Updates

Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee, addressed the budget disparity, although he did not make it a focus of the hearing.

Kallos pointed out that the notoriously dysfunctional BOE has proposed its largest budget increase in years, and also has not proposed any savings, referencing the mayor’s preliminary budget promise to identify $500 million in additional agency savings in time for the executive budget. “The cost increase you’re proposing is actually more than 10 percent of the existing savings that the mayor’s asking for,” Kallos said.

Ryan pointed out that the BOE is not beholden to the city. “Unlike some other agencies, the Board is an independent board and while we are certainly sensitive to requests, wherever they may come from...we do operate a bit differently from some of the other agencies,” Ryan said.

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Press Coverage
The Lo-Down
Monday, March 13, 2017

Asked by Council member Ben Kallos whether, “poor performance” led to Morales’ firing, Camilo said,  “It’s not a topic that I can get into.” She also declined to say whether Morales is cooperating with federal prosecutors. Camilo asserted that she made the decision to fire her deputy commissioner and then informed first Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris. De Blasio has said he knew nothing about it.

Morales’ lawyer has called the timing of the dismissal suspicious.

The lifting of deed restrictions at Rivington House cleared the way for the sale of the former nursing home to luxury condo developers for $116 million.

 

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Press Coverage
New York Post
Monday, March 13, 2017

A top city official wasn’t fired because of his role in a controversial land deal that allowed a non-profit nursing home to be converted to luxury housing — but his boss refused to say Monday if he was ousted because of other federal investigations.

The axed official, Ricardo Morales, who served as a deputy commissioner at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, was at the center of two deals now being probed by federal investigators.

One was the lifting of deed restrictions on Rivington House, a Lower East Side nursing home, that eventually led to its sale for luxury condos.

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Press Coverage
New York Post
Monday, March 13, 2017

The city’s top lawyer predicted Monday that taxpayers will have to shell out “a few million dollars more” for the legal bills of mayoral aides swept up in several corruption probes.

And that’s on top of the $10.5 million already spent on outside lawyers.

Corporation Counsel Zach Carter described the additional legal costs as not “a large magnitude” and said it appears the federal probes are “winding down and concluding.”

“We believe that there will be a few million dollars more expended, but I can’t give you an exact figure,” Carter testified at a City Council budget hearing. “I don’t believe that it will be a large magnitude of expenditures.”

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Press Coverage
Main Street WIRE
Saturday, March 11, 2017

Residents, Community Board 8 (CB8) members, and other elected officials, including Council Member Ben Kallos, have complained that the agreement with Sutton East Tennis prohibits the larger public from using the public park for all but about two months of the year when the space is converted to a softball field.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Friday, March 10, 2017

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who has been pushing for the stops to be returned, posted photos on Thursday of MTA workers installing the ticketing machines.

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Press Coverage
Curbed
Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Wall Street Journal reports that on Wednesday, three new bills to protect POPS were introduced in the City Council, sponsored by Council members Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick. The first of the three bills would raise penalties for building owners from $4,000 to $10,000 for first offenses, and to $20,000 for additional offenses. Under the bill, a fine of up to $2,500 could be imposed for each month a violation goes unattended.

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Press Coverage
AM New York
Friday, March 3, 2017

If you work in Manhattan and have the gift/luxury of a lunch break, you’ve probably used a POPS without knowing it.

POPS, or privately owned public spaces, can be sunny or shaded plazas or sitting areas in indoor atriums, where you can enjoy your sandwich away from the desk.

At worst, these POPS are barren, vacant lobbies, or simply (and illegally) inaccessible.

Why does that matter beyond the fact that you can’t find a place to nibble your sandwich? Because there’s no such thing as a free POPS: each one was set aside for the public by property owners or developers in exchange for building bigger or taller towers and thus renting out more commercial space.

A new City Council effort aiming to get developers to stick to their end of the bargain has a particularly juicy case study: Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, which was able to build taller in exchange for setting aside public spaces.

The public part of Trump Tower has received significant attention since Trump descended the escalator in June 2015 to announce his presidential run.

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Press Release
Thursday, March 2, 2017

New York, NY— The New York City Council Progressive Caucus stands with the family of Ramarley Graham to once again demand transparency, accountability, and justice from the NYPD. Five years have passed since Ramarley Graham was killed, and yet his family has still not gotten the answers and justice they deserve. Officer Richard Haste has not been disciplined or terminated from employment, internal trials have not taken place for Sergeant Scott Morris or Officer John McLoughlin, and there has been no transparency related to the scope of the overall investigation. We call on the NYPD to enact disciplinary measures against Officer Haste and immediately schedule the disciplinary trials of Sergeant Morris and Officer McLoughlin. Refusing to do so sends a message that misconduct will be tolerated and is a violation of public trust and safety.

"No family should be made to wait five years for justice," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "Ramarley's Graham's death was avoidable and his family deserves answers now. I stand with Ramarley's family in demanding more transparency around the actions that led to his death."

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Newsletter

Dear Friend,

March marks the beginning of Participatory Budgeting. During this period you have an opportunity to vote on how to spend $1 million in our community. Voting will be available at dozens of Participatory Budgeting voting sites throughout the district and by absentee ballot. Make sure your voice is heard by requesting your absentee ballot today or committing to vote.

In February the New York Times covered an Education Committee hearing where legislation I introduced was discussed. My bill would require the Department of Education to report on the number of applications each school receives, how many offers it extends and where students live as well as show where students end up when they leave their neighborhoods to attend school. Many East Side residents are familiar with the Pre-Kindergarten shortage. This legislation would offer deeper insight and transparency into the problem so we can ensure no child is turned away from his or her neighborhood school.

Do you love Art? In March my office is taking part in our annual Sotheby's Student Art Show where hundreds of local students of all ages will showcase their artwork at the world famous Sotheby's. The show's opening reception will take place March 23 at 5pm sharp. You can RSVP by emailing artshowatbenkallos [dot] com

We finished off February with a focus on city management, including a Committee on Governmental Operations hearing on how to help residents and businesses avoid getting quality of life violations. As the City Council reviews the Mayor's Preliminary Budget, I will continue to push for performance budgeting to ensure every taxpayer dollar is getting results.

Sincerely,

 

Ben Kallos

Council Member

SPECIAL EVENTS:
 
March 11, 10am-2pm
Shred-a-Thon
 
March 23, 5pm-7pm
Sotheby's Student Art Reception

March 25 - April 2
Vote on How to Spend $1 Million

March 29, 6pm-8pm
Cornell Tech Town Hall

April 1, 2pm-6pm
Free Bike Helmet Giveaway
 
 
DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

March 3, 8am-10am
First Friday

March 14, 6pm-7pm
Brainstorming With Ben

 

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Press Release
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New York, NY – Over 538 privately owned public spaces (POPS) attached to 329 buildings face new legislation which imposes steep fines for bad landlords who violate the terms of their agreements with the City. In exchange for turning part of the building lot into an open or green space for public use, developers are typically allowed to build taller than the zoning code allows. The building owner is responsible for maintaining the space. Despite this legal requirement, many building owners have illegally closed off these spaces to the public or sought to use them for another purpose. The legislation is authored by Council Member Ben Kallos with sponsorship by Council Member Dan Garodnick, who together represent the POPS-dense Upper East Side, as well as Council Member David Greenfield, Chair of the City Council Committee on Land Use.

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Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Council member Ben Kallos of Manhattan, a sponsor of the legislation, said the attention surrounding Mr. Trump’s campaign led to enforcement efforts that other buildings had escaped. Council member Daniel Garodnick is also a sponsor of the legislation.

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Press Coverage
City Limits
Friday, February 24, 2017

The council members, including Margaret Chin, Corey Johnson, Rosie Mendez, Daniel Garodnick, Ben Kallos, Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez, expressed concern that the regulatory agreement had been crafted without significant input from HDFC stakeholders, that the regulation was “one-size-fits-all,” that additional restrictions could hurt stakeholders’ leveraging ability, among other concerns.

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Newsletter

Download Newsletter in PDF

Democracy works best when residents are empowered to have an impact on the decisions of government. Over my three years in office, I hope you have had an opportunity to make your voice heard at First Friday, Brainstorming with Ben, Ben-In-Your-Building, a neighborhood meeting, in a petition or by calling or emailing me. Here is just some of what we’ve accomplished together:

  • 14 laws passed to make government more transparent and honest, to improve democracy, and to improve quality of life
  • 523 pre-kindergarten seats added to the district
  • 57,000+ square feet of park space opened to the public
  • 35,000 children protected by moving the Marine Transfer Station ramp from Asphalt Green
  • $47 million secured for parks in the neighborhood from City Council district funds, the City Budget and private partnerships
  • $6.8 million invested in STEM education in our local public schools and free lunch for all middle schools
  • Rent frozen for more than 1 million rent stabilized tenants in the city 2 years in a row through advocacy at RGB
  • Over 19,480 violations issued to unsafe drivers and bikers for safer streets in 2016

Thank you for your partnership. Countless community leaders and residents have helped, and together we have accomplished so much. Make your voice heard with monthly updates at BenKallos.com/subscribe

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos
Council Member District 5

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Press Coverage
Chalkbeat New York
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

While some of that information is already publicly available, Kallos wants to gather more details and make it available in a single report.

He also hopes to expand the bill to include information about Pre-K for All applications to help reveal what he sees as unmet need. Kallos said that 54 percent of families who applied for pre-K on the Upper East Side, part of his district, were not offered seats in their zip code in 2015.

“The Mayor’s promise of ‘Pre-Kindergarten for All’ must include enough seats in every neighborhood,” Kallos said in a statement. “Parents in my district are giving up on our public schools and with it our government, and parents who can’t afford private school are being forced out.”

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Press Coverage
Gothamist
Monday, February 27, 2017

City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents a broad swath of Midtown East and the Upper East Side, on Wednesday introduced a bill requiring expanded disclosure on school enrollment, part of an effort to address a space crunch that has half of the city's public school students attending overcrowded schools.

Under the terms of the proposed bill, the Department of Education would make publicly available aggregated and disaggregated data on the number of applications and admissions granted for each school in the city, as well as enrollment numbers and expected open seats for the next school year. This data would be further broken down by grade level and the community school and council districts of residence for students, as well as their zip codes.

"We need to better track what schools people are applying to, how many folks are being turned away from schools, and have a better sense of where they're ending up so we can re-adjust programming," Kallos told Gothamist.

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Press Release
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Geographic Diversity Would Be Added as Measure in NYC Public Schools

 
New York, NY – The number of children from each neighborhood who apply to attend a particular school, the number of seats available at each school, how many offers of admission were made, and total enrollment in all public schools would be counted under a new bill from Council Member Ben Kallos. The legislation will be heard in a February 28, 2017 hearing of the Committee on Education titled “School Planning and Siting for New Capacity.”

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Monday, February 27, 2017

Councilman Ben Kallos is expected to introduce a bill on Wednesday that would require the Education Department to release additional data such as the number of applications each school receives, how many offers it extends and where students live. Credit Emon Hassan for The New York Times

Mr. Kallos said that his constituents routinely complain of being turned away from nearby prekindergarten classrooms or gifted and talented programs, for which they have qualified, because there is not enough room.

This legislation would show where students end up when they leave their neighborhoods to attend school, as many do. Mr. Kallos said that most elementary schools in his district were populated with students from the area, but at Ella Baker School, at 317 East 67th Street, which serves students from prekindergarten through eighth grade, most of the students are from elsewhere.

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Press Release
Thursday, February 2, 2017

“New Yorkers of all ethnicities, faiths, and backgrounds have coalesced in opposition to the un-American executive orders this president has signed,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. “We are a city of immigrants, and we will remain a sanctuary for the tired, the poor and the huddled masses, including those being persecuted by this administration. New York City is known for its bridges, not its walls, and our progressive values will not be eroded by anything they throw at us.”

 
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Press Coverage
Media Post
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

“Look out Silicon Valley, here comes Silicon Alley, supported by a city government that is providing the funding, space, and data the tech sector needs to thrive,” stated New York City Council Member Ben Kallos.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Monday, February 20, 2017

Councilman Ben Kallos, who attended the CB8 meeting on Wednesday, supported finding new use for the Queenboro Oval, telling tennis players to "get on the Roosevelt Island tram" to play at the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club or to back the creation of a non-profit that could maintain tennis courts at the location.

He pointed to the Riverside Clay Tennis Association which maintains courts at Riverside Park near West 96th Street.

"If you don't want to worry about the RFP and don't want Parks to have to worry about ethics laws, the best thing you can do is get the community board to pass a resolution saying that it wants to work with a nonprofit like Riverside and I can give funding from my office to get that started," Kallos said.

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Press Release
Thursday, February 16, 2017


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

“Forcing America’s elders to live out their golden years in poverty does not make America great again. States and municipalities pushed to create retirement systems precisely because the Federal government has failed our seniors. Doubling down on this failure and preventing cities like New York from helping employees save for their future is despicable, even by this Congress’ abysmal standards.

“After research and policy analysis, consultation with experts, and dialogue with retirees and future retirees, we laid out a common sense plan that helps New Yorkers save without burdening taxpayers. Congress should either help our efforts to advance retirement security or get out of the way so local governments can help seniors live with dignity.”

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Press Coverage
Madison County Courier
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

“New York State should be a national role model for voter access and voting rights, with same-day registration, early voting, and no-excuse absentee voting,” said NYC Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations. “I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman’s efforts to get these voting reforms passed, and in the City Council we will continue to support that effort with resolutions calling on the state legislature to do the right thing.”

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Monday, February 13, 2017

Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee, has been pushing the city to do better for years and, at his request, the latest reports now show spending information by general categories of appropriation. But, he points out, the report still fails to connect budgeting with agency goals, despite being mandated by the city charter. “The MMR should be treated as an investment document,” Kallos said in a phone interview, “and spending should be tied to specific programmatic performance goals so New York City residents know how their tax dollars are being spent and can advocate for them to be increased or decreased.”

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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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