Spring/Summer 2014

Dear Neighbor,

You’ve given me a remarkable responsibility: to represent you in City Hall.  Under previous Council Member Jessica Lappin’s leadership, our community  thrived — a legacy I will diligently continue. I am honored to now represent  the community where I grew up and where my mother still lives. My office  will always accessible be and available to you and can be reached by  calling 212-860-1950, visiting us at 244 East 93rd Street, or emailing  bkallosatcouncil [dot] nyc [dot] gov.

We have important work to do together. Every child should receive the same  world-class education that I did at Bronx High School of Science. We can work  together to implement innovative solutions such as identifying new spaces  for schools in our neighborhood, making pre-k universally available to help  children get a fair start, and creating CUNY college loan forgiveness programs  to help our city’s economy thrive.

Older New Yorkers and their caregivers must be supported so they can be  healthy and independent. My mother is a senior who lives in the district, and I  am committed to keeping senior centers open and protecting vital services like  Meal on Wheels.

We must protect and expand affordable housing. Those who made our neighborhood  what it is today deserve to see the benefits of their lifetimes of hard  work. New development, which will come with the completion of the Second  Avenue Subway, must include affordable housing for middle-class New Yorkers.  We also have standing battles to continue. I am a member of Asphalt Green’s  Triathlon Team and will continue to fight the Marine Transfer Station. I am  working to build a broad coalition of elected officials and community leaders  in opposition to any dump in a residential neighborhood. It won’t be easy,  it won’t happen right away, and I will need your help — but together, we can  defeat it.

If we invest in each other — our time, energy and compassion — our government  can work better for all of us. Please join me, so that together we can  build a better city.

Sincerely,

Council Member Ben Kallos
District Five: Upper East Side, Midtown East, El Barrio and Roosevelt Island

PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING

This year, I am bringing Participatory Budgeting (PB) to our community. PB empowers you to vote on how your tax dollars will be spent in the neighborhood. Other Council Districts have piloted the program with resounding success. Whether you’re passionate about green space, safer streets or improving senior centers, PB will help you to turn your vision for a better city into a reality. We will offer the community a choice of a dozen projects and will implement the top picks. Here’s where you can vote:

Monday, March 31st - Friday, April 5th: 8AM-6PM
District Office, 244 East 93rd Street

Saturday, March 29th: 9AM-5PM
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Auditorium
331 East 70th Street (70th Street and 1st Avenue)

Sunday, March 30th: 9AM-5PM
District Office, 244 East 93rd Street

Monday, March 31st: 11AM-3PM
Carter Burden Center for the Aging, Conference Room
1484 1st Avenue (between 77th & 78th Streets)

Monday, March 31st: 12PM-5PM
New York Public Library, 67th Street Branch
328 East 67th Street

Tuesday, April 1st: 6AM-9PM
District Office, 244 East 93rd Street

Tuesday, April 1st: 2:30PM-5PM
Stanley Isaacs Senior Center, Room 6
415 East 93rd Street

Wednesday, April 2nd: 10AM-3PM
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue

Thursday, April 3rd: 11AM-7PM
Lexington Neighborhood Houses
1773 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10029

Friday, April 4th: 3PM-7PM
Carl Schurz Park, East 86th Street & East End Avenue

Saturday, April 5th: 9AM – 5PM
Stanley Isaacs Senior Center, 415 East 93rd Street

City Council Inauguration

Over 700 community members joined my inauguration ceremony on January 26 featuring Dances Patrelle, Asphalt Green- Wave Gymnastics Team, The 92Y Gym Stars, pianist Roy Eaton, the men’s ensemble at Talented Unlimited High School, Elsbeth Reimann of Stanley Isaacs Senior Center reading Pastor Martin Niemoller’s “First They Came…” and Jim Bates of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association reading FDR’s “Four Freedoms.” Thanks are also due to the many elected officials and community leaders who attended and spoke: State Comptroller DiNapoli, State Senator Krueger, City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Congress Member Maloney, City Comptroller Stringer, Public Advocate James, Manhattan Borough President Brewer, Council Member Garodnick, Former Public Advocate Green, Former Council Member Lappin, Former New York State Assembly Member Bing, Founder of New Roosevelt Bill Samuels, as well as Attorney General Schneiderman, who performed the swearing-in. You can watch the full video online: BenKallos.com/Inauguration

Supporting Early Education for all New York City Children

As a public school graduate and a child of a single mother, I have been fighting for the type of fully-funded pre-k and after school program that can make a real difference for families like mine. I saw the sacrifices my mother made, and I know New York City will be better if we can make life easier for working parents. These programs also give every child a fair start and build a foundation of protection for at-risk children later in life. Over the summer, I marched outside City Hall to draw attention to this pressing issue and, this year, helped plan a successful joint hearing between the Women’s Issues Committee of the City Council, of which I am a member, and the Education Committee. I have also been out in the community, sharing ideas on early education with you — advocacy which was recently featured in the New York Times. A small investment in pre-k can reduce drop-out rates and crime later in life, helping all New Yorkers thrive.

Committee of Governmental Operations

As newly appointed Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, my task is to make our city seamlessly serve all New Yorkers, so government works for you. I am working to improve transparency, accountability and efficiency in our city’s management. With oversight over eleven city commissions and agencies, some of our priorities include:
* Working with the New York City Board of Elections to ensure smooth voting for all New Yorkers.
* Working with the Campaign Finance Board and the Voter Assistance commission to expand and further empower public financing of campaigns to ensure voters have access to the best candidates; and
* Reforming the Community Board system in partnership with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to improve openness, transparency and accountability.

Recently Married

In December, I celebrated an important milestone: my marriage to a wonderful woman. As I move ahead in the important work before me, I am thrilled to have Irene by my side.

Fighting the Marine Transfer Station

A new report from community activist group Pledge 2 Protect entitled “Talking Trash” has offered even more evidence that the Marine Transfer Station at 91st Street will hurt our city. I have long fought for a modern approach that reduces costs, protects residential communities, and increases recycling for a greener city. Please join Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Senator Liz Krueger, Council Member Dan Garodnick, activists Bertha Lewis, organizers from New York Communities for Change, Pledge 2 Protect and me to defeat the Marine Transfer Station.

Safer Streets

I am pleased to launch a “Livable Streets” initiative for a neighborhood where residents can walk, bike, drive or take public transportation safely. A series of tragic traffic collisions in our neighborhood have reinforced the importance of Vision Zero, a city proposal, whose launch I participated in, to eliminate traffic fatalities — because no one should die from a preventable accident. Please report dangerous intersections and corners to my office, so we can pass them along to the relevant agencies. Please also report bus stops that need a shelter, sidewalks where you would like to see benches or bike racks, corners that should be wheelchair and walker accessible, potholes to fix, and any other concerns you have — so we can all have livable streets. Please call or email our office with as much detail as possible or fill out the attached card and return it to my office.

Transportation Forums

I will be holding three forums with the department of transportation as part of my “Livable Streets” initiative. The months and topics are as follows:
* April: Safety along the Second Avenue Subway construction
* May: Adopt-A-Planter
* June: Bike lanes
Please contact my office for dates and times.

Join A Policy Committee

If you are looking to become more involved in the local community, please consider joining a District Five Policy Committee. We need residents who are interested in advancing progressive and innovative agenda items with the experience and enthusiasm to help formulate city policy. Committees will meet on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30PM and include education, youth, senior services, environment and more. For more information or to join a committee, please contact our office.

Summer Reading Challenge

As a student, I was always more inclined to work with computers than to read books. In fact, because of learning struggles, I faced challenges catching up with my peers in reading and writing. 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. Now, I want to share that passion for books with you and your family. Join my summer reading challenge: Students who read five books from our list will be honored at an end-of-summer ceremony and receive a certificate from our office. Please contact my office or visit BenKallos.com/ReadingChallenge for the full list.

Summer Fellowship

If you or someone you know would like to gain experience in city government this summer, please consider joining my team. Our office is offering summer fellowships, an opportunity to learn firsthand how a City Council office functions. Fellows will work closely with senior staff, assisting in tasks such as community outreach and engagement; attending community meetings, hearings, and press conferences; drafting correspondence; legislative research; and assisting with communications. They will also be encouraged to pursue a project of their own choosing – because we believe a fellowship is most valuable when it encourages creativity and initiative. Please email bkallosatcouncil [dot] nyc [dot] gov with a resume and cover letter to apply – and don’t forget to pass the opportunity along.

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