Press Releases

March 27, 2017

New York, NY – The cost of trash in New York City is soaring from $63.39 a ton in 2007 to $129.81 a ton in 2016. . Overall city spending on 

waste export is increasing from an average of $300 million from 2010 to 2014 to $360 million this year to $420 million in 2021. Driving the increased spending is the long-term contracts for four Marine Transfer Stations three of which are slated to begin operations in 2018 and 2019. Both are according to a new report by the New York City Independent Budget Office.

“New York City is throwing money in the trash by continuing to build marine transfer stations. The City should save hundreds of millions of dollars a year by continuing to send all residential waste from Manhattan directly to New Jersey by truck instead of by barge through Staten Island,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.

 

March 24, 2017

New York, NY – Supportive housing for seventeen women and children is being welcomed on the Upper East Side at 316 East 91st Street by every local elected official, Community Board 8, faith and non-profit leaders, as well as principals, parents, and children who attend schools across the street from the proposed site.
 
Win, led by former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, will lease 17 two-bedroom apartments to be built by RiverOak and Azimuth Development in a seven-story building at 316 East 91st Street. The site will also contain a Sunshine Early Learning Center for children and housing and support for homeless women and their children.
 
22,973 children and 17,548 parents make up more than two-thirds of New York City’s homeless population which has reached crisis levels. In response Council Members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, Senator Liz Krueger and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer launched the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) to connect city agencies with non-profits and faith-based institutions providing direct services to the homeless and to build new supportive housing on the Upper East Side.
 
“You can’t solve the homeless crisis without providing the transitional services and supports necessary to keep people leaving shelter, out of shelter. Moms and their kids still need our help once they walk out of the shelter doors and permanent supportive housing provides the kind of wraparound services that will help them gain greater skills, more independence, and keep them from sliding back from their gains,” said Christine Quinn, President and CEO of Win. “The support and work of city officials like Councilman Ben Kallos should be an example to everyone. Homelessness isn’t someone else’s problem, it’s all of ours —and we need all hands on deck to help solve it."

“Our city’s homeless women and children need supportive housing that can help them succeed, and that’s what they are getting from Win. New York City needs more supportive housing in every neighborhood to get more than forty thousand parents and children out of shelters and into permanent housing,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Founder of the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS). “‘Give me your tired, your poor … Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,’ you are welcomed here on the Upper East Side where we will feed you, clothe you, and build you supportive housing. Thank you to Win for bringing more supportive housing to the Upper East Side, Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services members for their leadership, fellow elected officials, Community Board 8 Manhattan, and to our principals, parents who are teaching us how important it is to welcome and support homeless individuals.”

 

March 24, 2017

“In the long run, per ton costs for the marine transfer station contracts are likely to become more stable and may even decline as DSNY increases the tonnage exported through the stations,” the report says.

“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.”

“In the long run, per ton costs for the marine transfer station contracts are likely to become more stable and may even decline as DSNY increases the tonnage exported through the stations,” the report says.

“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.”

 

March 16, 2017

National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C. Called for by
New York City Council Resolution

Resolution in Support of American Museum of Women’s History Congressional Commission recommendation for a new Smithsonian Museum for American Women’s History on the National Mall
 

New York, NY – A National Women’s History Museum is being called for by a New York City Council Resolution introduced as we commemorate Women’s History month. The resolution introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, along with Council Members Karen Koslowitz, Jimmy Van Bramer, Laurie Cumbo and Elizabeth Crowley calls on the Federal Government to create a National Women’s History Museum in Washington D.C.
 
In July 2014, Council Member Kallos and Cumbo introduced Resolution 354, which was adopted on September 10, 2014, calling on the United States Senate to pass and the President to sign H.R. 3979 of 2014 sponsored by Congress Members Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), which was signed by President Obama on December 19, 2014, becoming Public Law 113-291 and established the American Museum of Women’s History Congressional Commission. On November 16, 2016, the Commission presented a report to the President and Congress calling for the creation by the Smithsonian of an American Museum of Women’s History on the national mall.

 

March 16, 2017

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
March 16, 2017

 

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James
New York City Council Member Ben Kallos
 

Affordable High-Speed Internet for New York City’s Low-Income Families and Seniors Announced by Charter Communications, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James and  NYC Council Member Ben Kallos 
 
Spectrum Internet Assist to Help Bridge Digital Divide with $14.99 per month 
30 Mbps Broadband for Low-Income Families and Seniors

 

NEW YORK CITY – March 16, 2017 – Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) today was joined by New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos to announce the introduction of a new low-cost, high-speed broadband product, Spectrum Internet Assist, in its service areas in New York City.

The announcement was made at the Stanley Isaacs Community Center at the New York City Housing Authority’s Stanley Isaacs and Holmes Towers on East 93rd St. in Manhattan, where eligible families and seniors learned about Spectrum Internet Assist.

Priced at $14.99 per month, Spectrum Internet Assist offers eligible customers speeds up to 30/4 Mbps, which meets and even exceeds the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of “high-speed.” Spectrum Internet Assist includes standard features like email boxes, internet security software and a modem at no additional charge.

Spectrum Internet Assist is now available throughout Charter’s legacy service area, and will continue to be rolled out market-by-market, with a goal of covering the remaining Charter footprint by mid-2017.

 

March 16, 2017

CITY HALL - Today, Council Members Rafael Salamanca, Jr., James Vacca, Ben Kallos, Corey Johnson and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced the introduction of legislation drafted in response to the Hunts Point tragedy that occurred late last year.
 
On December 7, 2016 two girls under the age of two were killed when a valve blew off a radiator in their Bronx apartment and filled their bedroom with scalding steam.  The apartment was identified as a cluster site under the duress of the New York City Department of Homeless Services. 
 
At the time, Council Member Salamanca and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced that they would be introducing legislation to rectify the problems surrounding the tragedy. Council Members Vacca, Kallos and Johnson  had previously been crafting legislation pertinent to these issues and are joining in sponsoring the following:
 
Intro 1489 (Kallos & Salamanca) - This legislation requires owners to install and maintain radiator covers.

 

###

Contact: 
Ryan Monell at 646-584-0463 or 
rmonellatcouncil [dot] nyc [dot] gov

 

 

March 2, 2017

New York, NY— The New York City Council Progressive Caucus stands with the family of Ramarley Graham to once again demand transparency, accountability, and justice from the NYPD. Five years have passed since Ramarley Graham was killed, and yet his family has still not gotten the answers and justice they deserve. Officer Richard Haste has not been disciplined or terminated from employment, internal trials have not taken place for Sergeant Scott Morris or Officer John McLoughlin, and there has been no transparency related to the scope of the overall investigation. We call on the NYPD to enact disciplinary measures against Officer Haste and immediately schedule the disciplinary trials of Sergeant Morris and Officer McLoughlin. Refusing to do so sends a message that misconduct will be tolerated and is a violation of public trust and safety.

"No family should be made to wait five years for justice," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "Ramarley's Graham's death was avoidable and his family deserves answers now. I stand with Ramarley's family in demanding more transparency around the actions that led to his death."

 

March 1, 2017

New York, NY – Over 538 privately owned public spaces (POPS) attached to 329 buildings face new legislation which imposes steep fines for bad landlords who violate the terms of their agreements with the City. In exchange for turning part of the building lot into an open or green space for public use, developers are typically allowed to build taller than the zoning code allows. The building owner is responsible for maintaining the space. Despite this legal requirement, many building owners have illegally closed off these spaces to the public or sought to use them for another purpose. The legislation is authored by Council Member Ben Kallos with sponsorship by Council Member Dan Garodnick, who together represent the POPS-dense Upper East Side, as well as Council Member David Greenfield, Chair of the City Council Committee on Land Use.

 

February 28, 2017

Geographic Diversity Would Be Added as Measure in NYC Public Schools

 
New York, NY – The number of children from each neighborhood who apply to attend a particular school, the number of seats available at each school, how many offers of admission were made, and total enrollment in all public schools would be counted under a new bill from Council Member Ben Kallos. The legislation will be heard in a February 28, 2017 hearing of the Committee on Education titled “School Planning and Siting for New Capacity.”

 

February 22, 2017

“New Yorkers of all ethnicities, faiths, and backgrounds have coalesced in opposition to the un-American executive orders this president has signed,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. “We are a city of immigrants, and we will remain a sanctuary for the tired, the poor and the huddled masses, including those being persecuted by this administration. New York City is known for its bridges, not its walls, and our progressive values will not be eroded by anything they throw at us.”

 

 

February 16, 2017


NEW YORK -- Today, Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Ben Kallos released the following joint statement in response to the House of Representatives voting yes on resolutions H.J. Res 66 and H.J Res 67 to block state- and municipal-based retirement savings plans.

“Forcing America’s elders to live out their golden years in poverty does not make America great again. States and municipalities pushed to create retirement systems precisely because the Federal government has failed our seniors. Doubling down on this failure and preventing cities like New York from helping employees save for their future is despicable, even by this Congress’ abysmal standards.

“After research and policy analysis, consultation with experts, and dialogue with retirees and future retirees, we laid out a common sense plan that helps New Yorkers save without burdening taxpayers. Congress should either help our efforts to advance retirement security or get out of the way so local governments can help seniors live with dignity.”

 

February 9, 2017

PA James, CM Kallos Condemn House Move to Block Municipal-Based Retirement Savings

Resolutions would Repeal DOL Rules; Leave Millions without Retirement Savings Plans

NEW YORK -- Today, Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Ben Kallos released the following joint statement in response to House resolutions H.J. Res 66 and H.J Res 67 to block state- and municipal-based retirement savings plans.

“Our government was created to protect and advance hardworking Americans, not champion policies that hinder our ability to succeed. The new resolutions introduced in the House to prevent cities and states from creating retirement savings plans for individuals are ill-conceived and seem to favor the financial services industry over everyday Americans. Millions of Americans do not have access to these critical tools for their future and, in New York City, more than half of our workers are projected to be in or near poverty when they retire, as a result. By blocking municipalities from creating this safety net, our federal government is hurting working Americans and working New Yorkers. Congress should be supporting these efforts, not tearing them down.”

Public Advocate James and Council Member Ben Kallos have been leaders in creating a New York City-wide retirement savings plan. In February 2015, they co-sponsored legislation to study the creation of a retirement security plan for New York City private sector workers. In June 2015, Public Advocate James released a report documenting the precarious state of retirement savings for New Yorkers. In February 2016, Public Advocate James and Council Member Kallos joined Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce a plan for New York to become the first city in the country to create a retirement savings program for private sector employees.

 

 

February 1, 2017

"The exploitation of vulnerable New Yorkers at transitional homes is an issue we must solve quickly and decisively,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "By requiring reporting from the agencies tasked, New Yorkers will all have a better idea of how serious this issue is, who the bad actors are and what progress is being made. This package of bills forces more transparency that will better our chances at finally getting finding a solution to this issue."

 

February 1, 2017

January 27, 2017

Dear Resident,

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me with your position on the Queensboro Oval. We have been working with the community on this issue for years and hope we can work with you so that even more people can enjoy the Queensboro Oval as a City park.

With the expiration of Sutton East’s lease, the City and community are considering various options for the land, including operating public tennis courts where season passes are $200 and day passes cost $15. I hope that you will join the conversation to help us determine how to effectively open this City park to more New Yorkers.

Community Board 8 has held numerous public meetings to discuss the future of the Queensboro Oval with members of the community dating back to January 7, 2010, with more than ten meetings since I was elected from December 4, 2014 through January 12, 2017. These meetings were publicly noticed through the Community Board website and email list, publicly posted with paper signs on lamp posts, featured in a full length cable television show, covered by the press and prominently featured in my own emails and letters to residents.

At these meetings, members of the public have continually expressed concern that, while the Upper East Side has among the lowest amount of public park space in the City, Sutton East Tennis sits on City park land, but is not accessible to most community members with rates as high as $225 an hour that most cannot afford. Sutton East Tennis Club was notified and was represented at many of the meetings, though no one has spoken in favor of continued privatization of this public space. Dating back to 2008, Community Board 8 has objected to the privatization of public land at the Queensboro Oval, and in the last 12 months alone, the Parks Committee and Full Board have passed four resolutions calling for the City to make the Queensboro Oval a year-round public park, which could include tennis courts accessible to more New Yorkers.

On June 25th of 2016, members of the community met at the Oval for a rally, calling for the park to be returned to public use. The rally was covered by The Daily News, Manhattan Express, and DNAinfo.

Some of the concerns raised were:

  • The Queensboro Oval sits on 1.25 acres of public parkland, not private land.
  • Sutton East Tennis has high fees with a minimum of $80 to a maximum of $225 an hour.
  • Sutton East Tennis is renting 1.25 acres for only $2 million a year, very far below market rate.
  • Nine months out of the year the land is completely closed off to the public without any benefit to the community.
  • Each year when the tennis bubble is removed for just two and half months of summer, the land is left in almost unusable condition.

Community Board 8, with input from members of the public, has been transparent and unequivocal in its decision-making process regarding the Queensboro Oval. We have also received over one hundred petition signatures in support of opening the Queensboro Oval to the public.

Please note that there are 12 HarTru tennis courts available just a 5 minute Tram ride away from 59th Street and Second Avenue available at the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club where rates are a fraction of those at Sutton East Tennis and where we have partnered with the New York Junior Tennis League to provide free tennis classes to children ages 5 to 18 every Saturday and Sunday morning from 6am to 8am through the winter and free tennis camp through the summer.

The Riverside Clay Tennis Association, a non-profit that currently maintains 10 red clay courts in Riverside Park, has also presented at Community Board 8, and is interested in providing the same services to these courts making them public tennis courts operated by the New York Parks Department. Season tennis passes would be $200 for adults, $20 for seniors over 62 and $10 for children under 16, and day passes for $15.

How much do you currently pay per season at Sutton East Tennis? Would you be interested in working with a non-profit like Riverside Clay Tennis Association in order to maintain this amenity as a New York City Park Department public tennis court where you could pay for a season what you currently pay per hour?

Please let Community Board 8 and my office know, so that we can include your voice in how we use this park to benefit the public.

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos

Council Member

 

January 18, 2017

New York, NY – Today, the City Council voted to approve a potential franchise agreement between the City of New York and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC). After more than 20 years of operating without an agreement, a proposed franchise has been approved for two 25-year terms, granting the City the authority to negotiate with RIOC to continue operating the unique and iconic aerial tramway from Tramway Plaza on Second Avenue between 60th and 59th Streets over the East River to Roosevelt Island.
 
“The Roosevelt Island Tram is here to stay. After 20 years of needless bureaucracy, we’ve protected the tram through 2068, the end of RIOC’s 99-year land lease,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who represents Roosevelt Island. “Thank you to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and RIOC President Susan Rosenthal for their partnership in protecting the tram.”

 

January 18, 2017

New York, NY – Government invests billions every year in subsidies for private construction in New York City without training or transparency for the projects. The reintroduction of the Safe Jobs Act (Intro.1432) would require transparency around Federal, State or City government assistance received by developers and contractors whose construction workers would be required to receive training and graduate from State Department of Labor approved programs.
 
“No one should die from a construction accident that could have been prevented with proper education, apprenticeship, and protections for a worker's right to say no to a dangerous situation,” said Council Member Ben Kallos a union-side labor lawyer. “Any project that receives taxpayer dollars must pay a living wage, invest in workers with training and apprenticeship, and provide protection for worker's rights.”
 
Construction-related fatalities remain a serious problem in New York City almost doubling in Fiscal Year 2015 to 10 from an average of 5.5 the previous four years. Injuries have also increased by more than 50% to 324 injured workers in 2015 according to the Department of Buildings. Since 2012, 72% of the injuries at construction sites occurred at locations where employers did not participate in state-approved training or apprenticeship programs that this bill would require.

 

January 5, 2017

Singer was supportive of the legislation’s application of the threat of perjury to BSA applications, but questioned how such a bill would be enforced. Regarding the additional requirements from applicants, Singer stated that one size does not fit all, and that the BSA already had a set of required information on its website. Singer was open to working with the Council to change some of those requirements outside of legislation.

The BSA did not support the portion of the bill to post all applications online and all testimony received for every application. Singer stated that for security reasons such information should not be publicly disclosed. Council Member Ben Kallos questioned the BSA’s objection to publicly disclosing all applications. “I think the Open Data Law already requires you to put this online. . . . If I can’t make the tenant black list illegal. If a landlord taking a tenant to court is public information. If divorce proceedings are public information. If criminal proceedings, even when the person is acquitted, are public information, I think that a [BSA] application is public information.” Singer responded, saying, “It is public information subject FOIL requests, but we don’t believe it should be posted on our website.”

The legislation would also require City Planning to have a representative at every BSA hearing and to post all testimony. City Planning opposed the requirement. Alison McCabe, Assistant Counsel at the Department of City Planning, testified that while her agency keeps tabs on the BSA, it has only intervenes when it was “warranted.” City Planning relies heavily on individual borough offices for determining when City Planning testimony was warranted. “The fact that DCP is involved is news to me,” retorted Kallos.

 

December 23, 2016

NEW YORK, NY : Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Government Operations Committee, and Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Immigration Committee released the following joint statement after a construction worker fell to his death after falling down an elevator shaft on the Upper East Side Friday morning. 

 

December 15, 2016

New York, NY – New York City’s landmark small-dollar matching campaign finance system may soon be protected from an onslaught of dark money and special interests in City elections. Today the Committee on Governmental Operations chaired by Council Member Ben Kallos passed a package of legislation that expands the "doing business" definitions to include owners of companies that own companies and no longer matching funds they bundle as well as providing early determinations and payments of public funds". This package was first introduced in late 2015 by Governmental Operations Committee Chair Ben Kallos along with Council Members Jumaane Williams, Andy King, and Fernando Cabrera. This committee vote sends the legislation to the full council where it is expected to pass.

 

December 15, 2016

New York, NY — The Department of Building has just approved new zoning plans for a 524-foot skyscraper at 180 East 88th Street with the expansion of a 4-foot wide lot at the center of a six-month stop work order by 6 feet to 10 feet. Carnegie Hill Neighbors, Council Member Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer have filed with the Department of Buildings an official zoning challenge. 

 

December 14, 2016

Rezoning of Neighborhoods without Public Review 
Targeted for Reform by New York City Council 

Zoning Variances at Board of Standards and Appeals Subject of Council Reforms

 
New York, NY – Over the objections of local Community Boards and elected officials developers have been able to circumvent city zoning laws restricting building forms, use, height, density and more, through the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). The little agency, mostly known as a “rubber stamp” for developers, has been criticized for ignoring objections of community and elected officials, difficulty in appealing determinations without any written decision and short time frame, and ultimately “rezoning by variance” without public review.
 
The BSA granted 97% of variances in 2011 (102 of 105), with community boards only supporting 79% of the variances that they acted on (81 of 103) according to Citizen’s Union.

 

December 6, 2016

New York, NY – Nearly 9,000 scaffolds that entomb 190 miles of City sidewalks may soon be dismantled, under legislation introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos. Unnecessary scaffolding also known as “sidewalk sheds” would have to be removed if seven days pass without construction work.
 
Sidewalk sheds are temporary structures, made of wooden planks, boards and metal pipes to protect pedestrians from dangerous conditions that are being corrected or new construction. Scaffolding is not only an eyesore but attract crime such as drug deals and provide an alternative to shelter for homeless. Many sidewalk sheds persist for years, sometimes more than a decade. There are several sidewalk sheds in Council District 5 represented by Kallos that have been up for years, over two years at 340 East 64th Street and 301 East 95th Street and over three years at 349 East 74th Street. Often times, it is much more expensive to fix a dangerous condition than to leave a sidewalk shed up indefinitely
 Kallos’ legislation would set the following timeline for sidewalk sheds in place for dangerous conditions:

 

November 29, 2016

City Hall, New York- Members of the New York City Fire Department were honored this afternoon as City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Ben Kallos and Elizabeth Crowley presented them with a Proclamation. The firefighters were recognized for their response and heroic actions to the October 27th 6-alarm fire at 324 East 93rd Street. 

 

November 16, 2016

Yesterday, the Mayor’s Office of Operations announced that agency rule making and agency spending would now be more transparent with their inclusion in the Mayor’s Management Report (MMR) in response to requests by City Council Committee on Government Operations Chair Ben Kallos. The City Council also announced that it had sent a response to the MMR questioning indicators and performance with recommendations on improvements for the city.

“New Yorkers should know how their tax dollars are being invested to improve our city. The Mayor’s Management Report must show ‘the relationship between the program performance goals [and] corresponding expenditures’ as mandated by the Charter,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to the Director of Operations Mindy Tarlow for her partnership and commitment to improving the management of our city and reporting to the public.”