Press Releases

July 13, 2015

The following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) on the opening of M86 Select Bus Service:

 

June 29, 2015

New York, NY— Today, Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) issued the following statement on the Rent Guidelines Board's decision to freeze rents for tenants in rent stabilized units:
  

 

June 26, 2015

New York, NY -- Senior and disabled New Yorkers would see improvements to hazardous sidewalk conditions if new legislation from Council Member Ben Kallos passes. The bill mandates that if property owners fail to perform needed sidewalk repairs, the city will issue penalties and then step in to provide the fixes and bill the party responsible. There are 889,219 New Yorkers with disabilities and nearly one million residents 65 or older, all of whom must safely get around.

 

June 23, 2015

New York, NY— The following statement can be attributed to New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations: 
 

 

June 19, 2015

New York, NY— The following statement can be attributed to City Council Member Ben Kallos following the Landmarks Preservation Commission's reported decision to hear all 95 sites that had once been decalendered:

 

June 19, 2015

 New York, NY — On Thursday, June 18, a group of social innovators beta launched an important new App – Intellibins – to enable and facilitate effective recycling choices and behaviors by citizens in New York City.

 

June 18, 2015

New York, NY — Sotheby’s is holding an art show with some of the most unique and invaluable pieces in the city—public school artwork. The Annual art show on June 16 and 17, organized by Council Member Ben Kallos and PS 183, featured 50 works of art per school from institutions across the district, including: PS 183, PS 77, PS 290, PS 151, Vanguard HS, PS 169, PS 6, PS 527, MS 177. Kallos distributed certificates to all participating students

 

June 18, 2015

New York, NY— The following statement can be attributed to City Council Member Ben Kallos, a software developer, following the de Blasio administration's release of an audit of Verizon's fiber Internet services: 
 

 

June 16, 2015

New York, NY — A “Bike Safety” initiative is launching with a partnership between Council Member Ben Kallos’ office, the Department of Transportation, the New York Police Department (NYPD), Citi Bike (Motivate), Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York, Council Member Kallos announced today. The program kicks off in the warm weather months when more New Yorkers tend to cycle. 

 

June 15, 2015

This year, I am calling on the Rent Guidelines Board to vote for a rent rollback. Our tenants have endured an undue rent burden, with high increases year after year. Meanwhile, income cannot keep pace and only crept up by 2.3% between 2005 and 2013 in real terms.

Last year, the Board voted for a historic low 1% increase for one-year leases and 2.75% for two-year leases—but that did not correct for the disproportionately high increases of previous years.

The approved rent increases each year have largely been based upon the landlord’s operating costs, measured by the price index of operating cost (PIOC). This practice not only fails to consider tenants, but has also proven to be inaccurate: based upon data from the DOF, the PIOC has overstated landlord costs by 11% since 2005. This miscalculation led to unfairly high rent increases in past years, which must be corrected with a rent rollback.

Those increases have come with consequences. A unit is considered affordable if the rent is no higher than 30% of their household income. The median rent-to-income ratio of tenants in rent stabilized apartment is 36.4%. By this standard, a majority of rent-stabilized tenants have units that are not affordable. The stress of financial insecurity takes a toll on New Yorkers every day.

A rent rollback is also economically feasible for landlords. Even by the slanted standards of the PIOC, operating costs only increased by a mere .5% this year. We have an opportunity to correct for years of high rent increases and subsequent burden on tenants, without greatly burdening landlords. After so many years of only considering landlord costs, it is time to consider the needs of our tenants. This is a city of renters, but we will only remain one if we vigorously protect the affordable housing we already have. Please join us by voting for a rent rollback this year. 

 

June 12, 2015

Following NBC4 and AP reports of a woman, Mary Grace Belfi, severely injured after being hit at 86th and First Avenue by a cyclist, Council Member Ben Kallos released the following statement:

"My thoughts and prayers are with Mary Grace Belfi and her family in this difficult time. No one should have to go through what they are now going through. This devastating collision is a call to action to fight harder to ensure all can be safe in our streets. I hope the suspect who fled the scene will soon be apprehended."

 

June 10, 2015

 New York, NY — A four-bill legislative package to improve how the city issues and collects fines for Environmental Control Board (ECB) violations, was announced today by New York City Council Members Ben Kallos and Julissa Ferreras. The Environmental Control Board (ECB) is a city tribunal that adjudicates “quality of life” violations issued by 13 city agencies. After the decision, the fines are collected by the Department of Finance or referred to the Law Department or a third-party debt collector. Of the debt referred to the Department of Finance, 90% has been issued a default judgment, making it extremely challenging to collect. Eighty-four percent of debt owed to is over two years old.
  

 

June 8, 2015

New York, NY— Today, Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) joined tenants, advocates and colleagues to call for a rent rollback in public testimony before the Rent Guidelines Board. The following is Council Member Kallos' testimony, as prepared for delivery:

 

June 5, 2015

New York, NY – The following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), on the Mayor's plan to insource IT jobs:

"Government is getting more high tech by insourcing jobs. I am proud to have advocated for in-sourcing in the city budget at oversight hearings since I took office, and I look forward to seeing far more in-sourcing in future years. Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio on signing an agreement to in-source IT work when possible, saving the city up to $3.6 million this year."

 

May 29, 2015

New York, NY – The following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), a software developer and Chair of the New York City Council Committee on Governmental Operations, on FCC Chair Tom Wheeler's proposal to modernize the Lifeline program to include broadband:

"Lifeline provides low-income Americans with the utilities they need, which must include Internet. I have been advocating for Lifeline for Internet and thank FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for his leadership on a Federal level. Lifeline is the tool we need to provide low-cost Internet to low-income New Yorkers for truly universal broadband that can finally begin to narrow the digital divide."

 

May 27, 2015

I was pleased to recently join the Communications Department at SUNY Albany, my alma mater, for their Commencement ceremony.

 

May 20, 2015

  New York, NY— Pesticides in parks would be limited by a bill announced today by Council Member Ben Kallos among members of the kindergarten and first grade class at PS 290, who first advocated for the city legislation. The law, co-sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would require that the city use only biological pesticides, derived from natural materials, instead of synthetic, traditional pesticides--except under necessary circumstances. The EPA maintains that biological pesticides tend to be less toxic and safer than synthetic pesticides. The bill will be introduced on May 27.

 

 

May 20, 2015

“With fireworks on the East River, Roosevelt Islanders and East Siders should have a great vantage point with which to view them,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I am thrilled that the fireworks have been moved back to where many New Yorkers, from Brooklyn to Queens to Manhattan can enjoy them.”

 

May 20, 2015

Roosevelt Island, NY—After a 20-year-old was shot in the abdomen on April 25 in the Roosevelt Landings Complex, stakeholders announced the launch of a Law Enforcement Explorers Program to provide a safe and productive outlet for young Roosevelt Islanders. A May 27 event at Good Shepherd Center at 7 p.m., co-sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, the 114th Precinct, RIOC and the Public Safety Department will introduce the community to the Law Enforcement Explorers and young people sign up.

 

May 5, 2015

The following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), a software developer and Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, on Mayor Bill de Blasio's pledge to invest $70 million to bring universal broadband to New York City:

“Access to the Internet is as essential to helping New Yorkers stay in touch, find jobs and learn--but a stunning 36 percent of our poorest families in New York City go without it. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for committing to invest $70 million to universal broadband, a bold and forward-looking move that will improve mobility and connect more families."

 

April 30, 2015

This testimony was given to the Public Design Commission on April 20, 2015 to ask them to delay approval of this project so that the City may review the design and construction of the 81st Street Pedestrian Bridge with the aim of addressing community concerns and implementing a design consistent with the future plans for the East River Esplanade.

 

April 28, 2015

The New York City Administration for Child Services (ACS) which oversees the largest city childcare system in the nation, would become increasingly transparent and accountable under a new City Council bill introduced by Ben Kallos and Stephen Levin. ACS-subsidized childcare programs, serving around 120,000 low-income children annually, have been plagued by under-enrollment and daycare center closures. Though there are up to 40 eligible students for every one childcare slot, some ACS childcare programs still report 20% vacancy rates, according to City LimitsGovernment, the public and watchdog groups would have access to more detailed information on the programs under the new bill.

 

April 28, 2015

New York, NY   Hunger in schools is being taken on by new legislation requiring reporting and planning on free school meals for 1.1 million public school children, being introduced by Council Members Ben Kallos and Stephen Levin today. One quarter of New York City children are food insecure, according to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. New York City ranks second-to-last among 62 large school districts in effectiveness in reaching children eligible for free breakfast surveyed by the Food Research and Action Center. Advocates have pushed for “Breakfast After the Bell”—free breakfast in classrooms, after the school day begins—to increase participation rates.

 

April 27, 2015

Fast food workers, students, car washers and others supported hundreds of airport workers from JFK and LGA airports who went on strike today.

THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2015 — Last week, airport workers turned out to support fast food workers in the Fight for $15 national day of action. Today fast food workers, students, car washers and other low-wage workers returned the favor.

"On April 15, I saw airport workers around the country stand with us in the fight for $15. Airport workers and all low wage workers deserve respect on the job,” said Jose Sanchez, a fast food worker at Domino’s. “I am supporting striking Aviation Safeguards baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants because I know, if we stand up for each other, we can all win."

After receiving renewed, illegal threats, 250 baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants working for the airline subcontractor Aviation Safeguards walked off the job today and went on strike over these unfair labor practices. The strike started at 3 a.m. and includes multiple shifts of workers.

Aviation Safeguards services British Airways and Delta at both LaGuardia and JFK airports and has a history of violations at the airports. During the last two years, Aviation Safeguards baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants have filed various lawsuits and complaints about unfair labor practices, health and safety violations and wage theft against their employer. Aviation Safeguards employees have been fighting alongside 12,000 other subcontracted airport workers in New York and New Jersey for higher wages, benefits and the right to union representation and are included in the majority of contracted airport workers who report financial hardship due to the low wages and benefits they make at the airports. The majority are forced to rely on government subsidies to survive.

When Aviation Safeguards airport workers began to take action and call for the workplace changes they need, Aviation Safeguards sent a threatening letter stating that employees who engage in certain strikes “are not protected. This means participating employees may be disciplined or even fired.” Region 29 of The National Labor Relations Board found that this was an illegal threat and in February a group of Aviation Safeguards baggage handlers held a one-day strike to protest this intimidation and unfair labor practice. But the abuses didn’t stop. In fact the company sent a letter threatening the same thing. Today a much larger group of Aviation Safeguards employees said, “enough is enough,” and directly defied their employer threats by going on strike.

“The second letter was the last straw, why would Aviation Safeguards send us a letter that had already been found to be illegal?” said Pedro Gamboa, an Aviation Safeguards baggage handler at JFK Airport. “I am on strike today in order to show Aviation Safeguards that I will continue fighting for a better life for me and my coworkers.”

Striking Aviation Safeguards employees were supported by a growing movement of low-wage workers who have been standing up for each other in the fight for a $15 minimum wage and a union.

"I have stood up for fast food workers and I am standing up for airport workers today because I know that every hard working person in this country deserves respect on the job and wages that can actually support them,” SaidRobert Ascherman, a student at NYU. “Last week it was inspiring to see airport workers standing with me in the Fight for $15 actions, and I want to make sure I return the favor."

More than 100 low wage workers attended a strike rally at the airport along with community groups NYCC and Make the Road, elected officials including NY City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and airport workers from other contractors. New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, will join airport workers later in the day.

"All workers must have the right to organize. I am proud to be here with airline workers demanding these basic rights from Aviation safeguards. I stand with them as they fight for higher wages to support themselves and their families and freedom from harassment," said Council Member Ben Kallos, who served as a Union-Side Labor Attorney.

After rallying at the airport, Aviation Safeguards employees took their fight to the streets of Manhattan and held a second rally outside British Airways’ headquarters at 2 Park Avenue.

“This strike was not against British Airways but workers thought it was important to urge the highly successful airline to tell its contractor to treat airport workers right,”said Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ, the union which the majority of workers voted to be their union representative. “It is not easy to be a baggage handler or a wheelchair attendant at the airport, especially if you are making poverty wages. But today Aviation Safeguards’ hardworking employees showed that they are not afraid to stand up for their rights under the law.” 

 

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