New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Upper East Side City Councilmember Ben Kallos isn't planning to let social distancing measure get in the way of constituent outreach.

Kallos will be holding his customary "First Friday" meetings — where residents of his district can drop in to his office to discuss neighborhood issues — via video conference as New Yorkers are encourage to stay home to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

The Upper East Side lawmaker is planning to host at least 100 constituents on Friday, April 3, via the video conferencing service Zoom, according to a spokesman. Upper East Siders interested in attending should RSPV on Kallos' website.

Kallos' conference will go live around 8:15 a.m. on Friday.

 

The state bill grew out of a push for an online voter registration system here in New York City, led by City Councilmember Ben Kallos.  He said three years ago that he wanted to make registering to vote as easy as calling an Uber. His bill passed the Council and was signed into law by Mayor de Blasio in 2017. But the New York City Board of Elections has indicated it would not process the forms completed online through a system built by the New York City Campaign Finance Board, unless it is required by a change in state law. 

Kallos said it’s time for the state to act, not just to make registering to vote easier, but to reduce the risk to public health. 

“While we're telling everyone to just stay home, it's wrong to still require people to print out a voter registration form, fill it out by hand, get a postage stamp, go to a post office, expose themselves to mail it, when we could just as easily do it online,” he said. “And then, similarly, it's a little bit crazy that we would require very low-wage workers at the Board of Elections, often making minimum wage, to go in at a time like this and literally transcribe what people hand write into a computer, when we could just skip the step...let people enter it from home and keep everybody safe during the process.” 

 

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — More than 200 students played in an online chess tournament funded by an Upper East Side lawmaker over the weekend, marking the first time the annual event was played virtually.

A total of 235 student participated in this year's Council Member Ben Kallos Chess Challenge, a spokesman for the lawmaker told Patch. The tournament, originally set to take place at the Upper East Side's Eleanor Roosevelt High School, was played online because New York City school are shut down as the city deals with the outbreak of coronavirus.

 

Kallos Thanks the “Heroes” Keeping the City Running During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

Last Monday, Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) wrote an opinion piece for LaborPress.org thanking the workers who are providing vital services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kallos began by voicing his appreciation for the medical workers responsible for treating the City’s thousands of COVID-19 patients. He went on to thank public transit employees, who are not only transporting essential personnel across the City, but are also keeping heavily used public areas clean and sanitary during the crisis.

Among the other groups who received thanks in the article were grocers, utility workers and maintenance workers.

“While many of us are safe in our homes, there are workers, some making as little as $15 an hour some without benefits, who are putting their health and their families’ health at risk to keep New York City safe,” said Kallos. “These workers, who do so much, also receive little recognition for their efforts, as much of their work is done out of sight. Maintenance workers, cleaners, transit workers, healthcare workers, grocers, all have been affected by this pandemic in unseen ways. Join us in showing our appreciation.”

 

New York is currently facing a pandemic that is challenging many of the systems we take for granted. Millions of us must now work, learn, and live — exclusively at home. We are able to do this because of the countless heroes who are keeping this City’s essential infrastructure running.

While many of us are safe in our homes, there are workers, some making as little as $15 an hour some without benefits, who are putting their health and their families’ health at risk to keep New York City safe. These workers, who do so much, also receive little recognition for their efforts, as much of their work is done out of sight. Maintenance workers, cleaners, transit workers, healthcare workers, grocers, all have been affected by this pandemic in unseen ways. Join us in showing our appreciation. Ask yourself these questions:

 

The government is shutting down the city’s small businesses to slow the spread of coronavirus and flatten the curve. As we take this drastic step to save the patients needing serious medical attention, we must do our part to save our vulnerable small businesses and our economy.

Five steps can help save small businesses during this pandemic-induced recession, inspired by student loan policies designed to relieve and manage debt. Many of us with student debt knew that if we had difficulty finding that first job, had a gap between jobs, or worse, we could defer payments until things got better. The federal government allows loan forgiveness if you make career choices benefitting the public.

While big corporations, government, and the information economy may survive, according to the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis there are 461,000 small businesses employing 4.1 million people endangered by the economic crisis. Bold and urgent steps can help save our city’s mom and pop shops and their workers.

Many small business owners need or will need relief from paying rent, assurance they won’t get evicted, and payroll support until they can reopen. As the federal government debates its next move, New York City can take these five steps to save small businesses:

  1. Stop Commercial Evictions
  2. Defer Property Taxes
  3. Defer Commercial Rent Payments
  4. Defer Mortgage Payments
  5. Guarantee Jobs and Healthcare for Workers

As Congress again uses American tax dollars to help banks with zero percent interest rates, we need something back. Big banks getting federal help should be required to defer mortgage payments for commercial and residential landlords whose tenants are impacted by the coronavirus. Similarly, New York City could also defer its property tax collections.

Commercial and residential landlords who claim deferrals from mortgage and tax payments should be required to defer rent payments from affected tenants affected. For its part, New York City should also stop commercial evictions, which is already has done

 

The highest hurdle to telecommuting is securing sensitive city data, said Garrido, who complained the problem has been foreseeable for years and evidenced in the city’s failure to adopt telecommuting rules he’s been pushing for more than a decade.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who has worked as a software developer, said telecommuting and data security are “very easy to set up.”

“Every corporation in America does this. Doctors do this. It is very easy and normal to do,” he said. “I’m concerned about city workers who could be working from home and are being forced to come in.”

 

A group of lawmakers wants all city eighth-graders to be automatically registered for the entrance exam for specialized high schools and get free after-school test prep in order to boost the enrollment of black and Latino students at the prestigious schools, the Daily News has learned.

A bill co-authored by City Council Members Ben Kallos (D—Manhattan) and Justin Brannan (D—Brooklyn), and supported by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, urges the Education Department to make the test opt-out rather than opt-in, and extend after-school test preparation to every eighth-grader planning to take the exam.

The proposal comes as city officials announced that only 11% of students admitted to specialized schools this year were black or Latino, compared to 70% of all city students — a figure virtually unchanged from years past.

 

On Friday, Charter Communications announced that it would begin providing its Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi for free to families with students in grades K-12 or in college who don’t already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. Altice USA announced a similar program on Friday.

Kallos said that sending out iPads with T-Mobile LTE data plans would likely be quicker than having families sign up for broadband internet service, but it might not be the best long-term solution. “I appreciate wanting to get the service up and running using LTE,” he said. “But I think that they’re really doing families a disservice by not taking advantage of the Charter offer.”

Kallos said that the city should instead be focusing on access to broadband service and providing devices like Chromebooks, which tend to be cheaper than iPads and may be able to run more programs at the same time. Laptops and Chromebooks also come with keyboards, while keyboard attachments are typically sold separately for iPads. Many city schools do also use Chromebooks for regular instruction, and the Education Department will be providing guidance to schools on how to lend those out to students. “Everything is on the table to ensure our students continue to get the quality education they deserve, and we’re grateful to Apple and T-Mobile for their partnership, as both companies are offering significant discounts for their products and services,” city Education Department spokeswoman Isabelle Boundy wrote in an email. “We are open to working with additional partners to serve the children of New York City at this challenging time, and look forward to further conversations with Charter.”

 

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — An Upper East Side lawmaker is asking neighborhood residents to lend a helping hand to a local senior center that has its hands full aiding those who are most vulnerable to the serious effects of coronavirus.

Councilmember Ben Kallos asked healthy Upper East Siders to reach out to staff at the Isaacs Center — located on the campus of the New York City Housing Authority's Stanley Isaacs Houses on First Avenue and East 93rd Street — to volunteer at the center in a tweet sent Monday. The center is helping seniors deal with the coronavirus outbreak by delivering meals to seniors who ar being advised to stay in their homes to reduce contact with people who may be able to transmit the virus.

The Isaacs Center has suspended all of its services except for meal delivery and case management to reduce the potential for exposure for the seniors who rely on the center, according to a statement released by the center's executive director Gregory Morris.

 

NEW YORK — Monday morning, the signs are everywhere: closed.

Hundreds of senior centers across the city were close because of coronavirus. But Jacklyn Reed, 69, of Harlem, said she still needs her meal.

“I’m sick. I’m a dialysis patient. I have cancer. I’m getting my meal. It's a life saver,” said Reed.

At the King Towers senior center between 112th and 113th streets on Lenox Avenue, seniors have to grab and go.

Across town in Yorkville, seniors are picking up their lunch at the Isaacs Center on 93rd Street and 1st Avenue.

Barbara Scavone got her meal Monday afternoon, but she was not happy; she says she misses her friends.

Councilmember Ben Kallos represents the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and East Harlem; he tweeted this call to action: "The Isaac Center is looking for volunteers to serve the community in this time of need."

“We are looking for some heros, some volunteers who are feeling fine, who are willing to go there, pick things up, deliver to seniors, knock or ring and leave it there, and keep the social distancing and get people that food,” asked Kallos.

Reach out if you want to be a volunteer: communitysupport@isaacscenter.org

 

Kallos Announces Launch of Pre-K Dual Language Programs

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

Last Wednesday, Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) announced the launch of two French dual language at a Pre-K center in his district.

The center, located at 355 East 76th St., will use a side-by-side instructional model; each class will feature two Early Childhood- certified teachers, one of whom will be fluent in French. Kallos conceived the idea last December, when he hosted a petition urging the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to establish a French dual language program for School District 2. His petition accumulated 200 signatures from parents.

“I hear so many languages spoken in my district from every corner of the world and now we are working with the Francophone community to address a need in the neighborhood as we hope to increase the overall diversity of our schools,” said Kallos. “Thank you to Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack for his ongoing partnership in expanding early education opportunities, the French Consulate for supporting the Francophone community, and especially to Stephane Lautner and Catherine Remy who worked closely with my office to put meetings together and organize hundreds of other parents.”

 

 

Two bilingual French-English classes from Pre-K will open on the Upper East Side at the start of the 2020-2021 school year, the first step towards a possible bilingual program up to the 5th grade. The site retained by the Department of Education (DOE) of New York City is located at 355 East 76th Street. Registrations are in progress until March 16 on the website of the Department of Education (school reference: 02Z128) for children born in 2016.

 

Upper East Side, NY- Today the New York City Department of Education and Council Member Ben Kallos announced the creation of two French dual language classes to the Pre-K center located at 355 East 76th Street. Council Member Kallos worked with the Francophone community including immigrants from Canada, Africa, and even France itself to gather more than two hundred families that pledged to send their children to a French dual language program in Manhattan. The classes will open in September 2020 with Pre-K applications for the French dual language classes are now open through March 16, 2020.

The Department of Education will run these classes using a side-by-side instructional model where it will have one Early Childhood certified teacher who is fluent in French, and who has or will have a Bilingual Extension alongside a second Early Childhood certified teacher. Currently the Department of Education is seeking more dual language certified teachers who can apply online and email prekduallanguage@schools.nyc.gov for information.

“We are pleased to continue expanding our Pre-K Dual Language programs to serve as many children in New York City as possible, and thank Council Member Kallos for his ongoing partnership on early education,” said Josh Wallack Deputy Chancellor, Early Childhood and Student Enrollment

“I hear so many languages spoken in my district from every corner of the world and now we are working with the Francophone community to address a need in the neighborhood as we hope to increase the overall diversity of our schools,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack for his ongoing partnership in expanding early education opportunities, the French Consulate for supporting the Francophone community, and especially to Stephane Lautner and Catherine Remy who worked closely with my office to put meetings together and organize hundreds of other parents.”

 

The Department of Education announced that it will launch a French dual-language program this fall at the pre-kindergarten center on the Upper East Side to cater to the Francophone community in the city.

A group of French-speaking parents, including immigrants from Canada, Africa and France, began spearheading a campaign two years ago to attain bilingual education for their children, and have worked closely with City Council Member Ben Kallos, Education Attaché of the Embassy of France Fabrice Jaumont, Community Education District 2 President Maud Maron, Deputy Chancellor of Early Childhood and Student Enrollment Josh Wallack, and the Community Education District Superintendent Donalda Chumney to bring it to fruition.

French is the third most common spoken language in the UES neighborhood, according to a report from Business Insider.

“I hear so many languages spoken in my district from every corner of the world and now we are working with the Francophone community to address a need in the neighborhood as we hope to increase the overall diversity of our schools,” said Kallos.

 

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — The New York City Department of Education will launch French dual-language education programs at an Upper East Side pre-k facility to promote bilingual education at an early age, local City Councilman Ben Kallos announced Wednesday.

Two French dual-language pre-k classes will open for the 2020-2021 school year at the recently-opened East 76th Street and First Avenue pre-k center, Kallos said. The local lawmaker urged city education officials to launch the dual-language program by holding two community meetings with education officials and French-speaking families in December and March where 200 families signed a petition in favor of the programs.

New York City families have until March 16 to apply for pre-k for all programs. Families that have already applied can update their applications to include the French dual-language program by searching for the program code 02Z128 on the DOE's "MySchools" website.

"I hear so many languages spoken in my district from every corner of the world and now we are working with the Francophone community to address a need in the neighborhood as we hope to increase the overall diversity of our schools," Kallos said in a statement.

 

With coronavirus wreaking havoc on the economy as the city and state are working on their budgets, leaders are starting to prepare for a major downturn.

Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday he’s asked the state comptroller to evaluate the outbreak’s impact on the state budget.

“You know what’s going on in the stock market. You also have what’s going on the economy overall, right? Conventions are being stopped, tourism is down, hotel bookings are down, restaurants are down,” Cuomo said in Albany. “So we just did the budget projection estimates. The world then changed since then, so I asked him for any advice that he might have."

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s spokesman acknowledged the request from Cuomo, saying, “the outlook has changed dramatically since the release of the consensus revenue forecast by the governor and the legislature.”

Earlier this year, Cuomo unveiled a proposed $178 billion budget. A projected deficit of $6 billion, blamed on runaway Medicaid spending, already posed a huge problem for lawmakers. But they had no way of predicting the coronavirus, too.

The deadly disease on Monday caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to incur its worst drop since the financial crash of 2008, among other economic woes, raising fears of a recession.

 

Kallos, Maloney Cut Ribbon on $212K Worth of Renovations at Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

Last Friday, Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) cut the ribbon at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, to celebrate the completion of renovations and upgrades to the school’s library and resource center.

Kallos facilitated the project with the allocation of $212,000 in funding out of his discretionary budget. The center was provided with new LED lighting, new flooring and new podcasting equipment, among other upgrades.

“High school libraries should be modern and welcoming places where students are comfortable and it is easy to learn,” said Kallos. “Funding education initiatives has been a priority of mine since I got into office. I am proud to have allocated these funds because I know they will have a positive impact on the students that attend Eleanor Roosevelt High School.”

 

The bilingual revolution is still going strong this Tuesday, March 3, 2020, several parent's associations led by Stéphane Lautner met at the Stanley Isaacs Community Center at 6:00 p.m. with the Deputy Chancellor of Early Childhood Education, Josh Wallack, Municipal Councillor Benjamin Kallos, CEC2 President Maud Maron, Superintendent Donalda Chumney, education attache of the French Embassy in the United States Fabrice Jaumont to discuss about the challenges of developing bilingual public preschool programs in New York City. 

The meeting focused in particular on : 

  • The absence of French DLP in District 2.
  • The search for certified bilingual teachers.
  • The identification of the paths to follow after the UPK in K-5.
  • The development of bilingual streams in public schools.

 

Roosevelt Island — named for the president who elucidated “four freedoms” for all Americans — is poised to finally allow Citi Bike to add four stations, adding a new way for its 14,000 residents to get around, get some exercise or get off the island on the 36th Avenue bridge.

At a meeting on Thursday night, the island’s board of directors — Roosevelt Island is, officially, a fiefdom of the state, where many city rules don’t apply and even the city Department of Transportation doesn’t have hegemony over the roads — is expected to approve a preliminary agreement allowing Citi Bike’s parent company Lyft to start negotiating the terms of the island’s surrender to reality.

As first reported by the blog Roosevelt Islander, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation board will likely nitpick locations for the four docks — one will obviously serve the tramway terminus and the island’s lone subway stop — but it seems the board is, well, on board.