Press Releases

June 19, 2014

New York, NY– Today, New York City leaders demanded net neutrality and steps to close the digital divide at a New York State Public Service Commission hearing on the proposed Time Warner Cable-Comcast merger. Council Members Vacca, Kallos, Torres, Levin, Dromm, Van Bramer, Koslowitz and Constantinides called on the New York State Public Service Commission to demand a dramatic expansion of free and affordable broadband along with net neutrality in advance of a possible merger. The Commission has been tasked by Governor Cuomo to use its new regulatory powers to determine whether or not the merger serves customers’ and New Yorkers’ interests. 

 

 

June 16, 2014

New York, NY – New York tenants need a rent freeze. That was the message from the City Council today at the Manhattan hearing of the Rent Guidelines Board, as the Board moves closer to its June 23rd vote on rents for rent stabilized apartments. Council Members Ben Kallos, Dan Garodnick, Margaret Chin, Corey Johnson, Ydanis Rodriguez, Mark Levine, and Helen Rosenthal all called for New York City’s first ever rent freeze, arguing that for too long the Board had overrepresented landlords’ interests.

 

June 16, 2014

I am Council Member Ben Kallos, representing the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and El Barrio.

Good afternoon to the Rent Guidelines Board Chair Rachel Godsil, Public Members Flax, Joza, Shine, and Wenk, Owner Members Cruz and Willard, Tenant Members Epstein and Garcia. 

To the members of the public who are here today, thank you for coming out to this hearing. I stand with you today in calling for a rent freeze.  Please show your support over twitter with hashtag #rentfreeze and if you mention @BenKallos, I’ll be sure to re-tweet you. Now, let’s break twitter.

I request that the Rent Guidelines Board vote for rent freeze, that is a 0% rent increase for 1-year leases and a 0% rent increase for 2-year leases.

This rent freeze will help correct the course of extremely high rent increases over the past years, the current environment of an affordability crisis plaguing our city, and the data produced by the Rent Guidelines Board.

Over the past generation, Rent Guidelines Board increases have far outpaced inflation and the consumer price index.  I have personally compared the past 20 years of Rent Guidelines Board increases against the Consumer Price Index and found that Rent Guidelines Board outpaced the Consumer Price Index by 14%.  That means a $500 a month apartment in 1994 is now a minimum of $906.19 a month with an annual rent of over $10,874.22, while following inflation the same unit would be $786.30 a month and $1,438.60 less a year. 

The Rent Guidelines Board must freeze the rents until inflation finally catches up to the generations of increases as high as 5% and 8.5% that provided landlords with windfalls that far outpaced the rising costs these increases were intended to address.

 

 

June 13, 2014

New York, NY – At their keynote speech “Hack The Law” at the MIT Media Lab Legal Hackathon online conference, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos called on a nation of civic hackers to create a free and open source democracy platform for legislatures by next year. The one-stop shop site would provide legislatures the tools they need to be more open, transparent and tech-savvy, and was aided by New York City Council Member Brad Lander.

 

June 12, 2014

New York City Council Members Ben Kallos and Brad Lander Join San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell to Provide Joint Keynote Speech at MIT Media Lab Legal Hackathon
 

WHO: New York City Council Member Ben Kallos; City Council Member Brad Lander; San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell; Open Government luminaries including Seamus Kraft, Executive Director of Open Government Foundation, and Dazza Greenwood of MIT Media Lab, host of the Legal Hackathon

WHAT: Keynote speech “Hack the Law” at two-day conference and hackathon

WHEN: 12PM, Friday, June 13

WHERE
WATCH ONLINE
http://legalhackathon.org/blog/hacking-the-law/
The link to watch online will appear shortly before the event.
 
MIT Media Lab
75 Amherst St., Cambridge, MA

Software developer and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos along with New York City Council Member Brad Lander and San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell will provide a keynote speech entitled “Hack the Law," moderated by Seamus Kraft. The speech will be on the topic citizens taking back the law for themselves, will include a call to action before Council Member Kallos assists in supervising a “hack session” focused on producing tangible result. The MIT Legal Hackathon is an online participatory event. Learn more atLegalHackathon.org

 

 

June 9, 2014

 

 

 New York, New York – Council Members Lander, Vacca and Kallos advocated for a bill that would put all New York City law online in a searchable and user-friendly format at a City Council Joint Hearing of the Committees on Governmental Operations and Technology today, instead of being inaccessible in for-fee websites.  Council Member Brad Lander, prime sponsor of Int. 149, Council Members Ben Kallos and James Vacca, also sponsors, heard support from good government advocates and civic technologists at the hearing.

 

 

June 9, 2014

New York, NY – Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Members Ben Kallos and James Vacca congratulated City Hall on a brand new FOIL Tracker (link) announced at a joint hearing of the City Council Committees on Technology and Governmental Operations. The Borough President and Council Members urged next steps in line with Counsel Maya Wiley's stated commitment to a Citywide FOIL Tracker, including passage of Intro 328,  which would create a centralized, searchable website to track and process FOIL requests. The legislation seeks to address delays and inconsistencies in New York City’s FOIL compliance. Advocates, including good government groups Sunlight Foundation, Reinvent Albany, League of Women Voters and Participatory Politics Foundation, offered testimony in support of the legislation. 

 

 

June 9, 2014

 

New York, NY – City Council Resolution 115 to support allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to serve on their local community boards passed through the City Council Committee on Governmental Operations today in a unanimous vote of the Committee's five members. The successful vote for resolution, co-sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos, Ritchie Torres, Mark Levine and James Vacca, and introduced at the request of Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, signals New York City’s support of Senate bill S04142, sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza and Assembly bill A02448sponsored by Assembly Member Nily Rozic, which would amend the Public Officers Law and City Charter to allow youth to serve. 

 

June 5, 2014

WHO: Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Member Ben Kallos

 

WHAT: Open Government Workshop at Personal Democracy Forum

 

WHEN: 1:00PM, Friday, June 6th

 

WHERE:

Personal Democracy Forum

 

MAIN ENTRANCE: NYU Skirball Center at 566 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY 10012; Corner of LaGuardia Place and Washington Square South

 

PRESS MUST CONTACT PRESSatPERSONALDEMOCRACY [dot] COM IN ADVANCE TO ATTEND.

 

May 29, 2014

 

New York, NY – Free and Open Source Software developer turned New York City Council Member Ben Kallos today introduced legislation mandating a preference for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and creating a Civic Commons website to facilitate collaborative purchasing of software between agencies, cities, states and the federal government to save taxpayer dollars.

 

 

May 29, 2014

 

 The City Council today introduced two mapping transparency bills to make government information more meaningful by tying it to space and time.

 

May 29, 2014

 

Today, New York City Council Member Ben Kallos is introducing three bills designed to bring New York City’s public data into the 21st Century through increased transparency and accessibility online: “eNotices,” “Public Online Information Act" (POIA) and "City Record On-Line" (CROL). 

 

May 22, 2014

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Dan Quart, Council Member Dan Garodnick and Council Member Ben Kallos today urgently requested a 60-day pause to review the exploding costs of the 91st St. Marine Transfer Station similar to the recent pause and review of the costly and delayed Emergency Communications Transformation Program.

 

May 19, 2014

 

New York, New York – Following Mayor de Blasio's keynote address at Internet Week New York today, Council Member Ben Kallos (District Five, Manhattan), Chair of the New York City Council Committee on Governmental Operations, released the following statement: 

 

May 14, 2014

Council Members Lander, Kallos Intro Bill to Give Food Advocates a Seat at the Table 
 New York, New York (May 14, 2014) – Council Members Brad Lander and Ben Kallos today introduced Int 0329-2014, a bill to create a 17-member New York City Food Policy Council to tackle the most pressing food policy issues. The NYC Food Policy Council will apply grassroots organizing know-how and expertise to issues such as rising obesity rates, reforming the school lunch system, and bringing locally-grown, sustainable food to New York City. 1.4 million New Yorkers struggle with hunger, according to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. More than half of adult New Yorkers are overweight or obese. According to the Food Empowerment Project, an estimated 750,000 New York City residents live in food deserts.

 

May 14, 2014

 After key community improvements negotiated between Council Member Ben Kallos and The Rockefeller University, the City Council voted today to approve the university’s proposal for a new laboratory building over the FDR Drive. Rockefeller University and Council Member Ben Kallos, in whose Upper East Side district the project will be built, announced the improvements at the vote:

 

May 14, 2014

 Following the announcement of the City Council's rules reforms, the following statement on technological reforms can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (District Five):

 

 

 

May 14, 2014

Council Member Ben Kallos is introducing a resolution today to create a single, consolidated primary for New York State, saving taxpayers $50 million. Currently, New York has dual primaries – a federal primary in June and a state and local primary in September. A consolidated primary, long advocated for by good government groups, is currently the subject of a timing debate in the State Senate. The Council resolution calls on the governor to sign into law A.8198, the overwhelmingly passed Assembly bill sponsored by Speaker Silver to consolidate primaries, and for the Senate to pass and the governor to sign S.6204, the accompanying bill sponsored by Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in the State Senate. Consolidating primaries would save taxpayers $50 million, according to the New York Times, and many good government groups believe it will improve turnout and reduce confusion. The Senate G.O.P. has advocated for an August consolidated primary, when many New Yorkers are on vacation. If unresolved, New York defaults to a dual primary.

 

May 14, 2014

 Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and Council Members Ben Kallos and James Vacca are introducing an Open FOIL bill today to create a centralized, searchable database of Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests sent to City agencies.

 

May 9, 2014

New York, New York – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Council Member Ben Kallos (District Five) and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer today praised Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to invest $35 million in the East River Esplanade, a stretch of public, open space along the East River from 60th to 125th St. in dire need of restoration. The funding in the Mayor's Executive Budget Proposal represents a crucial start to the total of $115 million over ten years needed to repair the seawall to prevent spending $430 million on the repair later, according to the Parks Department. Maloney and Kallos co-chair the East River Esplanade Task Force, a group of community members and elected officials advocating for improvements to the park.  

 

April 30, 2014

Council Member Ben Kallos introduced The Construction Safety Act at yesterday's stated meeting, two bills designed to ensure New York City maintains the most stringent construction safety regulations in the nation. The Construction Safety Act, Intro 298, co-sponsored by Council Members Costa Constantinides, Elizabeth Crowley, Vincent Gentile, Antonio Reynoso and Ruben Wills, and Intro 299, co-sponsored by Council Members Peter Koo, Rory I. Lancman, Stephen Levin, Mark Levine, Alan Maisel, I. Daneek Miller, Ydanis Rodriguez and Donovan Richards, will seek to maintain the high safety standards that improved significantly after two 2008 collapses. During the final months of the Bloomberg administration the Department of Buildings introduced new regulations to weaken these standards.

 

 

April 28, 2014

NEW YORK – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) today joined City Council Members Mark Levine and Benjamin Kallos to highlight their efforts to secure reparations from SNCF, the French rail company that transported 76,000 Jews and thousands of others to concentration camps during World War II, and to hold accountable any company that profited from the Holocaust.

 

April 25, 2014

Last night, amid community concerns about safety along the Second Avenue Subway construction, Council Member Ben Kallos held a safety forum and walk, and re-launched “Light Up Second Avenue,” a program to improve lighting and increase safety. 

 

April 24, 2014

  Today Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Organization, applauded the New York City Council’s response to the Mayor’s FY 2015 Preliminary Budget and FY 2014 Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report. Kallos praised the budget response as promoting transparency and efficiency in government, and increased opportunity for all New Yorkers.