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Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the committee, posed questions aimed at debunking Schulkin’s claims about voter identification requirements. Ryan, in response, reiterated that New York State does not require any identification for voting, only a signature. Only in rare instances, first-time voters may be required to produce identification if their voter registration is incomplete.
When Kallos asked if Schulkin’s claims about voters being bussed to multiple polling sites held any water, Ryan said, “Those issues have never come to my attention, not during my time as a commissioner going back to 2010 or in the three-plus years that I’ve been the executive director.” The state attorney general’s office also told Gotham Gazette earlier this month that the AG’s office has not received complaints of widespread voter impersonation fraud that Schulkin mentioned.
“Uber engages with regulators and complies with regulation,” City Council member Ben Kallos said. “And Airbnb does whatever it wants in violation of the law.”
Councilman Ben Kallos, whose district includes the East 80s, said he would have preferred the subway to open years ago, as it's been planned since the 1920s, but now is better than never.
But Kallos said he thinks while "100 years is a long time to wait for a subway," when the line finally opens it will be a welcome sight.
"The Second Avenue Subway will [lure] a lot of the riders from Lexington over to," said Kallos. "Businesses that are now here will have the benefit of more traffic, both foot traffic and subway traffic. The neighborhood will get Second Avenue back."
To the relief of many Upper East Siders who have wanted the change for years, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has disallowed left turns onto E. 79th Street for cars heading north on York Avenue.
Though there was never a turn signal at that intersection, the light would remain green for drivers going north on York after the other three lights had turned red so the northbound cars could make a left turn. This confused pedestrians, who would think all lights were red and would cross the street without realizing some of them were in the path of the northbound cars who still had a green light.
“This is an intersection where I myself have felt unsafe,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who helped accomplish the safety improvement. “I brought the concern to the Department of Transportation and we went over multiple different options.”
After deciding that eliminating left turns all together was the best move, Kallos and the DOT took it to the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association for a vote.
Betty Cooper Wallerstein, president and founder of the neighborhood association, is happy to see the intersection made safer, but frustrated that it took more than four years to do so.
“People are used to, when the traffic stops, crossing,” Wallerstein said. “The streets have to be safe for blind people, too. It never, never, never should have taken so many years to correct that mistake.”
City Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, which oversees the CFB, said in a statement last week that he hoped to see a “a thorough and open search for a new chair who will be independent, non-partisan, and non-political” in their role.
“It is of supreme importance that the next chair be someone who has the stature and integrity to not only stand up to candidates and any elected officials but guide the board through election years independently,” Kallos said.
Notably, de Blasio was faced with a somewhat similar choice when selecting a chair for a mandated commission to study and reccomend compensation levels for the city's elected officials. De Blasio chose Schwarz, Jr. in what was a universally applauded decision.
Unless you’re standing right in front of Maz Mezcal, on E. 86th Street between First and Second Avenues, you’ll probably miss it. The restaurant is hidden from view from most directions, due to extensive fencing and machinery. That’s all part of the construction of the Second Avenue subway, which has had a negative impact on business.
“It’s been horrendous,” said Mary Silva, owner of Maz Mezcal. “Business – at least mine and most everyone’s that I’ve spoken to – has dropped anywhere from 30 to 50 percent.”
In order to offset the financial consequences Maz Mezcal and its peers are facing, the Department of Finance is offering them the opportunity to have any fines forgiven that they’ve racked up during the construction. Council Member Ben Kallos encouraged the community to take advantage of the program, which will allow Second Ave. business owners and buildings to have any penalties and interest voided for violations such as snow on the sidewalk, working without a permit, improper trash disposal and failure to conduct required inspections, among others.
“It’s an opportunity for them to get to square one ahead of some legislation I’ve introduced that would actually put their businesses at risk if they haven’t been good neighbors,” Kallos said.
At Kallos’ press conference last week, Finance Department Commissioner Jacques Jiha said almost 700,000 violations have gone into judgment since the construction on the subway began.
The end result is that anyone who's ever been brought into housing court by their landlord ends up penalized, and tenants are discouraged from classic methods of protecting their rights, such as withholding rent. While there's been some movement to improve the lists—City Council memberBenjamin J. Kallos has introduced legislation to include more information about the actual cases, for instance—is there any reason we can't do away with this practice altogether?
The letter — signed by Councilman Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Krueger, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and State Assembly members Dan Quart and Rebecca Seawright — listed several reasons why East 72nd Street deserves 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," read the letter.
During Wednesday night's meeting the board also voted to adopt a resolution to ask NYC Transit for increased local bus service to the stop for the next six months. Since select bus service was instituted on the M15 line, local bus service has deteriorated, in some cases being four times as slow as before select bus service, according to a press release.
“Residents feel abandoned by our buses. Watching five Select Buses go by what used to be a Limited stop makes seniors with limited mobility feel abandoned as they wait for a local bus that never seems to come,” said Kallos in a press release. “Seniors and children live in one-third of the households near 72nd Street and they must be able to rely on bus service to get where they are going.”
Although the community board was in overwhelming favor of both resolutions, the body is simply advisory. The ultimate decision on whether to extend select bus service to East 72nd Street must be made by NYC Transit.
Councilman Ben Kallos, who heads the committee on governmental operations, said he hopes the mayor will appoint “a person of stature who can stand up to any elected official and any candidate, who is nonpartisan and nonpolitical.”
“The turnstiles should be a pathway to economic opportunity, not another barrier,” Raskin said. “It means people are not able to use public transportation to access jobs and economic opportunity and the life of the community. And that is wrong.”
Advocates, including Council Members Ben Kallos and Ydanis Rodriguez, said the city has enough money to pay for the program.
“That is a reasonable price to pay to keep the trains and buses accessible for every New Yorker who must depend on mass transit to get to work and job interviews, attend college and job training programs, obtain needed health care, and enable their families to take advantage of the richness of the city’s cultural life,” wrote the officials in a joint letter to the mayor signed by 27 council members.
The board voted to support that request and Councilman Ben Kallos, who names 79th and York Avenue a dangerous intersection in his "Livable Streets" report, worked with them to get the DOT to solve the issue over the past six months.
“Every day I saw pedestrians crossing York Avenue getting caught by surprise as they dodged northbound cars that barreled through the intersection at 79th Street,” Kallos said in a statement.
State agencies can now leverage an open source tool to help ensure that individuals eligible for income-based human service benefits actually receive them.
The software is Benefit Assist, and it was first launched in 2015 by Intuit for that company’s TurboTax users. Benefit Assist sifts through tax information to help determine a person’s eligibility for benefits from programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid and Medicare.
Now, Intuit has partnered with New York City Council Member Ben Kallos and the federal government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to make its eligibility software free and open source code, according to the company.
An online tool from tax preparation company Intuit that can easily determine whether an application is eligible for food stamps or other benefits is now freely available through a federal agency to states, local governments or nonprofit organizations.
Councilman Ben Kallos has been pushing for legislation that would require the city to use income tax filings to determine eligibility for public benefits.
Last year, Intuit made the Benefit Assist tool available to help users of TurboTax determine whether they were eligible for an array of programs, including SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare and many others.
Borelli, who sits on the Council’s governmental operations committee, which has oversight of the Board of Elections, wrote to committee chair Ben Kallos, a Democrat from Manhattan, requesting the hearing. Kallos told Gotham Gazette on Thursday that he disagrees with Borelli about the need for a state voter identification law and said that he will bring up the fraud allegations by BOE Commissioner Alan Schulkin at an already-planned elections oversight hearing in October.
Council Member Kallos told Gotham Gazette he “fervently” disagrees with Borelli. “I do not believe that we need voter identification,” he said. “I believe it is a tool used to disenfranchise voters.”
Kallos said he was “troubled and concerned” about Schulkin’s comments in the video and would bring the issue up at an oversight hearing already in the works before Borelli sent his letter -- the City Council holds a hearing ahead of election administration.
“Everything that was said is troubling,” Kallos said of the video, which released the same day that Kallos hosted an IDNYC pop-up registration event on Roosevelt Island. “We hope to have oversight of the BOE...to find out what happened, whether any of these views had an impact in the conduct of any of the presidential primary elections or any election since this man has been appointed to the BOE.”
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it has teamed with financial software maker Intuit
(Washington, DC) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Servicessaid it has teamed with financial software maker Intuit to release the company's Benefit Assist software as free, open source code on GitHub. The move will allow anyone to freely use, share and improve upon Benefit Assist. The goal is to help people more easily determine eligibility and apply for income-based government benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps and free mobile phone service.
City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who has been a fierce proponent of CB8’s mission to end private management of the park, said he is ready to allocate funds for this cause.
“I have already represented to the parks department that I would be interested in investing capital funding from my office,” Kallos said, adding there was additional money available from Borough President Gale Brewer and the state.
“I am willing to put my money where my mouth is in investing in this park,” Kallos said.
CB8 has brought up the idea of establishing a conservancy for the park that would raise money for maintenance and other expenses.
The parks department has indicated that if it decides to revert the Queensboro Oval to public management, it would take more than three years to create a fully accessible park.
Kallos insisted that in that scenario, the park should not go unused. Sutton East, he said, could remain in the space during the months it has a license to run its tennis facility provided that it return the park to its original condition during the summer months –– as its license currently requires.
“I am excited to become one of the almost 1 million IDNYC cardholders, and I am proud to do it in my district on Roosevelt Island,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side-Midtown East-Roosevelt Island), who personally signed up for an IDNYC card after the press conference.
“New Yorkers have until Friday to register for what may be the most important general election in our lifetime,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos, who chairs the Committee on Governmental Operations with oversight over the Board of Elections. “New York City’s collective voice must be heard at this year’s election, for that occur residents must ensure they are registered to vote.”
The Office of Immigration Affairs opened a one week pop-up today at the Carter Burden Center on Roosevelt Island. A team will assist residents in applying for the IDNYC card. Unexpectedly, on the same day, a slipshod report in the New York Post attacked the popular program. Council Member Ben Kallos used the occasion to briskly knock the report down.
"What I love about this ID Card is it shows that what is good for older people is good for everyone," said Bill Dionne, Executive Director of the Carter Burden Center for the Aging.
Carter Burden, which oversees the Roosevelt Island Senior Center at 546 Main Street, is hosting the week long pop-up. It runs daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and until noon on Monday, October 17th. While Dionne and others spoke, Office of Immigration Affairs staffers could be seen at their computers in an adjoining room, already working with early applicants.
Deputy Commissioner Kavita Pawria-Sanchez reported, "As of today, enrollment has grown to 900,000 cardholders, already one out of every ten New Yorkers."
That outcome is largely the reason Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, requested that the authority add SBS to the M66, M96 and M79 bus lines.
“After the success of M86, we wanted to bring it to M79,” Kallos said after the meeting.
UPPER EAST SIDE — Thousands of locals have signed a petition to add East 72nd Street to the M15 Select Bus Service route along First and Second avenues.
The stop was removed from the M15's express route when the MTAreplaced limited bus service with Select Bus Service along the line six years ago.
Now, residents have to walk to East 68th Street, East 67th Street or up to the East 79th Street stop to catch the Select Bus, a hike they say is difficult for the elderly and disabled. The other option is to wait up to 30 minutes for the local bus, residents said.
"Why can't we just pay with our cellphones like you can in so many other places? Why can't you just tap and go as you get on every single entrance of the bus?" said City Councilman Ben Kallos of Manhattan.
Before the mayor or NYCHA tries to sell off our playground so he can put up luxury housing, he should reach into his own pocket,” City Councilmember Ben Kallos said. “And NYCHA and Mayor Bill de Blasio would go from being the worst landlords in the City of New York to the best landlords in the City of New York.”
In their continued opposition — not only to demolishing the playground, but to the overall infill project itsel — residents of Holmes Towers like Glendora Israel stressed that the new complex would make life rougher for NYCHA residents.
“Do you want to get rid of this playground? Do you want to put up fake affordable housing that you could never afford?” Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the area, asked the crowd of 50 people gathered at this weekend’s “Party to Protect the Playground” rally. Each time, the answer was an emphatic “no!”
I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and are looking forward to a joyful winter holiday season. It is approaching one year since I became your city Council Member, and I could not be more excited to continue our work together.
If we have not yet met in person, let's not let a full year go by. On December 23, I will host a holiday party at my office from 4-7pm. I hope you can make it! Or, please join me at First Friday on December 5th from 8am-10am at my district office at 244 East 93rd Street. The event is open to all. Additionally, I am happy to come to you. For more details, look below or feel free to call me.
Today is Giving Tuesday, a day to celebrate the pleasure of giving back. Whether through Giving Tuesday or volunteering at your favorite causes, how do you give back to the community? I look forward to hearing from you.
I wish you happy holidays surrounded by friends and loved ones.
During an eventful and at times difficult year, it can be hard to find time to pause, reflect and give thanks. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to be thankful for our blessings and the community surrounding us. If you are interested in volunteering this month, please contact my office, so I can help connect you with volunteer opportunities in the district.
I am thankful for the opportunity to serve. You may have heard me at community events mention the amount of time I have left in office (as of today, 3 years, 1 month and 23 days!). The reason I place so much emphasis on the time left is that every moment is a valuable one that I hope to use to improve our neighborhoods and city. What are you most thankful for?
I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.
It has been my pleasure to represent you in the City Council since January. Over the past nine months, my favorite moments have been the ones spent together in the community, such as inauguration, First Fridays, policy nights, cooking demonstrations at the Green Market and community events. If you have an event you would like me to attend, please send over an invitation. I will try my best to be there.
Since the New Year, we have taken great strides towards greater opportunities for all New Yorkers with:
- 50,000 universal pre-k seats, and more to come;
- Paid sick leave;
- More affordable apartments;
- $35 million in funds for the East River Esplanade;
- Steps to make streets safer through Vision Zero; and
- A stronger fight against the Marine Transfer Station.
There is more to do, but the progress is encouraging. Please contact me with any thoughts, questions, requests for assistance or ideas for a better city. Here are just a few ways you can reach me:
Phone: (212) 860-1950
Email: BKalloscouncil [dot] nyc [dot] gov
In person: 244 East 93rd Street
I look forward to working together.
As always, I am at your service.
Sincerely,Council Member Ben Kallos
This is a busy month for all of us, with no sign of slowing down. I hope you will join me at a community event this month:
- First Friday
- Policy Night
- Senior Health Fair
- Bike Safety forum with NYPD
- Town Hall
- Three Participatory Budgeting Neighborhood Assemblies
- Free Legal Housing Clinic
- Mobile hours
- and more!
Details for all are in this newsletter or at BenKallos.com/Events.
To those observing, I hope you had a happy Rosh Hashanah and wish you a meaningful Yom Kippur.
I look forward to seeing you at one of this month's events, or saying hello if we run into one another in the neighborhood.
As we head back to school, I wish you and your families a seamless transition back into the swing of the school year. This is a busy and exciting time. I am happy to help you find the right city resources, from after-school programs to universal pre-k to academic support. As ever, please contact my office by email or phone at 212-860-1950 for assistance.
Over summer vacation, we were hard at work. The fight against the marine transfer station continued, key transparency reforms became law, benefits to seniors and disabled residents expanded and my push for safer streets continued. As we move into the school year, I will be working on keeping our schools strong and continuing the fights we've already begun.
Here's to a great start.
In August, our neighborhoods tend to empty out with many of us on vacation. But there’s plenty to do for those of us staying behind. In fact, I strongly encourage you to have a look at the “Community Events” section at the bottom. From outdoor concerts to summer movies in the park, there is much to do in our neighborhood in August.
Enjoy the warm weather, and, as always, please reach out for assistance or just to express your thoughts and ideas.
Table of Contents
1. Passing Laws
2. Fighting the Marine Transfer Station
3. Conflict in the Middle East
5. Free Law Founders
6. Labeled a Hero by the Daily News
7. Free Housing Clinic
8. Fighting Waste
9. Advocating for Net Neutrality
10. Park Avenue Historic District
11. Summer of Science
12. Partnering with Manhattan Borough President Brewer for Transparency
14. Mental Health Resources
15. Fighting Unsafe Factory Farms
16. Supporting Women's History
17. Delivery Bike Forum
18. GrowNYC Fresh FoodBox
19. Safer Sex Resources
20. Vision Zero Map
21.Taste of Jewish Culture Festival
22. Cooking with Kallos
23. Around the Community
24. Legislation Corner
25. Mobile District Hours
26. Events from Our Office
27. Community Events
On July 1st, I marked six months in office. To mark the occasion, I asked you to reach out to me to share your ideas and feedback. Your responses have been illuminating. Many of you shared the issues that matter to you and your families. Many were kind enough to share positive experiences you have had with my office. Many offered ideas for neighborhood issues to address.
Now, we will move forward together:
- To fight the marine transfer station;
- To protect safe, clean and livable streets;
- To use technology to improve New Yorkers' daily lives;
- To promote a transparent, accountable government;
- To protect tenants' rights and promote affordable housing, especially for seniors;
- To improve our neighborhood infrastructure and open space; and
- To improve education and invest in our children.
I hope you will join me at First Friday on August 1st from 8AM-10AM at my District Office or Policy Night on Tuesday, August 12th, at 6:30PM at my District Office so we can work together to improve our neighborhood.
This month, our community experienced tragedy in the form of a fatal traffic collision. In moments like these, we come together to mourn and demand action.
On the East Side, I have piloted a "Livable Streets" program to solicit street information from nearly 60,000 households. I also held a safety walk along Second Avenue Subway construction in April in order to empower residents to investigate and improve safety along the construction site.
Last week, the Council passed an 11-bill street safety package, and I will keep working with colleagues and city agencies to make Vision Zero a reality.
Please join us at a Vision Zero forum on June 24 at 6:30PM at Hunter College's Lang Recital Hall co-sponsored with State Senator Liz Krueger and Council Member Dan Garodnick.
You can share dangerous intersections or other safe streets information you have by visiting BenKallos.com/Livable-Streets. If you are experiencing trauma as a result of the tragedies, please reach out to me at 212-860-1950 or bkallosbenkallos [dot] com so our social work staff can assist you in finding the services you need.
Only through teamwork can we improve our neighborhood, our streets and our city as a whole.
Marking 100 days of representing you in the City Council was a chance to take stock of the progress made and where we still have to go together. I'm proud of advances on key issues such as the fight against the Marine Transfer Station, bringing public pre-k funding to New York City, reforming community boards so they better represent neighborhoods, reforming the New York City Board of Elections to make them a more effective institution and allowing you to vote on how public money gets spent.
Many of these fights are long-entrenched and difficult to tackle, but we have seen movement in all of them in just the past few months. Only with your help and involvement can we continue making meaningful strides forward.
We are now in the budgeting season, where we decide how to allocate funding for a fairer, better city. I have been working with the Council to determine our budget priorities as a body, and distributing our own discretionary funds based on the community's voice.
I look forward to redoubling my efforts on your behalf in the next 100 days, and all the days after that.
Recently, I was pleased to sponsor and vote for an expansion of Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE), and you or your neighbors may now be eligible for these important rent benefits. Int. 243, which was recently signed into law, raises the income eligibility for seniors receiving SCRIE benefits to $50,000 from $29,000.