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About Ben Kallos

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos was praised by the New York Times for his “fresh ideas” and elected in 2013 to represent the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and East Harlem along with all 8.4 million New Yorkers in the New York City Council.  He grew up on the Upper East Side with his mother, who still lives in the neighborhood, and his grandparents, who fled anti-Semitism in Europe. As Vice-Chair of the Jewish Caucus he has been an ardent advocate for Israel and supporter of Jewish causes.

As Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee where he has sought to root out patronage, de-privatize government, eliminate billions in waste, expand elections, and to use technology to improve access to government.  He has become a leading advocate for education, affordable housing, public health, sustainable development and transportation improvements and safety.  His office is open and transparent, with constituents invited to decide on how to spend one million dollars on local projects in the district as well as to join him in a conversation on the First Friday of each month, or he will go to them if they can gather ten neighbors for “Ben In Your Building.”

Most Recent Newsletter

May News: PB Winners, $100M for Esplanade, Pre-K Seats, Free CUNY, Tenants Rights and More

 

Thank you to all the parents, teachers, delegates, and the 2,421 voters who made the 2017 Participatory Budgeting process a huge success by voting on how we spend $1 million. And the winners are: P.S. 183’s Science and STEM Lab and the P.S. 198/77 Playground Renovation!

This month, we joined Mayor Bill de Blasio in announcing $100 million to add 8 new blocks of parkland and close the gap on the East River Esplanade from 53rd to 61st Streets. We also worked with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to include a request for $169 million in the City Council's preliminary budget response to continue necessary repairs to the Esplanade.

I continue to lead the fight for Pre-Kindergarten seats on the Upper East Side, where 300 four-year-olds are being asked to commute out of district as far as the Financial District for Pre-K. In response, parents, children, and elected officials rallied for Pre-K for All to include seats on the Upper East Side. As we continue to fight for school seats, I have been advocating for Universal Childcare for all city children from birth to four, and the city has taken a big step with a plan to provide Pre-K to three-year-olds too.

Governor Cuomo announced the first in the nation Excelsior Scholarship for students whose families make $125,000 per year or less, who will now qualify for free college tuition at all City (CUNY) and State (SUNY) two- and four-year colleges in New York State as long as they live in state. When I ran for office in 2013, one of the "fresh ideas" for which the New York Times endorsed me was providing a debt-free higher education for CUNY students. I am proud to support Governor Cuomo's program.

Legislation I authored to “Get Big Money Out of New York City Politics” by matching every small dollar got a hearing, a rally, and support from a broad coalition of organizations representing communities of color, immigrants, tenants, preservation, good government, candidates, and regular New Yorkers.

In celebration of Earth Day, I joined in the “March for Science” and introduced legislation to make New York City greener by decreasing light pollution, increasing commercial recycling and mandating zero waste by 2030 to make the MTS obsolete.

Do you want to learn more about your rights as a tenant? Join me on Thursday, May 18, you for a Housing Forum with presentations on your rights as a tenant, how to organize your building, how you can get involved in our campaign to lower rent for rent stabilized tenants, with housing experts on hand to answer your questions. The event will begin at 6pm at the Julia Richman Education Complex located at 317 East 67th Street. RSVP

Please join me for First Friday on Cinco de Mayo. I would also like to wish my mother and all the District 5 mothers a Happy Mother’s Day.

Sincerely, 


Ben Kallos
Council Member

SPECIAL EVENTS:

May 18, 6pm
Housing Forum

May 20, 10am-2pm
Shred-A-Thon

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

May 5, 8am - 10am
First Friday

May 9, 6pm
Brainstorming With Ben

May 25, 6pm
6:00pm - 7:30pm
Citi Bike Skills Class

May 29
Office Closed 
Memorial Day

 

Updates

Press Coverage
Curbed
Friday, May 19, 2017

But while the project has garnered its share of community support, not everyone is pleased with the plans. The main complaint: that affordable units, which Fetner has said will be “evenly” distributed throughout the building, won’t be all that affordable after all. The units will be designated for residents earning less than $41,000 for an individual and $52,000 for a family of three—too high to actually meet the needs of the community, critics say.

As Councilman Ben Kallos pointed out, the minimum annual income for one of the new affordable apartments is $38,100, which is above the eligible income for NYCHA residents. “It's pouring salt in a wound that they're building housing that none of the NYCHA residents can get into,” he told DNAInfo.

Read more

Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Friday, May 19, 2017

The mayor might not like to take questions from the press — but he does believe they have the right to join a union.

De Blasio was among nearly two dozen city officials who signed a letter Thursday in support of reporters at two popular local websites who are fighting to get management to recognize their recent union vote.

“We support the editorial staff of DNAinfo and Gothamist as they exercise their right to unionize,” the letter said.

“The work of these reporters and editors is crucial for NYC. We call on management to respect their democratic right to organize and immediately recognize their union,” it concluded.

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fetner will pay an upfront fee of $25 million to NYCHA, but between the public subsidies and the loss of millions of dollars in potential property taxes, Councilman Benjamin Kallos (D-Manhattan) predicted the city ends up in the red.Fetner will pay an upfront fee of $25 million to NYCHA, but between the public subsidies and the loss of millions of dollars in potential property taxes, Councilman Benjamin Kallos (D-Manhattan) predicted the city ends up in the red.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Thursday, May 18, 2017

The new tower will rise 47 stories and feature a recreation center and playgrounds, according to city officials.

Fetner Properties
YORKVILLE — The city finally released renderings of a mixed-income tower set to rise on top of an existing playground at the Holmes Towers public housing complex — and while the city is celebrating, some locals see the news as "salt in the wound."

The images released Wednesday are the first to come out of a year-and-a-half long debate between current Holmes Towers residents and the New York City Housing Authority about the logistics of the plan, which falls under the city's new NextGen program meant to raise capital funds for its existing developments across the city.

The renderings show a 47-story, off-white building rising among the red-brick Holmes Towers buildings on East 93rd Street, as well as a new 18,000-square-foot recreation and community center run by Asphalt Green and new playgrounds.

run its recreation center, which will include an indoor basketball court, a rooftop turf field and low-cost programming.

 

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The city has instituted universal free lunch for middle schools, but declined to expand it citywide.

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) asked  Fariña to also issue rules that school staffers could not go after parents to collect unpaid lunch fees later, but she declined to do that without studying it first.

“Students are not deprived of eating lunch because of money,” she said.

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Thursday, May 18, 2017

Half the units will be market rate, half affordable, with most of the lower-income tenants on the lower floors and almost all of the wealthier residents on the upper floors, according to Councilman Benjamin Kallos.

“All the low-income people will be stuck in the shadows with the high-income people living above them,” said Kallos (D-Manhattan), who was briefed by NYCHA on the project. “The majority of the low-income units will be in the bottom 20 stories and they will have windows facing other NYCHA tenants. We will have effectively walled in the low-income tenants.”

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Monday, May 15, 2017

The government operations committee, chaired by Council Member Ben Kallos, met to discuss the BOE’s $136.5 million proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year. Council members sought answers from the board about the latest WNYC report, which came after a series of reports by Bergin exposing problems at the BOE, including tens of thousands of voters purged from the rolls ahead of the presidential election. Kallos said his wife was one of those voters whose vote did not count, and that she received a notice from the BOE just last month.

“There is a quasi-manual, quasi-automated process,” said Michael Ryan, BOE executive director, insisting that the board could not send notices to voters who aren’t in the system until they provide relevant missing information to the board.

Referring to a specific voter highlighted by WNYC, who shuttled numerous times between two poll sites in attempting to cast her vote, which eventually was not counted, Ryan said the voter’s actions on Election Day seemed “suspicious” and also said WNYC’s report, “simplistically analyzed a complex process.”

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

City Council Member Ben Kallos is always looking for ways to make government more efficient and accessible through technology and the use of data. To that end, Kallos, himself a programmer, introduced a bill last week that would require information generated or received by city agencies to be available through an interface that allows easy use of the data and, ideally, a streamlined experience for New Yorkers interacting with their city government.

This would occur through an Application Program Interface (API); essentially, Kallos explained, “a language dictionary so a piece of software can communicate with another software.” Such a system would facilitate the automatic availability of city data through mobile- or web-based applications, opening up opportunities for the private sector to create programs that interact with city government. A program that easily transmits permit and license applications, for example.

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette

For City Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee, and City Council Member David Greenfield, a committee member, those delays in audits are just one reason that they believe the CFB’s system is flawed and in need of change. In December, Kallos, Greenfield, and other Council members ushered through nearly two dozen campaign finance related bills, some of them tweaks to how the Campaign Finance Board operates. Several of the measures were based on recommendations from the CFB, others were seen as addressing problems with the CFB identified by Council members and their consultants.

The Friday hearing did touch on the CFB’s budget needs for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1 and in which there will be a citywide election with a primary in September and a general election in November. These city elections account for a massive increase to $56.7 million for the 2018 fiscal year from last year’s CFB budget of $16.17 million.

About half of the proposed budget, $29 million, is allocated to the public matching funds program, which provides participating campaigns with 6-to-1 matches of small contributions up to $175. Another $11 million will go to printing and distributing a voter guide for the upcoming election.

But Kallos seemed more concerned that the board was spending more money, and time, on auditing campaigns than the money they received from resolutions of those audits. When Loprest told the committee that the CFB’s candidate services unit has seven full-time employees and the audit unit has 26, Kallos insisted that the CFB should dedicate more resources to candidate services and campaign liaisons, so campaigns can preemptively steer clear of missteps in navigating a complex campaign finance system, and avoid fines and penalties down the line.

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