New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

New York City voters will have a lot to decide on this November, with five questions and 19 proposals in total to change the city charter. But even with that large number, there were still a number of proposals that did not make it onto the ballot in the end, including comprehensive city planning and democracy vouchers. With their omission this time around, it could fall to another revision commission or the New York City Council to make any additional changes. 


In response to an increase in domestic violence offenses in the city — despite a drop in most other crimes — a bill has been introduced to the City Council that aims to make government handling of these cases more transparent.


CITY HALL -- An Upper East Side councilman is calling for an investigation after a spokeswoman for the New York City Board of Elections sent an errant political text message to an Advance reporter inviting the reporter to a campaign fundraiser at her home for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for mayor.

“I know you are swamped but wanted to invite you. It’s a fundraiser for Ruben for mayor, BOE spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez-Diaz wrote to the reporter via text. “He will be joining us for a meet and greet.”


“Everyone in the city who cares about the cultural identity of their neighborhood should be watching Yorkville as a warning sign,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, a grandson of Jewish Hungarian immigrants whose district includes Yorkville. “The last thing a residential neighborhood needs is more glass towers for billionaires.”


“A lot of what they mayor has announced are things happening throughout the city in a piecemeal approach,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan).

“In my neighborhood (the Upper East Side), people are already getting bike safety education and bike safety enforcement," Kallos said. "But without a citywide approach, it won’t change behavior.”

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the new bike lanes will eliminate “thousands” of parking spaces. Opposition to elimination of parking spaces has stalled installation of new bike lanes for more than a decade.


New York has the largest nonprofit sector in the country, according to a new report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

In 2017, New York nonprofits boasted over 1.4 million jobs and $78 billion in employee wages, both top marks across the United States, according to DiNapoli’s report released Tuesday. Between 2007 and 2017, the state added 175,000 jobs in the nonprofit sector, an increase of 14 percent. Nonprofit employment consisted of 17.8 percent of all of New York’s private sector employment in 2017. Nonprofit employment sits at about 10 percent nationwide.

“Nonprofits play an important role in every region of New York, delivering vital services to New Yorkers, from hospital care and education to legal services and environmental protection,” DiNapoli said in a statement.


The bill would also mandate district attorneys and NYPD report on recidivism of domestic violence, how many survivors are hurt or killed after they called law enforcement, the outcome of cases handled by DAs and what specifically police do when incidents are called in.

Kallos said he hopes to eliminate confusion in how domestic violence incidents are reported and give the public the data necessary to enact policies to improve the lives of survivors.

“Domestic violence is an underreported problem in New York City,” Kallos said. “However, underreporting of incidents by survivors is just the tip of the iceberg. The City also has a serious issue with the differing criteria for reporting domestic violence by the NYPD and District Attorneys’ offices which have to make decisions on who to charge and what to charge them with.”


A New York City councilman is calling for a hearing to look at nonprofit city contractors after officials opened an investigation into the allegedly undisclosed business ties that a top homeless shelter provider has with a security firm.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the city’s Department of Investigation had opened a probe into the relationship between Acacia Network Housing Inc., a nonprofit homeless services provider, and SERA Security Services LLC. SERA was founded by the Acacia’s CEO, Raul Russi.

Since 2010, Acacia has received more than $1 billion in contracts from the city’s Department of Homeless Services to operate shelters. The nonprofit paid more than $12 million to SERA in 2017 for the firm to provide security services at some of Acacia’s shelters, according to the nonprofit’s most recent federal tax filing.


The recently-passed New York City budget greenlights billions of dollars to some of the most vital programs across the five boroughs. These dollars will help to fund homeless shelters, emergency food pantries, senior services, mental health services, and early childcare for the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

The City of New York contracts with over 1,000 community-based organizations (CBOs) to provide these essential human services at a cost of $6 billion annually. But thanks to the City’s broken procurement system, CBOs are forced to wait a very, very long time to see their money. In fact, according to a recent Comptroller’s report, human service providers wait an average of 221 days before being reimbursed for services and labor they have already provided.


72. Ben Kallos

New York City Councilman 

This Upper East Side reformer has carved out a niche as a fierce advocate for increased government transparency and bolstering the city’s campaign finance system. This year, Ben Kallos has been grabbing headlines for his push to implement larger matching funds for political candidates, a measure that was approved on the 2018 ballot. The second-term councilman is also a champion of education, affordable housing and public health – and he invites constituents to engage him in conversation.


City Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) got a little emotional when he stood up to testify at a recent hearing on zoning loopholes. By his account, the jogs he takes with his infant daughter at Central Park are becoming less and less enjoyable, as the surrounding architecture casts a larger and larger shadow over the park.

“Objects to the south cast a shadow, at least in this hemisphere, to the north,” said Kallos. “I go running with my daughter; she’s in a jogging stroller. And when I take her jogging in the afternoon, when I finally get to do it, it’s dark in the southern part of the park, particularly in the winter months when it gets cold. And she gets cold, and so we have to stay away from the southern end of the park, because it’s starting to be very, very dark and very, very cold.”


Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and who has been a champion of strengthening restriction on voids, called for the city to limit mechanical spaces to no more than 40 feet in these areas, broaden the scope of its review, and to narrow possible exemptions for mixed-use buildings. The issue is especially crucial because excessive voids fill buildings with empty space rather than housing, said Kallos.


“I believe climate change is real,” said Kallos, “and in June we passed a climate emergency resolution. We are the largest city in the world to do so. We’re gonna continue fighting every day to fight climate change so that the organization doesn’t have more waterfront in our city.”


Developers were using excessive mechanical spaces to increase the height of their buildings. On May 29, 2019, the City Council voted to adopt the Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment with modifications. The Department of City Planning proposed the amendment in response to developers incorporating excessively tall mechanical floors – “mechanical voids” – in residential towers to increase their allowable height, as mechanical floors did not count toward the zoning floor area in the Zoning Resolution. This would result in towers with several floors of mostly empty space that would allow developers to build higher, increasing the values of the apartments on higher floors. In late 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasio asked the Department of City Planning (DCP) to investigate the mechanical voids problem and find a solution.


Mayor Bill de Blasio and Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Citywide M/WBE Director J. Phillip Thompson announced today that the City reached its goal of 9,000 City-certified Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) by the end of June 2019.


 NYC Health + Hospitals has again partnered with Harvest Home Farmers Market and GrowNYC, two local nonprofit organizations, to host farmer’s markets and fresh food box programs at patient care locations throughout the city and make fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible for patients, staff and the community.


What goes up must come down. But when that happens is up in the air when it comes to sidewalk sheds, the ugly steel-and-wood structures that swallow up hundreds of miles of sidewalk space across the city.


Capstone Turbine CEO Darren Jamison says even ‘moderate’ incentives for using existing green off-the-shelf technologies can have a big impact on local climate


Kallos also slammed President Trump for denying climate change, telling Cheddar that New York City’s emergency declaration is a “direct response to a failure in leadership in our president and in the federal government.”

“We are hoping that if every jurisdiction around the country and around the planet says ‘nope, climate change is real,’ that will change the narrative and folks will finally have to come to terms with reality,” Kallos added. “When things are going wrong up top, we try to mobilize from the bottom.”


NEW YORK CITY HALL — New York City became the nation's largest city to declare a climate emergency on Wednesday, joining an international movement to address climate change.