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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Public Advocate Letitia James will be joined by food advocates on the steps of City Hall to announce a proposal that would provide universal free lunch for all New York City public school students. Over 75% of city public school students are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch. That’s an estimated 780,000 students.
Council Member Ben Kallos joined students and educators of P.S. 290 and other Manhattan schools to protest this year’s New York State English Language Arts (ELA) Exam, following the conviction of educators across the City that this year’s exam was unfair, incompetent and contrary to their teaching.
Council Members Ben Kallos, Jimmy Vacca and Mark Levineintroduced a resolution today adopting sweeping reforms to the recruitment and appointment process for community boards and calling on borough presidents to do the same. Resolution 164, co-sponsored by Council Members Danny Dromm, Antonio Reynoso, Carlos Menchaca, Brad Lander, Ydanis Rodriguez, Ritchie Torres and Debi Rose, includes recommendations for instituting member term limits, instituting independent screening panels for applicants and requiring conflict of interest forms of applicants.
Elected officials, Housing Alliance Against Downsizing (HAAD) and hundreds of tenants from 28 former Mitchell-Lama buildings protested HPD’s downsizing of elderly, medically challenged and single-parent tenants who are being forced to downsize into 0-bedroom and 1-bedroom apartments, demanding a moratorium on the disastrously-implemented policy.
New York, New York -- Council Member Ben Kallos is demanding an independent review of the skyrocketing costs to build and operate new Marine Transfer Station costs in the 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan. In a letter to the Independent Budgeting Office, Kallos calls for an updated investigation into the Upper Manhattan Marine Transfer Station costs due to dramatic changes since the IBO’s last review in 2012. Estimated capital costs have gone from $43.9 million in 2002-2005 to $121.8 million in 2008-2009 to $181.6 million in 2013-2014 while it has been estimated that the barged trash will cost New Yorkers a billion dollars over 20 years; $600 million more than the current system.
NEW YORK, NY -- The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council announced new leadership for the 2014-2017 legislative session today. The five officers were determined by majority vote of the Progressive Caucus members, and are as follows:
Co-Chairs: Council Member Donovan Richards (CC 31, Queens) and Council Member Antonio Reynoso (CC 34, Brooklyn)
Vice-Chair for Policy: Council Member Ben Kallos (CC 5, Manhattan)
Vice-Chair for Budget Advocacy: Council Member Helen Rosenthal (CC 6, Manhattan)
Treasurer: Council Member Margaret Chin (CC 1, Manhattan)
“I look forward to working with the Progressive Caucus to advance a bold and innovative agenda so the city serves every New Yorker, no matter what background or neighborhood,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Through collaboration and with input from all members, the policies of the Progressive Caucus will translate into better education and jobs, more affordable housing, and greater government accountability.”
City Hall – City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Members today released locations where New Yorkers can cast a ballot in the week-long 2014 Participatory Budgeting vote. Launched in 2011, with the goal of making budgeting decisions more transparent and to give New Yorkers a greater say in how their tax dollars are spent, Participatory Budgeting has grown to encompass 10 Council Districts, allowing New Yorkers to directly decide how allocate more than $10 million dollars for neighborhood projects.
“Participatory budgeting helps engage New Yorkers with the Council by empowering community residents to make decisions about how City funds are spent,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I’m proud to have helped start this important initiative and encourage all New Yorkers in participating districts to cast their ballots for the projects they would like to see funded in the year ahead.”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and over a dozen members of the City Council distributed flyers at subway stations across the City this morning to alert New Yorkers about the first day of the Earned Sick Time Act going into effect.Passed by the City Council in February and signed into law by Mayor de Blasio last month, the Earned Sick Time Act provides paid sick time coverage for all businesses with five or more employees.
New York, NY – City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and over a dozen members of the City Council distributed flyers at subway stations across the City this morning to alert New Yorkers about the first day of the Earned Sick Time Act going into effect.
Passed by the City Council in February and signed into law by Mayor de Blasio last month, the Earned Sick Time Act provides paid sick time coverage for all businesses with five or more employees.
Beginning today, New Yorkers will start accruing paid sick time that can be used when either they or a family member falls ill. Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Members Koo, Ferreras, Miller, Espinal, Kallos, Johnson, Dickens, Chin, Levine, Dromm, Rosenthal, Crowley and Richards marked the inaugural day of the Earned Sick Time Act by distributing flyers outlining the new regulations to commuters.
Council Member Ben Kallos Commends Mayor's Choices for City Rent Guidelines Board
New York, New York -- Council Member Ben Kallos (District Five, Manhattan) released a report today entitled, "Improving Community Boards in New York City: Best Practices in Recruitment and Appointment to New York City’s 59 Community Boards," containing dozens of recommendations for reform to New York City's community boards. Kallos' recommendations include instituting term limits for community board members, requiring applicants to disclose conflicts of interest, requiring borough presidents to report to the City Council on the appoint process, banning the appointment of members of the executive committees of political parties or political staffers from joining community boards, and creating standardized online applications for those who wish to join boards.
New York, NY -- Council Member Ben Kallos joined the Committee on Solid Waste Management Preliminary Budget Hearing today, where he testified on the irresponsible budgeting and bad policy of the Upper Manhattan Marine Transfer Station. A hotly contested exchange with outgoing Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty revealed the out-of-hand costs and poor environmentalism of the old waste disposal model -- particularly the Marine Transfer Station in Upper Manhattan, which would shift from waste disposal in New Jersey to burdening Manhattan's East Side and Staten Island.
(New York, NY)— Today at 1:00PM, Public Advocate Letitia James will be joined by food advocates on the steps of City Hall to announce a proposal that would provide universal free lunch for all New York City public school students. Over 75% of city public school students are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch. That’s an estimated 780,000 students
New York, New York – Today, technology experts and open data leaders Andrew Rasiej, Noel Hidalgo, John Kaehny and David Moore testified before members of the City Council on innovative technology reforms that will improve the transparency, openness and accountability of the legislative body. The reforms focused on improving legislative transparency, constituent services and the discretionary funding process using technology.
New York, NY – The New York City Council committees on Governmental Operations and on Oversight and Investigation held a hearing yesterday on the Department of Investigations (DOI) report that opened the public's eyes to the extent of the institutional dysfunction and patronage at the New York City Board of Elections (BOE). That report, New York City Department of Investigation Report on the New York City Board of Elections’ Employment Practices, Operations, and Election Administration, made more than thirty recommendations for the Board to adopt.
New York, NY – Today, more than a dozen elected officials across the City took to the streets to collect petition signatures and build support for New York City’s plan for universal pre-K and expanded after-school programs. Elected officials, parents, young people, and community members joined community organizations who are part of UPKNYC, the campaign to pass New York City’s plan in Albany.
New York City Council Member Ben Kallos rolled out social media from Facebook to Twitter to Skype as well as new applications like AskThem.io and SeeClickFix.com today at a press conference over Google Hangout. On the “Get Help” page of BenKallos.com constituents are presented with more than a dozen ways to get help from their Council Member, mixing old services and new, including: calling, visiting the office, email, web, text, fax, mobile hours, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Skype, AskThem, and SeeClickFix.
New York, NY – Today, on the naming of City Council committee assignments, the following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (District Five, Manhattan):
"I am honored to be named Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, where I will work with my committee to create a government that is more open, transparent, and accountable to the working families that make our city great. Our task will be to make our city more efficient at seamlessly serving all of our city’s residents, so that government just works for the people."
He will serve on the committee with a bipartisan and geographically diverse committee, including Council Members David Greenfield, Mark Levine, Ritchie Torres and Steven Matteo.
Kallos’ priorities on the Committee on Governmental Operations include:
• Reforming the community board system in partnership with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to improve openness, accountability and transparency;
• Working with the Campaign Finance Board and the Voter Assistance Commission to expand and further empower public financing of campaigns to promote the best candidates;
• Working with the New York City Board of Elections to ensure smooth elections and greater enfranchisement of New Yorkers; and
• Working with the Commission on Public Information and Communication (COPIC) as well as the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) to promote transparency through the facilitation of open data for the public.
The Committee on Governmental Operations reviews municipal structures and organization, with jurisdictions on the following agencies, boards, and commissions:
· The New York Law Department
· The Board of Elections
· The Board of Standards and Appeals
· The New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS)
· The New York City Community Boards
· The New York City Tax Commission
· The Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS)
· The Financial Information Services Agency
· The Commission on Public Information and Communication
· The New York City Campaign Finance Board
· The Voter’s Assistance Commission
Kallos was also named to the Women’s Issues committee, Land Use Committee, the Land Use Subcommittee on Landmarks, and the Committee on State and Federal Legislation.
"With Council Member Kallos on the Federal and State Affairs committee, I look forward to working closely with him to keep Albany accountable, including fighting for voting districts that are fair and equal. With our state and city governmentso connected, we need Council Members working to keep up the reforms we've begun,” said Bill Samuels, Founder of good government reform group the New Roosevelt Initiative.
At the beginning of his career in public service, Kallos put Albany voting records online so New Yorkers could hold politicians accountable. As Executive Director of New Roosevelt, he worked to help defeat corrupt politician Pedro Espada.
“Ben Kallos will be a strong advocate for women in the City Council. Joining the women’s issues committee will allow him a platform to be a leader on the issues that matter to women and their families, whether that’s creating opportunities for women-owned businesses or advocating for health coordinators in schools to better serve our kids,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women – New York City (NOW-NYC).