In this season of thanks, I am grateful for the historic number of New York City residents who came out to the polls and voted yes on all three ballot questions.
12/13, 5PM – 7PM
New York Classical Theatre: Reading of Women and Servants
Save The Date: State of the District
1/13, 1PM – 2:30PM
12/7, 8AM – 10AM
Mobile District Hours
- Campaign Finance Reform Approved with a Milllion Votes
- GPS on School Buses Needed to Prevent Lost Children During Storm
- New York Times Editorializes in Support of My Ethics Reforms as Model for State Legislature
- Term Limits for Community Board and Civic Engagement Win
NOVEMBER EVENT INVITES
- Holiday Party
- Save the Date: State of the District
- New York Classical Theatre: Reading of “Women and Servants”
- Helping Upper East Siders Find Housing with PIX11
- National Experts Weigh in on Scaffolding Reform
- City and State Offer Amazon $3 Billion in Tax Breaks and a Helipad
FIXING OUR ELECTIONS AND GOVERNMENT REFORM
- Upper East Side Streets Continue to Get Safer for Pedestrians and Cyclists
- Families for Safe Streets
- National Education Award Given to Upper East Side Public School
- Civic Hall Announces $2 Million in Funding for a Digital Curriculum
- Celebrating 45 Years of the New York Public Interest Rights Group
- Eleanor Roosevelt High School International Dinner
- Honoring Our Childcare Workers
FOOD, ENVIRONMENT & HELPING NEIGHBORS
- Getting More New Yorkers to Compost
- Turkey Giveaway for Thanksgiving
- Rally Against Loss of Coverage at New York Hospitals
- Politics of Food Summit at Baruch College
- NY Cares Coat Drive on Roosevelt Island
- Toys for Tots Drive on the Upper East Side
- Everybody Loves Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer—Especially Me
- New York City Should Have Its Own Ride Hailing App
- New Book from Friends of the Upper East Side: “Shaped by Immigrants”
- Protecting Immigrant Communities: Public Charge
- Attention Religious Institutions: Apply for a Grant to Upgrade Security
- The Roof Over Our Heads: A NYLAG Life Planning Workshop
- Thank You For Attending the Shred-A-Thon Thanksgiving Edition
- The York Theatre Celebrates 48th Anniversary
- Kicking Off Second Annual Anime NYC Weekend
- Opportunity for Minority and Women-Owned Businesses
- Legislative Corner
- Free Legal Clinic
- Here To Help
- Mobile District Hours
- Ben in Your Building
- Community Boards
- NYPD Events
- Neighborhood and Tenant Associations
- Events for Adults
- Events for Kids
Campaign Finance Reform Approved with a Million Votes
On November 6, New Yorkers voted to get big money out of politics. After a decade-long fight for campaign finance reform, voters took matters into their own hands, voting “Yes” on Ballot Question 1.
As the Wall Street Journal and City and State reported, the passage of Question 1 was an important victory in the fight for campaign finance reform. Over 1.4 million New Yorkers turned their ballots over to vote on at least one ballot question, and 1.1 million of those voters chose “Yes” on Ballot Question 1. That is as many people as voted for Mayor last year. As a result, every small dollar (under $250 for citywide and $175 for others) donated to a campaign participating in the system will be matched by the city eight times, providing matching funds to cover up to 75% of a campaign's spending limit. We also lowered the individual contribution limit to $2,000 for citywide campaigns, $1,500 for borough wide, and $1,000 for City Council.
I have been fighting for these changes to improve our City’s campaign finance system since I was the executive director of a good government group. As a Council Member, I authored legislation and secured a hearing to reform the system. Recently as the city worked to revise the Charter, I testified before the Charter Revision Commission at every opportunity I had. The new laws will help more diverse candidates run for office and prevent corruption. Find out more about the three ballot measures or read my full statement on this historic win at BenKallos.com/Press-Releases
GPS on School Buses Needed to Prevent Lost Children During Storm
The New York Times reported that when Winter Storm Avery hit, I had to intervene along with the Mayor’s office to locate a school bus still stuck in traffic carrying children after midnight. I spent hours on the phone with the Mayor’s team working to locate the children, who receive special needs education, and had been on the bus for more than 10 hours, since they left school in the mid-afternoon. Ultimately, emergency response workers intervened and escorted the bus to its final drop off. The bus driver had to use their personal cell phone to radio for help.
As CBS 2 News reported, a package of legislation I introduced in September would have prevented this situation from happening. The legislation requires the Department of Education to install GPS devices on every single New York City school bus, so the vehicles can be located in real time by the City and parents. It is a shame we have not seen more movement and urgency in getting this simple fix implemented, especially after a recent hearing in the City Council where I personally questioned DOE Chancellor Carranza about this ongoing annual problem. Learn more about what occurred by reading my full statement from the morning of the incident. See more coverage of my bill and how it will prevent this from happening again from coverage in The Wall Street Journal, WCBS Radio, NBC 4, New York 1 and New York Daily News.
New York Times Editorializes in Support of My Ethics Reforms as Model for State Legislature
When I ran for office, I promised to fight to eliminate corruption and the appearance of corruption in government. We took a huge step toward making that happen in the City Council in 2016, when we passed Local Law 20 of 2016, which I authored and passed. This law made the City Council a full-time job and banned outside income as well as “lulus,” stipends from the Speaker that The Daily News referred to as "legal grease."
In November, The New York Times Editorial Board commended the progress the City Council made against corruption and recommended that New York State follow our example and “act as responsibly” as the City Council did in 2016.
This would be the first time in twenty years that state lawmakers receive a pay raise. I believe this raise in pay must come with a promise to root out corruption. As the Times said, "Good government demands fair compensation for lawmakers, but only when they earn and keep the public’s trust,” which I feel will only happen with a transparent government of elected officials performing honestly that rejects lulus and outside income. Read my statement in response to the editorial at BenKallos.com/press-releases
Term Limits for Community Board and Civic Engagement Win
Changes made to the City Charter as a result of Ballot Questions 2 and 3 passing will have positive effects on our government. I supported and advocated for passage of both measures and I am proud to have helped push them through.
Ballot Question 2 creates a Civic Engagement Commission and a citywide participatory budgeting program to promote participation by residents in making recommendations for projects in their communities.
Ballot Question 3 imposes term limits on Community Board Members. This measure is important because term limits are crucial for democracy. I am glad we have them on the federal level for president and I know on the local level they will help get more New Yorkers involved. My advocacy for this measure goes back to before I was in office, when I was a member of Community Board 8. In the City Council, I introduced Int. 585 of 2014 with Council Member Daniel Dromm to establish term limits for the boards, and I am pleased that New Yorkers have supported this measure on the ballot.
NOVEMBER EVENT INVITES
You are invited! On Thursday, December 13, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, join me and my team at my District Office to celebrate the holiday season, discuss what we have been doing in 2018, and enjoy light refreshments. RSVP by calling (212)860-1950 or at BenKallos.com/Events
December 13, 5:00pm to 7:00pm
244 East 93rd Street
Save The Date: State of the District
You are cordially invited to our annual State of the District.
State of the District
1:00 PM, Sunday, January 13
Memorial Sloan Kettering
430 East 67th Street
Please join me for my annual report to you on the State of the District, recognizing all the work my office and members of our community have done together over the past 5 years and giving a preview of what’s in store for 2019. RSVP by calling 212-860-1950 or BenKallos.com/Events
New York Classical Theatre: Reading of Women and Servants
I am excited to sponsor this reading of the newly rediscovered play by Lope de Vega, Women and Servants. The NY Classical Theatre is presenting this play as part of an important project to diversify the classics of the theatre canon. The play was recently rediscovered in an overlooked 17th Century manuscript in Madrid's Biblioteca Nacional.
The comedia emerges from its 400-year sleep with a remarkable freshness: it presents a world of suave self-fashioning and accommodation, where creaky notions of honor and vengeance have virtually no place.
NY Classical Women and Servants
Monday, December 10, 7:30PM
Church of the Epiphany
1393 York Avenue at 74th Street
Helping Upper East Siders Find Housing with PIX 11
I joined PIX 11’s “Monica Makes it Happen” for a discussion on the affordable housing crisis plaguing our City. The show focused on the problems at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). NYCHA has been in the news recently for its $22 billion capital budget deficit needed to fix leaky roofs, mold, broken elevators, dangerous lead pipes, and faulty heating systems.
To make matters worse, NYCHA cannot keep up with the housing demands of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors, which leaves many seniors in need of affordable housing. By 2030, there will be 1.84 million seniors (65 and over) living in NYC, according to the Metro Industrial Area Foundation. This includes Anna Rivera, a senior who was devastated by Hurricane Maria last year and was forced to move in with her family in New York City. Anna Rivera has been through half a dozen community and city waiting lists for homes. For more information, watch the show and hear Anna tell her story on Pix11.com
National Experts Weigh in on Scaffolding Reform
Thank you to Barnard College, Lori Gold, and her family for inviting me to participate in a panel discussing the current scaffolding legislation on the books in New York City. Lori Gold is the sister of Grace Gold who was killed in 1979 in New York by a piece of masonry that fell from a building.
Ms. Gold’s tragic death lead to the adoption of (Local Law 11), or the Facade Inspection and Safety Program, an important safety law which has had the unintended consequence of covering New York City with scaffolding. The panel featured industry experts such as Dan Allen of CTA Architects, Sharon Lobo of Indus Architects, and Michael Peterman of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates. We discussed the implications of Local Law 11 and the legislation I have introduced to force building owners to take down unnecessary scaffolding or get the necessary facade work done within 90 days. If that timeline is not met or is ignored, the work would then be done by the City and the costs would be billed to the building owner. I believe we must maintain the safety standards of Local Law 11, while updating the law so the work actually gets done and the scaffolding comes down in a timely manner.
The panel discussion and breakfast raised $200,000 in honor of Grace’s memory for a scholarship started by her sister Lori. For more information about the panel discussion, read coverage in Habitat and learn more about my scaffolding bill from coverage in The New York Times, PIX11, FOX 5, and New York 1. If you would like to donate to the Grace Gold Foundation Facebook.com/GraceGoldMemorialScholarshipFund
City and State Offer Amazon $3 Billion in Tax Breaks and a Helipad
As The Guardian reported, like many other New York City elected officials, I have serious concerns with the level of subsidy being offered and the secretive process to bring Amazon to Long Island City. No major deal that will profoundly affect everyday New Yorkers should require our government to sign a non-disclosure agreement, excluding community members and their City Council representatives from the discussion.
As the New York Post reported, I am an Amazon customer who understands the value of Amazon wanting to come to our great City. That is why, along with many of my colleagues, I signed on to a letter highlighting the reasons why Amazon should come to New York City. In that letter, we never offered Amazon $3 billion in tax breaks or a helipad, and no such offer should have been made without the input of local residents, like the Roosevelt Islanders who may be displaced by higher rents when Amazon moves in next door.
Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the nation, worth billions of dollars. There is no reason we should be giving it extra-generous financial package at a moment when our City is in dire need for billions in funding to fix the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and to make repairs on our subways. For more, read coverage from Curbed, Patch and Pacific Standard.
FIXING OUR ELECTIONS AND GOVERNMENT REFORM
Massive Turnout, Long Lines, and Soggy Ballots
This past Election Day, 38 percent of eligible New York City residents came out to vote. That means despite torrential rains turnout was up significantly from the 22.7 percent we saw in 2014. Sadly, our City Board of Elections (BOE) was not prepared for this and there were widespread reports of long lines at polling places. As reported by City and State, in my former position as Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, I often brought attention to the City BOE’s lack of preparedness for elections, which too often leaves New Yorkers disenfranchised. During the April 2016 Democratic primaries, the BOE discarded about 90,000 of 121,056 votes from the five boroughs on “the basis the voters were unaffiliated”, with over 60,000 of them coming from the outer boroughs. Following this election, the City Council had oversight hearings and questioned BOE Executive Director Mike Ryan about the failures of his agency that day. I will continue to hold the BOE accountable, asking the questions we all want answers to. Read my full statement from Election Day at BenKallos.com/press-releases
Making History with Government Data
In November, New York City made the Mayor’s Office of Data and Analytics (MODA) a permanent part of New York City government. The new law, which I co-sponsored, ensures that MODA, which was founded by executive order in 2006, survives future Mayoral administrations that might otherwise have let it fall by the wayside.
MODA is charged with aggregating and analyzing data from across City agencies to more effectively address crime, public safety, and quality of life issues. It is known as the center of civic intelligence for using analytics to strategically prioritize risk, delivering services more efficiently, enforcing laws more effectively and increasing transparency. For more information on what this means for our City, read the coverage in Statescoop.
Upper East Side Streets Continue to get Safer for Pedestrians and Cyclists
My office's Bike Safety program continues to improve street safety on the Upper East Side. The program which stretches from East 30th Street in Council Member Keith Powers’ district to East 97th street was launch in 2014. As research shows since then, there has been a trend toward fewer injuries for pedestrians, cyclists and motorist injured in collisions.
This year, the program included a new bike safety officer, Officer Tuohey, and the expansion of protected bike lanes.
Infrastructure improvements include:
- Improving bike lane on Second Avenue between 68th & 59th streets from shared to partially parking protected planned for 2019.
- Providing a pedestrian and bike crossing for the 59th Street Queensboro Bridge planned for 2019.
- Doubling bike lanes from just First Avenue and the 90th & 91st Street pair to include Second Avenue, 70th & 71st Street and 77th & 78th Streets in 2017.
- Leading pedestrian intervals along York Avenue to give pedestrians a chance to cross before vehicles get the green light in 2016.
- “Safety neckdowns” have extended the curb and islands have been added at dangerous intersections throughout the Upper East Side, so pedestrians have less distance to cross.
As Our Town reported, the program is working since “traffic collisions involving cyclists on the East Side have trended downward in recent years even as ridership has increased.”
Educating cyclists along with enforcement from the NYPD has made a difference when it comes to protecting older residents on our streets. For more information on the program and detailed statistics read the release on BenKallos.com/Press-Releases
Families for Safe Streets
I spoke at a gathering of Families for Safe Streets, a group of family members of victims of traffic collisions that is working to improve transportation safety in our city. The event which was attended by local clergy and was part of World Day of Remembrance was an opportunity for families to share stories of friends and loved ones taken too soon by traffic collisions. It was a grounding experience to spend time with these residents and faith leaders. For more information, the website for Families for Safe Streets has updates on what is being done for traffic safety. For more information on traffic safety in the district, read our article from Our Town to see what my office is doing to improve the street infrastructure.
National Education Award Given to Upper East Side Public School
In November, the U.S. Department of Education recognized the work of amazing students from the Upper East Side’s own P.S. 183 the Robert Louis Stevenson School. The National Blue Ribbon School Award affirms the academic prowess of students and the work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students can excel. Since I was elected, I have allocated just over $1.4 million for upgrades in technology equipment, air conditioning, and facility maintenance. The school’s participation in the annual Sotheby’s Art Show which I help fund is one of my favorite events of the year. At this ceremony it was a pleasure recognizing the work of former Principal Tara Napoleoni-Goldberg and current Principal Martin Woodard as well as that of the students and the school’s very active PTA. This award is just further proof that we have a gifted learning institution here on the Upper East Side. Watch the ceremony and see the award given to the school at Facebook.com/BenKallos/Videos
Celebrating 45 Years of the New York Public Interest Rights Group
The New York Public Interest Research Group, or NYPIRG for short, is a non-partisan, nonprofit, research and public education organization that has been around since 1973. In November, I had the honor of awarding them a Proclamation recognizing and celebrating their 45 years of service to New York City. The student-directed organization has affected policy reforms while educating hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to be advocates. NYPIRG’s recruitment of tens of thousands of community-based members has enhanced its institutional impact while bringing together the voices of New Yorkers to public policy debates. NYPIRG has played a key role in fighting for more than 120 public interest laws and executive orders over the course of its history. Additionally, NYPIRG examines important issues, produces studies, and engages New Yorkers in public education campaigns designed to produce policies that strengthen democracy, enhance the rights of consumers and voters, protect the environment and public health, and improve New York City mass transit. If there is one organization that deserves this recognition, NYPIRG is it. Thank you to NYPIRG for its years of service and commitment to educating young New Yorkers and serving the public.
Civic Hall Announces $2 Million in Funding for a Digital Curriculum
It was a pleasure to speak at Civic Hall this year as they announced a $2 million grant from The Cognizant U.S. Foundation. The grant will be used to support science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and other technical education programs as well as digital skills training programs for City non-profit organizations and residents. The event was attended by Council Member Carlina Rivera and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer who is a founding member of Civic Hall and a tremendous supporter of everything tech. For more information on this funding visit CivicHall.org and CognizantusFoundation.org
Eleanor Roosevelt High School International Dinner
The 2018 International Dinner at Eleanor Roosevelt High School was a true delight in November. I’d like to thank Principal Saliani and the Co-PTA Presidents Stacey Curry, Jaya Nahmiyas, and Virginia Kindred for inviting me and allowing me to speak at the dinner. Joining me were U.S. Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. The dinner was a success in highlighting the advances in technology and job opportunities available to high school students. Since I have been in office I have allocated over $475,000 for technology upgrades, Model U.N, auditorium risers and a library renovation.
Honoring Our Childcare Workers
In November, I recognized the dedication of our childcare workers from District Council 1707 with a proclamation for honoring them for 45 years of dedication to protecting thousands of New York City childcare workers. I have been looking forward to celebrating this achievement with DC 1707 for a long time. This past June I marched alongside AFSCME DC 1707 Executive Director Kim Medina in support of wage parity for center-based child care workers. They have been making progress for vulnerable workers that need financial and educational support in underappreciated fields. One of DC 1707’s crowning achievements was their innovation of the child daycare system by unionizing over 6,000 childcare workers; currently, they have as many as 30,000 members. DC 1707 went on to further improve the situation of workers in the City’s nonprofit and for-profit home care agencies as well. DC1707 funded Early Childhood Career Ladder (ECCL) as a successful initiative to improve the quality of care children receive in the City as well as offer benefits to childcare workers that includes financial support for professionals that want to further their education. Watch the award ceremony by visiting BenKallos.com/videos
FOOD, ENVIRONMENT & HELPING NEIGHBORS
Getting More New Yorkers to Compost
As reported by The New York Times, our City’s sanitation and waste diversion methods are still lackluster and efforts to improve efficiency are not having much success. Approximately one-third of the waste sent to the Department of Sanitation is food scraps that end up dumped in landfills as far away as South Carolina. This is an environmentally damaging and expensive process that will cost New York City $411 million in 2019 and will increase to $421 million by 2021.
Following the launch of the City’s pilot program for residential composting, I have tried to encourage Upper East Side buildings to participate, in order to get us closer to our goal of “Zero Waste by 2030.” Unfortunately, the progress has been slow mostly due to the inconvenience of the smelly brown bins used to collect food scraps. Despite this obstacle, we must continue to work to create less landfill-bound trash by composting more organic waste.
To move things forward, earlier this year I introduced legislation (Int. 843) that would improve source separation in public places and (Int. 844) which mandates Zero Waste by 2030 and demands proof we are doing everything we can to achieve it.
It is financially and environmentally prudent for the City to create less trash. Therefore, I encourage Upper East Siders to look into the programs DSNY offers as well as GrowNYC’s Compost On-The-Go program. See a complete list of food drop off sites in New York City.
Turkey Giveaway for Thanksgiving
With the help of the New York Common Pantry, I had the pleasure of delivering free turkeys to residents of New York City Housing Authority developments in District 5. We handed out over 150 turkeys, which I funded through my office, families residing at Stanley Isaacs, Holmes Towers, Lexington Houses, and Robbins Plaza. I also visited seniors at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House ahead of Thanksgiving to wish them a happy holiday.
As reported by amNewYork, 1 in 8 New Yorkers struggles with food insecurity and although that is less than it was in 2012 it is still almost 2 million people. Every year my office hands out these turkeys to get additional help around the holidays to families that might need it. If you live in a NYCHA development in Council District 5 and want a turkey next year, call my office next November at 212-860 1950 to get on the list. You can also get additional food now by joining the New York Common Pantry at nycommonpantry.org
Rally Against Loss of Coverage at New York Hospitals
In November, I rallied with advocates, fellow Council Members, and 32BJ workers at a protest demanding New York Presbyterian and other City hospitals work with insurance group Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield to be more transparent about increasing costs. Since the protest, New York Presbyterian and Empire have reached an agreement although the problem still persists with other city hospitals.
At the rally, workers demanded huge disparities in pricing for similar procedures at hospitals here in New York City be explained. City hospitals are not handling procedure costs fairly with the public and both the health funds of Upper East Side residents many of which are 32BJ members are at risk from inflated costs. One example given was an average of $83,000 for a hip replacement at New York Presbyterian when the City average is $58,000 at other hospitals. For more information, watch the rally or visit ClearHealthcosts.com
Politics of Food Summit at Baruch College
Thank you to City and State for inviting me to participate in the Politics of Food panel discussion at Baruch College last month. As part of the panel, I shared my experiences over the past five years advocating for policies to combat hunger in children and seniors as well as to move toward healthy eating habits to prevent obesity. The panel was moderated by Stanley Isaacs Center President Gregory Morris and featured State Senator Luis Sepulveda, Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks, New York City Department for the Aging Deputy Commissioner Caryn Resnick, and American Heart Association's Robin Vitale.
Since I have been in office I successfully advocated for universal free lunch for all 1.1 million New York City School Children. I have also introduced legislation like Int. 442, which requires fast food restaurants to default their kids’ drinks to healthy options. At the panel I went on to emphasize the need for my Automatic Benefits bill to be enacted so that New Yorkers who qualify for government benefits programs and do not apply still get them. To see the entire discussion, watch the panel discussion at Facebook.com/BenKallos
NY Cares Coat Drive on Roosevelt Island
Winter 2018 has started with a bang this year. Roosevelt Island is doing its part in helping vulnerable families by hosting a coat drive through December 28. Donating gently used warm coats and items for cold weather will do wonders for a family or individual in need. To drop off your donation visit the Public Safety Department at 550 Main Street. Thank you to New York Cares for working to make this coat drive happen. Clothing donations can be dropped off 24-hours a day at 7 days a week. For more information, please call 212-832-4545.
Toys for Tots Drive on the Upper East Side
Every child deserves some toys during the holiday season. You can donate new, unwrapped toys to the U.S Marine Corps Toys for Tots through December 15th. Please help bring in Christmas gifts to children in the community who are less fortunate. There are at least four Manhattan Mini Storage locations which will serve as Toy Drop Off Locations in Manhattan including right here in my district at 420 E. 62nd St., New York, NY 10065.
To donate, simply bring a new, unwrapped toy for a child age 1 to 12 to a collection box at one of the Manhattan Mini Storage locations above. Toys will be picked up by a Coordinator, sorted by age and gender, and distributed to the less fortunate children of our community. For more information visit ToysForTots.org/frequently_asked_questions
Everybody Loves Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer—Especially Me
If you live in New York City, have been to any public meeting or community event, or read this newsletter then you've probably met Gale Brewer. I am grateful everyday that she is our Manhattan Borough President and a strong partner standing up to over development. City and State profiled her in a piece title "Everybody Loves Gale" highlighting many of her accomplishments throughout her astonishing career in public service to our City. Here's what I had to say:
“Gale Brewer gives me courage to be as honest as I am,” Kallos said. “She is one of the most honest people in politics, and I hope to be a close second.” Kallos emulates Brewer – “I want to be Gale Brewer when I grow up. I say it all the time ..."
Read the rest of what I had to say along with countless other elected officials in City & State.
New York City Should Have Its Own Ride Hailing App
As reported by the Gotham Gazette back in 2014, I introduced legislation that would give New York City the ability to create an application called “City E-Hail” that could compete with Uber and Lyft. The app would allow New Yorkers to e-hail any of the participating 13,637 yellow cabs and 6,000 green cabs. The universal e-hail app would be contracted or created by the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC). Almost four years ago I introduced this bill because I knew that companies like Uber and Lyft had an upper hand on yellow cabs. Taxis need an app of their own to compete because New Yorkers need to be able to get a cab in the rain without having to worry about surge pricing. As an app developer myself, I believe New York City must support its tech sector: Instead of making new technologies illegal, or regulating them out of business, we should provide a level playing field with fair competition so that companies, drivers and riders all win. For more information on the proposed bill, read the release at BenKallos.com/press-releases
New Book from Friends of the Upper East Side: “Shaped by Immigrants”
As a lifelong Upper East Sider, I am proud of the rich history our neighborhood holds. To highlight that history and educate the public last year, I allocated $35,000 to Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, which they used to write and publish a book titled, Shaped by Immigrants: A History of Yorkville. The book goes into detail explaining the historical timeline of our Community’s architecture and public works that have left a mark on the Upper East Side. The book itself is broken down into chapters based on the contributions of Irish, Czech, Hungarian, and German immigrant communities of the Upper East Side. For more information on the book and how it came about, read Our Town’s coverage or check out the panel discussion I participated in discussing the book. Friends of the Upper East Side Historic districts has made a paperback version of the book available online for $30 and can you watch a 15-minute, mini-documentary on our neighborhood’s rich history at friends-ues.org/yorkvillebook
Protecting Immigrant Communities: Public Charge
On October 10, 2018, the federal government proposed a change to a longstanding rule called “public charge” that would have broad impacts on immigration and immigrant communities in the United States. This proposed rule is not yet in effect; however, if the rule does go into effect, it would drastically reduce the numbers of people eligible for a green card or a visa.
The new rule would significantly expand the list of public benefits that are subject to a public charge determination, adding SNAP, non-emergency Medicaid, Medicare Part D, and federally funded housing assistance. It would give a higher weight to medical history, wealth and assets, education history, age, and other factors in evaluating immigration applications.
Families will be forced to decide whether to access benefits for which they are lawfully eligible or face adverse immigration consequences. There is already a drop in enrollment for U.S. benefit programs included and excluded from the rule, as this proposed rule generates widespread fear.
If families – if children – lose access to SNAP, Housing Assistance, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D, we will invariably see rises in homelessness, taxed food pantries, and higher rates of reliance on Emergency Rooms and failure to treat chronic illnesses.
Thankfully, this rule has not yet been finalized. All members of the public are invited to submit a comment concerning the real-life impact this rule might have should it go into effect. The comment period will close on December 10, 2018 at 11:59 pm. I would like to invite you to join me in submitting a comment sharing your own dissatisfaction and disgust with this proposed rule.
You can learn more about the rule and find guides for submitting a public comment by visiting www.ouramericanstory.us
Attention Religious Institutions: Apply for a Grant to Upgrade Security
As the country figures out a way to protect institutions that can be attacked by extremists, many nonpublic schools and synagogues have applied for and received Homeland Security funding to install security upgrades within their buildings. One of the security measures recommended by the federal grant process is installing bollards on the sidewalk to prevent vehicles from being able to drive into the building.
The funds to pay for these upgrades are now available, but if your organization encounters difficulties from city agencies like the Department of Transportation, Department of Building, or even the NYPD feel free to contact my office and the City Council‘s Jewish Caucus.
On Thursday, December 6, at 4pm, Council Member Chaim Deutsch will be hosting a meeting with schools and synagogues facing this issue, along with representatives from each agency, as well as the Speaker’s office and the Mayor’s office. I encourage you to join this meeting, and to pass along the information to any institutions that may be facing these same issues. If you are interested in attending, please email scheduler@BenKallos.com.
Upgrading Security at Religious Institutions Info Session
Thursday, December 6th
4pm to 5:30pm
250 Broadway, 16th floor hearing room
RSVP to Scheduler@BenKallos.com
The Roof Over Our Heads: A NYLAG Life Planning Workshop
On Wednesday, December 5, the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), in collaboration with DOROT, will present Life Planning Workshop, “The Roof Over Our Heads” at DOROT’s office at 171 W 85th Street. The goal of the workshop is to provide older adults with education and information about how to protect their rights as tenants and guard themselves against landlords that are causing them difficulties. The program will be divided into two parts:
The morning session from 10am to noon will be a deep dive into actions older adults can take to obtain repairs and disability accommodations, freeze their rent (SCRIE and DRIE), find affordable housing and rent assistance programs, handle a difficult landlord that may be harassing, discriminating against, or trying to force the tenant out and more. NYLAG attorneys will save time for Q&A.
The afternoon session will consist of individually scheduled one-on-one appointments with NYLAG attorneys, allowing older adults to consult privately on a range of topics. The attorneys are also available to assist in preparing documents including powers of attorney, statutory gift riders, SSI appointments of representative forms, and HIPAA releases. To register for the morning program and/or to schedule a private appointment in the afternoon with an attorney or social worker, individuals should contact Wendy Handler by email or phone at firstname.lastname@example.org or 917-441-3724.
Thank You For Attending the Shred-A-Thon Thanksgiving Edition
Thank you to everyone in the neighborhood who came out to our last Shred-A-Thon event of the year in November. For anyone interested in joining us in 2019, look for announcement in the next three months for spring of 2019. When the time comes, bring your personal documents that you no longer want lying around. Get them destroyed and protect your privacy and identity. You bring the paper and the giant shredder truck turns it into micro bits while you watch! You can also bring compost, eyeglasses, corks, batteries and cords.
The York Theatre Celebrates 48th Anniversary
Thank you to everyone who attended The York Theatre Company's 48th anniversary for an important night for the arts and the community. Betty Cooper Wallerstein was one of two honorees along with Susan Stroman, with an short aria written and sung by an opera singer in her honor along with an award I had the privilege of presenting. Thank you to Betty Cooper Wallerstein for her years of serving the Upper East Side and the New York City theater community.
Kicking Off Second Annual Anime NYC Weekend
For the second year, I had a blast opening the Anime NYC Weekend, a convention dedicated to Japanese popular culture. I was joined in the festivities by Anime NYC founder Peter Tatara and a representative from the Consulate General of Japan before opening the exhibit hall. I declared the weekend of November 15-17 Anisong World Matsuri Day, named after the Japanese concert series that visited New York for Anime NYC. For the weekend, Anime NYC broke personal attendance records with 36,000 attendees from all 50 states and over 15 countries. For more information, watch the video of the opening ceremony at BenKallos.com/videos
Opportunity for Minority and Women-Owned Businesses
Strategic Steps for Growth a City initiative has helped over 100 minority and women business to develop a plan for growth. Through this program participants gain knowledge and experience through small evening class sessions taught by an NYU professor; peer-mentoring meetings; advice from business leaders; and networking with City and NYU procurement professionals.
Throughout the course, each business owner will develop a customized three-year Strategic Growth Action Plan a detailed roadmap for growing your business. Graduates have secured over $150 million in public contracts and have created 400 new jobs. Valued at $10,000, this program is presented by the NYC Department of Small Business Services in collaboration with the NYU Stern School’s W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab. Applications are due by January 11th, and classes will begin in late January. Learn more and apply at www.nyc.gov/strategicsteps.