What's New in July
On July 1st, I marked six months in office. To mark the occasion, I asked you to reach out to me to share your ideas and feedback. Your responses have been illuminating. Many of you shared the issues that matter to you and your families. Many were kind enough to share positive experiences you have had with my office. Many offered ideas for neighborhood issues to address.
Now, we will move forward together:
- To fight the marine transfer station;
- To protect safe, clean and livable streets;
- To use technology to improve New Yorkers' daily lives;
- To promote a transparent, accountable government;
- To protect tenants' rights and promote affordable housing, especially for seniors;
- To improve our neighborhood infrastructure and open space; and
- To improve education and invest in our children.
I hope you will join me at First Friday on August 1st from 8AM-10AM at my District Office or Policy Night on Tuesday, August 12th, at 6:30PM at my District Office so we can work together to improve our neighborhood.
Table of Contents
1. Transparency and the Marine Transfer Station
2. Rallying Together
3. Livable Streets
4. Fighting Downsizing
5. Teens on Community Boards
6. Summer Reading Challenge
7. Passing a Budget
8. Relief for Second Avenue
9. Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Assistance
10. Cooking with Kallos at the Green Market
11. Summer Meals
12. Summer Interns
13. Setting a record at Asphalt Green
14. Advancing transparency
15. Personal Democracy Forum
16. Free and Affordable Broadband on an Open Internet
17. Touring City Hall
18. Citywide With Ken Fisher
19. Save Energy and Money
20. MIT Media Lab
21. Around the Community
22. Legislation Corner
23. City Council Events
24. Community Events
A great new transparency website allows residents to ask questions of their elected officials, and this month I answered my first question on the Marine Transfer Station. Read my response on the many reasons why I fight the Marine Transfer Station. AskThem, from the Participatory Politics Foundation, sets up a transparent dynamic between officials and people -- and the expectation that if you ask a question, you will get a public, transparent reply.
If you agree with my position on the MTS, please sign the petition or sign up for my more regular Marine Transfer Station newsletter at BenKallos.com/MTS.
I joined with community members in Brooklyn facing a similar Marine Transfer Station in Bensonhurst -- also one endangering communities. Now our coalition spreads across the boroughs. Read more in the Brooklyn Eagle.
Last month, at a forum on Bike Lanes in the Community with the Department of Transportation, I announced a program to make commercial biking safer in our neighborhood. As part of the four-step plan to improve bike safety, I will be hosting a forum for businesses that use commercial biking on July 23rd with free safety vests and bells distributed to businesses that RSVP and stay. Learn more at BenKallos.com/BikeSafe.
The forum discussion inspired my office to consider many new ideas, including but not limited to integrating bike safety into the health letter grade system, using community feedback to identify and improve dangerous intersections, and adding a temporary southbound bike lane over the next two years to reduce wrong way bikers on 1st Avenue.
I joined community members to demand a moratorium on Section 8 Downsizing. From Knickerbocker Plaza in my district to affordable housing across New York, seniors and disabled residents must not be moved to zero-bedroom apartments.
My Resolution 115 in support of allowing 16 and 17 year olds on Community Boards passed the City Council with much enthusiasm. The support of New York City helped spur the passage of bills A.2448 and S.4142 in the State Assembly and State Senate, sponsored by Assembly Member Nily Rozic and State Senator Andrew Lanza, respectively. I look forward to 16 and 17 year olds contributing to their local boards.
The proposal earned broad support from editorial boards: amNY, Queens Tribune and Staten Island Advance. Summer Reading Challenge
Join the Summer Reading Challenge.
Visit BenKallos.com/ReadingChallenge for the lists, coming shortly. Participants grades (5-12) who complete the challenge will receive certificates and more. Email bkallosbenkallos [dot] com or call 212-860-1950 for more details or ask your teacher for more details. Let's read!
A Compassionate Budget
New York City's budget passed on June 26 is a progressive, compassionate, puts residents first and brings more opportunity to our neighborhood and city.
I am especially pleased at $35 million for the East River Esplanade, a stretch of open space in our district that has been crumbling into the East River. I was proud to secure the funding together with my Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Task Force Congresswoman Maloney along with Speaker Mark Viverito. The funds will begin to transform the East River Esplanade for improvements that will last generations.
To see the funding I allocated or find it in a searchable spreadsheet, please visit BenKallos.com/Budget/Results/2015.
Along Second Avenue, we have seen firsthand how municipal construction can impose grave hardships on small businesses. Shuttered shops and declining profits reduce the number of good jobs and change our neighborhoods for the worse. Though our city is must continue to grow and change, we must also assist the businesses on whom we impose a hardship. That's why I have proposed a plan to provide relief to businesses along Second Avenue and across the city. Read more about it in DNAInfo and Our Town.
I was proud to sponsor and vote for a bill that has, as of July 1st, raised the income limit for Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE), which can exempt seniors from most future rent increases. If you are at least 62 years old, live in a rent-regulated apartment, and make less than $50,000 annually, you may be eligible. The Legal Advocacy Department at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House offers a free clinic for assistance with application or recertification, which must happen every two years. Please call 212-218-0503 to make an appointment. You can always call my office for application assistance at 212-860-1950 or email bkallosbenkallos [dot] com.
The first "Cooking with Kallos" demonstration at the 82nd St. Green Market, designed to showcase healthy, fun, cooking was a great success. Come visit me at the Green Market on July 20 at 11AM for the next one!
Did you know that there are hundreds of places around NYC that provide a free breakfast and lunch for kids all summer long? Many New Yorkers don't. My team has been out canvassing at the 96th and Lexington Ave Subway stop to spread the word about the free meals for anyone 18 or under as part of our #FreeSummerMeals campaign.
To find a breakfast or lunch site you can call 311, text “NYCMeals” to 877-877 or visit the site locator at www.schoolfoodnyc.org. In our neighborhoods, sites include:
• Holmes Towers (Stanley Issacs) -- 1780 First Ave. Btwn 92 & 93 Street
• Samuel Seabury Playground -- East 96th Street & Lexington Avenue
• St. Catherine's Park -- East 67th St. & First Avenue
• P.S./I.S. -- 217 Roosevelt Island
Learn more about the Free Summer Meals Program at www.schoolfoodnyc.org and email bkallosbenkallos [dot] com or call us at 212-860-1950 if you want to volunteer to help spread the word. Summer Interns
Our summer internship program has accepted highly qualified students from diverse high schools and universities, whether they are New Yorkers home for the summer or hailing from as far away as California.
To the right: Trying to get work done with interns and staff distracted by the USA vs. Belgium game!
Learn more about the program at BenKallos.com. If you know someone interested about learning about government, they can apply today by sending a resume and cover letter to internshipbenkallos [dot] com.
Setting a Record at Asphalt Green
I woke up early to help set the record for highest number of people simultaneously jumping on a trampoline at Asphalt Green athletic complex, an event featured on Good Morning America. What a fun way to showcase our community and the great programs at Asphalt Green!
At a June hearing on legislation that would open up Freedom of Information Law with a transparent, searchable website, modernize the city's contract transparency and put the law online for all people to access, we advanced the cause of transparency in government. Read more in the Epoch Times and Gotham Gazette.
At the Personal Democracy Forum, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and I hosted an Open Government Workshop, discussing the current open government movement in New York City. It was an inspiring discussion about how we can better use technology to benefit New Yorkers, and you can watch it on Youtube.
I represented eight Council Members at the New York City hearing of the Public Service Commission on the potential Time Warner Cable - Comcast merger. Our position: If the merger were to be in the public interest, it would have to accompany significant expansion of free and affordable broadband and the assurance of net neutrality. Read the full testimony at BenKallos.com.
Touring City Hall
Assembly Member Dan Quart and I toured kindergarten students from PS 290 around City Hall. The students learned about the history of the building and local government. If you know of a class that would be interested in touring City Hall, please email schedulerbenkallos [dot] com with the request.
Watch online as I discuss a fairer City Council, technology in our community and increasing public participation on CUNY TV's Citywide With Ken Fisher.
Con Edison is offering $25 to residential customers who buy a new ENERGY STAR® room air conditioner between now and Aug. 29. By replacing an older room air conditioner with a new, more energy-efficient unit, a customer can reduce electricity usage by about 15 percent. For eligibility details, to download an application, or to apply online go to: http://www.coned.com/energyefficiency/room_ac_rebate_25.asp. To watch a video explaining energy-saving cooling tips, click here: http://bit.ly/1lGAj2U
In fact, if you live in a building in an energy efficiency zone, you may be eligible connect to their gas structure for no cost at all. Zones are selected based on existing natural gas infrastructure, building density and customer requests. If you are not sure if your building is in this zone you can check online at http://www.coned.com/gasconversions/area-growth.asp. Instructions to apply are online.
The deadlines to sign up are July 24th and August 27th.
It was a thrill to join open government leaders and civic technologists at the MIT Media Lab's Legal Hackathon. There, we issued a challenge for our brightest minds to come together to build a democracy2.0 platform to allow residents to engage with the law.
Around the Community
This month, I joined plenty of community events and celebrations. Here are just a few:
- July Fourth ConstitutionFest Reading of our constitution in Central Park with lawyer and human rights advocate Norman Siegel
- Graduation Speeches at schools across the district, including Eleanor Roosevelt High School, PS/IS 217 8th grade graduation and PS290 Fifth grade graduation
- P2P Rally at Asphalt Green
- Spoke at the CB6 Full Board Meeting
- Testified at the Rent Guidelines Board Public Hearing
- Spoke at the Isaacs Neighborhood Center's Scholarship Awards Ceremony
- Spoke at the CB8 Full Board meeting
- Spoke at Organizing 2.0 at CUNY Murphy Institute
- Toured Lenox Hill and Carter Burden senior centers
- Presented a Proclamation to PS 290 Principal Hill in honor of her retirement
- Marched in the Pride March
If you would like me to join you at a community event, please email schedulerbenkallos [dot] com or call 212-860-1950. If my schedule permits, I will be happy to attend.
Learn more about the laws that affect the fabric of New York City. Stay informed and comment at BenKallos.com/legislation
Here are just a few highlights:
- City Record OnLine (CROL)
Int. 363, introduced with Council Member Jimmy Vacca, improves the existing City Record website by requiring that all items currently in the paper copy of the City Record are included in the online version. The information contained in the City Record is important and useful to residents of our city and should be easily accessible to all.
2. Civic Commons
Int. 365, encourages the collaborative software purchasing of free and open source software among agencies, cities, and states to pool resources, avoid duplicative efforts, create portable expertise, grow jobs, and reduce costs. A Civic Commons portal would be created to facilitate collaborative software purchasing and host the collaborative source code as well as projects identified as useful for government applications.
3. Free and Open Source Software Act (FOSSA)
Int. 366, would minimize city contracts for proprietary software in favor of free and open source software (FOSS) that can be shared between government agencies and bodies. Proprietary programs require the city and other municipalities, including the state, to pay private vendors over and over again for the same code while FOSSA provides the city with power over the code and the freedom to modify, upgrade, customize, and redistribute within agencies and to other cities or states.
A few bills I have co-sponsored:
- Tenants Bill of Rights
Int. 048, introduced by Council Member Cabrera, requires that tenants be provided with a paper copy of their rights along with their lease agreement. Tenants should know their rights when they rent an apartment in our city, know their responsibilities, and, most importantly, know what their landlords are responsible for. This bill will provide tenants will valuable information and will allow them to hold landlords accountable.
- Alternate methods for eviction
Int. 0345, introduced by Council Member Reynoso, requires stronger enforcement of housing maintenance codes and greater penalties for negligent landlords. This bill ensures that tenants living in buildings identified by the Alternative Enforcement Program be notified of their building’s status in the program and be given phone numbers to call to file complaints against building owners. This bill will go a long way toward making sure property owners hold up their end of the bargain.
- DCAS posting civil service exams online
Int 0258, introduced by CM Greenfield, requires the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to post the estimated number of open, competitive civil positions at the same time as the department posts the examination notice. Jobs should go to the most qualified individuals, not only to those with connections. By posting civil service openings online for all to see, we can help our city hire the best individuals by expanding the pool of qualified applicants.
City Council Events
Cooking with Kallos
82nd St. Green Market, 82nd btwn First and York
Join me for a cooking demonstration of healthy and simple to prepare foods. RSVP today or just show up.
Commercial Bike Safety Forum: 7/23, 3PM
Carter Burden, 351 E 74th St.
Businesses can join us for a forum on safe commercial biking. FREE vests, bells and safety manuals for those that RSVP and stay. RSVP Today.
8/1: First Friday, 8-10AM
First Friday of Each Month, District Office at 244 East 93rd St.
Please join me on August 1st 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.
8/12: Policy Night
Second Tuesday of Each 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. We need residents who are interested in advancing progressive and innovative agenda items, with the experience and enthusiasm to help formulate city policy. Committees, which include education, environment, senior services and more, will meet on the second Tuesday of every month at 6:30PM. Please RSVP Online, email rsvpbenkallos [dot] com or call 212-860-1950 to let us know you'll be joining us.
Mobile District Hours
Get assistance wherever you are located. Please see our mobile district hours:
Roosevelt Island Senior Center: First Wednesday of the month, 4-7PM. RSVP.
Lexington Houses: Second Wednesday of the month, 4-7PM. RSVP.
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House: Second Tuesday of the month, 4-7PM. RSVPStanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center: Fourth Tuesday of the month, 4-7PM. RSVP.
7/11: Observing at Carl Schurz Park
8:30pm, Carl Schurz Park Esplanade, 86th St. and East End Avenue
Join the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York for their free monthly observing sessions. Learn more here or call Bruce Kamiat at 212-923-7021.
7/8: Screening of Amor Crónico
8:00pm - 10:00pm, El Teatro @ El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Ave. (between 104th and 105th)
El Museo del Barrio presents a special screening of Amor Crónico, a music performance film focusing on singer Cuco Diamantes and her tour of Cuba, to celebrate the opening night of the Latin Alternative Music Conference. Free admission. Learn more here.
7/8, 7/15, 7/22, 7/29: Summer Sandbox Series at Carl Schurz Park
4:00pm - 4:30pm, Carl Schurz Park Playground
Every Monday, the Carl Schurz Park Conservancy presents live music for children in the Park Playground. Lily Rose will be performing on July 8th, Sing Along Steve on the 15th, Eastside Westside Music Together on the 22nd, and Moosikikids on the 29th.Learn more here.
7/9: LAMC Presents Bang Data
6:00pm - 9:00pm, El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Ave. (between 104th and 105th)
Bang Data will be bringing their signature Samba-Ska-Cumbia rhythms to El Museo del Barrio for this free concert. Part of the Latin Alternative Music Conference, there will also be free art-making workshops and a DJ. Learn more here.
7/9: Summer Sounds at Carl Schurz Park
7:00pm - 8:30pm, Carl Schurz Park
As part of the Carl Schurz Park Conservancy’s Summer Concert Series, experience the style, musicality, and essence of the Swing Era through the Swingtime Big Band. Learn more here.
7/9, 7/16, 7/23, 7/30: SNAP Walk-In Clinic
10:00am - 1:00pm, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 E. 70th St. (between 1st and 2nd Ave)
Every Wednesday, the Legal Advocacy Department at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House hosts a clinic to assist with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Determine your eligibility and get help applying. Learn more here and call 212-218-0431 with any questions.
7/10, 6pm: Monthly Meeting of East 79th St. Neighborhood Association
80th St. Residence - 430 East 80th St. (Btwn York and First)
Community members will receive updates on community concerns such as the traffic light at 79th and York, issues with the taxi line, and a desired adult space at John Jay Park.
7/11: NYC Office of Emergency Management Seminar
1:15pm, Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 E. 93rd St.
A seminar presented by the NYC Office of Emergency Management on emergency prevention and preparation. It will cover hurricane zoning, storm preparation, fires, and slips and falls, as well as avoiding identify theft and scams.
7/11, 7/12, 7/26: Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movie Series
7:00pm, Southpoint Park, E Road
This year, the Roosevelt Island Outdoor Summer Movie Series centers on “Heroes,” focusing on characters overcoming impossible odds. Catch Thor: The Dark World on July 11th, The Avengers on July 12th, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on July 26th.
7/11, 7/18, 7/25: Workers’ Rights Clinic
10am - 1pm, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 E. 70th St. (between 1st and 2nd Ave)
The Legal Advocacy Department at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House hosts a clinic every Friday to assist low-income workers with any legal issues relating to employment, including unlawful discrimination, nonpayment of wages or any other issue. Learn more here and call 212-218-0430 with any questions.
7/12: 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.
7/14, 7/21, 7/28: Walk-In Legal Clinic
10:00am - 12:00pm, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 E. 70th St. (between 1st and 2nd Ave)
Get assistance with a variety of legal issues, including eviction prevention, SCRIE, and health care access, from Lenox Hill Neighborhood House’s Legal Advocacy Department. The first four people will be seen every Monday. Learn more learn and call 212-218-0503 with any questions.
7/14, 7/21, 7/28: Family Films at the 96th Street Library
2:00pm, 96th Street Library, 112 E. 96th St. (between Lexington and Park)
Every Monday, the 96th Street Library presents a free screening of a family film. In July, Frozen will be shown on July 14, Cars onJuly 21, and Despicable Me 2 on July 28.
7/14, 7/21, 7/28: Movies on Mondays at the 67th Street Library
3:00pm, 67th Street Library, Community Room, 328 E 67th St (between 1st and 2nd)
Catch family movies every Monday afternoon at the 67th Street Library. Parental Guidance will be screened on July 14, Up on July 21, and Puss in Boots on July 28. Learn more here.
7/29: Sunset Film Festival
8:30pm, Carl Schurz Park, enter at 84th St.
This year, Carl Schurz Park Conservancy’s free film series focuses on the USA. In July, the Conservancy presents the children’s animated classic An American Tail. Free popcorn! Learn more here.