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.
Dear Chairman Prendergast and Commissioner Trottenberg, Thank you to New York City Transit and Department of Transportation for addressing the previous letters concerning service quality on crosstown buses by implementing Select Bus Service for the M86. I now request that you expand crosstown Select Bus Service to improve service on the M66, M79, and M96.
Each year, the New York Public Interest Research Group’s Straphangers Campaign evaluates bus service, and grants the “Pokey Award” to the slowest bus line in the City, an honor received on a regular basis by crosstown buses serving my district: the M66 in 2012 at 3.9 MPH and again in 2015 at 3.1 MPH, the M79 in 2014 at 3.2 MPH and the M96 in 2008 at 3.7 MPH. New York City Transit and the Department of Transportation can bring improvements to both bus lines by implementing Select Bus Service that provides off board payments to reduce dwell times in order to move buses faster.
"NYCHA should not move forward with this plan until they have gained the support of local residents, assured they will have preference for new units being built, and committed to building 100% affordable housing," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "I am proud to celebrate this playground with the residents of Holmes Towers and hope that their voices will be heard as this process moves forward."
Roosevelt Island Residents Received Training on how to Plan and Prepare for Emergencies
Roosevelt Island, NY –Last night, nearly 200 Roosevelt Islanders learned how to prepare for the next storm and received free go bags, so they will be ready when the time comes. The event was hosted by Council Member Ben Kallos, Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito, Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Acting President Susan Rosenthal and Roosevelt Island Public Safety Director Jack McManus. On the eve of National PrepareAthon! Day, residents came to learn emergency preparedness skills so they will be ready as climate change leads to more unpredictable weather conditions in and around New York City.
Since 2014 Council Member Kallos has funded the Roosevelt Island CERT with $8,000 for new, up-to-date, modern two way radios designed to be operational in the event the island suffers an emergency and the CERT is activated.
“Every New Yorker should be trained to handle emergencies and own a Go Bag,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Always be prepared, especially if you live in an area that is prone to flooding. You never know when a natural disaster may force you to evacuate.”
“NYC Emergency Management works tirelessly to ensure that New Yorkers are educated about emergency preparedness,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “We’re happy to partner with Council Member Kallos to provide an important opportunity for Roosevelt Island residents to receive information on NYCEM’s programs and community-based initiatives, as well as how best to prepare themselves to respond to emergencies.”
“We are grateful to Council Member Kallos for making the security of Roosevelt Island residents a priority. RIOC is always looking for ways to increase security efforts, such as with the recent improvements to the emergency response time of the 911 Call Center. That crucial update, taking into account the unique nature of our Island, was the direct result of all stakeholders working together. Now, with respect to emergency preparedness, RIOC looks forward to working with OEM to ensure the health and safety of our Roosevelt Island Community.” Said Susan Rosenthal Acting President of Roosevelt Island Operating Cooperation.
September is National Preparedness Month culminating with “National PrepareAthon! Day” on September 30, the inspiration for the evening’s training ahead of Atlantic hurricane season. The event included the distribution of free Go Bags — a collection of items you can use in the event of an evacuation. Each household member should have a Go Bag, which should be sturdy, lightweight, and portable, such as a backpack.
The Go Bags that were distributed contained:
- First aid kit;
- Flash light with batteries;
- Radio with batteries;
- Poncho and emergency blanket;
- Dust mask;
- Pen, paper and magnifying lens;
- Sanitary products including wipes, tissue, soap, comb, as well as tooth brush and paste; and,
Must be supplemented by residents who should add:
- Copies of important documents in a waterproof container;
- Extra sets of car and house keys;
- Copies of credit and ATM card and cash;
- Bottled water and nonperishable food;
- List of medications and dosages household members take, or copes of all prescription slips with doctors’ name and numbers;
- Child care, pet care and other special items;
- Contact and meeting place information for your household, and a small regional map.
"There is no place for bigotry and hatred toward Muslims or any other religious group or race in New York City," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Progressive Caucus Vice-Chair. "We must do everything in our power to fight racism wherever we see it in our City. New York City's reputation as this country's largest melting pot must go on without instances of discrimination and hate."
"Electric vehicles are now the standard for New York City's fleet," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operation. "Thank you to Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Lisette Camillo for her partnership and responsiveness to requests for a more aggressive adoption of a fully electric fleet. Thank you Mayor de Blasio for keeping New York City at the forefront in the fight against climate change."
Roosevelt Island, NY – Today forty-nine 4-year-olds will be able to attend free pre-kindergarten at Roosevelt Island Day Nursery thanks to the advocacy from Council Member Ben Kallos, organizing by Roosevelt Island Parents Network, and last minute intervention from Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.
Roosevelt Island Parents Network’s Eva Bosbach and Susana del Campo helped to organize a list of more than 90 families that agreed to send their children to Universal Pre-Kindergarten on Roosevelt Island. Council Member Kallos reached out to every Pre-Kindergarten and childcare provider on Roosevelt Island and the East Side to ask them to participate in Universal Pre-Kindergarten. Roosevelt Island Day Nursery led by Executive Director Pamela Stark was the only provider on Roosevelt Island to stand up for their community to serve their needs. Council Member Kallos helped Roosevelt Island Day Nursery through the bureaucratic Department of Education application process through approval. Once approval was obtained an obstacle arose that Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s President Susan Rosenthal was able remedy leading to the on-time opening of Roosevelt Island Day Nursery to serve forty-nine 4-year olds on Roosevelt Island.
I am writing in response to the “Private Carting Study” released on August 17, 2016 to better understand how a potential zoned system would impact my residential district and the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station:
- Will a zone collection system require private carters to dump commercial waste in the same zone where it is picked up?
- Will a zone collection system require private carters who collect waste from multiple zones in Manhattan to dump all of their trash at the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station?
- Will a zone collection system require private carters who collect waste from multiple zones spanning multiple boroughs to dump their trash at the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station?
- Will a zone collection system preclude participating private carters from tipping in industrial zones outside New York City (like New Jersey where DSNY currently tips residential waste from Manhattan)?
New York, NY – Artists and community groups seeking a space to perform or meet would be able to search and rent city-owned or operated spaces online under “City Spaces” legislation authored by Council Member Ben Kallos with Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer, Laurie Cumbo and Helen Rosenthal. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) that manages a large portfolio of the city’s properties, will be required to post all suitable properties and accompanying information to a publicly accessible website where artists or anyone can rent municipal spaces.
New York, NY – Tuesday August 16, the New York City Council passed Introduction 507-A, by Council Member Ben Kallos and Waterfronts Chair Debi Rose. The legislation reconstitutes the role of the City’s Waterfront Management Advisory Board (WMAB) to play an important part in advising New York City on how to best revitalize and protect our 520 miles of shoreline while also ensuring our waterfront investments are anchored to the priorities of our coastal communities.
Fair and Complete Tenant Screening Reports Would Protect Renters Who Have Been in Court from Being Targeted by Landlords and Refused Apartments
New York, NY – Tenant screening companies which create so called “tenant blacklists” would be regulated to ensure they provide fair and complete information, including court records that show when tenants were in the right. This added level of scrutiny will lessen the number of prospective tenants who in many cases are repeatedly denied a place to live merely because they were involved in a housing court case. This legislation is authored by Council Members Ben Kallos, introduced with Public Advocate Leticia James and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, with support from Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell and State Senator Liz Krueger.
Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers named in housing court cases every year are reported to be on “tenant blacklists.” These “blacklists” are created by screening reports sold by companies along with credit reports and are often used to deny applications to renters. Tenant screening companies who provide a list of those named in housing court cases without any indication of the particulars or outcome of the case include: CoreLogic SafeRent, TransUnion Rental Screening Solution, On-Site, and ALM. This legislation would license these companies and require them to provide the necessary details of housing court cases such as the outcome and who initiated the proceedings in order to protect tenants who were in the right from being “blacklisted,” a frightening prospect for anyone looking for an apartment in an already tough renters market.
The legislation requires anyone who assembles or evaluates screening reports which contain court histories to register and obtain a license from the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and requires the following:
- Each housing court case mentioned must contain the names of all parties involved, the claims alleged, the current status or outcome of the case, and which party initiated the case;
- Tenant screening companies will have to state the defenses asserted by the tenant and the specific outcome of the case, including any rent abatement awarded.
- The Department of Consumers Affairs is tasked with enforcement with civil penalties of $500 per report inaccurate report and fines for non-compliance up to $5,000.
- Anyone who believes they have been harmed by an inaccurate screening report could bring their own case in court.
“No one should face discrimination for having exercised their constitutional right to seek justice in the courts. Tenant screening companies have a responsibility to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but truth about house court cases,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We can't have a legal system where someone can be vindicated in housing court against a bad landlord and then repeatedly denied a place to live. Tenant blacklists degrade housing court and create a system where even if you win, you lose.”
New York, NY – Patronage appointments for positions that have never been advertised to the public are being targeted for reform by Council Members Ben Kallos and Vincent Gentile. The proposed legislation would force the city government to publicly post any new position or vacancy for at least 14 days before conducting interviews.