Updates

Press Coverage
West Side Spirit
Monday, July 31, 2017

“Benches are one of those things where you actually get them for free,” said City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the area. Unlike, say, garbage cans and tree guards, which have to be funded by so-called member items, the city is brimming with available benches, he said.

 

Read more


Press Release
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Statement: Council Member Ben Kallos on Voter Data Release
 Today’s decision by the New York State Board of Elections is a shameful capitulation to the President’s fear mongering about voter fraud. Allegations of widespread voter fraud have repeatedly been disproven and there exists no evidence to suggest it occurred in last November’s election or any election.
 
The President’s sham commission is nothing more than yet another Republican attempt to restrict voting rights and only serves to perpetuate dangerous myths and spread doubt about our democratic process. That the commissioners of the State Board of Elections would assist such a commission casts doubt on their integrity and their commitment to protecting the personal data of New York’s 12.5 million voters.

Read more


Press Release
Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Photo caption (L-R):  Mark Hannay (Director, Metro New York Health Care for All), Richard Mollot (Executive Director, The Long Term Care Community Coalition), Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried, Peter Morley (Patient Advocate), Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Councilmember Ben Kallos, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Michael Rawlings (Chief Operating Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue)

NEW YORK—Following the failure of Senate Republicans’ proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) hosted a roundtable at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue with healthcare professionals, patient advocates, and concerned constituents to discuss the future of the health care law. The group focused on steps forward, strategies for strengthening the ACA, and ways to combat Administration efforts to undermine the landmark legislation.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions more Americans have access to good, affordable healthcare. We need to preserve the protections the ACA put in place and build on our progress,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “Democrats and Republicans must work together to bring down costs and expand coverage to really deliver the A—affordable—of the ACA. Although the ACA has done really tremendous things, a stronger, better version can do more – and its’ up to us in Congress to make that happen. Prices are still too high. There are counties where the exchanges have one or no insurers. We can do better. If Republicans can drop their obsession with repealing the ACA, then we can get to work on making sure all Americans have access to good, affordable and reliable healthcare.”

"The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of Americans get the health insurance they need to live healthy lives," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "When Congress passed the ACA many amendments were necessary to pass this historic legislation, but now is the time to revisit those amendments and make it even stronger. Thank you to Congress Member Carolyn Maloney for leading the charge on protecting and improving the Affordable Care Act."

Read more


Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Monday, July 31, 2017

We’ve seen it in our districts. A new landlord takes ownership of a building and starts a construction project that never finishes in order to evict long-term residents. They may turn off the cooking gas indefinitely; they may even knock out the boiler with no explanation.

For too many New Yorkers, this nightmare is their reality. The stories are plentiful: heat and gas shutoffs in the middle of winter, jackhammering causing cracks in apartment walls, loss of power, and lead dust in the air lasting for months on end. For years, city and borough officials and community advocates have encountered a critical mass of stories like these, detailing the unscrupulous conduct of landlords as well as the insufficient response from the City of New York.

Read more


Newsletter

In July, the New York Times covered legislation to quiet noise in our city, scaffolding and our communty's efforts to fight overdevelopment.

We also broken ground on the reconstruction of the East River Esplanade with $35 million that I secured as co-chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney.

When the MTA proposed service cuts of up to 33% to the M31, M57, M66 and M72, over Father's Day Weekend, I authored a letter with fellow elected officials which was followed by maintained service levels on the M57. Join us in fighting for crosstown bus service at BenKallos.com/share/CrosstownBus

Ben Kallos 


Council Member 

 

  1. Groundbreaking on East River Esplanade
  2. Stop Work Order on Sutton Superscraper
  3. Fighting Cuts to Crosstown Bus Service

QUALITY OF LIFE

  1. New Legislation for a Quieter Neighborhood
  2. Scaffolding Almost Old Enough to Vote

NATIONAL

  1. Resistance: Saving Medicaid and Affordable Care Act and Standing with Transgender Military and Immigrants
  2. Fighting for Net Neutrality, Again

JOBS

  1. Fighting for Jobs
  2. Supporting Our Small Businesses

ENVIRONMENT

  1. Launching Weekly Compost Drop Off On Your Morning Commute
  2. Fresh Food Box
  3. Compost in Your Building

LOCAL

  1. New Community Board 8 Members Appointed
  2. Bike Safety
  3. Helping the Homeless
  4. In the Neighborhood

RESOURCES

  1. Here to Help
  2. Free Legal Clinics
  3. Mobile Office Hours
  4. Resource Guide
  5. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS

  1. City Council Events

 

Read more


Press Coverage
PIX11
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Locally, officials hope the Astoria route will help alleviate the inundated 7 train and help commuters traveling to and from Roosevelt Island.

“Roosevelt Island has waited generations for ferry service which will finally arrive this summer,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the area.

Read more


Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The new datasets released in the update include NYPD complaint data on felonies, misdemeanors and violent crimes reported between 2006 and 2016; details of City Council participatory budgeting projects from 2012 onwards; data on the programs, benefits and resources for 40 health and human services available to New Yorkers; and a Department of City Planning database of more than 35,000 records on public and private facilities from 50 sources. Other new aspects of the program include legal mandates for compliance with FOIL requests and on timing of responses to data requests.

Though FOIL requests involving data are being streamlined, City Council Member Ben Kallos, a longtime advocate of open data, thinks that it can be improved further by passing his “Open FOIL” bill, which would create “one searchable database of Freedom of Information Law requests sent to city agencies.” Kallos also believes that the city could do more outreach about the existence of the open data initiative.

"The City is getting better and better at getting the word out about Open Data,” Kallos told Gotham Gazette. “I for one want to see Open Data classes taught at our city libraries so anyone can learn how to use the data sets, not just techies." Indeed, while many data sets are available, they aren’t always easy to digest or utilize to find patterns or other takeaways.

Read more


Press Coverage
Queens Gazette
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Noise is the number one complaint in New York City, but to NYC Councilman Ben Kallos and NYC Council Environmental Chair Costa Constantinides it doesn’t need to be a fact of life in the Big Apple. Kallos and Constantinides introduced legislation in June to be heard in the fall that would require the city to respond to noise complaints for nightlife and construction within two hours or on a subsequent day within an hour of the time of the complaint. The bill aims to increase the likelihood that inspectors will identify the source of the noise, issue a violation, and restore quiet.

“Noise is such a big problem that it might be better to call us ‘Noise’ York City. If 311 is any indication, residents are tired of all the noise, and it is time we did something about it,” said Councilman Kallos. “It is hard to imagine a government of the people for the people ignoring the people’s top complaint and expecting them to be happy living here. I am disappointed by recent reports that the city is actually doing less to quiet noise as complaints rise. We as a city need to take this problem seriously, take it head on without excuses, and give every New Yorker the peace and quiet they need.”

“The nuisance that bothers New Yorkers most is loud noises, however, it could take days for agencies to respond to noise complaints. By that time, a violation would unlikely be issued.  That's why we're introducing this legislation that would require the city to respond to noise complaints within two hours. New Yorkers deserve a responsive government and noise-free neighborhoods. Thank you to my colleague Council Member Ben Kallos for leading the way on this quality-of-life issue,” said Environmental Committee Chair Constantinides.

Read more


Press Release
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

NEW YORK—The Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications today released the annual update to the NYC Open Data Plan, a schedule of public datasets City agencies plan to release through 2018. Over the last year, agencies have released datasets across hundreds of categories, from the number of trees planted to FDNY incident dispatch numbers. The annual update is part of Open Data for All, a strategic overhaul around how the City collects and reports data to New Yorkers, with a focus on helping as many New Yorkers as possible view, understand, and engage with information that describes how government is helping them live, work, and play.

"Open Data empowers residents with data they need to learn about city services first hand and is an invaluable tool for elected officials like me to analyze and oversee how our city delivers services,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “In particular, I’m excited to see the inclusion of the Programs and Benefits API. Residents can now get the help they need from a list of benefits available, who qualifies and how to apply. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and DoITT Commissioner Anne Roest for continuing to make New York City more transparent with each new data set."

 

Read more


Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Monday, July 24, 2017

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz noted that the authority "reviews and evaluates bus schedules on a regular basis to ensure that they accurately match current rider demand and operating conditions, as well as to ensure there are resources available where needed to provide customers with the most efficient and effective bus service possible. 

"Schedule revisions also address the need to more accurately reflect changing traffic conditions which have generally slowed in recent years," he continued, without saying whether the agency is considering the community's requests.

Councilman Kallos said he and the other elected officials are pressing the MTA to release its swipe data to get the hard facts on how many people are using on the crosstown buses.

"They are not considering the Americans with Disabilities Act — this neighborhood has seniors almost more than anywhere else," he said. "We just have to keep making our voices heard."

 

Read more


Press Release
Friday, July 21, 2017

"We are breaking ground on a new East River Esplanade that was literally crumbling into the river after generations of neglect," said Council Member Ben Kallos, who advocated for the $41 million in the City's budget for this work and co-chairs the East River Esplanade Task Force with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney. "Having already secured this funding, we were able to get shovels in the ground soon after the sea wall collapse occurred here at Carl Schurz Park. This investment spans two Council Districts to fix various collapses and sinkholes between 63rd and 125th Streets. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for agreeing to provide $35 million in initial funding for the Esplanade, the Parks Department for getting these repairs started in time to address the recent collapse, and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney for prioritizing our waterfronts and her longstanding co-leadership of the East River Esplanade Task Force."

 

Read more


Press Release
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"As an elected official, it's in my job description to stand with my constituents -- all of my constituents. Many New York residents are immigrants, and all of us should do what we can to actively welcome them into our city. I'd like to extend a huge thanks to the hackers and programmers who showed up today to say that they do," said Councilman Ben Kallos, New York City Council, 5th District.

 

Read more


Press Coverage
Our Town
Monday, July 24, 2017

The cuts also caught the attention of a coalition of local, state and federal elected officials representing the impacted areas, which sent a letter to the MTA New York City Transit's acting president, Darryl Irick, objecting to the cuts and expressing concern that increased wait times “will leave our residents feeling abandoned by our buses.” The letter was signed by City Council Members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Members Dan Quart and Rebecca Seawright, state Senators Liz Kruger, Brad Hoylman and José Serrano, and U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler. And last week, Community Board 8 unanimously approved a resolution requesting that the MTA reconsider the proposed service reductions.

One source of frustration for elected officials and community members is that the MTA has thus far declined requests to release the underlying data used to evaluate service and ridership, such as farebox data. The elected officials asserted in their letter that the MTA's research and evaluation is “not done in a transparent manner that is subject to public review.”

“They have to show us the data that supports why they need to make these changes,” Kallos told Straus News after the cuts were announced.

Seawright echoed Kallos' call for the transit authority to release the data. “The MTA basically is refusing to share it, saying that it's not in a format that they're willing to distribute,” she said. “I think it's totally unacceptable.” Seawright said she planned to raise the issue of transparency at the MTA's next budget hearing in Albany

Read more


Press Release
Friday, July 21, 2017

The New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 90 West Street who sued their landlord after their rents were substantially raised, even though their apartments were stabilized through 421(g). In August 2016, Public Advocate James, along with 37 elected officials, filed an amicus brief in support of the tenants who were forced to pay unfair rent increases by their landlord on their rent stabilized apartments. The judge ruled that the tenants will maintain their rent stabilized status and a referee will be appointed to determine damages. 

This is the second lawsuit involving 421(g) that tenants have won this month to protect all units of affordable housing that received the 421(g) tax abatement. On July 3, the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of tenants at 50 Murray Street who also sued their landlord when rents were substantially raised despite being stabilized through 421(g).

“New York City's housing crisis is harming our City one family at a time,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This case was clear from the beginning: greedy landlords trying to double dip and cheat the system by cashing in on luxury deregulation exclusions while at the same time getting tax breaks for rent controlled units. The law is clear and it must be followed. Thank you to Tish James for being the advocate and attorney for millions of rent regulated New Yorkers who now more than ever need vigorous, committed defenders.”

Read more


Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

 

The group attending the ground breaking ceremony include NYC Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Councilman Ben Kallos, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Community Board 8 Chair Jim Clynes.

The $15 million reconstruction project will target three sites along the East River Esplanade seawall — East 88th to 90th streets, East 114th to 117th streets and East 124th to 125th streets — according to the city. In May, a portion of the seawall at East 88th Street collapsed, sending concrete blocks into the river.

Read more


Press Release
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Upper East Side- NY Compost On–the-Go, is a new program from GrowNYC’s zero waste initiatives funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation. Compost On–the-Go increases access to food waste composting for New Yorkers in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan.  Conveniently located near transit, drop-off sites are staffed by friendly compost coordinators ready to accept fruit and vegetable scraps as residents head out to start the day. In support of this environmentally savvy program Council Member Ben Kallos  joined a team of GrowNYC volunteers and employees at the 96th Street & Lexington Ave (6 Train) station on Thursday July 20th at 10am. Residents who wish to participate in composting are encouraged to drop off acceptable items every Wednesday from 7:15 am to 10:30am.  DSNY will transport collected scraps to a regional facility to be transformed into compost.  

Read more


Press Coverage
New York Times
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mr. Kallos has made curbing noise one of his top priorities. He and Costa Constantinides, a councilman from Queens, are proposing legislation that targets some of the most grating sounds by requiring city noise inspectors to respond within two hours when possible to catch noisemakers in the act. Inspectors currently have no legally mandated deadlines but follow departmental guidelines for responding within a certain period of time.

Read more


Press Release
Thursday, July 20, 2017

New York, NY – Noise is the number one complaint in New York City, but to Council Member Ben Kallos and Environmental Chair Costa Constantinides it doesn’t need to be a fact of life in the Big Apple. Kallos and Constantinides introduced legislation in June to be heard in the fall that would require the city to respond to noise complaints for nightlife and construction within two hours or on a subsequent day within an hour of the time of the complaint. The bill aims to increase the likelihood that inspectors will identify the source of the noise, issue a violation, and restore quiet.
 
“Noise is such a big problem that it might be better to call us ‘Noise’ York City. If 311 is any indication, residents are tired of all the noise, and it is time we did something about it,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “It is hard to imagine a government of the people for the people ignoring the people’s top complaint and expecting them to be happy living here. I am disappointed by recent reports that the city is actually doing less to quiet noise as complaints rise. We as a city need to take this problem seriously, take it head on without excuses, and give every New Yorker the peace and quiet they need.”
 

Read more


Press Coverage
New York Times
Sunday, July 16, 2017

As the scaffolding has proliferated, the Buildings Department has faced growing criticism that it is not doing enough to police those structures that stay too long. A City Council bill targeting such scaffolding would require it to be taken down within six months of going up, or sooner when no work is being done. The bill has drawn opposition from building owners and managers who say they may not have the money to make repairs immediately.

City building officials say that scaffolding ensures public safety and that they are required to ensure that it remains up as long as a building needs work.

Over the years, the city has struggled to keep track of scaffolding when permits have lapsed, or when existing scaffolding is simply replaced with new scaffolding under a new permit. In the case of the Harlem building, city records initially showed that the scaffolding went up only in 2012, which is when the owner replaced it.

Read more


Press Coverage
City and State
Thursday, August 17, 2017

There’s a reason they’re called lawmakers.

As we continue our breakdown of the best and worst New York City Council members, one of the most obvious factors in assessing each lawmaker’s performance is the number of bills they’ve had signed into law.

To measure this, we tallied bill introductions but left out resolutions, which have little real weight. Only a lawmaker who was the prime sponsor of a bill qualified in this analysis. To reward effort, one criterion was the number of bills introduced. And to reward effectiveness, the other legislative criterion was the number of bills signed into law. For these criteria, we used data from calendar year 2016.

Read more


Press Release
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dear Chairman and Commissioners,

 We write once again on behalf of the 8.5 million residents of New York City to protect and promote the Open Internet and net neutrality.

 New York City, through its City Council and its Mayor, is committed to universal broadband in order to bridge the digital divide. Yet the divide between those who can access reasonable broadband service and those who cannot will remain unbridgeable unless the Commission uses its mandate to expand access to broadband to protect and promote the Open Internet and net neutrality. There are 6.4 million people in New York State who have yet to adopt broadband, whose access to necessary and useful information and applications must be protected and promoted. Whether you use legal authority deriving from Telecommunications Act of 1996, Section 706 –the mandate to promote broadband deployment – or reclassify broadband under Title II of the Communications Act, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must protect the Free and Open Internet.

 Without net neutrality, cable companies would have the power to censor, block or otherwise discriminate against the digital tools necessary to thrive in the modern world.

Read more


Press Coverage
City and State
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Just behind Mark-Viverito and Matteo was City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who missed just one of his 83 meetings last year; City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who missed only two of 115 meetings; and City Councilman Ben Kallos, who was absent from two of 105 meetings.

To track attendance, we counted all the meetings that each member was obligated to attend in calendar year 2016, including committee and subcommittee meetings, and then determined how many he or she missed. (City Councilman Bill Perkins was left out of the analysis since much of the data we used is from 2016, when Inez Dickens still held his Harlem seat.)

Any time a member had two meetings scheduled at the same time, we didn’t count the conflict as an absence. But other absences – for medical reasons, jury duty or funerals – were included.

This may strike some as unfair, but an extended absence can affect performance – and in some cases, it appeared to correlate with lower scores on other measures, like introducing and passing bills.

Yet one representative who missed substantial time due to medical leave nonetheless performed well on the other measures. City Councilman Jumaane Williams missed 15 days for medical reasons, but came in at No. 2 in our overall rankings.

Read more


Press Coverage
Habitat
Friday, July 14, 2017

“New Yorkers are exhausted by overdevelopment,” city councilman Ben Kallos, a leading opponent of the tall tower, tells the New York Times. “This is about standing up and showing the city that there’s another way to do things.”

Jon Kalikow, the president of Gamma Real Estate, says it would be a “disastrous outcome” if the city were to adopt the rezoning proposal.

“This building could dramatically change the character of our neighborhood,” says Alan Kersh, founding president of the East River Fifties Alliance, which opposes Gamma’s proposed tower and has more than 2,000 supporters, including 45 nearby co-ops and condominiums. Kersh lives across the street from the construction site in a 47-story building called the Sovereign.

Read more


Press Coverage
Our Town
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

At a July 7 meeting with elected representatives, MTA officials agreed to maintain current service levels on the M57 line, going back on an earlier proposal that would have increased headways on the route from 10 to 12 minutes during AM peak hours and from 12 to 15 minutes during PM peak hours. “The M57 was going to have the most cuts, and they’ve agreed to make no service changes to the M57,” Kallos said.

The proposed changes, scheduled to take effect in September, were first announced by MTA New York City Transit in a June 16 letter to elected officials and community boards. The letter also proposed reductions in service frequency on the M31, M66 and M72 bus lines that would increase scheduled wait times by 11 to 33 percent. Despite opposition from elected officials at the July 7 meeting, the MTA has not altered its proposal to cut service on the three lines, Kallos said.

 

Read more