Press Releases

August 21, 2014

New York, NY– Kids’ meals that include toys as incentives would meet specific nutritional standards under a City Council “Healthy Happy Meals” bill to be introduced today. The bill, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos and co-sponsored by Council Members Stephen Levin and Corey Johnson and originally introduced by former Council Member Leroy Comrie in 2011, sets standards for the calories, sodium and fat of the incentivized restaurant meals and would require the inclusion of a fruit, vegetable or whole grain serving.

 

August 18, 2014

 The following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) on improvements to Checkbook NYC:

 

August 8, 2014

“Open government means laws and notices are online, where New Yorkers expect to find them,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Now, public information printed daily in the City Record, such as meetings, contracts, and City planning, will be online, complete and up to date, so residents can make informed choices and data analysts can help us achieve a smarter city. Putting the law online upholds Hammurabi’s legacy of making the law public on stone tablets millenia ago. In the 21st Century, that means putting all laws online, continuously updated, and Council Member Lander’s Open Law legislation does exactly that. Under Mayor de Blasio, technology and open government to spur business, improve government and close the digital divide, are priorities. I thank him, Speaker Mark-Viverito, and all the activists who worked on this for turning these ideas into law.”

 

August 7, 2014

The Free Law Founders (FLF) today announced that The Sunlight Foundation has joined the FLF coalition to overhaul how America’s state-and-local governments make laws, deliver access to legislative and law data, and engage citizens online. Sunlight joins the growing network of government officials, citizens and civic software developers working to reinvent how democracy works on the Internet with the FLF, including: NYC Council Member Ben Kallos, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, Boston Principal Data Scientist Curt Savoie, The MIT Human Dynamics Lab, The OpenGov Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation.

 

August 5, 2014

“The best city in the world is about to get better with its own dot NYC domain—and it is only for New Yorkers. Businesses can show that they are local and proud New Yorkers by getting their dot NYC,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This opportunity to support our City’s small businesses and grow jobs with dot NYC is thanks to Thomas Lowenhaupt, who has made his singular vision into a reality through years of unwavering advocacy; the understanding and support of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer during her years in the Council; and the leadership on technology of Mayor Bill de Blasio. I look forward to working with all of them to make sure that businesses know that if they want to make sure they have a chance to reserve their dot NYC, the landrush over the next 60 days is the best time to do it, before they miss out and dot NYC is first come, first served.”

 

July 29, 2014

Today, Council Member Ben Kallos joined representatives from GrowNYC to roll out the 2014 summer Fresh Foodbox Program and celebrate the launch of a new pick up location at Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center. At the newly added location at 415 East 93rd Street, Council Member Kallos spoke to dozens of residents to spread awareness to New Yorkers about the Fresh Foodbox Program.

 

July 29, 2014

Council Member Ben Kallos is proud to unveil a new pick up location for Fresh Foodbox Program at Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center as a way to increase access to fresh, healthy foods for neighborhood residents.

 

July 24, 2014

The New York City Council today passed legislation to put all New York City laws online through the City's website and expand the City Record Online.
 
Int. 149, “The Law Online,” Prime Sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander and also sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos and James Vacca, will ensure all New York City law—charter and administrative code—gets put online in a searchable and user-friendly format.

 

July 24, 2014

Today, Council Member Ben Kallos introduced a resolution supporting a statewide and national ban on non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock production—a process that puts Americans’ health at risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than two million Americans fall ill each year with antibiotic resistant infections, with 23,000 people dying from these infections.

 

July 24, 2014

Traffic changes made by the Department of Transportation would require a month’s notice to Community Boards, under legislation introduced today by Council Member Ben Kallos and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.  Under the “traffic notice” bill, community boards—the most on-the-ground community representation—would receive a minimum of one month’s notice for street direction changes, parking, turn regulations and more.

The bill will allow communities an opportunity to raise red flags or to prepare for and disseminate information about new traffic rules.

“Communities need to be informed about changes in traffic patterns – in order to ensure effectiveness and fair enforcement, as well as provide an opportunity for input when relevant. My office has been working with Community Boards and City agencies to improve traffic safety and help inform the Vision Zero initiative, and a key part of these efforts is doing more to improve transparency,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

“No community should be taken by surprise by traffic changes,” said Council Member Kallos. “Our streets are places we rely on to travel and commute. Community members must have a say and a stake in the changes that affect their neighborhoods. Community boards are the first line of defense for communities, and increasing the information available to them will improve transparency and the decisions made.”

 

July 16, 2014

U.S. open government leaders today announced the formation of The Free Law Founders (FLF), a nation-wide partnership of local elected officials, non-profit software developers, educators, and city attorneys dedicated to upgrading how citizens can access America’s laws, legislation and the lawmaking process itself on the Internet.  Spearheaded by New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell and Seamus Kraft of The OpenGov Foundation, the Free Law Founders have accepted the challenge of creating the modern tools, data standards and processes our state and local governments need to meet the growing challenges of democracy in the Internet Age.  Open to anyone willing to help accomplish these goals across the country, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, Washington, D.C. Council Chief Counsel David Zvenyach, Boston’s Department of Innovation and Technology, and more have already signed up to contribute.

 

July 1, 2014

New York, NY – New York City Councilmember Ben Kallos today released seven key government reform bills for online public debate and drafting in Madison, a free policymaking platform developed by the nonprofit OpenGov Foundation. Madison gives citizens direct access to their legislators and the legislative process itself, lowering the barrier between citizens and their government on their own time, and on their own terms. Councilmember Kallos is the second city legislator in America to harness the power of collaborative Internet-based legislating, joining Washington, D.C. Councilmember David Grosso on the cutting edge of American democracy.  To get involved, New Yorkers simply need to log on to start legislating in partnership with Kallos.

 

 

June 30, 2014

Ben Kallos, Council Member of the 5th District, is proud to honor Sharon Hill upon her retirement in celebration of her career of outstanding service and extraordinary achievements as Principal of P.S. 290, The Manhattan New School

 

June 29, 2014

New York, NY— Members of the Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders, thanked members of the City Council on Sunday for allocating City funds to expand the successful “bus countdown clock” program that has been popular in in its first two locations on Staten Island.  The clocks are installed and maintained by the City Department of Transportation (DOT) and are built on new MTA technology that shows where the bus really is at any given moment.

Riders Alliance members had requested that the City Council allocate discretionary funds to bring bus countdown clocks to more communities around the city, and 11 City Council Members responded with funds.   In total, Council Members allocated almost $2.8 million, enough to install more than 100 bus countdown clocks.

Bus countdown clocks will now be appearing in the following City Council districts:

·         Bronx:  Fernando Cabrera ($113,000); Andrew Cohen ($40,000)

·         Brooklyn:  Brad Lander ($240,000); Mark Treyger ($100,000)

·         Manhattan: Margaret Chin ($260,000); Dan Garodnick ($950,000); Corey Johnson ($35,000); Ben Kallos ($640,000)

·         Queens: Eric Ulrich ($180,000); Mark Weprin ($35,000)

·         Staten Island: Steven Matteo ($200,000)

 

June 27, 2014

Today, on the launch of this year’s New York City free meal program, Council Member Ben Kallos kicked off the #FreeSummerMeals campaign to distribute information and spread awareness to hundreds of New Yorkers.

The New York City Department of Education distributes free meals for children under 18 at parks, pools, community centers, libraries and schools in all five boroughs every weekday from June 27th through August 29th. The program does not require any paperwork, registration or ID. 

At the first event to promote the program at the 96th and Lexington subway stop, Kallos and volunteers spoke to dozens of residents and handed out flyers, many of whom were previously unaware of the available free, nutritious meals. 

 

 

June 25, 2014

WHO: City Council Member Ben Kallos and Department of Transportation; Co-Sponsored by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; State Senator Liz Krueger; State Senator Jose Serrano; Assembly Member Dan Quart; Council Member Dan Garodnick; Community Board 8

WHAT: Community Forum on Bike Lanes with Department of Transportation

WHENJune 25, 2014, 6:30 P.M.

WHERE: Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 E 70th St.

Residents will get the chance to voice support, concerns or viewpoints on bike lanes, one of the defining urban planning features of New York City.

 

 

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.