New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

A council source said the belt-tightening at One Police Plaza is unavoidable.

“I think there’s inevitability to the fact that they’re going to cut the NYPD budget,” the source said. “The fear is it might be significant for the first time in a long time.”

Meanwhile, the City Council’s 21-member progressive caucus is meeting with criminal justice reformers who want $1 billion in cuts this year to the NYPD’s $6 billion budget as a response to charges of police misconduct.

“Many members of the progressive caucus have already come out in favor of #Defund NYPD and we will be taking a formal position as a caucus shortly,” said Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the group’s chair co-chair.

 

New York City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the city contracts committee, has called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to cancel the contract, estimating that the overhead from the contract alone is costing taxpayers roughly $3,000 per month. He told FOX Business the city council is "openly investigating the matter" to make sure meals are actually being provided to those who need it.

"I will be investigating to see that there weren't any false claims and I want the city to cancel this quarter-billion-dollar contract before they spend any more money," Kallos said. "It was a bad deal, and now that we're on the other side of the curve, we need to cancel this contract and do better."

While Kallos believes helping essential workers who can't go home is a good idea, he would prefer to cut out the middle man and give the money directly to the hotels impacted by the pandemic to begin with.

"It's a good way to support the local branch of the economy," Kallos said. "I think it's just the more we can give to hotels directly versus the intermediaries in Texas is preferred."

He added that he is disappointed that no one from OEM or the mayor's office has taken responsibility for the contract.

"Even if all they say is, 'This was a pandemic and we got what we could get when we could get it and we're going to get a better contract right now,' that's all I'd love to hear," Kallos said.

If the city canceled the contract immediately, Kallos says taxpayers could save the roughly $235 million that hasn't been spent yet.

 

New York City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the city contracts committee, has called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to cancel the contract, estimating that the overhead from the contract alone is costing taxpayers roughly $3,000 per month. He told FOX Business the city council is "openly investigating the matter" to make sure meals are actually being provided to those who need it.

"I will be investigating to see that there weren't any false claims and I want the city to cancel this quarter-billion-dollar contract before they spend any more money," Kallos said. "It was a bad deal, and now that we're on the other side of the curve, we need to cancel this contract and do better."

While Kallos believes helping essential workers who can't go home is a good idea, he would prefer to cut out the middle man and give the money directly to the hotels impacted by the pandemic to begin with.

"It's a good way to support the local branch of the economy," Kallos said. "I think it's just the more we can give to hotels directly versus the intermediaries in Texas is preferred."

He added that he is disappointed that no one from OEM or the mayor's office has taken responsibility for the contract.

"Even if all they say is, 'This was a pandemic and we got what we could get when we could get it and we're going to get a better contract right now,' that's all I'd love to hear," Kallos said.

If the city canceled the contract immediately, Kallos says taxpayers could save the roughly $235 million that hasn't been spent yet.

 

New York City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the city contracts committee, has called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to cancel the contract, estimating that the overhead from the contract alone is costing taxpayers roughly $3,000 per month. He told FOX Business the city council is "openly investigating the matter" to make sure meals are actually being provided to those who need it.

"I will be investigating to see that there weren't any false claims and I want the city to cancel this quarter-billion-dollar contract before they spend any more money," Kallos said. "It was a bad deal, and now that we're on the other side of the curve, we need to cancel this contract and do better."

While Kallos believes helping essential workers who can't go home is a good idea, he would prefer to cut out the middle man and give the money directly to the hotels impacted by the pandemic to begin with.

"It's a good way to support the local branch of the economy," Kallos said. "I think it's just the more we can give to hotels directly versus the intermediaries in Texas is preferred."

He added that he is disappointed that no one from OEM or the mayor's office has taken responsibility for the contract.

"Even if all they say is, 'This was a pandemic and we got what we could get when we could get it and we're going to get a better contract right now,' that's all I'd love to hear," Kallos said.

If the city canceled the contract immediately, Kallos says taxpayers could save the roughly $235 million that hasn't been spent yet.

 

Five new neighborhood leaders have joined Manhattan’s Community Boards, after being nominated by Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) and appointed by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D).

Manhattan’s Community Boards serve the role of being the independent voices of the communities they represent. As Community Board members, the five appointees will play a pivotal role in shaping their communities and preserving the character of their unique neighborhoods.

...

“I am proud to nominate residents that have different areas of focus and expertise and that come from different walks of life to serve on our Community Boards,” said Kallos, a former member of Community Board 8. “There are a myriad of complex issues before the board that we will need help with. Thank you to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for an open process that has encouraged hundreds to apply with an impressive group interview process as well as all the applicants and appointees for their service to the community.”

 

New York is set to become the first major American city to remove legal language that many believe refers to undocumented residents in a negative light.

The City Council passed Thursday legislation that would expunge the terms “alien,” “illegal immigrant” and “illegal migrant” from local laws, rules, orders, city documents and other materials. The terms will be replaced by the word “noncitizen.”

Forty-six of the 50 City Council members present at the May 28 remote stated meeting supported the legislation.

...

Seven City Council members co-sponsored the legislation, including Brooklyn’s Farah Louis; Queens’ Daniel Dromm and Costa Constantinides; and Manhattan’s Ben Kallos, Keith Powers, Carlina Rivera and Helen Rosenthal.

 

Kallos, Adams Want Healthier City Meals

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, East Harlem) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (D) announced legislation Wednesday mandating nutritional standards for free city-funded delivery and  “grab and go meals,” the Gotham Gazette reported.

The bill came after reports emerged showing that many of these important meals lacked substance.

“Candy and potato chips and Bugles and things like that. That is a sometimes treat,” said Kallos. “That is not something that is part of a core diet and we need to make sure that for those who don’t have a choice in the matter or literally relying on the city for their food, that we are providing them with healthy options so that if they eat that diet, they will not only be healthy but lose weight.”

 

“But what happens for those who don't have a choice, those relying on our ‘grab & go’ meals or home delivered meals from our city and when they don't even have a choice,” Kallos said. “Candy and potato chips and Bugles and things like that. That is a sometimes treat. That is not something that is part of a core diet and we need to make sure that for those who don't have a choice in the matter or literally relying on the city for their food, that we are providing them with healthy options so that if they eat that diet, they will not only be healthy but lose weight.”

Even before the pandemic and its fallout, the city was home to more than 1 million food insecure individuals, while hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have lost their jobs since mid-March, drastically increasing the need for emergency food. New York City is home to over 1.1 million seniors, according to a 2017 report by the City Comptroller, many more of whom are homebound due to social distancing restrictions and senior center closures, increasing the need for meal delivery and other food programs. As more New Yorkers rely on meals provided by the city, nutrition becomes more important.

 

In an interview with THE CITY Friday, Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the city contracts committee, questioned Crewfacilities’ $27 per room, per night fee, noting that the industry norm for such a booking fee is typically 10% of the room rate. That would come out to $12 to $16. As of last week, Crewfacilities had charged $2.5 million in these fees.

City Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) Photo: William Alatriste for the New York City Council

Kallos called on OEM to cancel the contract, estimating that between the $27 fee and the $71 per-day meal charge, Crewfacilities could be charging taxpayers $3,000 per month — above the cost of hotel rooms — for each guest.

“At the height of the pandemic we were desperate for hotel rooms and we got ripped off by a contract with $27 overhead,” he said. “We can and must do better by cutting out the middleman and going directly to the hotels. We can use the savings to fund essential services for youth and seniors this summer.”

As for the cost of an $18 breakfast, he added,  “That better be one fancy breakfast. If it’s $18 for a bagel and coffee, that’s expensive even for New York City.”

 

On Friday, a caravan including Council Members Ben Kallos, Mark Levine and the union representing the workers, 32BJ SEIU, passed through six locations to show support for the cleaners and handypersons whose funding could change in the fiscal year 2021 budget.

“Our communities rely on the essential work of 32BJ members to sanitize and maintain the schools,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “32BJ members come to work every day despite the risks to take care of these schools and resource centers that the entire community depends on. We need to take care of them properly by ensuring that the NYCSSS is fully funded, so workers and their families can make it through this crisis.”

 

After numerous people on the Upper East Side disobeyed social distancing last weekend and converged in front of bars, elected officials are trying to come up with a solution.

On May 18, Council Members Ben Kallos and Keith Powers and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking to grant temporary permission before Memorial Day weekend for bars and restaurants to use sidewalks and streets to serve patrons safely for everyone’s benefit.

The elected officials were quite angry with the recent behavior on the UES and hope that if the city approves these plans, it will prevent those actions.

“Rather than rely on enforcement or fine individuals and small businesses that may already be hurting financially from the pandemic, we should adapt our city’s streets to allow for and encourage safe practices,” the letter states. “Without granting businesses a better option, we are afraid restaurants and bars may just take the risk and pay whatever violations may be issued as a cost of doing business rather than shutter their doors permanently.”

 

Adams Wants to Strengthen Nutritional Grab Meals

Borough President Eric Adams

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined City Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) and doctors of color to unveil new legislation that would strengthen nutritional guidelines on meals funded by the City, including grab-and-go meals.  

“Our City cannot be literally feeding our public health crisis by serving foods that have no nutritional value. Numerous residents throughout Brooklyn have raised concerns to me about the quality of the food they are getting through grab-and-go sites, food pantries, and other operations subsidized by the City. The leading co-morbidities associated with COVID-19 are diet-related, like obesity and hypertension. We must change the paradigm in the way we feed residents to prioritize health and wellness, rather than just caloric intake,” said Adams.

The announcement came as New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs have expressed concern about the quality and nutritional standards of the food distributed through the GetFoodNYC initiative, launched in response to the growing number of New Yorkers who have lost jobs or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. B

Adams and Kallos have been vocal in recent weeks about the need to provide healthier meal options to New Yorkers.

 

Quart Announces a Slew of Endorsements

Assembly Member Dan Quart

Assembly Member Dan Quart

Yesterday, Assemblymember Dan Quart (D-Lenox Hill, Murray Hill) announced a myriad of endorsements from various public figures across New York.

The list includes Councilmembers Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) and Keith Powers (D-Upper East Side, Carnegie Hill); Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D); U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens); and City Comptroller Scott Stringer (D), among several others.

I am proud of the endorsements I’ve received from my colleagues and from groups I’ve worked with for years on issues of reproductive justice, LGBTQ equality, workers’ rights, and criminal justice reform,” said Quart. “It has been an honor and a privilege to represent my constituents in the New York State Assembly. I’m working hard to once again earn their support and continue fighting for working families and a better quality of life for my community.”

 

UPTOWN, MANHATTAN — A caravan of cars will drive through uptown Manhattan on Friday to thank the thousands of public school maintenance workers who have been keeping school buildings clean and safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The caravan, set up by union 32BJ SEIU, will start in the Upper East Side and make its way through Morningside Heights and Inwood, stopping off at six Manhattan public schools, meal distribution sites and essential resource centers.

Elected officials, including City Council members Mark Levine and Ben Kallos, will be on hand to speak about their appreciation for the cleaners and maintenance staff at some of the stops.

 

Kallos, Powers, Brewer Urge de Blasio to Open Streets, Sidewalks to Restaurants

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

Yesterday, Councilmembers Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) and Keith Powers (D-Upper East Side, Carnegie Hill) and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), urging him to open streets and sidewalks to restaurants to facilitate social distancing.

The letter followed reports that Upper East Side bars have been serving patrons who were gathering outside the establishments without regard for social distancing guidelines. The lawmakers suggested that to fix the problem, the City’s streets should adapt to make following those guidelines easier.

“We are all in this together,” they wrote. “It is not working to confine New Yorkers to narrow sidewalks and rely on enforcement to prevent crowding. The best way to keep New Yorkers safe is to reorder our streets for social distancing.”

Read the full letter here.

 

New York City should create open space for businesses to establish outdoor cafes where customers can safely take in a meal or drink outdoors while remaining at a safe distance from others, City Councilmembers Ben Kallos and Keith Powers wrote in a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio this week. Both lawmakers said that restaurant owners will continue to risk fines and create dangerous, crowded situations if the city's approach does not change.

"Rather than rely on enforcement or fine individuals and small businesses that may already be hurting financially from the pandemic, we should adapt our city's streets to allow for and encourage safe practices. Without granting businesses a better option, we are afraid restaurants and bars may just take the risk and pay whatever violations may be issued as a cost of doing business rather than shutter their doors permanently," Kallos and Powers wrote.

 

Council Member Ben Kallos of the Upper East Side joined the fight on Sunday, firing off a letter to the mayor demanding the removal of parking so that restaurants in his district could operate safely. Kallos said his concern came after watching crowds gather outside restaurants in his neighborhood during the warm weekend.

“I have long thought about the fact that on a given street with 5,000 to 10,000 people living on it, there are 50 parking spots — which means that 50 people prevent 5,000 to 10,000 people from having complete streets with bike lanes, bus lanes and micromobility,” Kallos told Streetsblog on Monday. “But now people are engaging in risky behavior, so let’s create safe spaces to reduce the risk of behavior they’re going to engage in anyway.”

Kallos likened it to the city’s distribution of free condoms.

 

 

Today, NYC Council Members Ben Kallos and Keith Powers joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in addressing a letter to Mayor de Blasio requesting that “the city immediately grant temporary permission before Memorial Day Weekend for bars and restaurants to use sidewalks and streets to serve patrons safely for everyone’s benefit.” Despite warnings from the NYPD, the letter says that residents on the Upper East Side were “congregating outside the establishments without face coverings or respecting social distancing, putting essential workers, themselves, and those passing by at risk.”

Therefore, the letter asks the mayor to open certain stretches of parking spaces and streets for outdoor service and seating. Due to the scene in the neighborhood this past weekend, the officials are asking that the following Upper East Side locations be rolled out prior to this weekend:

  • Second Avenue from 49th to 53rd Street, 55th to 58th Street, 66th to 70th Street, 73rd to 79th Street, and 81st to 92nd Street.
  • First Avenue from 49th to East 64th Street, 68th Street to 69th Street, 73rd to 78th Street, 81st to 84th Street, and 87th to 89th Street.
  • York Avenue from 75th to 79th Street and 84th to 86th Street.

 

Assemblymember Dan Quart (Upper East Side, Midtown East) arranged a free mask giveaway Wednesday morning from nine to ten at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza with City Councilmember Keith Powers (D-Midtown East, Upper East Side, Murray Hill), Patch reported Tuesday.

He will host another Friday at the same time in Carl Schurz Park. Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, East Harlem) and Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright (D-Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island) will accompany him.

 

City lawmakers are demanding Mayor de Blasio rethink his decision to nix funding for his own better bus initiative — a move that will hurt the thousands of frontline workers now relying on buses to get to work.

Hizzoner last month revealed that he would cut $2.7 million through June of this year, and an additional $5.7 million through June 2021 from the Department of Transportation’s budget for funding dedicated to improving the beleaguered bus network.

Advocates initially slammed the mayor, warning that the cuts would negatively impact bus riders — especially essential workers in low-income communities and communities of color, during the coronavirus crisis, now and in the future.

And on Monday, 13 pols joined them — specifically calling on de Blasio to restore funding for the Better Bus Initiative, install temporary bus lanes during the pandemic to improve bus speeds and ensure frequent service, and ensure that bus improvement projects slated for 2020 and 2021 remain on schedule.

“While the city is in a challenging fiscal crisis caused by the coronavirus … bus service has powered the city’s emergency response, providing critical service to frontline workers — brave doctors and nurses, EMTs, grocery workers, transit employees, and delivery drivers — 75 percent of whom are people of color,” the Council Members wrote in a May 11 letter to the mayor.  “We cannot shortchange the New Yorkers who helped save this city nor overlook the role public transit plays in our economy.”

The 13 pols include Manhattan Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez, Mark Levine, Ben Kallos, Carlina Rivera, Margaret Chin, and Keith Powers; Brooklyn Council Members Carlos Menchaca, and Alan Maisel; Queens Council Members Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards, Costa Constantinides, and Barry Grodenchik; and Bronx Council Member Vanessa Gibson.