It was quite the scene on East 86th Street early this afternoon as Council Member Ben Kallos hosted a press conference with supportive local community organizations to announce an $85,000 pilot program to fund street cleaners for areas of the Upper East Side not covered by the Doe Fund.
“Albany should look to all the things we’ve gotten done in the City Council over the past five years,” said City Council Member Ben Kallos, who previously chaired the governmental operations committee and helped lead the reform effort, “and it starts with no outside income, no more lulus, campaign finance reform...I believe that those three things would help clean up a lot of the corruption in Albany.”
To the dismay of good government groups and activists, however, the governor and Legislature have repeatedly wrestled over ethics reform with little to show for it. Cuomo infamously came to power promising that he would clean up Albany but later shut down the Moreland Commission that he had set up to fulfil that very pledge in the face of a resistant Legislature that kept seeing its members hauled off to jail. The compromise Cuomo struck with the Legislature created the state-run Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), which many have criticized for being an inefficient agency with too-close ties to the governor and legislative leaders, who appoint its members.
City Council Member Ben Kallos, who unsuccessfully attempted to increase the public funds cap to 85 percent through legislation, was glad to see voters pass the improvements to the system. In a phone interview, he implied that concerns about the cost of the new system were overblown, and said that enhancing the system is key to eliminating real and perceived conflicts of interest.
East Side pedestrians and cyclists are making strides in street safety, according to an analysis of NYPD collision data covering East Side zip codes from 26th to 96th Streets performed by the offices of East Side City Council Members Ben Kallos and Keith Powers.
The idea of establishing a “ride sharing” (or “e-hail”) standard isn’t new. It has been discussed and proposed by a number of people in New York City’s tech community for years, including Ben Kallos, a tech-aware City Council member who proposed it in a 2014 bill, and by Chris Whong, now the lead developer of NYC Planning Labs, who proposed it in a 2013 blog post.
Fears are that legislators will get a no strings attached raise without the outside income restrictions Kallos wrote into the City Council package. That's a huge risk in a State where corruption is so rampant that leaders from both major parties are now serving time in jail, joined by intimates of the Governor who were also caught misusing public positions for personal gain.
"The public would be better served if any pay raises that may come were tied to banning outside income and lulus for state lawmakers." Kallos concluded.
The Times agreed, "Good government demands fair compensation for lawmakers, but only when they earn and keep the public’s trust.
“The report proves there is a giant need in one of the wealthiest cities in the world for food pantries that rely on donations,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos. “New York City should be doing more to fight hunger to protect our kids and our seniors as they are most vulnerable and more likely to face hunger and food insecurity.”
Cleanup efforts are underway across the Big Apple after the first snowfall of the season downed trees and brought the Thursday evening commute to an icy halt.
It was the biggest snow storm in November, a record for the most snow for the day.
All five boroughs were hit hard with some areas seeing as much as six inches of snow.
“Gale is 100 percent an honest broker. There’s no b.s. with her,” Banks said. “She tells you what’s on her mind, and she’s open to your ideas and suggestions and points of view.”
Brewer’s straight talk could easily come off as brusque, but people in politics who are used to hedging and circuitous language are quick to describe it as one of her best assets.
“People actually really appreciate somebody who just gives it to them straight and is honest and thoughtful about it,” Powers said.
“Gale Brewer gives me courage to be as honest as I am,” Kallos said. “She is one of the most honest people in politics, and I hope to be a close second.” Kallos emulates Brewer – “I want to be Gale Brewer when I grow up. I say it all the time” – and he means that in another way, too. He’s mulling a run to succeed her as borough president when she reaches the office’s term limit in 2021.
Upper East Side City Council Member Ben Kallos provided partial funding – $35,000 in the current fiscal year, $45,000 in the last fiscal year – for both the book and the documentary that accompanies it.
A lifetime Yorkville resident, he first moved to the neighborhood when he was just four years old, and three generations of the Kallos family have resided in the area.
The book pegs the evolution of Yorkville to five supersized, mass-transit projects — the building of two rail lines in the late 19th century, their demolition in the mid-20th century, and the arrival of a new subway in the 21st century.
Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos attended an anti-Amazon rally in Long Island City last week, but told The Post, “You have me dead to rights,” when asked about his own Amazon Wish List.
“I’m a dad. Tech companies make my life easier,” he said, adding that doesn’t mean Amazon should get its own private helipad.
“Even a billionaire like Mike Bloomberg rode the subway,” Kallos said.
“We left pre-kindergarten students in special education on a bus for ten hours, without a bathroom, without food, without their parents," Kallos said.
He explained he was horrified and immediately called Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.
“They reached out to the police. We got the kid rescued. We got the kid in the hands of his mother by midnight," Kallos said.
The weather was one thing, but Kallos said the bus route was also so convoluted that it would have taken three hours to get this student home on a good day.
“We actually spent from 2014 until 2017 working with the Office of Pupil Transportation to do it,” City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th) said. “Last year they said they were going to do it and last year they said it was going to be in the contracts and they were going to do it, and it was going to be on every single bus in the city.”
Kallos introduced legislation in September to require GPS devices be installed on all school buses contracted with the Department of Education. It would also require the city to provide real-time GPS location data to parents and school administrators.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about tracking the city’s school buses on Friday.
“We need anything that’s not working with GPS and every conceivable form of communication and then linked back to a center that parents can call and get updated information,” the mayor said.
Kallos says that just won’t cut it.
“I’m really concerned about the idea of a call center,” he said. “This is 2018. I want to be able to see it on my phone. I can see where my Uber is on my phone, I can see where a bus is and the MTA is not one of the better agencies in our city, why can’t I still see where a yellow bus is?”
It’s a concern echoed by schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, who said this week the DOE is working on having tracking system on all their buses.
“During our hearing in October we had Chancellor Carranza at the City Council,” Kallos said. “He refused to answer questions about the GPS system.”
Kallos’ proposal will come up for a vote later this month. If it passes, the city must institute the program in the next 180 days. Meantime, the DOE says there is GPS tracking on all special education buses, and they’re currently assessing a small pilot program that’s in place which allows parents to see their bus’ arrival time through an app.
“We are very concerned about the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods we represent — Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Astoria and Roosevelt Island — and on the already overburdened housing markets in these areas,” wrote Ben Kallos, member of the New York City Council representing Roosevelt Island, in a joint statement issued via Twitter with three other council members. “Our offices are constantly working with constituents who are losing their homes due to rapidly escalating rents.”
In New York City, several buses serving special-needs students struggled to get through the city’s traffic-snarled roads. Five children spent more than 10 hours without a bathroom break or meal because their school bus got stuck in Manhattan and the Bronx on Thursday, according to New York City Council member Ben Kallos.
The New York City Council this week passed a bill adding the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics to the city charter. The move represents perhaps the first such move to add a data analytics office to a major city’s foundational document. It also prompted some data advocates to say it could encourage other cities to follow suit.
"Bad luck" was to blame for the city descending into travel chaos as the first snow of the winter hit Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday. The storm blanketed Central Park in more than six inches of snow, the most for that day in more than a century.
On May 16, 1979, shortly after completing her freshman year at Barnard College, Grace Gold was walking near the corner of Broadway and 115th Street when a chunk of masonry worked loose from the eighth-floor facade of a building owned by Columbia University. The masonry plunged to the sidewalk, killing Gold. She was 17.
Thousands of commuters were stranded outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, the busiest bus station in the country, after more than 1,100 scheduled buses were canceled. The line of people stretched a full city block.
Citywide Council on Special Education Co-Chair Gloria Corsino said she was flooded with calls from parents whose kids with disabilities suffered on buses that were stuck on the roads for hours.
“These drivers don’t allow kids to eat on the bus or use the bathroom,” Corsino said. “Imagine the trauma. This is just poor emergency management.”
Manhattan City Councilman Ben Kallos said the storm exposed serious weaknesses in the city’s beleaguered, $1.2 billion yellow bus system, which is already undergoing an overhaul amid widespread service problems, allegations of corruption and a federal investigation.
“All of this could have been prevented,” said Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side and intervened with the NYPD to help other kids with disabilities get home from the same stricken bus as Reynoso’s son.
“When you already have a bus route that’s three hours long, and then there’s a storm, it’s going to double or triple,” Kallos said. “We’re setting up these drivers and kids for failure.”
The city will investigate busing problems encountered in the storm, said Mayor de Blasio spokeswoman Jaclyn Rothenberg.