Council Members Ben Kallos, Rory Lancman, and Elizabeth Crowley - all Democrats like de Blasio - have each submitted a request that legislation be crafted around regulating 501(c)(4) nonprofits. Kallos’ bill drafting request is “on point” with a recent proposal made by Citizens Union, a government reform group. That proposal would require that 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(3) organizations created at the behest of elected officials to promote their own image or agenda be treated like political committees under the city’s campaign finance laws. This would entail detailed disclosure of contributions and expenditures, limits on contributions similar to those for political candidates, and oversight by the Campaign Finance Board.
“Anytime you’ve got elected officials whose political campaigns are limited in the money they can raise affiliated with 501(c)(4)s that engage in quasi-electoral activities that don’t have the same limits, that is a place we should be paying attention,” Kallos said in a phone interview. Kallos chairs the Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, where the bills would likely be introduced and heard.
The tenants have gained the backing of Gale Brewer, the Manhattan Borough President and Ben Kallos, the City Councilman. Brewer said that the NYCHA’s promises have not been specific in telling residents what they stand to gain from the project.
The NYCHA formally requested proposals from developers for the project on June 30. They said that they have tenant support for their plan to build 300 units, half at market rate and half affordable, in the public site of the playground. NYCHA officials, see the plan as a great way to raise desperately needed funds. The Housing Authority says it will use revenue from the new leases to fix the currently deteriorating apartments. NYCHA says the playground will be replaced in a different, yet-to-be-named location. They insist there has been plenty of communication with tenants.
Bikes were the hot topic at the town hall held by Council Member Ben Kallos last Thursday.
Bike lanes, bike shares and the enforcement of biking laws seemed to weigh heavily on the minds of the 70 or so attendees at the event. It was not the first time an audience largely comprised of senior citizens has turned out in full force at a community meeting to raise concerns about bikes.
Department of Transportation Commissioner Luis Sanchez was present to address the issue, which he acknowledged but largely passed off to the city’s police department.
“NYPD is responsible for enforcing the laws,” Sanchez said. “[DOT] doesn’t have the power to actually write tickets, but what we do is we go to the restaurant because the restaurant is supposed to have a roster of their cyclists. … If they don’t then we can issue a violation to the restaurant.”
Sanchez and Kallos encouraged residents to go to their respective NYPD precinct community councils with specific questions or requests for more thorough enforcement.
The Housing Authority insists that tenants of Holmes Towers on the Upper East Side have embraced its ambitious plan to raise cash by building luxury apartments on what’s now their playground.
That’s news to them.
The tenant “stakeholder committee” organized by NYCHA to vet the plan — along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilman Ben Kallos — made clear in a recent letter obtained by the Daily News that they never signed off on it.
In a letter delivered to NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye on September 1st, the Holmes Stakeholder Committee—which includes City Council Member Ben Kallos, Borough President Gale Brewer, and Holmes Tower residents—outlined their concerns with the selected site.
Of three proposed sites, the stakeholders claim, the playground was chosen "amid widespread resistance from the community to development that would take away the park from the children."
"The entirety of the Stakeholder Committee is not in favor [of the site], so there are a lot of questions about whether it really represents what residents chose," Paul Westrick, Kallos's Legislative Director, told Gothamist. Westrick added that although NYCHA held community engagement meetings this past February, they "were not well attended, and the public outreach they did wasn't really extensive." Because of a lack of community engagement, the stakeholders are requesting that the agency extend the proposal deadline from September 30th to November 30th.
But there is no protocol for communication between the attorney general’s office and the Council, and transparency records show that in December 2015, Hospital Audiences received additional funding from the Council.
The Council did not raise red flags until April 2016 when, in a letter obtained by POLITICO New York, Dyer contacted Councilman Ben Kallos to explain the situation.
Hospital Audiences had been awarded $123,100 in the 2016 fiscal year through several different grants from seven Council members: Kallos, Peter Koo, Daneek Miller, Karen Koslowitz, Jimmy Van Bramer, Inez Dickens and Mark Treyger.
Community Involvement in Action
GBS students are taught about the importance of community involvement and being informed about current events. When Joey and Eli shared their concern about the increasing number of track fires in the subway system, they decided to take action in the local community. Working together, they hand wrote a letter, which we shared with our local City Council member, Ben Kallos. Councilman Kallos invited Joey and Eli to come and pick him up in his office, where they got to take a tour. Then, Councilman Kallos came with us back to Gillen Brewer, where Joey and Eli gave him a tour of the school. After the tour, Councilman Kallos visited the Puffins classroom to discuss this civic issu`e and to answer questions from the students.
After running on a platform calling for more Pre-K funding, City Council Member Ben Kallos began delivering right away, increasing the number of seats in his district 5-fold, with Roosevelt Island alone gaining 49.
It was an exhilarating moment for Roosevelt Island Parents' Network leader Eva Bosbach when Ben Kallos, early in his first term on the City Council, announced funding for 49 additional Pre K seats for the community.
Along with vigorous moral and philosophical support, Kallos acted as navigator, guiding the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery, led by Executive Director Pamela Stark, through the bureaucratic intricacies of the Department of Education in getting its application approved.
At the same time, Bosbach and Susy del Campo Perea organize
NY Council Member, and LIT endorsed candidate, Ben Kallos announced on Monday, Aug 22an incredible piece of legislation that allows community members to use City-owned buildings for rehearsals and performances.
Councilman Ben Kallos said he has written a letter to DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia requesting more information about the plan.
“The big concern that many constituents have is whether or not commercial carters as part of a franchising system would be required to dump in the neighborhoods that they pick up, or whether they might use this marine transfer station to force all the private carters who have franchises for Manhattan to dump on the Upper East Side,” Kallos said.
The Mayor's Office of Data Analytics and Councilman Ben Kallos are seeking feedback on proposed geospatial open data standardsbeginning Friday.
The proposed standards follow fromlegislationintroduced by Kallos and signed into law last year to improve on the city's open data law. It mandates the establishment of a technical standard that requires every public data set containing address information to utilize a standard layout. The law states that if there is a dataset for which an agency cannot use such a layout, the agency must provide the city and the Council with the reasons preventing it from doing so and a date by which it will be able to comply.
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"Our goal is to make government location-aware and the best way to do that is to standardize geographic information across of all our datasets, so that folks can just throw it on a map easily," Kallos said.
Con el objetivo de proteger a los inquilinos de Nueva York, el concejal Ben Kallos, con el apoyo de la defensora del pueblo Letitia James y la presidenta de Manhattan Gale Brewer, presentó este martes una propuesta de ley que busca regular a las empresas hacer el chequeos de los arrendatarios y crean las llamadas “listas negras de inquilinos”, con el fin de que estas compañías otorguen información justa sobre los residentes.
CM Ben Kallos is working #PreservationPays (Historic Districts Council)
You'll find some more interesting facts about the buildings in the Historic Districts Council's slideshow "How Historic Preservation Benefits New York City," below. The slides also describe how historic preservation—as a driver of New York City's multi-billion-dollar tourism trade, a creator of good paying jobs, and an attractive option for affordable housing—is a positive force for the financial well-being of the city.
With a chorus of “ayes,” the New York City Council passed legislation on August 16 that reconstitutes the Waterfront Management Advisory Board(WMAB), and with the stroke of a pen, Mayor de Blasio made it law on August 31. “As we build more sustainable, resilient, equitable waterfronts across the five boroughs, we’ll be counting on the voices of New Yorkers to help us,” he said before he signed the bill into law.
An important forum for governmental and civic representatives to work together to shape waterfront projects, the WMAB was created in 1977 but then mostly dormant for 30 years. After strong advocacy by the Waterfront Alliance and other groups, it was revived in 2009, but was active only for about four years.
One issue that adds to the confusion is a communication gap between city agencies, who have to explain complex projects to the public, and board members, who must parse civic-planning jargon to understand how new projects will impact them. A solution to this would be for each board to have professional planning staff, something envisioned by the city charter but very rarely achieved in practice. Councilmember Ben Kallos introduced a bill in March 2015 requiring the appointment of at least one planner for every four community boards. The bill has yet to go to a vote.
The bill, introduced by Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore) and Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, would add a council member, the commissioner of Parks and Recreation, and the commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development to the WMAB. It would also expand the number of public members of the board to 18, half to be appointed by the mayor and half to be appointed by the City Council speaker.
"When I was appointed chair of the Council's committee on waterfronts, I learned that this board had been inactive for so long," said Rose. "That was unacceptable to me, especially in light of all the new development taking place along our waterfronts. This bill will expand the size of the board to incorporate more community stakeholders, and to engage more city agencies. It is my hope that the expansion of the WMAB will help us better oversee development on our waterfronts and improve their overall upkeep."
The dreaded tenant blacklist that debriefs landlords on whether prospective renters have appeared in housing court is still making it hard for those on the list to rent apartments in New York City. Now, Councilman Ben Kallos has introduced legislation to the City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that would require the blacklist to paint a fuller picture of why certain tenants have ended up in housing court, the Times reports. Unsurprisingly, things aren’t always as they seem on the database.
New proposed legislation aims to help tenants blacklisted for their history in housing court.
Councilman Benjamin Kallos on Tuesday introduced legislation to the council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that would force screening companies to provide landlords with fuller descriptions of housing court cases. The measure is intended to combat overzealous tenant blacklists, which are compiled by tenant-screening data companies based on housing court records.
Housing attorneys argue that the blacklist is riddled with errors and fails to show when a tenant won a case, the New York Times reported. After two years of being homeless, Margot Miller, 68, recently was denied housing at an apartment for low-income seniors when the owner discovered that she had been sued by her previous landlord.
"When there aren't public postings, that's a good indication there may be patronage involved, or worse yet conflicts of interest," Kallos told the New York Daily News. "New Yorkers would know about the 350,000 jobs the city has, and the city could expand its pool of qualified applicants."
CreditMichelle V. Agins/The New York Times
After two years of being homeless, napping in stores open all night and more recently staying in a convent in Harlem, Margot Miller found out in March that her luck was about to change: She had qualified for an apartment for low-income older adults.
“This is to inform you that a rental unit has become available,” the letter from the building’s owner, Prince Hall Plaza, began.
Elated, Ms. Miller, 68, said she immediately went to the building’s office to claim the apartment. But after a background check, she said, the building reversed course.
“I go there, I’m all excited,” Ms. Miller said. “The woman there then does something on the computer. Then she said, ‘You can’t have this.’”
She was disqualified, the woman told her. Not because of her credit score. (At 760, hers was stellar.) And not because of a criminal record. (She had none.)
Exclusive: NYC pol pushes anti-patronage bill requiring government jobs to be posted for two weeks before hiring
"When there aren't public postings, that's a good indication there may be patronage involved, or worse yet conflicts of interest," Kallos said. "New Yorkers would know about the 350,000 jobs the city has, and the city could expand its pool of qualified applicants," Kallos said.
"This is a major victory for our coalition and for countless New Yorkers. Through intense advocacy and organizing, we demanded a better plan with deeper affordability, and that’s what the New York City Council has secured. We are very grateful to City Council Members Jumaane Williams, Ritchie Torres, Donovan Richards, and Ben Kallos for their tireless leadership on behalf of the most vulnerable low-income New Yorkers. They played a crucial role in securing a stronger, more robust affordable housing and rezoning plan,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Campaign Director of Real Affordability for All.
Councilman Ben Kallos opposed the new Citi Bike station last year and plans on working with the DOT to get it moved.
Recently the councilman suggested the agency move it around the corner against Ruppert Park on Second Avenue between East 90th and East 91st streets.
“This is a very uphill battle,” Kallos said. “Citi Bike has not moved very many locations, except to the extent that we’re able to work with the community for minimal changes.”
A coalition of city and state elected officials, transport officials and activists have come to together to push for effective fixes that would improve overall bus service. The group includes elected officials such as Borough President Eric Adams, State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assembly Member Ron Kim, City Council Members Chaim Deutsch, Vincent Gentile, Ben Kallos and Peter Koo, Director of the NYC TransitCenter Tabitha Decker, Executive Director and Tri-State Transportation Campaign Board Member of the MTA Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance John Raskin, Campaign Associate of NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign Jaqi Cohen, bus rider activist from Queens Jeanne Majors and bus riders.