New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Winnie Hu

New York Times New York Is a Noisy City. One Man Got Revenge. by Winnie Hu

New York Is a Noisy City. One Man Got Revenge.

Mr. Edison asked that the exact amount not be disclosed because he had signed a confidentiality agreement.

Mr. Edison said he gave half the money to a local soup kitchen and several nonprofit groups. “I don’t think you should make money on the suffering of other people — a lot of people around here were upset by the noise,” he said.

Mr. Mihalis declined to comment and Mr. Cohen and lawyers who handled the settlement did not respond to requests for comment.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and is also a lawyer, said Mr. Edison was pursuing an unusual legal route.

Small claims court is typically the last resort for settling disputes over specific monetary damages — not a venue for fighting quality-of-life issues.

“I’m pleasantly surprised that he was able to win some small victory,” he said.

Jack Grant, a longtime friend of Mr. Edison’s, said Mr. Edison does not back down. “When he believes in something, Mike will stick to it until it gets done,” he said.

New York Times Could New York City Parks Be Going Plastic Bottle-Free? by Winnie Hu

Could New York City Parks Be Going Plastic Bottle-Free?

Councilman Kallos said the Trump decision spurred him to action. He said he has wanted to ban disposable plastic water bottles since trying to buy one himself while visiting San Francisco several years ago and being told he could not. So he bought a reusable bottle to tote around — something he now does in New York.

“You see plastic bottles everywhere,” he said. “It makes New York look like a dump and we can do better.”

This is not the first time that New York has taken a stand against plastic bottles. In 2008, the office of the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, stopped buying bottled waterfor Council offices. A 2009 state executive order barred state agencies from buying bottled water, to save taxpayer dollars and improve the environment.

The city has also targeted other plastic waste. In 2016, the Council sought to encourage shoppers to give up plastic store bags by charging 5 cents for most plastic and shopping bags. But that law was blocked last year by state legislators, some of whom argued that it imposed a regressive tax on the poor, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Mr. Kallos and Mr. Espinal said their proposed ban on plastic bottle sales was more limited than the plastic bag fee and less likely to draw interference from state lawmakers.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, left, a sponsor of the ban, discussed its merits with Michael O’Neal, a co-owner of the Ballfields Café in Central Park. A manager at the café said a ban could cut into his bottom line. CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times
City Councilman Ben Kallos, left, a sponsor of the ban, discussed its merits with Michael O’Neal, a co-owner of the Ballfields Café in Central Park. A manager at the café said a ban could cut into his bottom line. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

 

Michael Whyland, a spokesman for the Assembly speaker, Carl E. Heastie, said that while Mr. Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, had not yet seen the proposed ban, “The speaker has always said that the city has the ability to enact a ban on unnecessary plastic waste.”

Mr. Kallos and Mr. Espinal said they will introduce bills next week to lay out more details about the proposed ban. Mr. Kallos said that vendors in city recreational areas could face penalties for selling plastic bottles, including possibly having their concessions revoked.

New York Times New York Becomes the City That Never Shuts Up by Winnie Hu

New York Becomes the City That Never Shuts Up

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.

New York Times Scaffolding on Harlem Corner: Making Eyes Sore for at Least 17 Years by Winnie Hu

Scaffolding on Harlem Corner: Making Eyes Sore for at Least 17 Years

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.

New York Times New York Has 280 Miles of Scaffolding, and a Map to Navigate It by Winnie Hu

New York Has 280 Miles of Scaffolding, and a Map to Navigate It

While Mr. Rubin said the city’s new scaffolding database would be useful, he added that it did not go far enough to address the problem. “As long as building owners find it cheaper and easier to keep up a sidewalk shed, rather than remedy the dangerous building conditions that make sheds required, the many problems that are caused by these ubiquitous sidewalk sheds will never be solved,” he said.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, said he was “underwhelmed” by the building department’s efforts, adding that it will do little to address scaffolding that has overstayed its welcome. “We already know how big a problem it is, and unless the city is willing to take steps to get the scaffolding down, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

Mr. Kallos has proposed legislation that would give a building owner three months to repair a facade, with the possibility of a three-month extension, so that scaffolding can be removed within six months of going up, or sooner when no work is being done. The legislation has drawn support from many residents and business groups, including the New York State Restaurant Association and the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

New York Times Sidewalk Scaffolding, the Unwanted Neighbor, Is Under Scrutiny by Winnie Hu

Sidewalk Scaffolding, the Unwanted Neighbor, Is Under Scrutiny

The new bill will be introduced Tuesday by Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side. If passed, it would give a building owner three months, with the possibility of a three-month extension, to make repairs to a facade so that scaffolding can be removed in a timely manner. If the work is not completed in that time, the city will step in to do it, and charge the owner for the work. The proposal would allow exceptions for factors such as bad weather, permit delays or in cases where removing scaffolding would be deemed dangerous to public safety.

“A specific timeline for landlords to get the work done will finally work toward holding someone accountable for scaffolding that goes up and never comes down,” Mr. Kallos said.

While the bill is likely to draw support from many residents and businesses, it faces strong opposition from many building owners. Carl Hum, a senior vice president for the Real Estate Board of New York, a leading real estate trade group with more than 17,000 members, said the proposal was “ill conceived and should be reconsidered.”

Frank Ricci, the director of governmental affairs for the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents 25,000 building owners and managers, said that owners sometimes do not have the money on hand to make costly repairs.

New York Times Navigating a Bureaucratic Maze to Renew Food Stamp Benefits by Winnie Hu

Navigating a Bureaucratic Maze to Renew Food Stamp Benefits

Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat from the Upper East Side, has also introduced legislation that would require city agencies to send pre-filled applications for food stamps and other government benefits for those who are eligible, using information from previous enrollments or applications. These agencies would also be required to inform people who apply for food stamps if they are eligible for additional benefits.

“We must work to eliminate the bureaucracy, paperwork and waste that prevent our poorest from accessing and keeping the benefits they need to be lifted from poverty,” Mr. Kallos said.

Mr. Kallos, who is chairman of the council’s governmental operations committee, added that he would also work for federal and state changes that could eventually allow city residents to receive food stamps automatically based on tax filings, and to continue receiving those benefits as long as they remained eligible with no renewal process.

Glenna Flournoy, 85, a retired teacher of English as a second language, and City Councilman Ben Kallos at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center. Mr. Kallos has introduced legislation to make the process of getting food stamps and other benefits easier. CreditÁngel Franco/The New York Times