Updates

Newsletter
Vote Today: Election Day

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).
Please contact my office to report complaints that I can use to improve the Board of Elections.


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.

Fire Safety
Free Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector Installations 

Thursday, November 10, 6pm - 8pm 
District Office, 244 East 93rd Street
RSVP


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).

Emergency Preparedness:
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
RSVP


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
RSVP


Shred-A-Thon

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. 

Shred-A-Thon
Sunday, November 20, 10am - 2pm 
92nd Street Green Market (at First Avenue)
RSVP
Read more


Press Release
Monday, November 7, 2016

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.

Read more


Press Coverage
Main Street WIRE
Saturday, November 5, 2016

“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.

Read more


Press Coverage
Manhattan Express
Thursday, November 3, 2016

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.”

Read more


Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Thursday, November 3, 2016

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.

Read more


Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch,NYC
Friday, November 4, 2016

“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.

 

Read more


Press Release
Thursday, November 3, 2016
Advocacy by Kallos, Serrano, Rodriguez and Friends of the East River Esplanade 
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.
Read more


Press Coverage
Our Town
Monday, October 31, 2016

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.

Read more


Newsletter

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 CrossRSVP

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.

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos
Council Member

PS. Reminder First Friday is on the 4th and Policy Night is Tuesday the 15th due conflict with Election Day

Read more


Press Coverage
AM New York
Thursday, October 27, 2016

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."

Read more


Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Thursday, October 27, 2016

“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.”

Read more


Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the committee, posed questions aimed at debunking Schulkin’s claims about voter identification requirements. Ryan, in response, reiterated that New York State does not require any identification for voting, only a signature. Only in rare instances, first-time voters may be required to produce identification if their voter registration is incomplete.

When Kallos asked if Schulkin’s claims about voters being bussed to multiple polling sites held any water, Ryan said, “Those issues have never come to my attention, not during my time as a commissioner going back to 2010 or in the three-plus years that I’ve been the executive director.” The state attorney general’s office also told Gotham Gazette earlier this month that the AG’s office has not received complaints of widespread voter impersonation fraud that Schulkin mentioned.

Read more


Press Release
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Council Member Ben Kallos Statement on Fire at 324 East 93rd Street
 New York, NY— The following statement is from City Council Member Ben Kallos (D, Manhattan):
 
“Early this morning, a six-alarm fire attacked several apartment buildings on 93rd Street between First and Second Avenues. Sixteen people were injured in the fire, one critically, and one person was found dead at the scene. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims, as well as their friends and families. I wish a speedy recovery to those who sustained injuries.
 
"The heroic actions of the New York City Fire Department and emergency responders saved lives this morning, and we thank them. Thank you also to the American Red Cross for helping displaced residents back on their feet on this cold and rainy day. "My office, which is located at 244 East 93rd Street, just across the street from where the fire occurred, is and has been available for any person displaced by the fire who needs a warm place to go or help with any emergency needs. First responders, Red Cross workers, and anyone needing a hand is welcome to stop by and use our facilities." ###

Read more


Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

City Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, which oversees the CFB, said in a statement last week that he hoped to see a “a thorough and open search for a new chair who will be independent, non-partisan, and non-political” in their role.

“It is of supreme importance that the next chair be someone who has the stature and integrity to not only stand up to candidates and any elected officials but guide the board through election years independently,” Kallos said.

Notably, de Blasio was faced with a somewhat similar choice when selecting a chair for a mandated commission to study and reccomend compensation levels for the city's elected officials. De Blasio chose Schwarz, Jr. in what was a universally applauded decision.

Read more


Press Coverage
Brick Underground
Monday, October 24, 2016

The end result is that anyone who's ever been brought into housing court by their landlord ends up penalized, and tenants are discouraged from classic methods of protecting their rights, such as withholding rent. While there's been some movement to improve the lists—City Council memberBenjamin J. Kallos has introduced legislation to include more information about the actual cases, for instance—is there any reason we can't do away with this practice altogether?

Read more


Press Coverage
Our Town
Thursday, October 27, 2016

To the relief of many Upper East Siders who have wanted the change for years, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has disallowed left turns onto E. 79th Street for cars heading north on York Avenue.

Though there was never a turn signal at that intersection, the light would remain green for drivers going north on York after the other three lights had turned red so the northbound cars could make a left turn. This confused pedestrians, who would think all lights were red and would cross the street without realizing some of them were in the path of the northbound cars who still had a green light.

“This is an intersection where I myself have felt unsafe,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who helped accomplish the safety improvement. “I brought the concern to the Department of Transportation and we went over multiple different options.”

After deciding that eliminating left turns all together was the best move, Kallos and the DOT took it to the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association for a vote.

Betty Cooper Wallerstein, president and founder of the neighborhood association, is happy to see the intersection made safer, but frustrated that it took more than four years to do so.

“People are used to, when the traffic stops, crossing,” Wallerstein said. “The streets have to be safe for blind people, too. It never, never, never should have taken so many years to correct that mistake.”

Read more


Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Unless you’re standing right in front of Maz Mezcal, on E. 86th Street between First and Second Avenues, you’ll probably miss it. The restaurant is hidden from view from most directions, due to extensive fencing and machinery. That’s all part of the construction of the Second Avenue subway, which has had a negative impact on business.

“It’s been horrendous,” said Mary Silva, owner of Maz Mezcal. “Business – at least mine and most everyone’s that I’ve spoken to – has dropped anywhere from 30 to 50 percent.”

In order to offset the financial consequences Maz Mezcal and its peers are facing, the Department of Finance is offering them the opportunity to have any fines forgiven that they’ve racked up during the construction. Council Member Ben Kallos encouraged the community to take advantage of the program, which will allow Second Ave. business owners and buildings to have any penalties and interest voided for violations such as snow on the sidewalk, working without a permit, improper trash disposal and failure to conduct required inspections, among others.

“It’s an opportunity for them to get to square one ahead of some legislation I’ve introduced that would actually put their businesses at risk if they haven’t been good neighbors,” Kallos said.

At Kallos’ press conference last week, Finance Department Commissioner Jacques Jiha said almost 700,000 violations have gone into judgment since the construction on the subway began.

Read more


Press Coverage
Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts
Tuesday, March 15, 2016

By all accounts, 412 East 85th Street is already an unofficial neighborhood landmark, and a beloved fix­ture of FRIENDS’ educational walking tours. Vocal support by its owners, in addition to Council Member Ben Kallos, the Historic Districts Council, Municipal Art Society, New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Victorian Society in America, Carnegie Hill Neighbors, Community Board 8, and FRIENDS will help to ensure a positive outcome for the building. 

Read more


Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch,NYC
Thursday, October 20, 2016

The letter — signed by Councilman Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Krueger, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and State Assembly members Dan Quart and Rebecca Seawright — listed several reasons why East 72nd Street deserves select bus service.

"With high bus-dependent populations, infrequent local service, crosstown bus service, hospitals, community support and opening of the Second Avenue Subway with a station at 72nd Street, now is the perfect opportunity to increase ridership by restoring M15 Select Bus Service at 72nd Street," read the letter.

During Wednesday night's meeting the board also voted to adopt a resolution to ask NYC Transit for increased local bus service to the stop for the next six months. Since select bus service was instituted on the M15 line, local bus service has deteriorated, in some cases being four times as slow as before select bus service, according to a press release.

“Residents feel abandoned by our buses. Watching five Select Buses go by what used to be a Limited stop makes seniors with limited mobility feel abandoned as they wait for a local bus that never seems to come,” said Kallos in a press release. “Seniors and children live in one-third of the households near 72nd Street and they must be able to rely on bus service to get where they are going.”

Although the community board was in overwhelming favor of both resolutions, the body is simply advisory. The ultimate decision on whether to extend select bus service to East 72nd Street must be made by NYC Transit.

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Press Release
Thursday, October 20, 2016
 
Rose Gill Hearn’s exemplary career in public service began over two decades ago in the United States Attorney’s Office, followed by tenure as the longest-serving commissioner of the Department of Investigation, and most recently as chair of the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Throughout her career, Chair Gill Hearn has fought corruption and held city employees and elected officials to the highest standard of integrity. Her legacy of fairness and accountability is one New Yorkers can be proud of and I thank her for her many years of service to the City of New York.
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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

“The turnstiles should be a pathway to economic opportunity, not another barrier,” Raskin said. “It means people are not able to use public transportation to access jobs and economic opportunity and the life of the community. And that is wrong.”

Advocates, including Council Members Ben Kallos and Ydanis Rodriguez, said the city has enough money to pay for the program.

“That is a reasonable price to pay to keep the trains and buses accessible for every New Yorker who must depend on mass transit to get to work and job interviews, attend college and job training programs, obtain needed health care, and enable their families to take advantage of the richness of the city’s cultural life,” wrote the officials in a joint letter to the mayor signed by 27 council members.

Read more


Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Councilman Ben Kallos, who heads the committee on governmental operations, said he hopes the mayor will appoint “a person of stature who can stand up to any elected official and any candidate, who is nonpartisan and nonpolitical.”

Read more