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On Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 12:00pm on the steps of City Hall, Councilwoman Inez Barron, Chair of the Committee on Higher Education will be joined by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, other Elected Officials and Student Leaders to announce the passage of Intro 1138-A. Invited speakers include: State Assemblyman Charles Barron, Public Advocate Letitia James, Chancellor James B. Milliken, University Student Chair Chika Onyejiukwa and Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen.
"Access to a college education is access to opportunity," said Council Member Ben Kallos, a public university graduate. "Unfortunately, as college tuition is increasing everywhere, even in our City's public university system, that opportunity is shrinking. By examining how to maximize affordability at CUNY schools, Introduction 1138-A will go a long way toward ensuring opportunity through education remains within reach to all."
Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chairman of the Committee on Governmental Operations, echoed the importance of homeless people being ensured their vote is counted.
“We must ensure that everyone who can vote is voting no matter their housing status,” he said.
Kallos and Wills also worked together on a law that allows those being detained in city jails to vote.
“And with so many people awaiting trial with an overwhelming majority of men of color who shouldn’t be in our system, they need to be protected and they need their rights protected,” Kallos said at the press conference.
Although at the time of the press conference it was too late to register to vote, Matt Borden, of the DHS, wanted to ensure that those who are eligible to cast ballots would be told how to do so.
An analysis of data collected by the NYPD shows the success of several recent bicycle safety measures.
The study, performed by Council Ben Kallos’ office, looked at the NYPD’s “Details of Motor Vehicle Collisions in New York City” data from July 2012 to September 2016 for the 17th and 19th precincts.
Kallos and Council Member Daniel Garodnick, whose districts include these precincts, have led a push for greater bike safety and education programs in response to continuing concerns from residents between E. 26th and 96th Streets.
Following an increase in education, safety equipment, and enforcement, bike safety from 30th to 97th streets on Manhattan’s East Side has improved as a result of a program led by Council Member’s Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick. Compared to last year, there have been fewer pedestrians and cyclists injured in collisions and a reduction in the number of collisions involving cyclists.
Private developments are popping up right alongside the construction of MTA contractors. Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), whose district encompasses the new Upper East Side subway line, has watched two new developments rise from across the street of his district office.
Kallos said the line brings concerns, like the scale of new buildings, pricing out of residents and potential overcrowding at schools if the greater accessibility attracts more residents—“Not only are our trains crowded, but so are our schools,” he said.
“A concern is protecting my residents and making sure that those residing in rent-regulated housing are protected,” Kallos said, noting that his office will be open to all constituents with lease questions.
“For the businesses that survive the construction, they’ll have the benefit of increased foot traffic,” he added. “Sadly, for those who didn’t, we hope to see many of the empty storefronts revitalized.”
Commute times of Second Avenue residents could increase between 10 and 15 minutes, Streeteasy estimates show. Transit experts fear that villainizing mass transit as a driver of rent hikes or gentrification is counterproductive to building a more equitable city.
On Halloween, dozens of tenants holding spooky signs rallied at City Hall to bash landlords as vampires if they engage in predatory equity.
The event was held prior to a City Council hearing on a package of bills that were aimed at stopping the practice.
Predatory equity is generally defined as when a landlord purchases a property with a high level of debt that could only be expected to be paid if the owner aggressively tries to get rid of rent-regulated tenants and replace them with higher paying ones.
Tactics that could be considered aggressive by landlords include harassment via frivolous lawsuits, a lack of basic maintenance, illegal fees, constant buyout offers or construction that’s unsafe or seems gratuitously disruptive.
One of the City Council members pushing legislation, Dan Garodnick, gave the example of Stuyvesant Town’s sale to Tishman Speyer a decade ago as a prime example of predatory equity.
“This is when landlords overpay for buildings with the speculation that they will be able to deregulate units and drive out tenants,” he said. “You’re not making them enough money, so they will try anything to get you out of there. This is harassment.”
The other council members pushing bills were Ben Kallos, Ritchie Torres, Vincent Gentile, Helen Rosenthal and Jumaane Willians, who’s also chair of the council Housing Committee. One of the bills would require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to create and maintain a watch list of owners who’ve engaged in predatory activity.
“I am deeply concerned about whether a patronage-run Board of Elections can run an election properly,” Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) said on Monday.
Kallos, who chairs the council’s Government Operations Committee, added that he left an oversight hearing last month still believing voters are in for long lines and snafus, despite recent efforts to increase the number of poll workers to 36,000 and boost voting technology at the 1,205 poll sites.
Michael Ryan, the agency’s executive director, brushed the criticism aside, telling The Post he and his staff are more than ready for the big day.
A 2014 report by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, formed following problems with the 2012 presidential election, concluded that "no voter should have to wait more than half an hour," and that where that happens, "corrective measures should be deployed." And as research cited by the New York Times today found:
Early voters, urban voters and minority voters are all more likely to wait and wait and wait. In predominantly minority communities, the lines are about twice as long as in predominantly white ones[...]And minority voters are six times as likely as whites to wait longer than an hour to vote.
Citing the presidential commission's report, Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, chairman of the Council Committee on Governmental Operations, wrote, "At poll sites across the city, New Yorkers are reporting long lines. The consolidation of poll sites crammed too many election districts into mega-poll sites and left New Yorkers waiting on mega-lines. For safety, the fire code limits how many people can occupy a space and the number of voters at certain poll sites is dangerously close to those limits. We need additional, wheelchair-accessible poll sites to reduce lines and ensure a safe voting experience."
Perhaps even more troubling than technical and logistical malfunctions is poll worker misdirection, based on false understandings of law and procedure. At PS 142 in Carroll Gardens, reader Nicole Yoblick wrote:
The people working at my booth giving out forms were instructing us that we have to vote ALL democratic or ALL republican, that we could not pick and choose or the machines would reject the form when scanned. They said it had happened multiple times already...So we would not be allowed to vote for a democratic president and a republican senator. This is wrong!"
Even before dawn broke in New York City on Tuesday, the lines of voters stretched down the block.
With reports of high voter turnout, some voters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens said they waited hours to cast their ballots. Officials reported broken scanner machines and confusion at some polling sites.
“There were massive, massive lines and fire-code issues because so many people couldn’t get inside,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat, referring to a polling site on the Upper East Side.
Still, early indications showed that the city’s Board of Elections had fewer problems Tuesday, compared with the presidential primaries in April.
The number of polling places in New York City has declined in recent years, with the 1,205 operating this year about the same as in 2012 but down from 1,349 in 2008, when President Obama was elected to his first term. Many polling places were consolidated to comply with federal regulations related to people with disabilities, said Councilman Ben Kallos, an Upper East Side Democrat who leads the governmental operations committee.
Over the same period, the number of active registered voters has increased to 4.5 million from 4.1 million.
Council Member Ben Kallos Statement on Long Lines in the Upper East Side
At poll sites across the city, New Yorkers are reporting long lines. The consolidation of poll sites crammed too many election districts into mega-poll sites and left New Yorkers waiting on mega-lines. For safety, the fire code limits how many people can occupy a space and the number of voters at certain poll sites is dangerously close to those limits. We need additional, wheelchair-accessible poll sites to reduce lines and ensure a safe voting experience.One public school in my district, P.S. 290, has had sustained lines wrapping around two corners starting at 2nd Avenue stretching to 1st Avenue then from 82nd to 83rd Streets then looping back to 2nd Avenue.
The 2014 Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration states that "No citizen should have to wait more than 30 minutes to vote...Any wait time that exceeds this half-hour standard is an indication that something is amiss and that corrective measures should be deployed."
Today is Election Day and you can vote at the polls from 6AM to 9PM.
Verify You Are Registered to Vote: https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/
Find Your Poll Site: https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/search
Remember your Assembly District and Election District to skip the line at the front door and go straight to get your ballot and vote.
Frequent Issues on Election Day:
- Name not in the book? Vote by affidavit ballot and register to update your voter registration, do not leave without voting.
- Machines aren't working? Get a paper ballot anyway and cast it in the emergency ballot box, your ballot will be fed into the machine and counted later when it is working.
- Don't Have ID? No problem. You don't need a driver's license or municipal identification to vote, just your signature. You can wear whatever you want covering any part of your body. If you are a first time voter just bring the letter you received from the BOE confirming your registration and reminding you to vote (or a utility bill, bank statement, paystub, government check or other government document with name and address).
Home Fire Prevention
The New York City Fire Department and the American Red Cross will host a home fire prevention event in my district office with those attending able to schedule a FREE smoke detector and carbon monoxide sensor installation in their home ahead of the holidays and winter season.
Free Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector Installations
Thursday, November 10, 6pm - 8pm
District Office, 244 East 93rd Street
Emergency Preparedness & Free Go Bag Kits
Please join me at the next meeting of the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association for a presentation by CERT Upper East Side and the Office of Emergency Management to learn how to put together your own Go Bag Kit and how to join your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
Free Go Bag Kits & How to Join CERT
at the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association Monthly Meeting
Thursday, November 17, 6pm - 8pm
Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
211 East 79th Street, New York, NY
*Limited Supply of Free Go Bags Kits, Attendance and RSVP Required
Medicare Open Enrollment
Please join me and the Medicare Right Center to learn more about Medicare benefits, the fall open enrollment period and programs that help pay Medicare costs.
Medicare Open Enrollment
Thursday, November 17, from 9:30am to 11am
Stanley Isaac's Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street
I am proud to sponsor shred-a-thons by The Upper Green Side with Council Member Garodnick so you can shred your documents that contain personal information and protect your privacy and identity. You bring the paper and the giant shredder truck turns it into microbits while you watch! You can also bring compost, eyeglasses, corks, batteries and cords.
Sunday, November 20, 10am - 2pm
92nd Street Green Market (at First Avenue)
November 4, 2016 – Jamaica, NY – One week removed from enacting voting rights legislation for the incarcerated, Council Members Ruben Wills (D-South Jamaica) and Ben Kallos of Manhattan joined the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to announce a joint effort with the Board of Elections (BOE) to ensure the City’s voter registered homeless are fully aware of where they must go on Election Day to cast their ballot.
Federal law guarantees homeless citizens the right to vote in an election, so long as the person is a U.S. citizen, 18 years of age by December 31st of the year in which he or she registers to vote, is 18 years old by the date of the primary, general or other election; lives at their present address at least 30 days before an election, not be in jail or on parole for a felony conviction, not claim the right to vote elsewhere, and be registered to vote.
Presently, the City’s 311 information system tasked with providing the accurate poll site location isn’t being utilized by every individual who doesn’t live in a permanent residence.
Those who can log onto the Internet may visit the online NYC Poll Site Locator Web App to obtain that information, but a digital divide limits access for many. Voters displaced from their homes and living in temporary shelter can cast affidavit ballots from the designated poll site near their residence, and any homeless individual living on the street can simply contact 311 with the name of the street corner nearest their location in order to have a poll site assigned to him or her. The BOE recommends voters go to their designated poll site during its non-peak hours, typically between 9:30 AM and 4:30 AM, and request the assistance of a trained BOE poll-worker to help them prepare the affidavit ballot and oath.
“The presidential elections have made it hard for me to sleep,” says Council member Ben Kallos who is deeply disturbed by the national discourse.
“It is hard for me to believe that so many people in a country that I love are responding to some of this speech,” he said, referring to the hateful speech and incitement on the part of Donald Trump.
“My grandparents came to this country as immigrants… my wife is an immigrant. This is a nation of immigrants and the rhetoric around immigration is of huge concern to me.” He is concerned that “[a Trump presidency] would be a problem for Roosevelt Island which has one of the larger immigrant populations in my district, let alone the city.”
We sat down with the Councilmember to get his take on a variety of issues concerning the Island.
In terms of funding for these waterfront projects, $35 million has been secured from Mayor Bill de Blasio, $10 million from Rockefeller University, $6 million from the City Council, and an additional $2 million from Councilmember Ben Kallos.
“We are dedicated to getting every single square inch of park space that we can,” Kallos said. “Because even with this addition, this district is still going to rank amongst the bottom according to New Yorkers for Parks in terms of the Open Space Index.”
Councilman Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat, and others have said the board should be nonpartisan. Political parties hold too much sway in the appointments, he said.
“At the end of the day when you have an institution run by patronage, where people are there because of who they know and not what they know, I will never be confident that they will be able to run a smooth election,” said Mr. Kallos, who leads a council committee that has oversight of the board.
“No more having to peer through bars to see our beautiful waterways at the 90th Street pier thanks to our new park. I am committed to examining every inch of the East Side to find more park space that residents can use year round,” Council Member Ben Kallos said in a statement.
Adds New Park Space to Upper East Side
New York, NY – The 90th Street Pier which was closed to the public, only visible through the bars of a gate, is now a public park and open to the public, following today’s ribbon cutting. East side elected officials advocated alongside Friends of the East River Esplanade to open this pier to the public working with the Department of Transportation and NYC Parks to add more than 3,000 feet of park space to the East River Esplanade.
In 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos, State Senator José Serrano, and Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez advocated in a letter for city agencies to reinvigorate underutilized and deteriorating portions of the East River Esplanade, in which the 90thStreet Pier was identified. By 2015, Council Member Kallos in collaboration with Friends of the East River Esplanade, led by Jennifer Ratner, was advocating to specifically open the 90th Street Pier. In response to the requests, in the summer of 2016, the Department of Transportation turned over the 90th Street Pier to the New York City Parks Department for use as a public park.
The 90th Street Pier will be re-activated as a ferry stop, connecting residents to Soundview, 60thStreet, 34th Street and Wall Street through East River Ferry service in 2018. This makes this park all the more essential as more residents will be using it as they wait for ferries.
Under another law, introduced by Councilman Ben Kallos, HPD’s third-party transfer program — which allows the city to foreclose and sell distressed buildings to pre-qualified third parties — would be expanded to include buildings whose owners have incurred large numbers of unsatisfied building violations.
The legislation aims to put pressure on landlords who fail to address recurring building problems and fail to pay the fines incurred on those violations.
HPD officials have been working with the Council as part of a task force on how to reform the sales of distressed properties and said they hope to study the issue further based on the group’s findings.
Autumn is here, leaves have fallen, and Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur have come and gone giving me some time to reflect and recharge ahead of what will be a busy November.
My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the two fires that occurred on the Upper East Side in October. On November 10, my office will host a fire prevention event with the help of the New York City Fire Department and the American Red Cross. RSVP
While we continue to push for improvements to the M15 and M79 buses, I was proud to support the launch of a new app that shows you how bunched your bus is and how fast (or slow) it runs. Visit BusTurnaround.NYC
We also made progress in the fight against hunger by making access to government programs easier through Automatic Benefits. A national collaboration between the United Stated Department of Health and Human Services, Intuit, and my office will give the public a free “Benefit Assist” tool to identify what benefits those in need qualify for.
On November 8, Americans will turn out for the general elections, please make sure you go out and vote. The polls will be open from 6am. to 9pm. Make sure you know your poll site. Policy Night will take place Tuesday the 15th to avoid a conflict with Election Day.
I hope you had a safe Halloween and I wish you a happy Thanksgiving.
PS. Reminder First Friday is on the 4th and Policy Night is Tuesday the 15th due conflict with Election Day
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."
“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.”