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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

April News: April News: MTS Costs Soar, Low-Cost Broadband, FREE Reusable Bags

Thank you to the over 2,000 East Siders and Roosevelt Islanders who voted this March in Participatory Budgeting, contributing to the highest turnout we've had in four years. Results will be announced next month.

In March, the City Council begins the budget process with hearings on how the city plans to spend its money in the coming year. I've questioned how we are saving to prepare for potential cuts by Trump, the need for more school seats on the Upper East Side, the rising cost of waste transfer caused by marine transfer stations, and the need for additional funds to repair the East River Esplanade, many of which were included in the City Council's official budget response to the Mayor.

New York City faces a homelessness crisis with 22,973 children, 17,548 parents, and 13,913 single adults in shelters, and many more living on the street. Last year, I founded the East Side Taskforce on Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) to help the homeless in our community. This month I was proud to welcome new supportive housing for women and children with elected officials, community leaders, teachers, parents and even children from the schools across the street. One homeless individual who we believe suffers from mental illness drew renewed attention this month when a community member launched a petition. I have previously worked with the City's outreach teams to offer her mental health services, which she declined. After many complaints, a resident was willing to come forward, making an official complaint, and I personally went with this resident to the 19th Precinct leading to her arrest and her finally accepting both shelter and treatment. If you see someone in need, don't give them money, please call or use the 311 app and contact my office so we can help.

March was women’s history month, and I was proud to introduce a resolution in support of building a Women’s History Museum on the national mall in Washington, D.C. In April we will host an Earth Day event with free reusable bags where you can learn what you can do for a greener city. For children in grades five through eight, I am asking "What would you do as Council Member for A Day?"

Chag Pesach Sameach, Happy Easter, and enjoy the beginning of spring 

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

April 20, 6pm-8:30pm

Earth Day Event

April 27, 6pm
Bike Safety Class

April 29, 2pm-6pm
Spirit of Service Festival

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS

April 7, 8am-10am
First Friday

Sincerely, 

P.S There will be no Brainstorming with Ben in April so that I may instead answer four questions at our annual Passover Seder.

Updates

Press Release
Friday, April 21, 2017

New York, NY – Light pollution can harm wildlife and make it hard to stargaze let alone for New Yorkers to get a good night’s sleep. Under new legislation from Council Member Ben Kallos, street lights would be “fully shielded” to stop them from shining up into the sky or the windows of nearby residents, instead only illuminating the sidewalks and streets intended.

“New York City may be the city that ‘never sleeps’, but that shouldn’t be because of a street light outside your bedroom window. Fully shielded light fixtures will brighten up the day with fewer sleep deprived New Yorkers walking around in a bad mood,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Fully shielded light fixtures will reduce light pollution to conserve energy, protect wildlife, improve stargazing, and help New Yorkers get a good night’s sleep.”

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Press Release
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We are writing to strongly urge the Department of Education to take all feasible steps to provide pre-kindergarten seats in the community for all the four-year-olds living on the Upper East Side (59th to 96th Street) who applied for the 2017–2018 school year. We are deeply concerned that if the number of pre-kindergarten classes is not significantly increased, hundreds of families will be left without realistic options.

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Press Coverage
Gothamist
Friday, April 21, 2017

East Side Councilman Ben Kallos is planning to introduce a bill to cut down on light pollution by mandating that the city use light-directing fixtures when replacing streetlights.

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Press Coverage
Curbed
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

According to the audit, the vast majority of POPS hadn’t been inspected in four years—and if they had been, those inspections were regularly “late, incomplete, or ineffective.” In the last four years, only 58 locations had been inspected in total. Of those, 41 were found to be noncompliant. Of those, only 10 were issued violations.

But enforcement may be about to get a whole lot more stringent. In addition to the report’s recommendations—proactively investigate POPS, maintain a better database of them, install more and better signs around the plazas—three new bills were introduced in City Council last month. The bills, introduced by Council members Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick, are designed to protect POPS through steeper fines, annual inspections, increased signage, and a new website where people could register complaints.

 

 

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Thursday, April 20, 2017

Excerpt:

The City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, which has oversight of the CFB, is set to hear a bill on April 27 that would raise the cap on matching funds from 55 percent of the spending cap to a full match of the cap. The bill is sponsored by the committee’s chair, Council Member Ben Kallos, who is a participant in the public funds program and has spearheaded campaign finance reform in the Council. Kallos had reservations about some of the bills that were expedited through the Council late last year and believes his bill will significantly shift the election landscape.

“I was concerned with recent amendments and their impact on the campaign finance system,” he said, “and as we get closer to the June deadline for opting in or out of the system, we will learn just what impact that legislation had and whether it improves participation in the system or actually discourages it. And whatever the results, I hope to create new incentives for people to participate.” The CFB is reviewing Kallos’ proposal and will testify at the hearing.

Read the whole story at http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6882-city-council-members-opt-out-of-campaign-finance-program

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Press Release
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New York, NY – Tenants and advocates with the Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) Coalition will testify at a hearing today beginning at 10 AM for five of the twelve bills in the STS legislative package which aims to reform the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). The STS Coalition is a citywide alliance of grassroots tenant organizations and legal service groups collaborating with the Progressive Caucus and the eleven City Council prime sponsors to push for greater protection for tenants, especially in regards to the use of construction as harassment by landlords.

The five bills that will be heard at the Committee on Housing and Buildings hearing encompass:

·         Construction Task Force (Intro 0926): This bill would create a task force on construction work in occupied multiple dwellings.

·         Building Code Violations (Intro 0931): This bill would provide that building code violations adjudicated before Environmental Control Board would constitute tax liens on the property.

·         Tenant Protection Plans (Intro 0936):  This bill amends information required in tenant protection plans (TPP) and prescribes measures to ensure compliance with the TPP.

·         Permit Oversight (Intro 0938): This bill requires increased oversight of construction contractors who have engaged in work without a required permit.

·         Construction Bill of Rights (Intro 0960): This bill creates a safe construction bill of rights.

These bills together give tenants better protection from dangerous construction and help DOB to enforce already existing laws. Without these bills, unscrupulous landlords can use loopholes in the city’s enforcement to create hazardous construction conditions to push tenants out of their homes.

"Construction as harassment continues to be a huge problem in our communities. We are saying that enough is enough and calling on the administration to implement reforms to the Department of Buildings that will help to end this practice," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

"The Stand for Tenant Safety legislative package sets out to correct the behavior of the worst landlords, who will face the threat of foreclosure if they fail to fix long-ignored repairs," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "For too long some landlords and building owners have neither fixed reoccurring problems on their properties nor paid the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end."

"Tenant harassment, which often comes in the form of illegal or unscrupulous construction work, robs New Yorkers of their homes and exacerbates the city’s affordable housing crisis. This month, the City Council is reviewing several critical bills – collectively called Stand for Tenant Safety – designed to ensure that the Department of Buildings will prevent abusive construction work and serve New York City tenants, not just owners and contractors. The Stand for Tenant Safety bill package will ultimately make it easier to hold abusive landlords accountable and help tenants protect their homes,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Vice-Chair for Budget Advocacy of the Progressive Caucus.

“As the lead sponsors of another part of this vital DOB reform package, we are pleased that these five bills are moving forward,” said Council Members Margaret S. Chin and Carlos Menchacamembers of the Progressive Caucus, who jointly introduced Intro 918, a bill to fix a flawed inspection system favoring landlords at the expense of tenants. “Unfortunately, for far too many New Yorkers, the problem of tenant harassment and displacement by landlords is only getting worse. We are proud to join a growing number of Council colleagues, advocates and tenants to demand action to protect the quality of life of residents and to keep families in their homes.”

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Some of the projects the Council wants to see prioritized are air conditioning in public schools, moving adolescents off Rikers Island and funding the East River Esplanade project. Council Member Ben Kallos, in whose district most of the esplanade is located, said the problem is “bigger than anyone ever thought it was.”

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Press Release
Thursday, April 13, 2017

 Background: In partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Council Member Ben Kallos worked to bring the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for application to the Innovation Center’s Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Model to public health institutions throughout New York City.  STATEMENT:
 Even the best medical treatment offered here in New York City can’t succeed when patients can’t take care of themselves. For far too long, we’ve only focused on treating medical conditions, without treating the underlying causes in the community that lead to them.   Automatic Benefits legislation would require anyone applying or who qualifies for one human service benefits from the government to be screened for and provided with all other applicable benefits so that New Yorkers get not some but all of the help they need.
 
Thank you to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovations for investing in, encouraging, and studying what happens when you connect patients with community service providers to address their health-related social needs.
 
I am proud to represent New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) which was one of 32 organizations selected nationwide for Assistance and Alignment Tracks of the Accountable Health Communities Model. New York Presbyterian Hospital is on the Alignment Track to encourage partner alignment to ensure that community services are available and responsive to the needs of beneficiaries.  

 

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Press Release
Thursday, April 13, 2017

New York, NY - Fidel F. Del Valle, Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge of the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) and Council Member Ben Kallos kicked off OATH’s CourtESy (Court’s Education for Seniors) Program today at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, on the Upper East Side. Through the new CourtESy program, OATH aims to bring information about the hearing process directly to our City’s senior citizens. 

The forum explained what to do when a resident or property owner receives a summons and highlighted OATH’s Remote Hearing Methods, which give residents who received summons­es the ability to fight the tickets at their convenience and without having to travel to attend the OATH hearing in person.  “As the City’s central independent administrative law court, OATH’s top priority is to make it as easy as possible for those who have been issued summonses from City enforcement agencies to have their day in court,” said OATH Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge, Fidel F. Del Valle. “OATH recognizes that there are many reason why it may be difficult to attend a hearing in person so we have worked diligently to make it possible for recipients of the most commonly issued summonses to fight those summonses remotely by using OATH’s  Hearings Online, Hearings by Mail, Hearings by Phone or Video (webcam) Hearings.  Through our CourtESy program, OATH is working to make sure that the City’s senior residents know about these convenient hearing methods and how to utilize them effectively.” 

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch,NYC
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Then the neighborhood decided to take action into its own hands.

Late last year the East River 50s Alliance submitted a rezoning plan to the Department of City Planning that would cap building height at 260 feet in Sutton Place and convert the area into an Inclusionary Housing Designated Area, Mercurio told Patch.

The plan would preserve the context of the neighborhood while advancing Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing agenda, Mercurio said. Four local elected officials — City Councilman Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Kreuger and Borough President Gale Brewer — co-signed the rezoning application.

 

 

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