This April, you can vote on how to spend $1 million in your neighborhood. This program, participatory budgeting, has been piloted with great success in many neighborhoods around the world and here in New York City.
It has been a busy month of budgeting, oversight and advocacy on your behalf. As always, my office is a space for you to meet your needs and interact with the major issues in your neighborhood. Scroll to the bottom of this newsletter for events from my office and the community.
For those of you celebrating this month, I wish you a joyous Easter or Pesach, a chance to celebrate the beliefs we hold dear. As we gratefully welcome the spring, let's renew our spirit of engagement and work together on the issues that face our community.
Council Member Ben Kallos
District Five: Upper East Side, Midtown East, El Barrio and Roosevelt Island
Table of Contents
1. Participatory Budgeting
2. Fighting the Marine Transfer Station
3. Pre-K For All New York City Children
4. Fighting to Protect Your Tax Dollars
5. Bringing Youthful Insight to Community Boards
6. Office-Warming Party
7. Paid Sick Leave
8. Reforming Community Boards
9. Reforming the Board of Elections
10. Remarkable Women
11. Apply for Capital Funds
12. City Council Events
13. Community Events
Participatory Budgeting: Vote on How One Million Dollars Gets Spent in Your Neighborhood
Have you voted yet? There’s still time to help decide how a million dollars gets spent in our neighborhood. This year, for the first time, I am bringing participatory budgeting to our district. Voting continues until April 5th at locations throughout the district.
You can also vote all week at our District office at 244 East 93rd Street.
In case you missed it, I got the opportunity to question the Department of Sanitation on the ballooning costs and poor policy of the Upper Manhattan Marine Transfer Station. You can watch that effort here, or read about it in the Huffington Post or Epoch Times. I'm working with community groups and meeting with elected officials to fight the Marine Transfer Station every day. If you would like to read more about it, sign up for this list where you will receive more frequent updates.
As of this week, Our city will now have one of the most expansive pre-k programs in the country. The state budget allocated $300 million for pre-k across New York state, with most of it for New York City. This funding represents months of hard work from the mayor, the governor and New York City officials. I was proud to be part of the movement to provide pre-k and afterschool to all New York City children, advocacy which was featured in the New York Times. With this budget, we've done it.
The City Council is holding a series of budget hearings to ensure efficient and effective spending. You can watch as I fight to protect your tax dollars:
- I advocated for improvements to our East River Esplanade, a rare open space on the East Side that must be preserved and improved.
- I spoke about ending the school to prison pipeline, a system that has trapped too many young people in its grip.
- I held a sweeping oversight hearing on seven agencies: BOE, DCAS, DoRIS, FISA, Law Department,OATA and OPA. During the hearings, I questioned an estimated $4 billion in potential city contract overruns. I hope the heads of agencies will work with me to cut out-of-control spending. Read about it in Capital New York.
Bringing Youthful Insight to Community Boards
I sponsored a resolution in partnership with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in support of a state law that would lower the age of community board eligibility to 16. Twenty percent of all New Yorkers are under 18, and they should have a voice. Active and engaged teenagers who are passionate about local government should be able to apply.
Thank you for joining me at my office-warming party, a wonderful community event with guests from all over the district. We were also treated to remarks by special surprise guests, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Paid Sick Leave
The City Council and mayor worked together to expand the paid sick leave act so it covers 1 million New Yorkers. It took effect yesterday, and I was proud to be out spreading the word to residents like you yesterday morning. My office is here to assist you, particularly small businesses with concerns or in need of information.
I released a report entitled, "Improving Community Boards in New York City: Best Practices in Recruitment and Appointment to New York City’s 59 Community Boards," containing dozens of recommendations for reform to New York City's community boards. My recommendations include creating standardized online applications for those who wish to join boards. My goal is to keep them a vital center for independent voices who speak for the community.
I held a hearing on the Department of Investigation report that opened the City's eyes to the degree of patronage and inertia at the NYC Board of Elections. As the body tasked with carrying off all city elections, it's crucial that they be excellent.
You can watch footage from the first hearing on NY1.
During the budget hearings, I took on the Board of Elections again, this time for a pricey plan to convert old lever machines into voter kiosks. It's clear that the same goals can be accomplished at much lower cost to taxpayers. Read more about it in the Daily News. You can watch on NY1 as well.
In celebration of women's history month and the remarkable lives led by five Roosevelt Island women ranging from ages 85 through 94, I issued a New York City Council proclamation in their honor. These incredible women have led inspiring and far-reaching lives, having moved to Roosevelt Island from locations such as Barbados and St. Thomas, and had careers such as supervising construction during WWII or leading bible study groups. These women enrich the fabric of our community, and I was pleased to have the honor of honoring them. Read more about the event in the Roosevelt Islander.
If you wish to apply for funding for your organization's long-term infrastructure projects, please apply online: http://www.benkallos.com/budget/FY2015/application
The deadline is April 9.
Please join us on Friday, April 4, for my next First Friday event. This is a chance for me to meet you in person to discuss what's important to you and how to make our neighborhood a better place to live. Please RSVP online or to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-860-1950. I look forward to seeing you there.
Second Tuesday of Each Month, District Office at 244 East 93rd St.
If you are looking to become more involved in your community, please consider joining a District Five policy committee. We need residents who are interested in advancing progressive and innovative agenda items, with the experience and enthusiasm to help formulate city policy. Committees, which include education, environment, senior services and more, will meet on the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30PM. Please sign up online, email RSVP@BenKallos.com or call 212-860-1950 to let us know you'll be joining us.
Upcoming Transportation Forums
Safety Along the 2nd Avenue Subway: April 24th, 6:30-8:30PM
1763 Second Avenue (between 91st and 92nd)
Join us on a forum and walk with Department of Transportation, community leaders and (pending confirmation) the MTA, to identify locations that can have improved lighting along the Second Avenue Subway. RSVP today.
Adopt-A-Tree: May 15th, 6:30-7:30PM
MSK Auditorium at Rockefeller Research University Laboratories Building (67th Street)
Learn more about the program that allows you to adopt street plantings, helping your neighborhood become more beautiful. RSVP today.
4/3: Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Monthly Workshop, Medicaid Eligibility & Long Term Care
10AM-11AM, 343 East 70th Street. Learn more here.
4/12: Anniversary of President Roosevelt's Death
1:30-2:00PM, Four Freedoms Park
Four Freedoms Park Conservancy will commemorate the 69th anniversary of President Roosevelt’s death with a wreath laying ceremony. Join us in remembering President Roosevelt alongside World War II veterans Rocco Moretto and Bud Blank. The ceremony will include a bagpipe and color guard performance.
4/12: Volunteer Gardening at Carl Schurz Park
9:30AM - 12:30 PM, 86th Street Mall at East End Avenue
Monthly meeting of volunteer gardeners from the Carl Schurz Park Conservancy. Learn more here.
4/28: Inaugural Benefit for Friends of the East River Esplanade
6:30pm-8:30 pm, Bar Felice, 1591 First Avenue (between 82nd and 83rd)
First ever benefit thrown by Friends of the East River Esplanade, a conservancy group dedicated to the improvement of the East River waterfront area. Wine and Hors d’oeuvres will be served.
5/1: Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Monthly Workshop, Tenants' Rights
10AM-11AM, 343 East 70th Street. Learn more here.
Ongoing: After-school Programs at Stanley Isaacs
After-school programs consisting of thematic projects and homework assistance at Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center. Everyday @ 3-6 pm for grades K-5. Contact: Tiffany Bolling @ 212-360-7625
Throughout April: Family Workshops at Four Freedoms Park
Enjoy family workshops at Four Freedoms Park on color & texture, the meaning of Four Freedoms, the park and its surroundings and monuments. Learn more and register today.
For more frequent updates on the Marine Transfer Station and events related to it, please sign up for this list.