Updates

Press Release
Thursday, February 9, 2017

PA James, CM Kallos Condemn House Move to Block Municipal-Based Retirement Savings

Resolutions would Repeal DOL Rules; Leave Millions without Retirement Savings Plans

NEW YORK -- Today, Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Member Ben Kallos released the following joint statement in response to House resolutions H.J. Res 66 and H.J Res 67 to block state- and municipal-based retirement savings plans.

“Our government was created to protect and advance hardworking Americans, not champion policies that hinder our ability to succeed. The new resolutions introduced in the House to prevent cities and states from creating retirement savings plans for individuals are ill-conceived and seem to favor the financial services industry over everyday Americans. Millions of Americans do not have access to these critical tools for their future and, in New York City, more than half of our workers are projected to be in or near poverty when they retire, as a result. By blocking municipalities from creating this safety net, our federal government is hurting working Americans and working New Yorkers. Congress should be supporting these efforts, not tearing them down.”

Public Advocate James and Council Member Ben Kallos have been leaders in creating a New York City-wide retirement savings plan. In February 2015, they co-sponsored legislation to study the creation of a retirement security plan for New York City private sector workers. In June 2015, Public Advocate James released a report documenting the precarious state of retirement savings for New Yorkers. In February 2016, Public Advocate James and Council Member Kallos joined Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce a plan for New York to become the first city in the country to create a retirement savings program for private sector employees.

 

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Press Coverage
City Land
Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Council Member Elizabeth Crowley was combative when questioning Chandler. Citing the Committee’s report, Crowley noted that while permits issued by the DOB were up 15 percent from 2014 to 2016, fatalities had gone up 100 percent in that same time. She laid blame for the rise in deaths on a “lapse in safety standards and supervision on the behalf of the DOB.” Crowley, sponsor of the prevailing wage bill, was baffled that the DOB would oppose requiring prevailing wages and apprenticeship training, which she pointed out that the School Construction Authority already requires for all its developments.

Council Member Benjamin Kallos expressed concerns over DOB’s testimony against apprenticeship programs. Kallos noted, and DOB conceded, that there are apprenticeship programs offered in a range of languages other than English, so language may not be such a bar. Further, when asked how many programs require a G.E.D. or its equivalent, the DOB was unable to provide an answer because it did not track such things. Kallos asked DOB to reconsider its position based on the lack of data to back the DOB’s assertions.

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Press Coverage
1010 WINS
Monday, February 6, 2017

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Department of Sanitation and City Councilman Ben Kallos were handing out free reusable bags to help residents prepare for the implementation of a new ‘carryout bag law.’

However, the law is not without opposition.

Walking out the Fairway market on East 86th Street, Chris told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones that he likes the reusable bags, and uses them all the time. He also runs a delivery service.

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Legislation
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

This bill would require the Department of Buildings to report on all construction accidents that result in an injury or fatality to a member of the public or a construction worker.

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Legislation
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

This bill would require that contractors working on certain projects receiving City financial assistance participate in an apprenticeship program. It would also require reporting of certain information concerning such projects.

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Legislation
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This bill would create timeframes for the removal of construction-related equipment when there is no active construction and would permit the city to correct unsafe conditions of exterior walls

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Legislation
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This bill would require that at least one staff member of the Board of Standards and Appeals be a state certified general appraiser with expertise analyzing and auditing real estate investments.

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Legislation
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This bill would require the Department of City Planning to designate a Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) Coordinator and to post on its website a record of such coordinator’s attendance at BSA hearings as well as any written testimony presented by the Department or by the City Planning Commission.

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Legislation
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This bill would codify minimum evidentiary requirements for zoning variance applications with respect to establishing physical uniqueness of a zoning lot and the applicant’s inability to obtain a reasonable rate of return under the existing zoning. A person who makes a materially false statement or causes a materially false statement to be made in connection with a zoning application would be subject to a $25,000 fine for every such false statement.

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Legislation
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This bill would require the Board of Standards and Appeals to create, and post on its website, an interactive map displaying the location of all variances and special permits approved by the BSA since January 1, 1996. The map would allow a user to filter by borough; council district; community district; type of variance; date; and, for special permits, active or inactive status.

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Legislation
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This bill would require the Board of Standards and Appeals to report information about applications for variances and special permits, and appeals of decisions regarding variances and special permits, to the Council twice per year, on dates approximately one and a half months prior to the mandated due dates for the Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report and the Mayor’s Management Report.

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Press Release
Saturday, February 4, 2017

"The exploitation of vulnerable New Yorkers at transitional homes is an issue we must solve quickly and decisively,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "By requiring reporting from the agencies tasked, New Yorkers will all have a better idea of how serious this issue is, who the bad actors are and what progress is being made. This package of bills forces more transparency that will better our chances at finally getting finding a solution to this issue."

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Press Release
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January 27, 2017

Dear Resident,

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me with your position on the Queensboro Oval. We have been working with the community on this issue for years and hope we can work with you so that even more people can enjoy the Queensboro Oval as a City park.

With the expiration of Sutton East’s lease, the City and community are considering various options for the land, including operating public tennis courts where season passes are $200 and day passes cost $15. I hope that you will join the conversation to help us determine how to effectively open this City park to more New Yorkers.

Community Board 8 has held numerous public meetings to discuss the future of the Queensboro Oval with members of the community dating back to January 7, 2010, with more than ten meetings since I was elected from December 4, 2014 through January 12, 2017. These meetings were publicly noticed through the Community Board website and email list, publicly posted with paper signs on lamp posts, featured in a full length cable television show, covered by the press and prominently featured in my own emails and letters to residents.

At these meetings, members of the public have continually expressed concern that, while the Upper East Side has among the lowest amount of public park space in the City, Sutton East Tennis sits on City park land, but is not accessible to most community members with rates as high as $225 an hour that most cannot afford. Sutton East Tennis Club was notified and was represented at many of the meetings, though no one has spoken in favor of continued privatization of this public space. Dating back to 2008, Community Board 8 has objected to the privatization of public land at the Queensboro Oval, and in the last 12 months alone, the Parks Committee and Full Board have passed four resolutions calling for the City to make the Queensboro Oval a year-round public park, which could include tennis courts accessible to more New Yorkers.

On June 25th of 2016, members of the community met at the Oval for a rally, calling for the park to be returned to public use. The rally was covered by The Daily News, Manhattan Express, and DNAinfo.

Some of the concerns raised were:

  • The Queensboro Oval sits on 1.25 acres of public parkland, not private land.
  • Sutton East Tennis has high fees with a minimum of $80 to a maximum of $225 an hour.
  • Sutton East Tennis is renting 1.25 acres for only $2 million a year, very far below market rate.
  • Nine months out of the year the land is completely closed off to the public without any benefit to the community.
  • Each year when the tennis bubble is removed for just two and half months of summer, the land is left in almost unusable condition.

Community Board 8, with input from members of the public, has been transparent and unequivocal in its decision-making process regarding the Queensboro Oval. We have also received over one hundred petition signatures in support of opening the Queensboro Oval to the public.

Please note that there are 12 HarTru tennis courts available just a 5 minute Tram ride away from 59th Street and Second Avenue available at the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club where rates are a fraction of those at Sutton East Tennis and where we have partnered with the New York Junior Tennis League to provide free tennis classes to children ages 5 to 18 every Saturday and Sunday morning from 6am to 8am through the winter and free tennis camp through the summer.

The Riverside Clay Tennis Association, a non-profit that currently maintains 10 red clay courts in Riverside Park, has also presented at Community Board 8, and is interested in providing the same services to these courts making them public tennis courts operated by the New York Parks Department. Season tennis passes would be $200 for adults, $20 for seniors over 62 and $10 for children under 16, and day passes for $15.

How much do you currently pay per season at Sutton East Tennis? Would you be interested in working with a non-profit like Riverside Clay Tennis Association in order to maintain this amenity as a New York City Park Department public tennis court where you could pay for a season what you currently pay per hour?

Please let Community Board 8 and my office know, so that we can include your voice in how we use this park to benefit the public.

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos

Council Member

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Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Over the last two weeks New Yorkers have made me even prouder to represent this City as they have come out by the tens of thousands, taking action to support everything from a woman’s right to choose to keeping our nation and City open to immigrants and refugees. To stay informed about ways to defend New York City values against the threats of the Trump Administration, sign up to get more frequent messages from me with notifications of upcoming actions (you can unsubscribe at any time).

As we make our voices heard nationally, we must reinvest in leading on the local level. In the spirit of community collaboration, it was a pleasure seeing almost two hundred residents at my State of the District event, where I highlighted much of what we have accomplished together over the past three years, and what we can achieve on the East Side and in New York in 2017.

We continue our push to bring true Universal Pre-K to the East Side and Roosevelt Island, to fight against overdevelopment, and to bring scaffolding down throughout the city. We are also taking action to support women's healthfire safety, and construction safety.

How will you get involved this month?

Sincerely,

 

Ben Kallos

SPECIAL EVENTS:
 
February 10, 11:30am
ERFA Town Hall
 
February 16, 2pm-4pm
Fire Safety Prevention Event 

February 16, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Pre-K Registration Event 
 
February 17, 10am-4:30pm
NO-COST Mammogram Van 
 
 
 
DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

February 3, 8am-10am
First Friday

February 14, 6pm-7pm
Brainstorming With Ben


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. SanctuaryNYC
  2. Holocaust Remembrance Day
  3. Muslim Ban
  4. Take Action and Resist
  5. New York Times Editorial Supports Scaffolding Reform
  6. 50 Year Agreement Reached on the Roosevelt Island Tram
  7. City Council Funding for Local Non-Profits Due February

EDUCATION

  1. Universal Pre-Kindergarten Presentation on Registration
  2. Free State and City College
  3. Meeting with Parent Teacher Associations

HOUSING & ZONING

  1. East River 50s Alliance Town Hall
  2. Protecting the Rent Freeze
  3. Safe Construction Jobs Act Hearing
  4. Historic Districts Council is Hiring

PARKS & THE ENVIRONMENT

  1. Opening the Queensboro Oval
  2. Climate Change on SciQ
  3. Solar Energy in New York City

TRANSPORTATION

  1. Update: Fighting for a Select Bus Service Stop at East 72nd Street
  2. Successful Commercial Bike Safety Event
  3. Honoring the Second Avenue Subway Task Force
  4. Job Posting: Program Manager at Citi Bike

GOVERNMENT TECHNOLOGY AND TRANSPARENCY

  1. The NYC Civic Innovation Fellows Program
  2. The Commons: Co-Working Space Opens on the Upper East Side

COMMUNITY

  1. Third Annual State of the District
  2. Judicial Inductions
  3. Due This Friday: Join Your Community Board
  4. Free Tax Preparation by AARP Tax Aide at Lenox Hill
  5. Supporting the Homeless, ETHOS Update
  6. 3 Kings Day at El Museo Del Barrio
  7. Judicial Inductions
  8. Rally Opposing Anti Labor Secretary Nominee
  9. Our Lady of Peace Parishioners Appeal Church Closing
  10. NYC Ballet Family Saturdays: $5 Ticket Offer
  11. NYC Urban Debate League Is Looking for Volunteer Judges
  12. In the Community

OFFICE UPDATES

  1. Legislative Corner
  2. Free Legal Clinics
  3. Here to Help
  4. Mobile District Hours
  5. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS AND RESOURCES

  1. City Council Events
  2. Government Meetings
  3. Community Boards
  4. New York Police Department
  5. Neighborhood and Tenant Associations
  6. Community Events for Kids
  7. Community Events for Adults
  8. Resources Funded in Part by My Office
  9.  
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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Thursday, January 26, 2017

"New York City is in the midst of a homelessness crisis that is severely impacting our most vulnerable residents, with currently 23,365 children are living in our city's shelter system," Kallos said. "We should be doing everything we can to prevent more families from ending up in already crowded shelters."

Hevesi's plan previously has been backed by 111 state Assembly members from both parties, a group of eight breakaway Senate Democrats who help make up a leadership coalition with the Republicans, and a range of other public officials.

Hevesi has said his plan would cost the state and feds $450 million, but it would ultimately save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by relying less on costly shelters. It would also be a big savings for the city, he has said.

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Press Coverage
Reveal Center For Investigative Reporting
Monday, January 23, 2017

The business model has worked well for the company, which was founded in the paper era in 1934, and has helped countless residents who want to find information about their community’s laws and see how they compare with others.

“We don’t believe we own these codes,” Wolf said. “We believe we are a service provider. We take the raw ordinances and put the codes online.”

The information, he says, doesn’t belong to his company. “It is not our information; it is the public’s information.”

New York City recently became a client of American Legal Publishing.

Ben Kallos, a city council member who helped nudge the city toward embracing a new system for publishing its laws, said making laws easily available to the public should be a no-brainer.

“If it is just out there and publicly available, residents can actually read laws, interact with them and use them and be empowered.”

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Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Thursday, January 19, 2017

One of the more contentious bills would require construction workers involved in projects of a certain size that receive $1 million or more in any kind of government assistance to receive state-approved training. Contractors would be required to participate in apprenticeship programs approved by the New York State Department of Labor if working on projects that are 100,000 square feet or more or have 50 or more residential units. A similar bill was introduced in 2013, but was revived by Council member Ben Kallos. Kallos noted on Wednesday that since 2012, 72 percent of construction-related accidents occurred on sites where contractors didn’t participate in apprenticeship programs.

“No one should die from a construction accident that could have been prevented with proper education, apprenticeship, and protections for a worker’s right to say no to a dangerous situation,” he said in a statement.

Brian Sampson, president of the New York chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, a nonunion organization, said the bill wrongly equates the apprenticeship programs with safety. He argued that the law would force workers to either join a union — since unions already participate in the programs — or apply for a program independently, which can take six to 18 months. He said this is likely to put hundreds of workers out of jobs.

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Press Release
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New York, NY – Today, the City Council voted to approve a potential franchise agreement between the City of New York and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC). After more than 20 years of operating without an agreement, a proposed franchise has been approved for two 25-year terms, granting the City the authority to negotiate with RIOC to continue operating the unique and iconic aerial tramway from Tramway Plaza on Second Avenue between 60th and 59th Streets over the East River to Roosevelt Island.
 
“The Roosevelt Island Tram is here to stay. After 20 years of needless bureaucracy, we’ve protected the tram through 2068, the end of RIOC’s 99-year land lease,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who represents Roosevelt Island. “Thank you to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and RIOC President Susan Rosenthal for their partnership in protecting the tram.”

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Press Release
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New York, NY – Government invests billions every year in subsidies for private construction in New York City without training or transparency for the projects. The reintroduction of the Safe Jobs Act (Intro.1432) would require transparency around Federal, State or City government assistance received by developers and contractors whose construction workers would be required to receive training and graduate from State Department of Labor approved programs.
 
“No one should die from a construction accident that could have been prevented with proper education, apprenticeship, and protections for a worker's right to say no to a dangerous situation,” said Council Member Ben Kallos a union-side labor lawyer. “Any project that receives taxpayer dollars must pay a living wage, invest in workers with training and apprenticeship, and provide protection for worker's rights.”
 
Construction-related fatalities remain a serious problem in New York City almost doubling in Fiscal Year 2015 to 10 from an average of 5.5 the previous four years. Injuries have also increased by more than 50% to 324 injured workers in 2015 according to the Department of Buildings. Since 2012, 72% of the injuries at construction sites occurred at locations where employers did not participate in state-approved training or apprenticeship programs that this bill would require.

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Press Coverage
City Land
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Occupying a prominent site that formerly hosted the Vanderbilt mansion at the south end of Grand Army Plaza, the building was designed Ely Jacques Kahn in a Modern Classical style. Bergdorf Goodman was among the original tenants, and grew to become one of the City’s iconic department stores, ultimately purchasing the entire building.

The vernacular Italianate 412 East 85th Street House was built circa 1860, and is a rare surviving wood-framed house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The house has had a series of owners, and undergone some minor alterations, but remains largely intact. The house’s owners, Catherine De Vido and Susan Jordan, supported landmark designation. Council Member Ben Kallos, Gale Brewer, and preservationist organizations also urged Landmarks to designate the property.

The Harlem Branch of the YMCA, now the Jackie Robinson YMCA Youth Center, was completed in 1919 to designs by architect John Jackson. At the time of its construction, YMCAs were racially segregated, and the Harlem Branch was built for the use of African Americans. The building served as a center for Harlem intellectual and social life, and Harlem Renaissance luminaries such as Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and Paul Robeson are associated with the YMCA. There was no opposition to designation on the November 12thhearing. Chair Srinivasan said the cultural and social history associated with the building made it “a standout.”

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Press Coverage
Bicycling.com
Friday, January 13, 2017

Citi Bike has seen nearly 37 million trips completed since its inception in 2013, with few serious injuries and no deaths—but with more riders joining the bike share, they see further safety measures as a necessary step. (Learn everything you need to be a safer rider with the Bicycling Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills.)

“As Citi Bike ridership soars even during the dark winter months, it is important that we look for new innovative ways to keep pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers safe,” said Council Member Ben Kallos in a press release. “By testing out the Blaze Laserlights, the city is showing its commitment to safety in our streets.”

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Press Coverage
Mobile Marketing Magazine
Friday, January 13, 2017

“As Citi Bike ridership soars even during the dark winter months, it is important that we look for new innovative ways to keep pedestrians, cyclists and drivers safe,” said city council member Ben Kallos. “By testing out the Blaze Laserlights the city is showing its commitment to safety in our streets.”

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