New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

For City Councilmember Ben Kallos, renovations to the playground are personal. The local lawmaker played in Carl Schurz Park while growing up in the neighborhood and now takes his daughter to the playground, he said Thursday.

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"A lot of parents have brought concern about the condition of the equipment — at one point there was actually plywood up," Kallos said. "Thankfully that is now down but this park has been desperately in need of an upgrade."

Kallos and the City Council allocated $2.5 million in funding for the project. Another major backer was Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, whose office allocated $775,000.


“Retirement should be for everybody, not just for people who work in offices here in Manhattan, and not just for people lucky enough to have a pension,” Onza Lynch, a Bronx commercial carter, said at a Sept. 23 rally to push legislation that would establish a universal retirement savings plan for private-sector employees across the city.

Mayor de Blasio, City Council Members I. Daneek Miller and Ben Kallos, and advocate groups including the American Association of Retired Persons spoke of the importance of retirement security at the City Hall event.


We covered last week’s renewed call for pedestrian and bike safety fixes on the dangerous Queensboro Bridge, but you have to see Clarence Eckerson’s latest Streetfilms video to really understand the situation.


BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Lawmakers from both sides of the East River want the city to make part of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge a walkway solely for pedestrians.

Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos along with Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and state Senator Michael Gianaris called on the Department of Transportation to not stall any longer and turn the Queensboro Bridge’s South (Queens-bound) Outer Roadway into a walkway.

“I don’t think we need to wait, I think we need to get it done before congestion pricing,” said Kallos at a press conference held the South Outer Roadway’s entrance at 59th Street. He was joined by Van Bramer and Gianaris, along with a crowd of activists from Transportation Alternatives and Bike NY.

Currently, people crossing the bridge by foot in both directions have to share a narrow pathway on the North Outer Roadway with cyclists crossing the bridge also traveling in both directions.


The city’s failure to give more space to the increasing number of pedestrians and cyclists on the Queensboro Bridge is a betrayal of Vision Zero — and that failure seems based on a fealty to car traffic on a span where bikes and walkers sometimes outnumber drivers.

East Side Council Member Ben Kallos and his Queens counterpart Jimmy Van Bramer blasted Department of Transportation officials for their continued claim that they cannot convert the south side of the bridge’s outermost lane, also known as the South Outer Roadway, into a pedestrian path so that walkers do not need to share the bridge’s narrow North Outer Roadway with cyclists, who are increasing by double-digit counts.


If a New York City Council bill being proposed Wednesday goes through, more motorists will be hearing that word when they zoom past school buses.

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) wants to require almost every school bus in the city to carry a camera on the stop signs that swing out when kids are picked up and dropped off. There are about 10,000 school buses in the city.


About 50,000 drivers statewide illegally pass a stopped school bus everyday, according to a study cited by Cuomo’s office.

“By not letting this dangerous behavior go unpunished we will be letting drivers know that this is not OK and that the consequences will be in the mail,” Kallos said.

His bill would impose fines of $250 to $275 on first-time offenders and $300 for second- and third- offenders. Part of the funds raised by the fees would go to the city’s Department of Education.


Mayor Bill de Blasio officially dropped his bid for the White House last week, but on Monday he rallied for legislation that could have been plucked from his campaign and discussed plans to continue crisscrossing the country to promote progressive causes.

The bill would create a system that automatically enrolls workers at companies with 10 or more employees into individual retirement accounts. A mayoral board would oversee the program and hire a private financial management firm to handle the pre-tax money withheld from workers' paychecks. Neither employers nor the city would have to chip into the fund, and firms that already offer a retirement program would be exempt. Employees who are put into the program can choose to opt out or change their contribution rate, which would automatically start at 3 percent.


Nearly 2 million New Yorkers would be automatically enrolled in a retirement savings plan under a new proposal before the City Council.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports, about 1.5 million private sector employees do not have access to a retirement savings program through their workplace.

The Universal Retirement Security bill, which has the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio would change that.

“Over a million New Yorkers work their whole lives and have nothing to show for it,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “Rather than work until the day they die, Universal Retirement Security will allow more New Yorkers to breathe a sigh of relief later in life and truly enjoy the years they’ve earned.”

Co-sponsor of the legislation, Councilman Ben Kallos, explained that companies would not contribute to the Universal Retirement Savings Program and stressed that it would cost employers nothing.


Just days after he ended his presidential campaign that was focused on issues affecting working people, Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied with AARP volunteers and City Council Members at City Hall on Monday to push for a proposal that could help millions of New York workers save for their futures.

The Retirement Security for All proposal, which de Blasio first raised three years ago and then again in his State of the City speech this year, would establish a retirement savings program for private-sector employees whose employers do not currently provide those options, and a city government board to oversee its implementation.

There are two bills in the legislative package that would create the system and the board and sponsored by Council Members I. Daneek Miller and Ben Kallos, who led a hearing on the proposal shortly after the Monday morning rally.

“You should not have to work until you die,” de Blasio said at the rally. “You should be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You should be able to have some time in your life when you retire with dignity.”

The mayor said that 40% of New Yorkers aged 50-64 have less than $10,000 saved for when they retire.


The bill, sponsored by Queens Councilman I. Daneek Miller and Manhattan Councilman Benjamin Kallos, would apply to any private sector employer of 10 employees or more. Kallos promised at the event that it would cost businesses nothing, though they would be responsible for making the deductions from their payroll and giving the set-aside funds to the city. 

The legislation would automatically dock 3% of an employee's income, although the individual could choose to subsequently adjust that figure or opt out of the program entirely. De Blasio estimated that the new retirement system would have a "small initial start-up cost" of $1.5 million to $3 million annually for the first three years, after which it would sustain itself off investment earnings.


“Because of the lack of coverage, we are going to face a crisis in the next 10 years,” New School Professor Teresa Ghilarducci, who co-authored the study, told the Daily News.

She applauded the legislation from Councilmen Daneek Miller (D-Brooklyn) and Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), saying, “It makes a huge difference” for both young and old workers.


NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has unveiled a new retirement plan for people who work for private companies.

The mayor rallied at City Hall Monday for a retirement savings plan that President Trump and Republicans have tried to stop.

In New York City, more than 1 million people have no retirement plan other than Social Security. Most who do have a plan have only saved about $12,000.

So many are like Onza Lynch, a commercial carter who hauls tons of cardboard every day.

"I've worked every day since I was a teenager, now I'm 49 years old and I'm speaking to you today as someone who wishes they could've started saving for a retirement plan 30 years ago," said Lynch.


At 73 years old, Kitty Ruderman enjoys being retired. She volunteers with a number of nonprofits, including AARP, advocating on behalf of folks like herself. She’s grateful to have no major health issues draining her energy or her bank account. But with her rent higher than her Social Security income, she’s worried. If her cost of living doesn’t go up – if she doesn’t get sick, if her rent doesn’t increase, if she has no new expenses – she estimates that she can maintain her current lifestyle for another 10 years. After that, she doesn’t know.

Middle- and low-income New Yorkers increasingly struggle to pay the bills and even seniors like Kitty, who worked for decades saving for retirement, are among those hit hardest by the City’s affordability crisis.

The most recent data show that more than one third of New Yorkers between the ages of 50 and 64 have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. Most of these folks are disproportionately people of color.  White 50-plus New Yorkers’ retirement incomes are almost double that of black, Asian and Latino New Yorkers, and the majority of 50-plus New Yorkers of color are likely to retire with incomes near the poverty threshold.


In a bid to root out so-called tenant blacklisting, the city may expand its list of protected classes to include people who have been involved in housing court cases.

At a hearing Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration indicated it supported a bill that would empower the city's Commission on Human Rights to investigate when New Yorkers believe a landlord opted not to rent to them because of their history in housing court.

Earlier this summer, the state banned this practice, often referred to as tenant blacklisting. Lawyers who represent renters have long spoken out against owners that reject anyone included in databases of people who have been involved in any housing court action — even in cases that tenants win — over the past seven years.

The state's prohibition, however, exclusively tasks the attorney general with enforcement and does not allow renters to take owners to court with their own attorneys.


When New Yorkers filled Midtown Manhattan for the Puerto Rican Day Parade, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was in Iowa. When the power went out on the west side of Manhattan, shrouding his constituents in darkness, de Blasio was, once again, in Iowa. And when anything happened in City Hall, during the month of May, de Blasio wasn’t there, except for a few, rare hours.

De Blasio officially launched his presidential campaign three months ago, and is still hunting for his breakout “special moment” before the next debate. (If he fails to qualify for that one, as he did with last week’s, the mayor says he may drop out.)

But while de Blasio has been on the trail slamming the Republican-led U.S. Senate, the New York City Council has spent the summer dealing with business as usual.


Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered a stirring speech at a packed rally in New York last Monday.

The rally took place in Washington Square Park, a block away from the site of 1911’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Warren used the fire as a cautionary tale about what happens when we let corporate interests dictate governmental policy. She claimed that history is repeating itself, as our government is still beholden to massive industries, from the oil companies to the gun lobby to big pharma.

“Everybody knew about these problems, but the fat profits were making New York’s factory owners rich,” said Warren. “Instead of changing conditions at the factories, the owners worked their political connections. They made campaign contributions and talked with their friends in the legislature. They greased the state government so thoroughly that nothing changed. Business owners got richer, politicians got more powerful, and working people paid the price. Does any of this sound familiar?”


The City Council is set to consider a number of bills related to food policy at a hearing Wednesday, including a proposal to codify an Office of Food Policy, a month after Council Speaker Corey Johnson unveiled an expansive food equity plan with the creation of the office at its center.


Azalea Danes is done with the apologies.

A senior at the Bronx High School of Science, Danes said the effects of climate change have her concerned the planet could be nearly uninhabitable when she gets older – and she doesn’t want any more excuses.


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.

Under the law, the DOE was required to install a GPS in every bus and have parents be able to track their child on their phone by the start of the school year. The DOE only fulfilled half of its obligations.

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