android/iPhone) to do the same in 30 seconds or less by pressing "Make a Complaint," then "Homeless Assistance," entering information about the person, then click submit and you can even get a call back. Please join me and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for the annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) on Monday, January 25th, 2016 from 10pm in the evening to 4am in the morning. Volunteer Today.
The City Council has discretionary funds to assist with operations or capital improvements for school, parks or non-profits that serve the community. The funding can ranges from $5,0000 upwards depending on . Last year I awarded them to local organizations that provide the community with services to educate cyclists on the law, prevent eviction, feed the hungry, and support youth and seniors. You can see all the funds distributed at http://benkallos.com/budget/results. If your organization is a 501(c)(3) and is interested in receiving financial support from the City of New York to provide free services to residents of my district you can learn more and apply at http://benkallos.com/budget/application/FY2017
Our Town covered our groundbreaking on a public/private partnership to repair the East River Esplanade. I was proud to work with Rockefeller University during their application to construct a new building over the FDR, to provide community benefits that included $8 million to repair the East River Esplanade seawall as well as design a new park from 64th - 68th with a $1 million trust for maintenance in perpetuity. Rockefeller president Mark Tessier-Lavigne led a ceremony with Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro, Minna Elias on behalf of Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, and Deputy Borough President Matthew Washington on behalf of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Following seawall repairs the Esplanade will see improved landscaping, new seating and lighting, designated bike lanes, and a new noise barrier along the FDR Drive for a more peaceful park.
DNAinfo recently covered that following complaints from parents and children about broken equipment at the Carl Schurz Park Playground on 84th Street, the Parks Department is using $1.3 million earmarked from Council District 5 to replace what is broken with new equipment. An initial public meeting was held in November, but because no parents or children attended, I requested that a second public meeting be held on December 15 to get feedback from those who play in the park on how best to spend, to upgrade the playground at Carl Schurz Park. Thanks to co-sponsorship from CB8, the Carl Schurz Parks Conservancy, and the Parent Teacher Associations at P.S. 151, P.S. 290, and P.S. 527, we had strong representation from the community of all ages with working groups led by grade school students who actually use the park.
We’ve all been there: subway delays are making you late to a meeting and you have no way to tell anyone. It was a part of being a subway rider, but now you’ll be able to get in touch and get work done, or call for help if you feel unsafe. After advocating for the expansion of free Wi-Fi in subways in City Council hearings, I am happy to announce that Wi-Fi has come to 86th Street and much of the Lexington Avenue line.
Manhattan Express covered the ribbon cutting ceremony that included myself, Transit Wireless, Council Member Daniel Garodnick, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and Deputy Manhattan Borough President Aldrin Bonilla at a ribbon-cutting to announce the availability of wireless and Wi-Fi service in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 86th Street subway station. A connected commute is about to become a reality for nearly 200 million subway riders on the East Side. Thank you to the MTA and Transit Wireless for their partnership in bringing the Internet to any subway rider with a smartphone.
P.S./I.S. 217, the Roosevelt Island community, Cornell Tech, and I have been working together to launch a groundbreaking three-year program that will enable teachers at Roosevelt Island’s P.S./I.S. 217 to incorporate computer science across their curriculum. Every teacher in the K-8 school will receive professional development training, after which they will implement Computer Science lesson plans covering every student in every grade. The program is part of an ongoing partnership between Cornell Tech and the New York City Department of Education, which I have championed to make computer science instruction accessible to our children. For more information can be found at The Cornell Tech
On January 14 from 6 - 8pm at Good Shepherd Community Center, 543 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, the New York Public Library, Borough President Brewer, and myself will host a community visioning session to discuss the new Roosevelt Island Library. In Fiscal Year 2016 I was happy to secure $1.5 million to fully fund the project. If you are interested please RSVP.
As Covered by the New York Daily News and the Gotham Gazette, We are working to strengthen the city's campaign finance laws and insulate elections from the consequences of outside money trying to buy influence.
The proposals would implement a number of recommendations made by the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) in its 2013 post-election report. Of the eight bills 4 are mine. they move to make determinations about public funds payments earlier in the election cycle, Reduce the impact of bundling by people doing business with the city, Add flexibility to the Voter Guide mandate, The other proposals in the package also address various technical aspects of elections such as voter guides, debate eligibility, and contributions from non-registered political committees. We want to make sure that for the 2017 election cycle we are prepared for fair inclusionary and transparent campaigns.
I also had the privilege of joining a meetup ground called 'Wonks Who Tech' as the guest speaker. The group is dedicated to the cross-section between policy and technology.
Here are a few community meetings and holiday celebrations I attended last month: Lexington Houses Tenants Association,Stanley Isaacs Tenants Association, NYCHA NextGen Wrap-Up Session, CB8 Parks Committee, Roosevelt Island's Tree Lighting, Carl Schurz Park Conservancy Tree Lighting, Turtle Bay Association Holiday Party, Chabad at Beekman-Sutton and SAC Menorah Lighting, Carl Schurz Park Menorah Lighting, 19th Precinct Community Council Holiday Party, Stanley Isaacs Toast to the Holidays, CB8 Holiday Party and Full Board Meeting, East 79th St Neighborhood Association Holiday Party and Meeting.
This past month I also had the privilege of attending the Labor Press Leadership Awards Reception and the Teamsters Local 814 Meeting, where I reiterated my appreciation for their hard work and my commitment to the maintaining the middle class.
- 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: WIC, free meals for all ages.
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. Over the past year, I have visited several buildings to discuss matters of importance in the neighborhood, including efforts to fight the marine transfer station, sanitation and condo owner issues. Please call 212-860-1950 or email schedulerbenkallos [dot] com in order to schedule a "Ben in Your Building" event.
1/5: A Community Town Hall: Homelessness on the East Side
6:30 - 9pm, Church of the Epiphany, Parish Hall, 373 Second Avenue
I am co-sponsoring a town hall hosted by Council Members Mendez and Garodnick to discuss homelessness on the East Side. There will be presentations from Department of Homeless Services, the NYPD, and service providers Breaking Ground, Grand Central Partnership, and Picture the Homeless. Please note this event will be focused on the neighborhoods encompassed by Community Boards 5 and 6, but all are welcome. RSVP.
1/10: State of the District
1pm, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Rockefeller Research Laboratories Auditorium, 430 East 67th Street
Join me for my annual State of the District Address and find out what my office has been working on during my first two years in office. Light refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP.
1/14: Community Conversation about the New Roosevelt Island Library
6 - 8pm, Good Shepherd Community Center, 543 Main Street
The New York Public Library is planning a new home for the Roosevelt Island Library. Join them to share your thoughts and idea on programs and services for the new library.
1/26: Citizens Preparedness Event Corps Training Program
7pm, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Rockefeller Research Laboratories Auditorium, 430 East 67th Street
Hosted by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Participants must register in advance at www.prepare.ny.gov.
The DSNY has a new program designed to deal with electronic waste. DSNY will visit your building to discuss how e-cycleNYC will work best in your building. Depending on the size and type of building, there are different services options.
If you are interested in Composting organic waste, NYC Organics Collection in your apartment building, submit an inquiry online. If you live in a large apartment building that is participating in the NYC Organics Collection program.
Early registration has begun for emergency snow laborers for the upcoming snow season. Snow laborers are per diem workers who are called upon to remove snow and ice citywide from bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants and step streets in the City after heavy snowfalls. Individuals interested in registering with the DSNY can do so at their local district garage, weekdays between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. The list of garage locations can be found atwww.nyc.gov/sanitation. Snow laborers will be paid $13.50 per hour, and $20.25 per hour after 40 hours are worked in a week, an increase from the previous year. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, be eligible to work in the United States, and capable of performing heavy physical labor. All applicants must bring:
- Two small photos (1 ½ square)
- Original and copy of two forms of identification
- Social Security card
Please feel free to call my office with any further questions.
Our Volunteer Attorneys may be able to assist you with one-on-one counseling and individualized drafting of Advance Directives, including:
- Health Care Proxies
- Living Wills
- Powers of Attorney
- Simple, low-asset Wills
If you are interested in being screened for a possible appointment, please call our intake hotline at 212-218-0503 (choose option #4).
Have a great idea for a community or school improvement project? Citizens Committee awards grants of up to $3,000 to volunteer groups working on projects that address quality of life issues across NYC neighborhoods.
Never applied for a grant before? No problem! Our application is simple to fill out. The 2016 Neighborhood Grants are now available! Learn more and get started: www.CitizensNYC.org, GrantsCitizensNYC [dot] org, 212-822-9563.
Bike New York
Bike New York free bike safety assemblies at schools, youth organizations and summer camps. Any school or youth organization can contact Youth Programs Director, Zoe Cheswick, to schedule a free bike safety session for youth ages 5-18atzcheswickbike [dot] nyc or 212-870-2097.
Jewish Association Serving the Aging
JASA's popular NextAct programs engage hundreds of New York's best and brightest (age 55+) who want to explore interesting topics, meet peers, become activists, and make an impact in their communities through Sundays at JASA courses at John Jay College, Advocacy training through the Institute for Senior Action, Lectures and courses through the Ellie and Martin Lifton Institute of Judaic Studies, and volunteer opportunities. For more information contact nextactjasa [dot] org or 212-273-5304, or visit www.jasa.org.
1/ 3: Teddy Bear Tea:
1 - 2:30pm, Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, 421 East 61st St, New York, NY 10065
Banish post holiday boredom with an event for ages 3 to 6. Bring your favorite teddy (or doll) to meet Mrs. Woodhull, the proprietor’s wife, and roleplay the daily activities at the Mount Vernon Hotel in 1830. You’ll have an opportunity to try out William’s toys and help Sarah with the laundry. Afterwards, enjoy fruit tea and cookies. Reservations recommended. $10 Adults, $5 Children under 12.
1/4: The Impact of Tumor Microenvironment in the Progression and Treatment of Leukemia
1:30pm, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Zuckerman Research Center,417 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10065, ZRC Auditorium
1/7: Film Screening: Love in Bloom, 1935
2pm, The New York Public Library, 112 East 96th Street New York, NY, 10128
1/9: Music: Strauss’ DIE FLEDERMAUS recital by New York Opera Forum
1pm, The New York Public Library, 112 East 96th Street New York, NY, 10128
1/9 & 1/10: Recycle Your Christmas Tree!
10am - 2pm, Carl Schurz Park
Bring your Christmas Tree to the park and turn into mulch
1/9: Planned Parenthood Activist Training
10am, 26 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012
Join Planned Parenthood of NYC for the semiannual Activist Council Training on reproductive freedom. Workshop topics include PPNYC’s health services, reproductive justice & intersectionality, NYC policy issues, and practice in engaging in tough conversations on reproductive health. No former experience in reproductive health, rights, and justice required. Free breakfast and lunch provided. RSVP.
1/11: Dance of the African Diaspora
3:30pm, The New York Public Library, 328 E 67th St, New York, NY 10065
This program celebrates the differences and similarities of dances within the African Diaspora.Starting in West Africa, going to the Caribbean & Latin America, finally landing in The United States. Using movement and music, students will go on an interactive dance tour starting in West Africa, going to the Caribbean & Latin America, and finally landing in the Unites States. be able to navigate through history in efforts of connecting the cultures. Part dance performance, part dance instruction, 100% excitement! Presented by Urban Stages for children ages 5 and older.
1/21: Film Screening: It’s in the Bag
2:00pm, The New York Public Library, 112 East 96th Street New York, NY, 10128
1/23: Kidney Cancer Support Group Meeting
10:00am, Weill Cornell Medical College, Weill Greenberg Center, Myra Mahon Patient Resource Center, 2nd Floor, 1305 York Ave., New York NY
Topic: "Living with Cancer: One Day at a Time". This meeting is open to all patients, survivorsand their families at no charge. RSVP by January 18 to amm9052med [dot] cornell [dot] edu
1/25: Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE)
10pm - 4am, Location Assigned on RSVP
HOPE Department of Homeless Services (DHS) will conduct its annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE), as part of an ongoing effort to address our chronically street homeless population. This initiative, along with the daily street outreach efforts completed by their teams, are aimed at helping some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers in need. With questions or to volunteer contact hopedhs [dot] nyc [dot] gov.
1/27: Checkmate Check
4:00pm, The New York Public Library, 222 East 79th Street New York, NY, 10021
Are you a chess champion? Show off your best moves against other chess fans! Whether you're a chess master or just starting out, come join us for some board time. Presented by Ramon Hernandez. Recommended for ages 12 to 18 years old.
1/28: Do You Believe in Magic Show
4:00pm, The New York Public Library, 222 East 79th Street New York, NY, 10021
Do You Believe In Magic Show with Super Hero Muscle Man Mike has a wonderful anddifferent approach to performing Magic! Look no further for something exciting and unique! Now you get a Super Hero with his Puppet Side Kick Rocky Rabbit and a full Magic Show! Presented by Fit4Kids. Best for ages 2 years and older.
1/28: Film Screening: Whistling in Brooklyn
2:00pm, The New York Public Library, 112 East 96th Street New York, NY, 10128
1/28: Breast Cancer and Your Arm: A Seminar to Promote Health and Strength
4:00pm, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center, 2nd floor Group Room, 300 East 66th Street (at Second Avenue) New York, NY 10065
Learn about reducing the risk of lymphedema, exercise recommendations, resuming prior activities after surgery, and guidelines for air travel.