A bill heard by the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations on Thursday aims to further limit the influence of big-dollar donations and special interests in city elections. The bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, who chairs the committee, would tweak the city’s public campaign finance system by removing a cap on public funds disbursed to candidate campaigns by the Campaign Finance Board (CFB).
The city’s campaign finance system is held up as a national model that incentivizes small dollar donations by matching them with public funds. Each qualifying contribution up to $175 is matched 6-to-1 by the city, through the CFB, allowing candidates with a lack of access to personal wealth or deep-pocketed donors to run competitive campaigns. Currently, the CFB only matches public funds up to 55 percent of the spending limit for a particular seat.
"If you own a piece of land where the zoning says you can't build a skyscraper in this part of the district, you don’t get to draw an imaginary line in the sand," said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who filed the appeal with other elected officials and the Carnegie Hill Neighbors group this month.
Neighbors and local elected officials have however argued that that consensus was ludicrous, and that it would be hard to imagine a building going up in a 10-by-22-foot lot. Neighbors have already filed two appeals against the project, according to DNAinfo, and now led by their local City Council member, Ben Kallos, they have filed a third. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has expressed her opposition to the project as well.
City Council passes construction safety bill forcing contractors to track, list deaths, injuries at building sites
“We’ll be able to see who’s getting hurt, where and why so that we as a city can make construction safer. We must count every life,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the bill’s sponsor.
Councilman Ben Kallos, who co-chairs the East River Esplanade Taskforce, applauded the plan. “I will finally be able to run the full length of my district from Midtown East to East Harlem,” he said.
Local officials, including City Council members Ben Kallos, Dan Gardonick and Ydanis Rodriguez; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney also cheered the decision, with Garodnick noting that, “while we still have some considerable gaps, our plans just got a whole lot closer to reality.” Another $5 million will be allocated to a study of the Greenway’s remaining parcels, with the goal of clarifying next steps in finishing the entire waterfront.
Council Member Ben Kallos said his office is working with police to increase oversight of that stretch of York.
Kallos said his office worked to eliminate asymmetric lights at East 79th Street and York, and recently installed leading pedestrian intervals at the intersection where the collision took place, which allow pedestrians to enter the intersection before vehicles.
The legislation introduced by Councilman Ben Kallos would cover stores, restaurants, office building lobbies and all other public buildings where New Yorkers now often only have the option to trash paper and plastic items that could be recycled.
More than 900 4-year-olds and their families applied for pre-K this year, but there were only 596 seats available on the Upper East Side, meaning that 300 students and their parents must travel outside the neighborhood to get to school, according to City Councilman Ben Kallos.
Scientists are ditching their labs and taking to the streets Saturday — with marches planned in New York City and Washington aimed at protecting the public funding of science.
Among those marching in Manhattan is Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side), a computer scientist by trade — who hopes the marches sway scientists to run for office.
“It would be nice not to be the only nerd in government,” quipped Kallos.
The councilman said he’d like to see the federal government recognize climate change is real — a dig at President Trump’s policies on the issue.
“I would like to see a government that makes decisions based on science and measures the results of those decisions,” he said.
While Trump’s planned budget cuts and disdain for climate science may have precipitated the march, its local organizers stressed the event won’t be partisan.
East Side Councilman Ben Kallos is planning to introduce a bill to cut down on light pollution by mandating that the city use light-directing fixtures when replacing streetlights.
The City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, which has oversight of the CFB, is set to hear a bill on April 27 that would raise the cap on matching funds from 55 percent of the spending cap to a full match of the cap. The bill is sponsored by the committee’s chair, Council Member Ben Kallos, who is a participant in the public funds program and has spearheaded campaign finance reform in the Council. Kallos had reservations about some of the bills that were expedited through the Council late last year and believes his bill will significantly shift the election landscape.
“I was concerned with recent amendments and their impact on the campaign finance system,” he said, “and as we get closer to the June deadline for opting in or out of the system, we will learn just what impact that legislation had and whether it improves participation in the system or actually discourages it. And whatever the results, I hope to create new incentives for people to participate.” The CFB is reviewing Kallos’ proposal and will testify at the hearing.
Read the whole story at http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6882-city-council-members-opt-out-of-campaign-finance-program
According to the audit, the vast majority of POPS hadn’t been inspected in four years—and if they had been, those inspections were regularly “late, incomplete, or ineffective.” In the last four years, only 58 locations had been inspected in total. Of those, 41 were found to be noncompliant. Of those, only 10 were issued violations.
But enforcement may be about to get a whole lot more stringent. In addition to the report’s recommendations—proactively investigate POPS, maintain a better database of them, install more and better signs around the plazas—three new bills were introduced in City Council last month. The bills, introduced by Council members Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick, are designed to protect POPS through steeper fines, annual inspections, increased signage, and a new website where people could register complaints.
Intro No. 0931-2015, sponsored by Ben Kallos, would treat unpaid judgments rendered by the Environmental Control Board as tax liens on the property in question, which would potentially subject the building to the City’s tax-lien sale program.
To help compensate for the potential loss of height, the plan would allow a slight increase in maximum floor-area ratio (from 12 to 13), encouraging more building density in the area. And—the final tenet of the rezoning proposal—20 percent of new units would be required to be “dedicated to below-market-rate housing on site.”
So far, the Alliance’s rezoning proposal has some pretty big backers, DNAInfo reports. Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick have all said they’d sign off on the plan if it passes the Department of City Planning’s review process.
The Department of City Planning is expected to certify the Alliance’s application “in the next two weeks,” making way for a formal public review process.
Then the neighborhood decided to take action into its own hands.
Late last year the East River 50s Alliance submitted a rezoning plan to the Department of City Planning that would cap building height at 260 feet in Sutton Place and convert the area into an Inclusionary Housing Designated Area, Mercurio told Patch.
The plan would preserve the context of the neighborhood while advancing Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing agenda, Mercurio said. Four local elected officials — City Councilman Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Kreuger and Borough President Gale Brewer — co-signed the rezoning application.
Some of the projects the Council wants to see prioritized are air conditioning in public schools, moving adolescents off Rikers Island and funding the East River Esplanade project. Council Member Ben Kallos, in whose district most of the esplanade is located, said the problem is “bigger than anyone ever thought it was.”
A Sutton Place community group working to curb supertalls in the neighborhood has formally submitted a rezoning proposal to the Department of City Planning. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick support the proposal.
He was caught on video hurling a table at a 46-year-old man on E. 81st St. at 3:38 p.m. March 18, police said. Sources said Uno was trying to scare the man.
Despite her notoriety, this is Barrionueva’s first arrest and she was released without bail.
City Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side, said residents have complained about her for years.
“I’m hoping that between law enforcement and city agencies providing mental health (treatment), that she isn’t subject to jail,” Kallos said.
Uno was held on $2,500 bail.
One of Manhattan’s busiest — and slowest — bus routes will soon join the growing list of select bus services (SBS). The M79 crosstown bus, which serves more than 14,000 riders each day, is expected to make the change in service later this May. The select service will require riders to pay at kiosks on the sidewalk before boarding the bus, in an attempt to cut down on time spent idling and improve the route’s 4.3 mph average speed. Signs with real-time arrival information will also be installed at each stop. The annual operating budget is expected to be approximately $1.73 million, according to the January 2017 MTA Transit and Bus Committee meeting handbook.
Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, personally requested that the service be implemented.
“Our crosstown buses serve tens of thousands of passengers a day and it makes a huge difference and cuts a lot of time off people’s commutes,” he said. “On 79th Street I, like many residents, have had to wait in lines around the block to get on the bus and I’ve often found that when the lines get that long it’s faster to just walk where I’m going instead of waiting for the bus.”
Kallos, who was one of several politicians to create the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) last year, said that until the woman is proven to be a harm to herself or others, he can't do anything about her.
"She's been brought to the hospital on numerous occasions and assessed by a psychiatrist," he told DNAinfo New York on Tuesday. "If anyone has been spat on, touched without consent, chased, or threatened, I will go with them personally to the 19th Precinct to swear out a complaint so that the city has additional resources to help her."
Kallos said he's successfully helped connect homeless New Yorkers with services in the past, and even sat down with the Department of Homeless Services last October to go through a list of local homeless people one by one to see what kind of services they needed.
"We've had success in some places, but there are some folks we haven't seen recently because people have accepted help, or found help on their own," he said. "The worst case is that they just disappear and we don't know what happened to them."
Kallos noted that the Upper East Side is very dense, so when there is one person singing or screaming, it's bound to impact thousands of people and amplify the the problem.
"We have been putting immense pressure on this administration to address the homeless concerns in this community and we have asked them to use every tool [they have]," he said.
“Over the next few years, however, as the remaining stations begin to operate, the city’s per-ton waste export costs will likely continue to be higher than the existing short-term contracts they replace.”
The IBO findings distressed one city official.
“New York City is just throwing money in the trash by building marine transfer stations,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan).
But Sanitation Department spokesman Vito Turso said the waste transfer stations and other city investments in rail and barge-based waste export “take trucks off the road, improving air quality and slashing greenhouse gas emissions.”
UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Upper East Side Politicians, community members and even some compassionate middle schoolers braved chilly weather Friday morning to gather in front of the site of a future supportive housing development to announce their support of the project.
Their message: Woman and children in need of supportive housing are welcome on the Upper East Side.
The building site — located on East 91st Street between First and Second avenues — will eventually be home to a 7-story, 17-unit facility that will also contain office space and a 7,000-square-foot Sunshine Early Learning Center. The supportive housing component will be operated by Women in Need (WIN), a nonprofit that helps house homeless women and their children and get them on their feet, which will lease the 17 two-bedroom apartments.
Elected officials have joined the war against e-bikes: in December, East Side councilmen Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos issued a “report card” grading restaurants. Establishments that used e-bikes for delivery automatically received failing grades. Kallos told the Voice that he would like to see doormen refuse entry to delivery workers using e-bikes.