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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.”
For more information contact:
M. Ndigo Washington/646.730.6709 cell
On Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 12:00pm on the steps of City Hall, Councilwoman Inez Barron, Chair of the Committee on Higher Education will be joined by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, other Elected Officials and Student Leaders to announce the passage of Intro 1138-A. Invited speakers include: State Assemblyman Charles Barron, Public Advocate Letitia James, Chancellor James B. Milliken, University Student Chair Chika Onyejiukwa and Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen.
"Access to a college education is access to opportunity," said Council Member Ben Kallos, a public university graduate. "Unfortunately, as college tuition is increasing everywhere, even in our City's public university system, that opportunity is shrinking. By examining how to maximize affordability at CUNY schools, Introduction 1138-A will go a long way toward ensuring opportunity through education remains within reach to all."
Following an increase in education, safety equipment, and enforcement, bike safety from 30th to 97th streets on Manhattan’s East Side has improved as a result of a program led by Council Member’s Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick. Compared to last year, there have been fewer pedestrians and cyclists injured in collisions and a reduction in the number of collisions involving cyclists.
Council Member Ben Kallos Statement on Long Lines in the Upper East Side
At poll sites across the city, New Yorkers are reporting long lines. The consolidation of poll sites crammed too many election districts into mega-poll sites and left New Yorkers waiting on mega-lines. For safety, the fire code limits how many people can occupy a space and the number of voters at certain poll sites is dangerously close to those limits. We need additional, wheelchair-accessible poll sites to reduce lines and ensure a safe voting experience.One public school in my district, P.S. 290, has had sustained lines wrapping around two corners starting at 2nd Avenue stretching to 1st Avenue then from 82nd to 83rd Streets then looping back to 2nd Avenue.
The 2014 Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration states that "No citizen should have to wait more than 30 minutes to vote...Any wait time that exceeds this half-hour standard is an indication that something is amiss and that corrective measures should be deployed."
November 4, 2016 – Jamaica, NY – One week removed from enacting voting rights legislation for the incarcerated, Council Members Ruben Wills (D-South Jamaica) and Ben Kallos of Manhattan joined the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to announce a joint effort with the Board of Elections (BOE) to ensure the City’s voter registered homeless are fully aware of where they must go on Election Day to cast their ballot.
Federal law guarantees homeless citizens the right to vote in an election, so long as the person is a U.S. citizen, 18 years of age by December 31st of the year in which he or she registers to vote, is 18 years old by the date of the primary, general or other election; lives at their present address at least 30 days before an election, not be in jail or on parole for a felony conviction, not claim the right to vote elsewhere, and be registered to vote.
Presently, the City’s 311 information system tasked with providing the accurate poll site location isn’t being utilized by every individual who doesn’t live in a permanent residence.
Those who can log onto the Internet may visit the online NYC Poll Site Locator Web App to obtain that information, but a digital divide limits access for many. Voters displaced from their homes and living in temporary shelter can cast affidavit ballots from the designated poll site near their residence, and any homeless individual living on the street can simply contact 311 with the name of the street corner nearest their location in order to have a poll site assigned to him or her. The BOE recommends voters go to their designated poll site during its non-peak hours, typically between 9:30 AM and 4:30 AM, and request the assistance of a trained BOE poll-worker to help them prepare the affidavit ballot and oath.
Adds New Park Space to Upper East Side
New York, NY – The 90th Street Pier which was closed to the public, only visible through the bars of a gate, is now a public park and open to the public, following today’s ribbon cutting. East side elected officials advocated alongside Friends of the East River Esplanade to open this pier to the public working with the Department of Transportation and NYC Parks to add more than 3,000 feet of park space to the East River Esplanade.
In 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos, State Senator José Serrano, and Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez advocated in a letter for city agencies to reinvigorate underutilized and deteriorating portions of the East River Esplanade, in which the 90thStreet Pier was identified. By 2015, Council Member Kallos in collaboration with Friends of the East River Esplanade, led by Jennifer Ratner, was advocating to specifically open the 90th Street Pier. In response to the requests, in the summer of 2016, the Department of Transportation turned over the 90th Street Pier to the New York City Parks Department for use as a public park.
The 90th Street Pier will be re-activated as a ferry stop, connecting residents to Soundview, 60thStreet, 34th Street and Wall Street through East River Ferry service in 2018. This makes this park all the more essential as more residents will be using it as they wait for ferries.
Council Member Ben Kallos Statement on Fire at 324 East 93rd Street
New York, NY— The following statement is from City Council Member Ben Kallos (D, Manhattan):
“Early this morning, a six-alarm fire attacked several apartment buildings on 93rd Street between First and Second Avenues. Sixteen people were injured in the fire, one critically, and one person was found dead at the scene. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims, as well as their friends and families. I wish a speedy recovery to those who sustained injuries.
"The heroic actions of the New York City Fire Department and emergency responders saved lives this morning, and we thank them. Thank you also to the American Red Cross for helping displaced residents back on their feet on this cold and rainy day. "My office, which is located at 244 East 93rd Street, just across the street from where the fire occurred, is and has been available for any person displaced by the fire who needs a warm place to go or help with any emergency needs. First responders, Red Cross workers, and anyone needing a hand is welcome to stop by and use our facilities." ###
Maz Mezcal Mexican Restaurant, Upper Eastside — New York City Department of Finance (DOF) Commissioner Jacques Jiha, DOF Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Shear, New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President, Ms. Jessica Walker and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU), gather to encourage Upper East Side businesses to take advantage of “Forgiving Fines: The New York City Amnesty Program.” This 90-day initiative will forgive penalties and interest on violations received by individuals and business owners from the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings and other City agencies, reducing and eliminating debt owed to the City. The program runs from September 12, 2016 to December 12, 2016 and covers unpaid violations that are now in judgment. There are roughly 1.4 million violations in judgment.
Under the three-month amnesty program authorized by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, New York City is forgiving penalties, interest and added fees on violations received by home and business owners from the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings, NYPD, FDNY and other City agencies.
"Upper East Side small businesses have gone through a lot over the last couple of years with the construction of the 2nd Avenue Subway. Those same businesses are what make this community special and this neighborhood desirable," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "The Department of Finance's Forgiving Fines program gives small businesses a chance to catch up on outstanding fines and start with a cleaner slate. The program offers a 90-day window to participate and I encourage businesses with unpaid fines to use this opportunity."
New York, NY – The Department of Transportation has eliminated left turns off York Avenue at 79th Street to make the street crossing safer for pedestrians, in response to advocacy by the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, Community Board 8 Manhattan, and Council Member Ben Kallos.
For seven years East 79th Street and York Avenue had the distinction of being one of the only intersections in the city where red lights would stop cars going South, East and West, but not North, leading to conflicts between pedestrians and speeding vehicles. A frequent vignette would play out multiple times a day, where a pedestrian seeing vehicles stopped in three directions would begin to cross York Avenue at 79th Street, only to be surprised as a vehicle going North, did not stop entering the intersection at high speed, often causing the pedestrian run or jump out of the way.
HHS and Intuit Release App to Fight Poverty Nationwide
Federal Government to host Intuit Benefit Assist as a free, open source Tool to Help More Americans
Washington, D.C. – Oct. 13, 2016 – Approximately one in six Americans do not have enough money for food or other essential needs and they often miss out on income-based government benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps or free mobile phone service. To make it easier for Americans to determine eligibility and apply for these benefits, Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU), through a collaboration with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, is releasing to the Federal Government its Benefit Assist software as free, open source code on GitHub with a demonstration. Now anyone, whether state government, non-profit or a developer, can freely use, share and improve upon Benefit Assist to help Americans in find and use these valuable benefits.
States will be able to save money using Benefit Assist to collectively build and improve on the software to reduce overhead, potentially saving our nation billions.
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Statement from New York City Council Member Ben Kallos
Chair of the Committee of Governmental Operations (with oversight over the Board of Elections)
“No identification is required to vote in New York City and State. Any voter can show up on election day to the correct polling place and cast their vote, with their signature used to verify their identify. Any voter has right to vote wearing whatever clothing they wish as their signature is their sole verification of identity.
New Yorkers have until Friday to register for what may be the most important election in our lifetime.
IDNYC provides one municipal ID for all 8.4 million New Yorkers. Obtaining an IDNYC requires stringent proof of identity, birth date, and residency. No elected or appointed city official should be making baseless accusations of fraud about IDNYC or voting. No elections commissioner should be undermining the very elections they have a duty to run. I look forward to holding a hearing of the committee on Governmental Operations on the upcoming election where we will get answers from the Democratic Elections Commissioner for Manhattan.”
Today, Council Member Kallos made similar remarks at an IDNYC Pop-Up launch event that he sponsored on Roosevelt Island
IDNYC, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and City, State and Federal Elected Officials Announce New IDNYC Pop-Up Enrollment Center on Roosevelt Island
Pop-Up sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Senator José M. Serrano, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
Roosevelt Island, New York – Beginning October 11th at 10:00a.m., IDNYC, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), Council Member Ben Kallos, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Senator Jose M. Serrano, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation are co-sponsoring a new IDNYC Pop-Up Enrollment Center. Located at the Roosevelt Island Senior Center – a program of the Carter Burden Center for the Aging at 546 Main Street, the center will run from October 11th until October 17th with operating hours of Monday from 9:00a.m. – 12:00p.m., and Tuesday through Friday from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. Council Member Kallos will enroll for his own IDNYC card immediately following the press event.
2,700 Sign Petition to Restore Select Bus Service at 72nd Street
New York, NY - Today the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit were petitioned by over 2,700 Upper Eastside residents and the five elected officials that represent this area at every level of government to restore the M15 Select Bus Service stop at 72nd Street ahead of the completion of the Second Avenue Subway.
When Select Bus Service was introduced to First and Second Avenues on the M15 route these stops replaced Limited Service stops in every location above Houston Street other East 72nd Street. Residents who live near 72nd Street must choose between walking as much as half a mile to Select Bus Service at 67th or 79th Streets, too far for one-third of households in the immediate neighborhood with children or seniors.
Dear President Hakim,
Please restore the M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street. The M15 Limited stopped at 72nd Street until it was phased out in favor of M15 Select Bus Service. With high bus-dependent populations, infrequent local service, crosstown bus service, hospitals, community support and opening of the Second Avenue Subway with a station at 72nd Street, now is the perfect opportunity to increase ridership by restoring M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street.
72nd Street Only Location Omitted from Select Bus Service
When Select Bus Service was introduced to First and Second Avenues on the M15 route, Select Bus Stations replaced Limited Service stops in every location above Houston Street other than East 72nd Street. Since October 2010, residents living in the East 72nd Street area, for example at 73rd off York Avenue, now must choose between walking three avenues and six blocks, more than half a mile, to a Select Bus Service bus station at 67th or 79th Streets and Second Avenue, versus half that distance to 72nd Street. Walking more than half a mile in both directions is simply too far for many residents.
New York – On Thursday, the Bus Turnaround coalition held a rally at City Hall to call on the MTA and DOT to undertake sweeping changes to fix bus service, where ridership has been in free-fall for a number of years. At the rally, the coalition released a new website, BusTurnaround.nyc, which features new route-level “report cards” with speed and reliability data for local buses and interactive “ride-along” stories where users can compare the buses NYC has today with the buses we could have if the Turnaround campaign’s practical strategies are implemented.