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.
Also out for stretches of time for medical reasons were Annabel Palma (D-Bronx), who was gone from last July to October, Debi Rose (D-Staten Island), from January to March, and Inez Dickens (D-Manhattan), from September to December.
Posting perfect attendance were Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), Republican minority leader Steve Matteo, and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Combined with the 90 seats added by fellow Councilman Ben Kallos — whose district borders Garodnick’s on the Upper East Side — back in May, there has certainly been an improvement, but a 2014 WNYC report estimated that there are 2,118 four-year-olds in Kallos’ district, the majority of whom will have to go far outside their neighborhoods for pre-k.
The final piece of the funding puzzle that has been missing from the East River Esplanade project fell into place last month when the City Council approved roughly $2 million for several revitalization purposes. Combined with the $45 million rounded up by Councilman Ben Kallos from various sources in past years, funding for the project has reached just over $47 million, though that may not be the final tally.
“A lot of East Siders are envious of the West Side parks,” Kallos said. “When I came into office, the East River Esplanade was literally falling into the river and in some places still is.”
In effect, the public was paying to give the bundlers even more clout.
“The city should not be providing public dollars to amplify the already strong voices of special interests,” said Ben Kallos, a Democratic councilman who is the chairman of the committee on governmental operations. In May, he held a hearing on a bill that would eliminate the matching contributions for money bundled by someone doing city business. Mr. de Blasio’s counsel, Henry Berger, testified in favor.
“Lobbyists play a number of roles in city government, some of which are very, very important,” Mr. Berger said. “Their influence on the electoral process as demonstrated in the 2013 campaign is significant, and can be reduced by this, and we think it is appropriate to do so.”
“I want to get to the bottom of what happened at Rivington, St. Nicholas and other sites,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, an Upper East Side Democrat whose committee oversees the Citywide Administrative Services Department, which grants deed restrictions. “The Council has a responsibility to hold an oversight hearing on deed restrictions.”
In preparation for a hearing, the de Blasio administration on June 15 released to Ms. Mark-Viverito’s office a list of 14 properties around the city that it said had pending applications for deed modifications or removals when the Rivington House deal came to light. The city halted new deed changes shortly after.
The Council bill, backed by members Ben Kallos and Donovan Richards, would require the Department of City Planning to create a map of the spaces and report twice a year on the status of each POPS. It would also mandate the DOB to report annually on complaints and violations.
Before the vote, the Rent Justice Coalition organized various tenant advocacy groups, including Make the Road New York and the Lower East Side-based GOLES to protest in front of Cooper Union and demand a rent rollback. Various elected officials were also present. City Council member Ben Kallos, who represents the 5th district, explained that 22 members of the council had written a letter to the RBG advocating for rent rollbacks, explaining that the drop of the PIOP should be taken into account when attempting to alleviate the pressure on rent-stabilized tenants, the majority of which are considered rent-burdened since over half of them pay about 36.4 percent of their income toward rent (affordable housing is classified as taking up less than 30 percent of a family’s income per month, Roberts had explained).
After last night’s vote, NYC Council Member Ben Kallos stated that, “the Rent Guidelines Board has shown that last year's rent freeze was more than a symbolic gesture, and tenants have the power to be heard. We will continue to fight to make up for years of too-high rent increases.”
“I have one job. That job is to vote,” said City Council Member Ben Kallos, who has not abstained on a vote since joining the Council in 2014. “It is the one power, the one privilege that I have that no one else has and I take it seriously, and come to a decision every time. I was elected by the people to vote and for constituents to know where I stand on these issues.”
“This year, striking a fair balance for tenants and landlords means voting for a rent rollback,” they wrote in a letter authored by Councilmembers Ben Kallos and Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan). The rollback is justified because the costs borne by landlords, the measure the board uses to set its annual increases, have actually gone down, they said.
Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), whose district covers Weill Cornell, joined Mason’s team to help the city earn bragging rights on the diversity of its microorganisms.
“New York City is bigger and better than anywhere else, so I’m assuming the same for our microbes,” Kallos said. “We should have more microbes from all over the world and in higher concentration because there is no subway system like ours.”
In May, City Council member Ben Kallos accused DDG of violating the spirit of zoning laws.
Amid complaints from community advocates, the city’s Department of Buildings launched an audit of the project and issued a temporary stop work order.
'Global City Sampling Day' to Launch Weill Cornell Medicine-Led Study of Antimicrobial Resistance Across 54 International Cities
"Global City Sampling Day gives us an opportunity to learn about more than 600 different microbes riding the subway with New Yorkers every day. We are grateful to Weill Cornell Medicine, Dr. Christopher Mason, and hundreds of volunteers who are helping us learn more about our city's health one swab at a time," said Councilman Ben Kallos (5th District), who will help initiate the New York City collection by swabbing a subway station on the Upper East Side with project principal investigator Dr. Mason.
NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, joined Allyson Schlesinger, Market President, Citi and City Council Member Ben Kallos to welcome the annual event.
"Adventures NYC provides New Yorkers an opportunity to tap into the adventurous spirit that lives within all of us," said Commissioner Silver.
"People want to be able to send a tweet saying they're in favor of a bill or opposed to a bill or think a bill needs to [be] changed in a certain way and have that be in the official record," Kallos, chair of the city's Governmental Operations Committee, told Fast Co.
"As we've interacted with people in the digital space, we kept finding that folks didn't want to send a tweet and a get a response saying to come to a hearing in person," says council member Ben Kallos, who chairs the city's governmental operations committee. "People want to be able to send a tweet saying they're in favor of a bill or opposed to a bill or think a bill needs to changed in a certain way and have that be in the official record."
It's unclear exactly what from the online commenting proposal exactly what format the online comments would take. It could mean a website designed specifically for public feedback on proposed legislation. Or it could even include entering tweets sent to city council members into the public record. The New York State Senate's recently redesigned website has incorporated similar features, allowing the general public to vote in favor or against bills, leave comments, and sign up for email updates on bills of interest.
At the vote, Council Member Dan Garodnick warned that the massive increase in spending and the ballooning of the city’s workforce would mean trouble in the future. Citing a possible budget deficit of $3.8 billion in fiscal 2019, he said, “As a city we must take steps now in good times to prepare for the inevitable bad times ahead. Progressive, honest and responsible budgeting protects people not only when revenues are strong but when they are weak. We should better protect ourselves from having to lay people off and cutting core services when that happens.” Council Members Corey Johnson and Ben Kallos expressed similar concerns.
Lawyer tapped as Board of Elections commissioner refuses to give up lobbying, raising conflict of interest concerns
“What happens when someone you represent as a lobbyist has business in our districts and wants something from us, and we need your vote in 2017 to get on the ballot?” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan).
As the pair told Fast Company, the resolution is intended to make it easier for NYC residents to have their thoughts counted as part of the official record, something currently limited to those that physically attend public hearings. In addition to allowing those unable to attend such meetings to have their say, the resolution also requires that all legislative proposals be made available in an open data portal and suggests an app as a way to provide an easy alert system for citizens (not unlike the one recently released by the French government).
“New Yorkers should be able to ‘like’ and comment on City Council legislation to make civic engagement as easy as Facebook,” said Kallos, Chair of the Committee of Governmental Operations, in a press release.
Here's a breakdown of some of the other changes introduced by the Council. Members of the Land Use Committee who objected to the measures, including Councilman Ben Kallos, were against the deadlines, particularly for historic districts, and were concerned about the absence of extensions,according to YIMBY. The bill has also been opposed by the Historic Districts Council.
Councilman Ben Kallos, chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, and Councilman James Vacca, chair of the Committee on Technology, are introducing the bill that seeks to mirror a feature available on the website of the New York State Senate.
Historic Districts Council Board Member Jeffrey Kroessler, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Executive Director Andrew Berman, New York City Council Members Ben Kallos, Corey Johnson, and Rosie Mendez.
Bill 775 is supposed to streamline landmark designation. But advocates say putting a strict time limit on how long properties and historic districts can be considered would leave them vulnerable to demolition.
One might complain about how long it takes for a historic district designation to make its way to a vote, but consider that many view the LPC as an understaffed and underfunded city agency. Then consider the fact that one of the four historic districts designated in 2015 – the Bedford Historic District in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn – contains 824 buildings. The designation report contains at least a paragraph on each one of those buildings.
Since this legislation is essentially an unfunded mandate, it’s no surprise that preservationists are furious over it, but they’re not alone. Council Members Rosie Mendez, Ben Kallos, and Corey Johnson all joined them at City Hall, hoping the bill could become one for which they could vote.
“Last year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of our landmarks law with fanfare, with proclamations,” Kallos said. “…just as those same people were plotting against it.”