New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s a story we’ve been following for months.

New York City parents remain infuriated over their inability to track their kids on city school buses.

Now they say a backup plan using the bus’ GPS system is also experiencing issues.

For Bunny Rivera, waiting for her son’s school bus is the most stressful part of the day. 13-year-old Chazz Rivera is on the autism spectrum and Rivera says she was depending on a new phone app to alert her of his location, but it never came.

“No one knows where their child is, and it’s terrifying. My child is somewhere in the city he special needs and I have no idea where he is,” Rivera told CBS2’s Christina Fan.

Councilmember Ben Kallos, who spearheaded the legislation, says it’s unacceptable.

“Pretty standard technology, and they had to get it done by the first day of school. I’m very disappointed it wasn’t done by the first day of school,” Kallos said.

 

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Just one week into the new school year and hundreds of parents are complaining that a new GPS system that was supposed to keep track of all city school buses does not work.

On Thursday, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge spoke to parents who said they were lied to.

Mother of two Lainie Gutterman meets her kids, 9-year-old Ian, who is autistic, and his sister, 6-year-old Greenly, who is non-verbal, at the bus stop. She said wondering where their school bus is every day is stressful.

“I was promised that there would be GPS, that I could see my children’s bus, where they were at all times, on my phone, which would be a great way to follow my kids,” Gutterman said.

 

A Manhattan lawmaker wants to give communities a new tool in their fight against hulking towers: advance notice of when air rights transfers occur.

City Council member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, introduced a bill Thursday that would mandate the Department of Finance notify and provide the local community board, councilmember, borough president, and City Council Speaker with the relevant documentation within five days of such a transfer occurring, according to Kallos. The legislation, he says, will give New Yorkers more time to prepare when a developer is cobbling together air rights or zoning lots to build towering buildings that loom over neighbors, and may give them pause before selling their unused development rights.

“My hope is that folks may say, ‘Not today. I’m not going to sell out and I’m not going to sell you my air rights,’” Kallos told Curbed. “When you’re racing the clock every second counts. The community needs as much notice as possible so that they can react and work with the developer to either get a responsible building or take necessary actions

 

“I’m beyond disappointed,” Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who spearheaded a January City Council law requiring the tracking devices, told The News Wednesday.

“What’s the point of having a GPS on a school bus if you can’t track the GPS?” he said.

 

NEW YORK — Lainie Gutterman has two children with special needs who rely on City Department of Education buses to take them to their special-needs school on Long Island.

But she got a text message from her bus driver that said: “There was a mechanical error, no bus today, bus running again on Monday.”

 

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — The basketball courts at the Upper East Side's John Jay Park were bustling with activity Thursday. Neighborhood kids flocked to the courts after the first day of school to practice their shots, play one-on-one and partake in one of the park's largest games of knockout in history.

 

This fall, more young New Yorkers are heading back to school with valuable work experience under their belts, and much needed earnings in their pockets, thanks to recent significant expansion and improvements to the City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The growth in baseline funding that allows better planning and expansion of school-based models tied to academics are changes the Community Service Society (CSS) advocated for that the City has now adopted.

 

In his State of the City speech in January, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised that the city would create a system of retirement security for millions of New Yorkers who work in the private sector and may not have access to employer-provided savings plans. It was a revival of an effort the mayor had first pushed in 2016 but that bumped up against the change in presidential administrations and federal approvals apparently needed. But eight months after de Blasio’s speech at the start of this year, the New York City Council is ready to look at the idea through two bills that will be examined at a hearing later this month.   

 

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Hundreds of Upper East Side families sending their children to their first days of preschool this week can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they don't have to take their four-year-old's to school in Lower Manhattan.

 

Don’t lower the standards, raise them.

That was the message from City Council members who rallied Wednesday at City Hall urging the de Blasio administration to reject a recommendation by the School Diversity Advisory Group to scrap the city’s Gifted and Talented (G&T) Program.

 

NEW YORK — A new City Council proposal would connect New Yorkers to culturally competent, community-based health care services through an LGBT-inclusive program for uninsured and underinsured people, though fully insured residents are welcome to participate, Gay City News reports

 

The New York City Council regularly passes bills mandating that city agencies create reports on their work, ostensibly as part of the Council’s oversight responsibilities. From city jail populations to hate crimes statistics to use of force by police officers, the Council has passed bills requiring a report be delivered to it.

The Council passes so many reporting bills that last year, it passed legislation that would help it track the number of total reports required under local law, the City Charter, or mayoral order. The bill compelled the city’s Department of Records and Information Services to create a central list of every single report required from every city agency, board, or office.

The result: a 57-page document that lists a whopping 842 required reports of various types due at a variety of time intervals. Of those, 490 are listed as not received by DORIS, despite some being producing by agencies on a regular basis, raising questions for Council members about whether agencies are refusing to comply with the law or are overwhelmed with burdensome reporting mandates.

 

Mr. Medina is the former CEO of Puerto Rican Organization to Motivate, Enlighten and Serve Addicts, a nonprofit affiliate of Acacia. Neither he nor Distinctive Maintenance’s management team could be reached for comment.

After the city launched its initial investigation, City Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan, called for a hearing on nonprofit city contractors.

He said the city should not have to worry about “self-dealing,” especially with funding for the city’s neediest. The hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.

 

An app for the 9,000 bus routes going to and from schools across New York City was just rolled out.

“We’ll have GPS in every bus on the first day of school, and through our partnership with Via, we’ll soon have a state-of-the-art app for families to track buses and get real-time automatic updates,” said Schools Chancellor Richard  Carranza. “We are grateful for the City Council's advocacy, leadership and partnership. Safe and reliable transportation is critical for all families, and we’re committed to getting it right this year.”

The app will feature updates on bus location, student ridership, route changes and vehicle delays.

 

A new City Council proposal would connect New Yorkers to culturally competent, community-based healthcare services through an LGBTQ-inclusive program geared towards uninsured and underinsured folks, though fully insured residents are welcome to participate.

 

“The DoE has promised to have a GPS on every single school bus in our city so parents will be able to call I and know where the bus is if that bus isn’t there,” said New York City councilman Ben Kallos. 

Kallos suggested the move after a sudden storm last fall stranded some students

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Every city school bus will have GPS this fall, to prevent hours long delays that have plagued school years past, the Daily News has learned.

Education Department officials will also be beefing up staff and adding steeper penalties for blown bus routes, according to Miranda Barbot, a spokeswoman for the agency.

City officials announced Wednesday that the changes will take effect by the first day of school on Sept. 5, in addition to a longer-term plan to partner with the rideshare app Via to develop an app that allows parents to track school buses in real time.

 

"I'm thrilled for message we are sending across this city," Quinn said Tuesday. "It's priceless for families to know they are welcome in this neighborhood and that they will be part of this neighborhood."

The seven-story facility will house 17 families made up of mothers and their children and will provide services such as to help place mothers in good jobs and children in a steady school environment, Quinn said.

"The opening of this facility is a critical step forward for 17 families in fight to find good quality, stable housing and it's a step forward for our city embracing supportive housing as an option that will prevent people from returning to shelter," Quinn said Tuesday.

 

New York City condominium owner illegally converted his one-unit apartment into a duplex with 11 cramped sub-units, some of which had ceilings just 4 1/2 feet high, forcing his tenants to crouch or walk on their knees, officials alleged.

Inspectors with the city's Buildings Department raided the apartment on Manhattan's Lower East Side Aug. 14 after they got a complaint about the cramped conditions, The New York Post reported. The Henry Street building was listed as having 27 apartments on five floors, according to city records.

Owner Xue Ping Ni reportedly carved up the 634-square-foot unit into 11 units with no windows and an illegal bathroom. He was cited with numerous violations totaling $144,000.

 

Two Manhattan landlords took an unusual — and illegal — route to double their rentable space: cutting their two condos in half horizontally so they could rent out 18 tiny apartments in their Lower East Side building, according to the New York City Department of Buildings.

"The ceiling heights were 4.5 feet to 6 feet tall on each level, depending on where you were standing," Department of Buildings spokesperson Abigail Kunitz said in an email to NPR.