Custom Quicktabs for Social Media
“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!”
Has the communication and decision-making process under Shorris been changed?
Although Shorris conceded that on Rivington his decisions were not adequately relayed and that there were gaps in communication between him and other top officials, he offered little in the way of fixes that have been made in that regard. He staunchly defended the administration’s record and insisted that Rivington was an “episodic” failure that would be prevented by an overhaul of DCAS’ process for deed restrictions. He insisted that he could not personally follow up on the innumerable decisions he makes each day considering his portfolio of about 30 city agencies and his coordinating role over people who supervise the city’s 350,000 employees. Shorris wouldn’t say, when asked by Council Member Ben Kallos, whether he would offload any of the city agencies he personally oversees.
“Overall, I would’ve liked to hear some management plan that would address the lack of communications that resulted in this outcome,” said Council Member Vincent Gentile, in a Friday phone interview with Gotham Gazette. Gentile chairs the Council’s Oversight and Investigations committee which held the joint hearing with the Committee on Governmental Operations chaired by Kallos.
"Something went very wrong here," said Councilmember Ben Kallos, Chair of the Council Committee on Governmental Operations. "We must address the issues of mismanagement, communication failure and outside influence."
Council member Kallos told those present at the hearing that he agreed to limit Shorris' questioning to two-and-a-half hours because the mayor's office told him that Shorris had to be on a plane to Oklahoma for a mayoral conference the same day.
But Shorris said he was not going to Oklahoma and added that he had no idea why the City Council got that impression.
Kallos said he found the misinformation "disturbing." The city council later released a statement on the matter.
City Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, said the hearing elicited a number of contradictions from prior accounts from City Hall.
Thursday’s hearing by the City Council’s Committee on Oversight and Investigations — co-chaired by Vincent Gentile and Ben Kallos — clocked in at a solid six hours.
CBS2’s Kramer asked Shorris if the administration thinks building the new facility will help the mayor dig out of the Rivington scandal.
“I don’t think it deals with all of the issues,” Shorris responded.
Council members said it won’t make Rivington disappear.
“The Rivington scandal is too deep to be gotten out from under. The whole thing is just a debacle,” said Councilman Rory Lancman, D-Queens.
Councilman Ben Kallos, D-Manhattan, said, “What happened at Rivington is wrong. There is no way that they dig out from this. Not only do they need to fix the policy, they need to change it so that something like this never happens again.”
And in another attempt to get out from under the scandal, the city is also going to hold public hearings. Members of the public will be allowed to testify about proposed restrictions to dead restriction laws.
That hearing is Nov. 1
Overall, the hearing lasted six hours, the New York Times reported with several other members of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration also questioned. There were questions about competency. City Coucilman Ben Kallos wondered how Shorris could do his job properly when he had to oversee 30 different city agencies, according to the Wall Street Journal.
There were questions over the timeline. De Blasio had previously stated that he only became aware of the whole wrongdoing towards the end of March, whereas Shorris’s testimony on Thursday seemed to suggest that it was towards the end of February or early March, according to the New York Post.
Councilman Ben Kallos of Manhattan asked why Mr. Shorris had not followed up to make sure his decision — that the center should remain a nursing home — had been observed.
Councilman Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat and chairman of the hearing, pointed out that Mr. Shorris is responsible for about 30 different agencies, making it difficult for him to know exactly what each is doing.
The miscommunication today played out in “real-time,” as City Councilman Ben Kallos, the chairman of the committee on governmental operations put it, when, during the hearing, he asked Shorris why he had to leave—”for the record.”
City Councilman Ben Kallos asked First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris if he would say on the record why he could only testify for a limited time.
Councilmembers Ben Kallos, chair of the committee of governmental operations, and Vincent Gentile, the chair of the oversight and investigations committee, sparred with a soft-spoken Shorris, who spoke in exhausting detail of his involvement in the deed removal beginning two years ago.
“We want to give the public an unprecedented view into what’s happening and the different forces and actors at play,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Governmental Operations, which is holding the hearing.
"Eric Phillips, the mayor’s chief spokesman, said: ‘We’re happy to have the city’s second-highest official and top lawyer testify. Providing that level of transparency, cooperation and accountability to the council and public are critical to the mayor.”
Faulting “a process that has failed to protect and preserve significant community assets, like Rivington House,” Councilmember Margaret Chin, whose district includes 28 Liberty, along with speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilmember Ben Kallos, and Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer, favor a process that would make deed restriction changes subject to a ULURP.
Council Members Ben Kallos, Rory Lancman, and Elizabeth Crowley - all Democrats like de Blasio - have each submitted a request that legislation be crafted around regulating 501(c)(4) nonprofits. Kallos’ bill drafting request is “on point” with a recent proposal made by Citizens Union, a government reform group. That proposal would require that 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(3) organizations created at the behest of elected officials to promote their own image or agenda be treated like political committees under the city’s campaign finance laws. This would entail detailed disclosure of contributions and expenditures, limits on contributions similar to those for political candidates, and oversight by the Campaign Finance Board.
“Anytime you’ve got elected officials whose political campaigns are limited in the money they can raise affiliated with 501(c)(4)s that engage in quasi-electoral activities that don’t have the same limits, that is a place we should be paying attention,” Kallos said in a phone interview. Kallos chairs the Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, where the bills would likely be introduced and heard.
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.
New York City's budget was passed this week, and it is a budget that you can have confidence in. The progressive, compassionate budget puts residents first and brings more opportunity to our neighborhood and city. It was reached through a transparent negotiating process that took the voice of every Council Member and community into account in order to serve all New Yorkers.