Together we’ve been able to accomplish so much. You can watch my annual report with updates from Senate Minority Leader “Chuck” Schumer and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney at BenKallos.com/StateOfTheDistrict/2020
- Authored and passed Full Public Matching campaign finance reform to get big money out of NYC politics.
- Opened new 180-seat pre-kindergarten center for a total of 1,000 new seats since 2014.
- Secured 184 new K-8 school seats for a total of 824.
- Completed $2.5 million renovation of E. 67th Street Library.
- Broke ground on $100 million new East River Greenway and $3.5 million in playground renovations. Secured $75 million more for East River Esplanade.
Ben Kallos, Council Member, District 5
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City Mulls Next Sites to Crack Down on Heightboosting ‘Zoning Loopholes’
“We need more spaces for everyday New Yorkers and fewer spaces for billionaires,” said Kallos.
We’ve passed a limit of 20 feet on empty mechanical voids in residential districts and are now fighting to extend those same protections to “Billionaires Row” in the Central Business District, Hudson Yards, and the Finance District. The proposal from the city is for a 35-foot limit on “voids” in these Commercial Districts. Visit BenKallos.com/CommercialVoids
Facades on 1,400 Buildings in New York Are a Threat to Pedestrians
The New York Times, 1/3/2020
“Regardless of who owns the building, they have to keep it safe — and the city should be helping out,” said Kallos.
Since 2016, I’ve been fighting to get buildings repaired and sidewalk sheds down with legislation to limit work to months not years, inspecting sheds that go up and never come down, and most recently a pilot to allow for drone inspections. In December the Buildings Department announced it would be inspecting sheds and even doing the work themselves for the most dangerous conditions in buildings as I originally proposed.
CLEANING UP GOVERNMENT
Won Full Public Matching Campaign Finance Reform
I am proud to have authored the new full public matching campaign finance system that reduced contribution limits from $5,100 down to $2,000 and will go from matching only half of small dollars to matching every small dollar from city residents with 8 public dollars. Join the fight at BenKallos.com/BigMoneyOut
Councilman Calls for Hearing on Nonprofit Contractors and Their Business Ties
The Wall Street Journal, 7/21/2019
“We should be using our tax dollars for caring for our neediest, and we shouldn’t have to worry about self-dealing,” said Kallos.
When the Wall Street Journal reported on self-dealing between a nonprofit homeless services provider and a for-profit security company with the same CEO, I called for and chaired a Contracts Committee hearing where I questioned the Department of Homeless Services, pressing them to take responsibility for bad providers, no matter the size, in order to protect our most vulnerable. Recently the city took a different big provider to court to do just that. If you are aware of possible corruption by anyone doing business with the city, you can join other whistleblowers we are working with by emailing Contracts@BenKallos.com.
2019 Charter Revisions Pass
Following my advocacy and education around the 2019 Charter Revision, all 5 questions were adopted by more than 70% of voters. One big change is Ranked Choice Voting, changing how we vote by ranking candidates in municipal elections from 1 to 5. I am most proud to have fought for and won an extension of the revolving door lobbying ban for elected officials from one to two years, independent budgets for the Borough President and Public Advocate, an office dedicated to helping women and people of color do business with the city, and early involvement in zoning changes for the community.
CLEANING UP THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Congress Member Carolyn Maloney and I joined the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association to power-wash sidewalks in the East 70s with FedCap’s Wildcat, who also pick up litter throughout the neighborhood. We’ve seen success buying hundreds of new covered trash cans and securing twice-a-day garbage pickup. Learn more at BenKallos.com/CleanUp
INVESTING IN PARKS AND PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT
Construction of East Midtown Greenway Begins on Manhattan Waterfront
New York Daily News, 11/22/2019
We broke ground on $100 million in construction to build a new greenway between East 53rd and 61st streets alongside Congress Member Carolyn Maloney with whom I co-chair the East River Esplanade Taskforce. Since I was elected, together we have secured more than $275 million dollars for the East River Esplanade. For more information visit BenKallos.com/Parks
City Invests $75M More in East River Esplanade Fixes
Upper East Side Patch, 2/22/2019
I joined East River Esplanade Taskforce Co-Chair Congress Member Maloney in announcing $75 million in additional funding from Mayor de Blasio.
Indoor Tennis $10 All Winter & Free All Summer
During the 30-week winter season from Labor Day ending April 12, 2020, $10 per person:
- Senior Cardio or Clinic: Monday – Friday: 6am, 7am, 1pm, or 2pm
- Drop-in Hours: Monday – Friday: 6am – 8am, 1pm – 3pm, 10pm – 12am Weekends: 6am – 8am, 8pm – 12am
Play FREE starting April 13 through Labor Day with a Parks Tennis Permit: $10 children, $20 seniors, and $100 for all others.
Learn more at BenKallos.com/Tennis
$3.5 Million Playground Reconstruction at Carl Schurz Playground Breaks Ground
Upper East Side Patch, 10/2/2019
Last year we broke ground on a $3.5 million renovation of Carl Schurz Park Playground funded by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and my Council office that should be completed by this fall. Catbird Playground at the north end of the park will remain open during renovation. Learn more at BenKallos.com/Parks
Council Bill Proposes Ban on RoundUp Chemical Glyphosate Amid Cries of ‘Environmental Racism’
CBS 2, 1/29/2020
“Glyphosate and other carcinogens cannot be sprayed on City property, particularly our City Parks,” said Kallos.
We’ve been working with the students of P.S. 290 since 2014 to ban toxic pesticides from being sprayed in parks. Following our hearing in January we need your help to keep our children and pets safe in parks. Sign the petition at BenKallos.com/petition/BanToxicPesticides
New York City is Cracking Down on Plastic Bottles
The Verge, 2/7/2020
“We can change what normal is and get to a more sustainable future. We don’t have a choice because there is a climate emergency and we can show Trump the right way to do it,” said Kallos.
In 2018, I authored and sponsored bills calling on the City to ban the sale of single-use plastic bottles in city parks and city land. This February Mayor de Blasio joined student organizers of the Climate March as he signed an Executive Order implementing my legislation. Sign the petition to make this the law at BenKallos.com/ petition/BanTheBottle
Ribbon Cut on New 180 Seat Pre-Kindergarten Center for Four-Year-Olds on the UES
Our Town, 9/4/2019
We’ve been fighting to guarantee every four-year-old a seat on the Upper East Side since I got elected in 2014 and in September we cut the ribbon on the final 180-seats we needed at 76th Street for truly Universal Pre-Kindergarten. Thank you to Congress Member Maloney, Assembly Member Seawright, SCA President Grillo, CSA Union President Cannizzaro, and Laborers Business Manager Prohaska for joining us.
City Commits 184 Additional K-8 Seats to Upper East Side
Upper East Side Patch, 12/19/2019
When I got elected, the Upper East Side was slated for no new school seats, despite overcrowding, and I thought something was wrong. So I wrote a law in 2018 forcing the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority to provide more transparency around where they planned to build new school seats, and it turns out we needed another 184 school seats for a total of 864 new seats for our district by 2024.
$600,000 HYDROPONICS LAB
In October, students, teachers, school administrators and members of the school’s PTA joined me to cut the ribbon on a new $600,000 hydroponics lab won for P.S. 183 by Participatory Budgeting in 2017.
$2.5 MILLION LIBRARY RENOVATION
We cut the ribbon on a $2.5 million renovation for the 114-year-old East 67th Street Library – where I got my first library card – with funding I secured from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson.
UNIVERSAL AFTER SCHOOL
More than half a million children in New York are left alone after school. Universal After School legislation I proposed would keep children positively engaged and from hurting one another during the hours that they are most likely to get in trouble with the police. Add your name in support at BenKallos.com/UniversalAfterSchool
SCHOOL BUS TRACKING
NYC School Buses to Have GPS Tracking
Fox 5, 8/21/2019
“…we need to be able to know where those buses are when something goes wrong,” said Kallos.
The Department of Education is more than a semester late in complying with a law I wrote to put a GPS on every single public school bus and give parents an app to track them. I even met with the CEO of Via ride share, with whom the City has contracted to build our app, as we work to get tracking online in time for next school year or sooner.
RETIREMENT FOR ALL
New York City Unveils New Plan to Help Workers Save for Retirement
ABC 7, 9/24/2019
Two-thirds of workers in New York City aren’t participating in retirement plans, largely because their employer doesn’t offer one. Legislation I introduced alongside Council Member I. Daneek Miller would offer automatic enrollment into a publicly administered retirement savings program through private-sector employers who don’t offer any options at no cost to the business. Learn more at BenKallos.com/Retirement
HELPING THE HOMELESS
As the co-founder of the East Side Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) I am proud to have cut the ribbon on supportive housing for more than a dozen formerly homeless women and children across the street from where I live. Many of these formerly homeless children are now attending the public school across the street. Learn more at BenKallos.com/Homeless