Press Coverage

Politico
Miranda Neubauer
5/9/16
 

According to the playbook site, the city took input from residents, as well as several civic and technology leaders, elected and city government officials and providers, along with examples from other governments and the private sector.

The playbook specifically credits City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and Councilmembers Ben Kallos, James Vacca, Brad Lander, Vanessa Gibson and Helen Rosenthal. It also credits the organizations Bangladesh-American Community Council, the Brite Leadership Coalition, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, the Central Family Life Center, Adhikaar, Make the Road NY and MASA.

 

Gotham Gazette
Samar Khurshid
5/8/16
 

Fuleihan (pictured) reiterated this concern as well, and also spoke of the dangers of shaky global markets and the lack of support from the state and federal governments, as de Blasio had when he presented the executive budget earlier this month. Outlining the city’s new spending initiatives, including investments in public safety, education, anti-homelessness services, transportation, infrastructure and the Board of Elections, Fuleihan said the executive budget, “makes investments that address longstanding structural issues that affect all New Yorkers.”

Throughout the hearing, Fuleihan repeatedly emphasized the administration’s willingness to collaborate with the Council on its proposals. He said multiple times, “We’re happy to continue that conversation,” whether it was to Council Member Steven Matteo on his request to discuss property tax rebates or to Council Member Ben Kallos, who brought up issues of performance budgeting and contract overruns.

As evidenced by de Blasio’s latest budget outline and Friday’s hearing, one of the most important issues at play right now is the city’s plan for reforming and revitalizing NYC Health + Hospitals, which was laid out in a new report, One New York: Health Care for Our Neighborhoods.

 

Natural Resources Defense Council
Eric A. Goldstein
5/5/16
 

The New York City Council is expected to vote this afternoon on legislation that would place a five cent fee on single use plastic and paper bags—a forward-looking initiative designed to slash the seemingly endless stream of plastic litter in the nation’s largest city.

The bill would place a five cent fee on plastic and paper carryout bags dispensed at supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies. Fees collected would be retained by the retailer, but shoppers who bring their own bags with them would be exempt from all charges.

 

NY1
Grace Rauh
5/5/16
 

Resolutions passed by the council Thursday advocate for no-excuse absentee voting, and would allow people to register with a party up to 10 days before an election.

"For me, voter empowerment and barriers to registration is something I've been working on for nearly a decade," City Councilor Ben Kallos of Manhattan said. "In fact, it's one of the issues that brought me into government."

Meanwhile, the board failed to accomplish what it set out to do at its meeting Thursday: certify the citywide results from last month's primary.

Instead, that was postponed because officials from the Manhattan office failed to show up for the official vote.

 

The Chief-Leader
Dan Rosenblum
5/2/16
 

Councilman Ben Kallos, Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee, followed up on a slight uptick in provisional hiring discussed during a budget hearing two weeks earlier.

To comply with the 2007 Long Beach decision by the state Court of Appeals that limited provisional appointments to nine months, the Bloomberg administration created a five-year plan to reduce the number of provisionals by 8,600. That plan was extended in 2014, and Ms. Camilo said she anticipated another extension. “That was always the intention when we submitted the initial one,” she said, though she declined to speculate on how long the deferment would be.

There were 22,954 city employees who hadn’t taken civil-service exams at the time the plan began. They were reduced to 21,416 in December 2014, but rose to 23,052 in the most recent count. Though DCAS gave 290 exams over the past two years—a record high for the agency—the de Blasio administration continued to hire provisionals to meet pressing needs.

“The city is faced with a number of operational challenges that it must meet on a daily basis,” Ms. Camilo said. “The city continues to hire to address the fulfillment of mandates and new priorities.”

She said there was “substantial headway” in reaching its goal. Lists for the Administrative Manager and Administrative Staff Analyst, once they are published later this year, should substanially reduce the number of provisionals.

 

 

Roosevelt Islander
Rick O'Connor
5/2/16
 

Ninety more 4-year-olds will have free pre-kindergarten seats on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island thanks to the efforts of Council Member Ben Kallos who organized parents and children to identify new providers to which parents pledged to send children.

Of the 90 new seats, 54 will be at the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery and 36 seats will be at the Manhattan Schoolhouse in the Upper East Side. This is an increase over the 425 seats previously offered on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island for the school year starting in September of 2016 to 515.

Parents can apply for Round 2 of Universal Pre-Kindergarten starting on May 2, 2016, including families who already applied, accepted an offer, or have not yet applied.

“Universal Pre-Kindergarten means having a seat for every four year old in their neighborhood where children can get an education and parents get the help they need in order to afford to live, work and raise a family in the city,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Eva Bosbach of the Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network as well as Ariel Chesler and Jack Moran of P.S. 183 for working with me, parents, children, providers, and the Department of Education to bring Universal Pre-Kindergarten to the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island.”

 

Our Town
Our Town
4/29/16
 

“Please take your time, obey traffic laws, and wear safety vests so that residents know which restaurants have good drivers and which restaurants don’t,” Kallos told a crowd of delivery bike workers. “Starting soon doorman buildings may stop accepting deliveries from people without safety vests.” 

 

NBC News 4 New York
Andrew Siff
4/27/16
 

 

City Councilman Ben Kallos, whose district encompasses the area, said his office has been inundated with complaints about the trashy appearance of the neighborhood. And he's seen the problem firsthand.

"There's trash everywhere," he said.

Kallos contacted the MTA, which is building the subway line, and the city Department of Sanitation in an attempt to solve the problem. He said he discovered that the two bureaucracies were basically trash-talking to each other.

"And with both agencies pointing the finger at each other...we need a resolution," he said.

...

Meanwhile, Kallos is attacking the problem with a supply-and-demand solution: he's supplying more trash cans to quell the neighborhood's demand that something be done about all the garbage.

"We don't have enough trash cans," he said. "My office has invested $40,000 on 38 trash cans."

 

Gotham Gazette
Meg O'connor
4/26/16
 

The United States, Suriname, and Papua New Guinea are the only three, out of 185 countries with available data, that do not require the availability of paid parental leave.

“Women's issues are everyone's issues," said Council Member Ben Kallos, the only man on the City Council’s five-member Committee on Women's Issues, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "We need a focused effort on issues like reproductive health and pay equity in order for everybody to rise together.”

Framing access to comprehensive reproductive health care as a “women’s issue” seems to ignore the link between a woman’s reproductive rights and her participation in the broader economy and society. As the Supreme Court majority wrote in a 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”

 

Crain's New York
Ben Kallos
4/26/16
 

Operating a crane is an inherently dangerous job, and the risks are significantly greater in a densely populated urban environment like New York City. Nationwide, approximately 89 crane-related fatalities occurred per year in construction work and between the years of 1984 and 1994—502 fatalities in 479 crane accidents. With numbers like these, safety is paramount. Because of New York City’s uniquely difficult conditions, it is critical that we have the most stringent examination and licensing procedure for individuals permitted to operate cranes.

For decades, New York City has had such a rigorous system; it is required under our building code. Crane operators licensed by the Department of Buildings are some of the best in the world. That is not luck, but the result of a longstanding crane licensing regulatory scheme. The agency developed and administered a written examination for applicants for crane operator licenses that specifically tests them on New York City's conditions and requirements. It also gave a practical examination to see how applicants operated a crane, and required that before being eligible to even sit for an examination that applicants have a certain number of years’ experience working in New York City under the supervision of a licensed crane operator.

 

Gotham Gazette
Samar Khurshid
4/25/16
 

Many have praised BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan, who took over in 2013, while continuing to point to problems in both BOE function and the state laws that govern the BOE.

Kallos said that many BOE issues had indeed been resolved over the past two years, but “I was disappointed that despite moving forward on a lot of improvements, the BOE still has a lot of problems.”

The February 2014 hearing was Kallos’ first as chair of the governmental operations committee and he has since worked hard to impress upon the BOE the need for reform. In an interview, he was clear that to him the two main issues at the BOE are the political patronage in appointments and the lack of an efficient voter information portal.

 

Capital New York
Miranda Neubauer
4/25/16
 

Councilman Ben Kallos — who chairs the Council's government operations committee, and who last year introduced legislation to establish a voter information portal that would allow for absentee ballot tracking — told POLITICO New York last week he hopes to hold a June hearing examining the problems.

At last month's preliminary budget hearing, Kallos had commended BOE executive director Michael Ryan for working with the Council to address the issues raised in a 2013 report by the Department of Investigation that was broadly critical of the board.

The Daily News suggested over the weekend that the reported voter-roll purge may have been an "overreaction" to that report's findings.

And an analysis by CUNY's Center for Urban Research of changes to voter lists, in Brooklyn and citywide, suggests that Brooklyn lost 140,000 voters from 2015 to 2016 — around 60 percent of the city's net voter loss.

 

Wall Street Journal
Mara Gay and Josh Dawsey
4/24/16
 

The City Council is expected to hold a hearing on the deal in early May, said Councilman Ben Kallos, who chairs the committee on governmental operations, which includes oversight of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

Former senior officials who worked in previous administrations said the powers of the department had grown over the years. It was formed in 1968 under former Mayor John Lindsay as the Municipal Services Agency.

In the 1990s, under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the agency merged with the Department of Personnel. It now commands an annual budget of $1.2 billion and employs 2,000 people.

The former officials said the department should have flagged the Rivington House deed modification to the mayor’s Office of Contract Services and the Law Department. A lawyer for the mayor signed the deed modification, but Mr. de Blasio said he wasn’t aware the lawyer signed iCityt.

 

Gotham Gazette
Meg O'connor
4/22/16
 

That issue could be fixed by expanding the number of state agencies, including social service and health-related agencies, that offer voter registration, so that New Yorkers could be automatically registered to vote through a variety of government interactions. The Voter Empowerment Act would include the State University of New York, City University of New York, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, public housing authorities in the state, and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs as agencies that offer automatic voter registration.

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos has sponsored a number of bills aimed at increasing voter access, including bills that were signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio in December 2014 that expanded the number of city agencies required to offer voter registration forms.

Yet ultimately, the power to decide how and when citizens may register to vote and cast a ballot mainly rests with the state.

 

New York Times
Vivian Yee
4/22/16
 

Something went wrong in that purge, according to multiple election law experts and others familiar with the winnowing process. Amidinvestigations into the New York City Board of Elections and widespread complaints about voters being turned away from the polls on Tuesday, it now seems likely that many legitimate voters were mistakenly disenfranchised.

“This happens every presidential election — the boards all over the state start purging voters,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, chairman of the committee that oversees the board. Mr. Kallos noted that Brooklyn had historically eliminated more voters than other boroughs during periodic sweeps.

“But this would be the largest number of Democrats who were taken off the rolls in recent memory,” he said.

After flagging voters who do not cast ballots in two consecutive federal elections, the Board of Elections mails notices to determine whether voters still live at the address where they are registered. If no confirmation comes back, a voter can be deleted from the rolls. Board positions are equally split between Republicans and Democrats; each voter removal must be approved by both a Republican and a Democratic employee, according to the rules.

 

REAL ESTATE WEEKLY
rew
4/21/16
 

New York City Councilmember Ben Kallos was stumping against super-tall towers at last weekʼs B’nai B’rith luncheon at the Cornell Club. Kallos is among the leaders of a residential re-zoning plan for the Manhattan area between 52nd Street and 59th Street, east of 1st Avenue, to limit the height of so-called supertowers and prevent over-development in the neighborhood. “We are drawing a line on the march of superscrapers at billionaireʼs row to protect our cityʼs residential neighborhoods,ˮ said Kallos when the plan was announced earlier this year. “The East River Fifties Alliance has proposed a rare community application to rezone a neighborhood, making it impossible to build superscrapers as of right. They have risen to the challenge of winning support from elected officials, the community board, buildings and residents to bring an application to rezone and save the neighborhood.ˮ Called the East River Fifties Alliance, the group has raised money themselves to pay for lawyers and city planners for a rezoning bidand won the support of State Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, as well as city council member Dan Garodnick.

 

Manhattan Express
Jackson Chen
4/21/16
 

According to an April 13 announcement by East Side City Councilmember Ben Kallos, the BID steering committee, which began work in November, has narrowed the boundaries of the proposed district. Advocates of a BID had initially suggested casting a net as wide as East 80th Street to East 92nd from Lexington Avenue to First.

Instead, the committee’s scaled-down proposal area runs only from East 84th to East 88th, though it retains its original east-west breadth.

“This was the area of highest need,” Kallos explained. “The point here was to start in the area with the most need and if the community likes it and wants it to expand, we can come back with more support.”

The new proposed boundaries resulted from a needs survey that Kallos’ office concluded in December. According to the councilmember, their results yielded 387 responses from residents and 46 from business owners, 22 of which are commercial property owners.

“We received great feedback from the District Needs Survey,” Kallos said. “The steering committee is using these responses to inform the programming and budget of the BID.”

According to the results, 316 responses mentioned the homeless population and panhandlers in the neighborhood, while 284 responses cited trashcans overflowing onto dirty streets and sidewalks.

“Those were the kinds of things that really jumped off the page, really caught our attention, and the focus of where we’re putting attention on the BID,” Kallos said.

The steering committee — its membership includes six property owners, three merchants, three residents, and four non-voting members, with representatives from different areas within the boundaries — have met on a monthly basis to sculpt the BID.

The committee is currently working on finalizing a sign-on Statement of Support, its next step in demonstrating community input and backing. The BID proposal has already won support from State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymembers Rebecca Seawright and Dan Quart.

While the BID committee has decided on a target budget and assessment levels, Kallos declined to share them pending a later announcement. He earlier had told Manhattan Express that the budget would be in the six figures, and last week he confirmed the numbers would be in that range.

In addition to working on the BID, Kallos has also successfully negotiated to have the city’s Department of Sanitation double up on trash pickup along 86th Street. The litter-plenty condition of 86th Street is due, in part, to the MTA’s 4, 5, and 6 subway stop at Lexington Avenue, which serves 20.7 million riders and is among the system’s top dozen busiest. Trashcans near the stop are often left neglected and overflowing.

 

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
4/19/16
 

UPPER EAST SIDE — Local schools are set to get $1 million for more laptops and new green roofs, thanks to votes from their neighbors.

The funds have been earmarked for 10 local schools, after about 2,000 residents voted on how they believe $1 million from City Councilman Ben Kallos'participatory budgeting program should be spent.

The Manhattan New School/P.S. 290, at 311 E. 82nd St., will get $500,000 to finish its green roof, which school officials call a "desperately needed playspace." The school won $500,000 for the $1 million project last spring.

 

Roosevelt Islander
Rick O'Connor
4/19/16
 

Nearly 2,000 Upper East Side residents 14 and over turned out in person or online to vote on how to spend $1 million in tax dollars to improve the community as part of “Participatory Budgeting.” Residents were able to vote in the district office 7 days a week as well as at 17 mobile “pop-up” voting locations, by absentee and even online.

“Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) continue to be where residents are voting to invest their tax dollars to prepare our children for the future,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Participatory Budgeting Delegates for leading the process as well as residents 14 and over for voting.”

 

77 WABC
Lou Gordon
4/17/16
 

NYC Councilman Benjamin Kallos

The state of affordable housing in NYC and specific legislation initiatives
he has sponsored in an effort to help New Yorkers find and keep affordable housing
and aid the fight against homlessness in NYC.

 

NYC Campaign Finance Board
Eric Friedman
4/15/16
 

According to Gotham Gazette, the City Council’s Governmental Operations Committee will schedule a hearing May 2 on a package of bills based on recommendations made by the CFB in our report on the 2013 elections, published in September 2014. As we’ve noted here before, the bills will help simplify the Program for candidates, and reinforce its protections against pay-to-play money in City elections. We will devote more of this space to these bills in the coming weeks, but we are pleased to see the Council taking action to strengthen and improve the city’s campaign finance system in advance of the 2017 elections.

 

New York Daily News
Chauncey Alcorn
Reuven Blau
4/13/16
 

Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos holds up a Citizens Committee bag at a City Hall rally yesterday as a majority of the Council have now co-sponsored the Citizens Committee-backed bill to impose a nickel fee on plastic bags.

Over the past two years, we’ve given away nearly 6,000 bags in neighborhood bag giveaways with City Council Members.

 

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
4/13/16
 

The move comes after Councilman Ben Kallos got a flood of complaints from residents about the pileup of garbage and reached out to the agency for help, he said.

"Every day, I hear from residents complaining about trash on 86th Street, calling, emailing and even Tweeting pictures," Kallos said. "The internet says 'Don't feed the trolls,' but you never know. This is an example of residents having an impact."

 

 

New York Real Estate Journal
New York Real Estate Journal
4/11/16
 

New York, NY The Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts has named Jack Resnick & Sons’ Steel Park as the 2016 POPS-Star Award winner in the nonprofit organization’s 33rd Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony. The winners were revealed during the Annual Meeting held on Tuesday, March 29th at the Cosmopolitan Club.

The annual awards ceremony recognizes the exemplary restoration, renovation and advocacy work on the Upper East Side over the last year.  In addition to Jack Resnick & Sons, the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts honored Susan Henshaw Jones & the Museum of the City of New York, Unite to Save the Frick, 20 East 93rd Street, the Apple Store of the Upper East Side and Orwasher’s Bakery.