Press Coverage

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
6/5/16
 

The new cans will be placed at intersections on First, Second, Third and Lexington avenues, from East 70th to East 98th street, where there have been numerous complaints of trash overflow, according to City Councilman Ben Kallos, who funded the cans with $20,710 from his budget.

The cans are wider in circumference than the normal trash receptacles and have a domed top with a smaller hole on the top.  Some of them will replace existing wire bins that are smaller, and the others will be added to intersections that didn't have bins before.

 

City and State
Sarina Trangle
6/3/16
 

“I’m actually working actively with colleagues,” Kallos said during a Friday press conference at City Hall to promote various ethics reforms. “We’re drafting legislation around disclosure and limits to what people can do with (c)4s and moving forward, and to the extent that anyone has (c)4s, making sure that they engage in voluntarily disclosure ahead of us engaging in our legislative advocacy and actually making it a legal requirement. Right now is a good time, if anyone has a (c)4, for it to cease and for folks to disclose. … We need to make sure that we lock down every single place that money and corruption can happen.”

Kallos said it would be inaccurate to describe the legislation as his, however. The councilman said he had discussed potential reform measures with others, but he would not name any potential sponsors. Still, he said he hoped legislation related to 501(c)4 nonprofits would come before the Government Operations Committee that he chairs.

 

DNAinfo.com
Amy Zimmer
6/1/16
 

Several City Council members asked the chancellor when free lunch will be a reality for all students.

“I want to wake up in a city where every kid has the opportunity for free lunch,” Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos said at the budget hearing.

“I’m not saying ‘no,’” Fariña said. “It’s all a matter of priorities. We have to take it one step at a time.”

 

Gotham Gazette
Carmen Russo
6/1/16
 

“When you talk about previous wage salary, you establish a floor,” said James. “And as a result of that floor, which is discriminatory in nature, you start off with a discriminatory base. So we really want to prohibit city agencies from asking about previous salary information of job applicants.”

City Council Member Ben Kallos, the only man who serves on the Council’s Committee on Women’s Issues, also believes wage disclosure will be an important tool in working towards pay equity.

 

“You can look up every public employee’s salary and we know what their gender is,” Kallos told Gotham Gazette in a phone interview. “Why can’t we do an automatic and internal audit comparing folks to their collective bargaining and make sure people are getting paid what they’re supposed to? The entire point of the civil service is supposed to be equity and treating people based on what they know, not who they know or what their gender is.”

 

Our Town
Madeleine Thompson
5/31/16
 

Last week’s focus on cycling was also a collaboration with Councilmembers Ben Kallos’ and Dan Garodnick’s offices, which collectively represent the area from about East 92nd Street to about East 34th Street and have prioritized bike safety, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero program. The 19th Precinct first handed out pamphlets and then switched to handing out tickets. On Thursday afternoon, they estimated that they had issued around 100 tickets during the previous two days. The officers present declined to comment on the record, but expressed their understanding for and awareness of community concerns.

Kallos’ office has been prioritizing bike safety since he took office in 2014, and reports significant improvement. A recent press release announcing the expansion of the bike safety program to cover Midtown East touted a 15 percent decrease in bike and pedestrian collisions as of August 2015, and a 52 percent increase in enforcement.

 

 

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
5/27/16
 

Councilman Ben Kallos wrote a letter to the DOB pushing the agency to issue the stop work order on May 16.

"New Yorkers have won a rare victory over developers by stopping a skyscraper in a residential neighborhood," Kallos said in a statement. "I am glad we stopped this loophole before it was too late."

 

New York Post
Michael Gartland
5/26/16
 

Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Lisette Camilo testified at a City Council hearing two weeks ago that she would share records on more than a dozen properties with pending restriction changes, but according to Brewer and Councilman Ben Kallos, she still hasn’t.

The requests come several months after the city lifted deed restrictions on the Rivington House nursing home, paving the way for the property to be sold to a developer that plans to convert it to luxury housing — a deal now being investigated by the US Attorney’s Office.

Kallos suggested the delay could hurt the mayor’s spending plan. “We need to see it before we pass the budget,” he said.

 

Crain's New York
Erik Engquist
5/26/16
 

As Crain’s investigated an assertion by City Councilman Ben Kallos last week that Law Department reforms would save the city $430 million over the next four years, one thing became clear: There’s not a lot of love lost between Kallos and the de Blasio administration.

Kallos has been pestering and pressing the Law Department for two years about reducing the amount of money it pays out to people who sue the city, or threaten to.

When budget documents revealed the predicted savings, he claimed victory, issuing a press release attributing the $430 million to his advocacy and the administration’s grudging cooperation. He cited a decision to expand a Bronx pilot program in which one city lawyer handles a case from beginning to end, a policy known as “vertical case handling.”

 

New York Times
J. David Goodman
5/23/16
 

Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat from the Upper East Side, sent a letter to the Buildings Department last Monday requesting an immediate stop-work order for the tower, arguing that the “unbuildable lot” could create a “dangerous precedent for a new and dangerous loophole.”

 

The Real Deal
The Real Deal
5/23/16
 

City Council Member Ben Kallos is accusing Joe McMillan’s DDG Partners of using a novel tactic to expand the size of its planned Upper East Side condo tower that Kallos says violates the spirit of the city’s zoning regulations.

The developer filed to alter the tax lot at 180 East 88th Street back in 2014, seeking to slice off a narrow, four-foot strip of the property. The change, which was eventually approved, allowed the developer to skirt requirements for buildings abutting the street, which in turn allowed DDG to build its planned tower a full 60 feet higher, opponents charge.

The “sole purpose” of the alteration, Kallos wrote in a letter to the city’s Department of Buildings, was “to frustrate the intent of the zoning resolution,” the New York Times reported.

 

City Limits
anatgersteininc
5/23/16
 

New York State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Manhattan Borough PresidentGale Brewer, and City Council Member Ben Kallos attended Big Swim Big Kick to show their support for Asphalt Green and cheer on the swimmers and soccer players.

Big Swim Big Kick’s corporate sponsors include Fried Frank, Glenwood, PepsiCo, Bloomberg, Skadden, LaLiga, Bloomberg Philanthropies, TYR, Morgan Stanley, Omni New York LLC, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hospital for Special Surgery, Citizen360, Elite Service Group, Paul Hastings, Sakura Lifesave Associates, Inc., Skanska and USA Swimming.

 

New York Times
J. David Goodman
5/22/16
 

Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat from the Upper East Side, sent a letter to the Buildings Department last Monday requesting an immediate stop-work order for the tower, arguing that the “unbuildable lot” could create a “dangerous precedent for a new and dangerous loophole.”

In March 2014, the department said the project could go forward with the adjacent lot along 88th Street. But at the time of that approval, the lot proposed by the developer was more than 30 feet deep — a size that could be developed into a separate building.

After that determination, the developers shrunk its size and filed papers with the city that created the new four-foot-wide property, known as Tax Lot 138. Plans describe the space between the building, Tax Lot 37, and the side street, designed as a garden for residents that is open to the street, as a “rear yard.”

 

AM New York
Sheila Anne Feeney
5/20/16
 

The City Board of Elections and State Board of Elections did not respond to requests for comment.

Mayor Bill DeBlasio recently offered the NYC BOE $20 million in exchange for implementing needed reforms — an offer that, according to City Council member Ben Kallos, the BOE has rejected. Kallos said in a statement last week that the Council had passed legislation for a voter information portal and called on Albany to permit same day and online registration.

 

DNAinfo.com
Amy Zimmer
Nikhita Venugopal
5/18/16
 

The expectation that Manhattan will have fewer students going to public schools might result in a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” worried City Councilman Ben Kallos, whose Upper East Side neighborhood is short 2,000 pre-K seats, forcing many parents to commute with their 4-year-olds in the morning rush to free programs in Lower Manhattan or pay a high price for private programs nearby.

4. A school has to be significantly overcrowded before the years-long process of building a new one can begin.

The city won’t consider building a new school until there’s a 5 percent increase in an existing school’s population, School Construction Authority president Lorraine Grillo told City Council members at budget hearings this week.

 

Gotham Gazette
Samar Khurshid
5/16/16
 

At Friday’s hearing, BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan couldn’t say where BOE commissioners stood on the proposal since they had yet to analyze it in detail. “Once the details of the proposals have been fleshed out, they will be shared with the commissioners and, ultimately in a quasi-legislative process, the commissioners will have to pass on that either in totality or in part,” he said.

Ryan also couldn’t say whether the BOE would consider replacing patronage positions with professional employees selected through an open-hiring process, a top priority for Council Member Kallos and several of his colleagues (it is also something de Blasio has called for). This authority, Ryan insisted, lies with the BOE commissioners, who are borough-based. The structure of the BOE is also dictated by state law, which de Blasio and others say they want to see changed.

Kallos was less than satisfied with Ryan’s testimony overall. “I got the answers I have learned to expect, but not the answers that I wanted or needed,” he told Gotham Gazette during a break in the hearing.

 

DNAinfo.com
Dartunorro Clark
5/16/16
 

City Councilman Benjamin Kallos asked about the "windfall" developers received from the way in which properties were valued.

He cited that the Harlem property's deed was lifted for $875,000 and the plot was sold for $3.1 million. The Lower East Side deed was lifted for $16 million and the land was later sold for $116 million. 

Camilo told council members the agency is not moving forward on any new deed restrictions until its internal review and the investigations are complete. She said about 13 applications, many of them made years before, are currently on hold.

 

 

 

Gotham Gazette
Samar Khurshid
5/13/16
 

“I’m concerned that the Board of Elections is underfunded and setting up the democratic process for failure,” Kallos told Gotham Gazette. At Friday’s hearing, he will press the BOE for more details on “whether they have enough money to run an election, whether they have enough to hire poll workers, to advertise, and to do an audit of why 90,000 affidavit ballots were rejected in the primary.”

One of the major changes Kallos is pushing for is the elimination of patronage positions. The BOE has a bipartisan structure and its commissioners and employees are selected based on their affiliation with the two major political parties on a borough by borough basis. Kallos takes issue with this and said BOE funding should come with “terms and conditions” such as the hiring of professional employees through an open hiring process to replace patronage positions, and required audits of “who’s doing what and where.”

Referring to the mayor’s offer of extra funding, Kallos said, “I think the BOE needs to do everything they can to improve their image and to assist voters. They need to accept all the help that’s offered.” He also rejected the administration’s rationale that the BOE budget is lower this year because of fewer elections. “The general election is the superbowl of elections,” he said, referring to November.

 

New York Daily News
Erin Durkin
5/13/16
 

Lisette Camilo, commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which handles the deed restrictions, told the City Council Friday the administration is reviewing the process but refused to answer specific questions about the Rivington and Harlem deals.

The city has put all pending requests to lift deed restrictions on hold — halting 13 to 14 deals, she revealed.

“We put a stop to all of the deed modifications that have been in the pipe. We have put those on hold,” she said.

“The processes by which deed restrictions are valued, and restriction removals are authorized, are similarly under review and subject to overhaul,” Camilo said.

Councilman Ben Kallos, chair of the government operations committee, questioned why the city would “give a windfall to property owners.”

“How many more situations like Rivington and [St. Nicholas Ave., the Harlem site] are coming down the pike?” he said.

 

New York Post
Rich Calder
Danika Fears
5/13/16
 

During a budget hearing at the City Council Friday, DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo said the city removes about four deed restrictions a year and that “13 to 14” already in the pipeline were put on hold following a suspicious deal on the Lower East Side, where a developer made a $72 million profit when a deed ­restriction was quietly lifted.

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) told The Post afterward that he had to learn about the Harlem deal from the press and couldn’t get answers from the administration.

“The city has to take ownership of what is happening,” he said. “I am deeply troubled that there was no budget transparency in this process.”

Camilo said her agency would surrender its deed-restriction rec­ords for the past five years to the City Council for review.

 

Wall Street Journal
Mara Gay
Rebecca Davis O'Brien
5/13/16
 

Councilman Ben Kallos, chairman of the council’s governmental operations committee, asked whether the agency had approved similar deals. “Here’s a chance to come clean,” he said.

Ms. Camilo said the agency had put all of its “13 or 14” requests to alter deed restrictions on hold since the Rivington deal came to light.

Mr. Kallos said the Rivington deal was disturbing, in part because it allowed a building once designated for a nonprofit to be turned into condos when the city could have used the space for other needs.

“We need schools like you wouldn’t believe. We also need homeless shelters. And affordable housing,” he said.

Ms. Camilo said agency officials shared council members’ concerns about the Rivington deal. “No one was happy with the outcome,” she said.

 

CBS New York
Marcia Kramer
5/13/16
 

“I am concerned that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and there may be other situations just like this,” said city Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th).

At a hearing, Kallos put that question to Lisette Camillo, the head of the obscure city agency that is responsible.

Kallos: “How many more situations like Rivington and St. Nicholas are coming down the pike?”

Camillo: “Right now, none. They’ve all been put on hold.”

Kallos: “How many are currently on hold?”

Camillo: “I believe it’s about 13 to 14 currently.”

Kallos: “Wow.”

 

Wall Street Journal
Mara Gay
5/13/16
 

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services has come under scrutiny amid investigations by city, state and federal authorities into the lifting of deed restrictions at a Lower East Side health-care facility, Rivington House, that paved the way for it to be redeveloped as condos.

Councilman Ben Kallos, chairman of the council’s governmental operations committee, asked whether the agency had approved similar deals. “Here’s a chance to come clean,” he said.

Ms. Camilo said the agency had put all of its “13 or 14” requests to alter deed restrictions on hold since the Rivington deal came to light.

 

New York Times
Patrick McGeehan
5/11/16
 

Shutting off gas to buildings on the Upper East Side has been a more common occurrence since a gas leak led to an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem two years ago, said Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat whose district includes Yorkshire Towers.

“Ever since there was an explosion related to gas, we’ve seen Con Edison being very aggressive with gas shut-offs all over the district,” Mr. Kallos said. “If Con Ed says there’s an issue, we have to trust them.”

His office, he said, has become more adept at persuading Con Ed and the Buildings Department to speed up the process of restoring service as soon as possible after repairs are made.

 

Politico
Miranda Neubauer
5/11/16
 

The city has begun publishing detailed budget data on its open data portal, not long after Councilman Ben Kallos introducedlegislation that would require making the budget information accessible in a format that is searchable and accessible to third-party applications.

 

Politico
Miranda Neubauer
5/11/16
 

The city has begun publishing detailed budget data on its open data portal, not long after Councilman Ben Kallos introduced legislation that would require making the budget information accessible in a format that is searchable and accessible to third-party applications.

As chair of the Committee on Government Operations, Kallos oversees the Financial Information Services Agency, which operates the software that manages the city budget. He was able to confirm with FISA that its software can easily make the budget available in an open format.

The mayor's Office of Management and Budget has worked with Kallos and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, chair of the Finance Committee, to make several key budget documents available in searchable format on the open data portal, rather than just PDF formats.