New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

Free Laptops and Tablets with Internet for All Public School Students Loaded with Culturally Responsive Digital Textbooks Proposed by Electeds

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Free Laptops and Tablets with Internet for All Public School Students Loaded with Culturally Responsive Digital Textbooks Proposed by Electeds

Following Broad Systemic Failures, Department of Education to be Required to Report on Cost, Stock and Distribution of Devices for Oversight and to Ensure Equity

 

New York, NY — With every single one of New York City’s 1.1 million public school students learning online partially or fully, the Department of Education estimates that there are still upwards of 77,000 students who still need internet-capable devices despite repeated assurances from Mayor Bill de Blasio that “every student who needs one gets one.” Oversight legislation authored by Council Members Ben Kallos and Farah Louis and sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Education Chair Mark Treyger, Borough Presidents Eric Adams and Gale Brewer, and Council Member Stephen Levin would force the city to give free laptops and tablets with Internet for all public school students loaded with culturally responsive digital textbooks and report on numbers, costs, and distribution along with the demographics of students receiving devices.
 
Since the start of the pandemic in March and the transition to remote learning, parents and students have reported inability to access to high speed internetlack of adequate remote learning devices, and an exacerbation of racial disparities in student engagement with remote learning. In April, the Department of Education spent over $269 million on 300,000 iPads, equipped with T-Mobile LTE for $10 a mobile. The number of devices distributed, the number of students who received devices, and the number actually used, remain outstanding. Last month, the City Council even had to subpoena Department of Education remote attendance data.

Statement Praising Schools’ Chancellor Carranza for Recognizing Remote Learning Can Open Up Gifted & Talented for All from Council Members Robert Cornegy, Jr. and Ben Kallos

Friday, October 23, 2020

“Every child who qualifies or simply wants one should be guaranteed a gifted and talented education and we are grateful that the Schools’ Chancellor Carranza is recognizing that. Free of the physical limits of a physical school or classroom, public schools can desegregate and open these programs to students across our city.”

“As we see a new surge in cases with parents and students choosing between continuing a hybrid in-person model or fully remote, we must implement a citywide remote learning option this school year that offers enrichment programs like gifted and talented or teaches to students’ learning style. With remote learning varying by classroom from hours of live streamed instruction to independent learning assignments followed by weekly reviews, we can and must connect families and parents with an education that supports their learning style.”

 

Background:

On August 7, as reported in the New York Post, former Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus Co-Chair Robert Cornegy, Jr. and Council Member Ben Kallos demanded that public schools use all remote learning as an opportunity to desegregate schools while catering to student learning styles and offering enrichment such as gifted and talented for all.

On August 23, the New York Post Editorial Board supported this proposal in an editorial “How NYC could make remote learning into a winner for many kids.”

On October 16, at an Education Committee Hearing, in response to questioning by Council Member Ben Kallos, Schools’ Chancellor Carranza expressed openness to using remote learning to expand gifted and talented programs requesting a copy of the letter which was sent again (see video at 2:35:14).

On October 22, at a Queens parental advisory board meeting, Chancellor Richard Carranza, said “In a virtual environment, if you have some criteria, then a student could ostensibly, with a very gifted teacher, have more students having an experience of a gifted experience, not just in one classroom. Let’s say you have a really gifted and talented teacher that is willing to have 60 students across five schools in Queens. Now you have the ability to give that experience to more students,” according to the New York Post

 

French Dual Language Program Celebrates Start on the Upper East Side with 36 Pre-K Seats

Friday, October 2, 2020

French Dual Language Program Celebrates Start on the Upper East Side with 36 Pre-K Seats

 


Ribbon Cut after Partnership with Local Parents, the Department of Education and Council Member Kallos Yields Results

Upper East Side, NY- Today Council Member Ben Kallos, the New York City Department of Education, parents, teachers, school administrators and the French Consulate General to New York cut a ribbon celebrating two new French dual language classes that have opened at the District 2 Pre-K Center located at 355 East 76th Street.

The joyous occasion for the families who attended the ribbon cutting and for Council Member Kallos comes after a very dedicated group of parents, including members of the Francophone community from Canada, Africa, and France, met with more than two hundred families who pledged to send their children to a French dual language program in Manhattan if one was created. 

The French dual language classes began on September 21st with seats for 36 pre-K students.

The Department of Education will operate these classes using a side-by-side instructional model where it will have one Early Childhood-certified teacher who is fluent in French and who has or will work towards a bilingual extension, alongside a second Early Childhood-certified teacher.

“I am incredibly proud of the people who did the work in order to make this program a reality. Knowledge is power so any opportunity we get to expand and improve education in my district I will be supportive of. We all know the benefits of dual language education and I am proud that we were able to bring them to this district,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack for his ongoing partnership in expanding early education opportunities, the French Consulate for supporting the Francophone community, and especially to Stephane Lautner and Catherine Remy who worked closely with my office to put meetings together and organize hundreds of other parents.”

Outdoor Dining Would Get Easier for Small Business with Temporary Permits for Lapsed Licenses and New Owners Proposed by Kallos Cumbersome Bureaucratic Sidewalk Café Permit Re-Applications Would Be Replaced with Easy Temporary Renewal Process for Cash St

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

New York, NY - Mom and pop stores are the small businesses that make New York City great that have remained inaccessible to 1 million residents, and 7 million tourists with disabilities would receive government assistance to retrofit for accessibility and indoor safety during the pandemic. Toady Council Members Ben Kallos introduced legislation to provide grants and low-interest loans of up to $250,000 along with education for small businesses in storefronts to make accessibility and public health improvements, coupled with securing long sought after rent reductions from landlords.
 
“The blight of empty storefronts has only gotten worse since the pandemic and we need to do everything we can to help them retrofit for accessibility and public health to welcome more customers with disabilities while securing lower rents. It’s a win-win-win for small business owners, customers susceptible to coronavirus or with disabilities, and even landlords,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Victor Calise Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities for working with us on this program since I was elected, together we can open up the best parts of our city for everyone.”

Outdoor Dining Would Get Easier for Small Business with Temporary Permits for Lapsed Licenses and New Owners Proposed by Kallos

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Outdoor Dining Would Get Easier for Small Business with Temporary Permits for Lapsed Licenses and New Owners Proposed by Kallos

Cumbersome Bureaucratic Sidewalk Café Permit Re-Applications Would Be Replaced with
Easy Temporary Renewal Process for Cash Strapped Businesses
 

New York, NY – Outdoor dining has become a hallmark of New York City’s pandemic resurgence for restaurants and nightlife as businesses face bureaucratic hurdles to obtain and maintain their license to do so. Small businesses that are already struggling or new owners who may seek to fill an empty storefront, must start an expensive, cumbersome, bureaucratic and lengthy process to get a new sidewalk café permit, even where one was previously granted. Legislation proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos would allow a sidewalk café permit that had been valid in the previous 3 years to be easily renewed or transferred temporarily for the business or a new owner provided the plans were the same.
 
“Outdoor dining is a welcome change in our urban environment that is beautifying and activating streets that had gone empty for far too long. We are cutting the red tape to make it easier for restaurants to renew and new owners to take over sidewalk cafes,” Council Member Ben Kallos. “I wish I could take credit for this idea, but it came right from a small business owner, as an example of a bureaucratic problem, that seemed stupid not to fix. Thank you to the New York Hospitality Alliance for hosting opportunities for small businesses to meet with elected officials so that we can work together to foster a better environment for small businesses to thrive.”

Nonprofits Rally, Call on Mayor to Fully Reinstate Funding for Indirect Costs

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

New York, NY – Today, several of New York City’s nonprofit human services organizations held a rally demanding that Mayor de Blasio restore funding for their indirect costs and end retroactive budget cuts to the Indirect Cost Rate (ICR) Funding Initiative.
 
Human services nonprofits cannot provide the necessary services and jobs New York City needs to continue to respond and recover from Covid-19 if the City does not honor its financial commitments to them. When the mayor’s FY20 April Executive Plan (April 2020) cut ICR funding nearly 40% (from $54 million to $34 million) under the guise of a “right-sizing,” providers were told that all FY20 reimbursements would be completed, as the City guaranteed in November 2019. More than a month after approval of the FY21 Adopted Budget – six weeks after the end of FY20 – providers were informed that FY20 indirect funding would actually be cut retroactively up to 40%.
 
FY21 indirect funding remains uncertain. The City is asking providers to wait five months into FY21 to find out if they will receive their full indirect funding for the current fiscal year, despite past commitments that the ICR Funding Initiative funding would not be cut due to the City's budget deficit.

 Underfunding was an issue prior to the pandemic: more than half of NYC human services nonprofits cannot keep even two months of cash on hand, due to underfunded government contracts, a problem that dates back years. This funding crisis was the main driver behind last year's groundbreaking commitment to strengthening health and human services infrastructure through increased indirect funding. These retroactive cuts undermine the City’s p

AMICUS CURIAE OF THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS

Friday, August 14, 2020

August 14, 2020 By ECF Hon. Katherine Polk Failla,

U.S.D.J. United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Courtroom 618,
Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse 40 Foley Square New York, New York 100017

Re: Uniformed Fire Officers Association, et al. v. de Blasio, et al. No. 20 Civ. 5441 (KPF) (RWL)

 

Dear Judge Failla:

         I write on behalf of the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council to seek the Court’s leave to allow it to submit the attached amicus curiae brief in this matter.

        The Progressive Caucus was formed in 2009 with the goal of advancing policies to build a more just and equal New York City. The Caucus is comprised of twenty-two Council members and the Public Advocate. Its members have campaigned on issues of police accountability and transparency, sponsored legislation to make the City’s data open to the public and sought to use their oversight and budgetary powers to transform law enforcement in New York City. They have also advocated for the state legislature to repeal New York’s police secrecy law, Civil Rights Law § 50-a, precisely so that system of law enforcement that is transparent and accountable to the public it serves in New York City would be possible. As councilmembers, the Progressive Caucus’s members have a particularly strong interest in receiving information regarding the police disciplinary process and police misconduct settlements because they are considering numerous potential policy responses to police misconduct, including legislation or Charter amendments, oversight hearings, and further budgetary responses in the next budget cycle.

       The Progressive Caucus seeks to submit an amicus brief in this matter to explain the importance of open public records as the council examines these policy responses and to advocate for the principles of transparent and open government. As the attached brief explains, one of the most important issues for the Progressive Caucus’s members to understand is whether and why the disciplinary process is failing to hold officers who commit misconduct accountable. Case 1:20-cv-05441-KPF Document 120 Filed 08/14/20 Page 1 of 2 Hon. Katherine Polk Failla, U.S.D.J. August 14, 2020 Page 2

        Transparency is critical to understanding that, and transparency about instances where investigations began or complaints were made and yet the Department did not impose discipline are particularly important for the Council and the public to understand.

        As an organization of City Councilmembers who are charged with oversight and legislative reform over police, the proposed amicus provides a unique perspective that may be of assistance to the Court in deciding the issues before it. The Progressive Caucus, as a group of members of the legislative branch of City government, also may have different perspectives to the City’s executive branch; indeed, in some instances, the Progressive Caucus’s members may seek records from the City’s executive branch that the City may wish to withhold.

       Accordingly, the Progressive Caucus respectfully requests the Court’s leave to allow it to file the attached proposed amicus curiae brief.

Respectfully submitted, /s/ Aaron Marks, P.C. Aaron Marks, P.C. cc: All counsel of record, via ECF

 

New Connection Comes at No Additional Cost to the City and Reduces Travel Time between Astoria and Upper East Side by up to 25 Minutes

Thursday, August 20, 2020

QUEENS, NY – New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the extension of NYC Ferry’s Astoria route to serve the East 90th Street landing in Upper Manhattan.

The new connection, which will officially launch Saturday, August 22nd, comes at no additional operating or capital expense and will not change travel time to or from existing landings on the Astoria Route. After launching, the newly extended Astoria Route will now terminate at East 90th Street and Pier 11.

Demand to Desegregate All Remote Learning Now, Letter to Mayor de Blasio and DOE Chancellor Carranza

Friday, August 7, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall

New York, NY 10007

Chancellor Richard Carranza
Department of Education

52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Re: Demand to Desegregate All Remote Learning Now

Dear Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza,

With as many as one quarter of public school families opting for full remote learning in the fall, we have a historic opportunity and, we believe, a mandate to desegregate classes and achieve educational equality online. With the school year fast approaching, only incomplete plans for what digital classrooms will look like have been shared. We demand that you desegregate all remote learning for this school year.

New York City public schools are more segregated today than they were during Brown v. Board of Education, largely because our city’s neighborhoods are: the result of a long history of government-enforced racism and de jure segregation right here in New York City. Many students live in school zones dictated by geography that stems directly from racist redlining that continued rampantly and legally through the 1970s, and which continues to impact neighborhoods to this day, with investigations and even settlements here in New York State as recently as 2015. While desegregationist housing policy is an imperative, we cannot wait for or rely on it. We must find ways to bring communities together in our classrooms. Enrichment programs have been credited with providing access for black and brown students to our best schools, but early in this administration, racial segregation was found to persist in these programs, with gifted and talented programs missing from black and brown low-income communities.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed systemic racial disparities in healthcare, as the virus has disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. As we transitioned to remote learning for 1.1 million students during the height of the pandemic, the Department of Education kept students segregated by geography and school district. However, with the benefit of a summer to plan for next school year, it would be irresponsible to preserve those same systems, particularly for full remote learning.

We have all been students at one point or another, and many of us are now parents who want the best for our children. Though we all hold varying opinions based on lived experiences, anecdotes, and media exposure, it is essential that we concede to evidence-based, peer-reviewed and scientific articles to help guide our stances and make informed decisions. Fifty years of academic, peer-reviewed research in the social sciences has found that we can improve learning outcomes for students when teachers are able to thoroughly and actively engage with their students' individual differences and learning styles.

We propose the creation of a new desegregated citywide school district to serve every student enrolled in all remote learning. The virtual schools within this new district would be organized around learning style, enrichment, and even common interest. Initial online diagnostics or results from remote learning earlier this year would help identify how students learned, so we can best match them with teachers and virtual classrooms filled with diverse groups of students who learned the same way.

Enrichment programs like gifted and talented programs or those tailored to specific interests and remote learning styles could finally be offered to every student who qualified, with additional classrooms opened for students who may not have qualified or even known to take the test but who deserve the access and opportunity none the less. Enrichment programs such as dual language programs in English and Spanish, French, Creole, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Urdu, Bengali, and more could proliferate and attract students of every color and creed. The roster of schools organized around standard common subjects such as STEM, Arts, English, or History could be expanded to include more areas such as sports and modern media. With the availability of real-time diagnostics and analytics for students as they complete assignments online, teachers and administrators would be able to provide support and guidance for any student who might have fallen behind in the traditional education system, which has over relied on high stakes testing and grades.

In order to meet new demand, the Department of Education, free of the constraints of physical school buildings and a limited number of classrooms, could offer teachers who have requested to teach fully remote, as well as any staff with a teaching certificate, the opportunity to lead these classrooms. We can reorganize virtual schools, classrooms, and teachers in an agile, data-driven approach to meet parent and student demand every step of the way.

Desegregation has always faced resistance, whether in Little Rock, Arkansas, or right here in New York City. Some might object that there is a short lifespan to any solution that relies heavily on remote learning to overcome the obstacles of geography and limited resources. However, what we offer is a path forward, leveraging this unique moment and the power of technology to take on systemic racism and desegregate now, not in some never occurring future. As we approach the end of the pandemic and a return to in-person learning, the all-remote program we’ve proposed might still be appropriate for some students or some programs. In the alternative, it can serve as a model for the city to learn from as we reorganize physical school buildings and classrooms to finally desegregate our school system.

Others might argue that they already have many of these programs in their district. Allowing for enrollment in programs from across the city will only open more options to parents, many of whom will find that in the status quo, even in school districts that do offer gifted and talented or other enrichment programs, roughly two-thirds of the children who qualify are routinely turned away.

Families of students of color or other traditionally marginalized communities may also prefer their children to be in a classroom with other kids of similar backgrounds. We must avoid a tokenistic approach to integration and proactively find ways to foster communities and learning environments where students who come from shared backgrounds can support and learn from each other. Remote learning provides more flexibility to create various learning environments to achieve these goals.

Though we are a little more than a month away from the start of school without a final plan for re-opening, we must acknowledge how ambitious our plan might be given the short time before us. The Department of Education must prioritize a safe re-opening and if desegregating all remote learning proves to be too resource-intensive, then we ask that a citywide pilot be launched. As a pilot, parents and students could be asked this week if they wish to participate, setting up a limited number of virtual classrooms to address specific need. Once established enrollment could be expanded for the Spring Semester and depending on the pandemic and success of the program rolled out citywide for the next school year.

Imagine the public education system we can create together, with the ambitious goal of taking on systemic racism and segregation, all while providing a historic opportunity for students of every race and ethnicity. There would be no more lotteries. No more geographic preference based on racist red lining. No more false constraints created by generations of disinvestment in communities of color. Parents and students could simply apply and be guaranteed a seat in the virtual classroom of their choice. Equal educational opportunities for all.

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos
Council Member

5th District

Robert Cornegy
Council Member
36th District

Letter Demanding More Seats for Remote Learning

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Dear Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carranza, and President Grillo,

Following your announcement that New York City would plan to reopen its schools in the fall with a mix of in-person teaching and remote learning, we both raised concerns about the need for childcare as parents go back to work. On July 10, Council Member Kallos wrote a letter to you urging you to address what United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew has called the impending “Childcare Crisis” by exploring opening “remote learning centers” for children who cannot stay at home, and suggested that you look at existing public spaces such as libraries or youth, senior and community centers where available, as well as vacant storefronts to establish these centers. On July 11, Council Member Lander published a plan calling for wraparound enrichment services for children, employer accommodations for parents, and support for existing child care providers.

We were pleased to see your announcement on July 16 that the City will “provide quality, safe, free childcare options for 100,000 children this fall” by utilizing “schools, community centers, libraries, cultural organizations, and more.” We are concerned, however, that 100,000 childcare seats will not cover the children in need of a place to learn remotely. According to your plan one-half to two-thirds of those students will be out of school on any given day. New state social distancing guidelines for schools will greatly restrict the number of students able to be at school at any time, as we prioritize preventing the spread of Covid-19 and keeping our teachers and students safe.

Thank you for providing a portal for submitting property sites to be considered for this program. We ask you to continue to include elected officials and parents in your search for space to accommodate 100,000 socially distanced students and report on your progress regularly. We are eager to be of assistance and to learn about your progress in securing now-closed private and parochial schools, including 26 closed by the Archdiocese, existing public spaces such as libraries and community centers, as well as existing businesses and empty storefronts. First and foremost, we must find sites than can accommodate the social distancing guidelines, and ensure that whether in schools or remote learning centers, our teachers and students are safe.

More than 800,000 children from 3K through 8th grade attend New York City’s public schools. If in-person learning is divided into two or three shifts, then approximately 400,000 – 533,000 of these students will be learning remotely at any given time. We are concerned that the planned 100,000 childcare seats will be inadequate.

As the New York State economy continues to move forward with re-opening Phase 4, it is our responsibility in government to provide parents and children with the safest possible plan for re-opening schools with sufficient capacity. We join countless parents in demanding more information, including how placements will be determined if there is more demand than seats and in particular that the city plan for and guarantee a seat for every family and student who needs one even if that number is closer to 533,000. Parents continue to reach out to me to share their anxiety regarding the upcoming school year, and any additional information we can provide will help New York City’s families plan for this uncertain time.

Sincerely,

 

 

Ben Kallos

Council Member

5th District

Brad Lander

Council Member

39th District

Statement on Esplanade Collapse at East 76th Street

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

When I got elected the Esplanade was falling into the East River and now it has not once but twice. No sooner than we finished repairs on the collapse between 88th and 90th did we see a new sinkhole collapse at 76th Street. As Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney we’ve secured more $278 million to repair this Esplanade with the hope of getting ahead of these collapses. Where previous repairs have taken years or months, the Parks Department will be using funds we’ve already secured to mobilize and promised to begin repairs in the coming weeks. Our taskforce will work to keep this repair on track and restore this vital park space.

Letter to Mayor and Transportation Commissioner Proposing One-Way Sidewalks for Social Distancing

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Dear Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg,

In recent weeks residents in my district have expressed concern about how difficult it can be to simply walk down the sidewalk in a safe, socially distant manner, proposing a suggestion that I support of designating different sides of each street for pedestrians to walk in a particular direction.

For senior citizens and immunocompromised New Yorkers, simple but essential errands can become a daunting task when narrow sidewalks are filled with pedestrians walking and running – many without masks – both ways to get to the pharmacy or grocery store. Similarly, parents with small babies and children who are too young to wear masks that we now know are susceptible to coronavirus in the form of multisystem inflammatory syndrome are fearful of putting their children in danger walking down a narrow street to get to a park with some semblance of social distancing. I personally share both of these concerns.

I propose that we create space for social distancing on our sidewalks by facilitating opposite flows of foot traffic in high-density areas of our city. Similar to ‘one-way’ streets for vehicles, pedestrians would be encouraged to use sidewalks in one direction so that they do not have to cross pedestrians coming the opposite direction. On streets running east to west, the north side would be designated for westbound pedestrians and the south side would be designated for eastbound pedestrians. On avenues or streets running north to south, the east side would be designated for northbound pedestrians, the west side would be designated for southbound pedestrians.

Statement on Fatal Façade and Scaffolding Collapse on East Side by Council Member Ben Kallos

Friday, July 17, 2020

“We cannot keep watching bricks fall, scaffolding collapse, injuring and killing New Yorkers. These bricks should never have been allowed to deteriorate to the point that they fell and the scaffolding should never have collapsed. We must pass a law forcing the inspection of every inch of scaffolding as soon as possible. We must pass a law to require building owners to maintain their buildings or step in as a city and do the work ourselves. My deepest sympathies to the families of those killed and injured in this latest collapse and they have my pledge to keep fighting so no one faces the same threat.”

New York Council Member Ben Kallos represents the Upper East Side of Manhattan and has introduced a package of legislation to require the city to inspect scaffolding when installed and over time as well as to require building owners make repairs or face steep fines with the city stepping in to do the work.

Letter to Mayor and Schools Chancellor Proposing Remote Learning Centers

Friday, July 10, 2020

Dear Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carranza, and President Grillo,

As you prepare to open New York City public schools in September offering parents the option of staggered schedules or remote learning, I urge you to explore bolstering this blended learning model with remote learning centers for children who cannot stay at home.

Remote learning centers could be temporarily established by utilizing closed private and parochial schools or finding a new use for existing public spaces such as libraries or youth, senior and community centers. In neighborhoods where these existing schools or public spaces are already in use or provide insufficient space, we can look to the countless empty storefronts, houses of worship, or other temporarily closed or partially closed businesses. Remote learning centers established in these spaces would be supervised, required to follow social distancing measures, and would provide a safe space with a computer and an internet connection. Most importantly, they would provide a space for students whose parents cannot watch them at home to do remote learning, on days when they are not scheduled for in-person instruction at their school, or even full time if attending school requires a dangerous commute.

 

Council Member Ben Kallos' Floor Statement Voting NO on City Budget

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 21,000 New Yorkers, magnified systemic racism, and blown a 9 billion dollar hole in our city’s budget.

The Mayor’s proposed budget left the NYPD budget largely intact while zeroing out services for youth, families and seniors, a budget that would rather invest in policing our children then caring for them.

Our budget has grown by $24 billion under this administration and we’ve missed an opportunity to trim more than $15 billion in fat. Before eliminating jobs and essential services, we should cut billions in corporate welfare that goes to a handful of our nation’s wealthiest corporations.

When we heard George Floyd plead “I can’t breathe” as he was murdered by police, it opened the unhealed wounds left in our city from the murder of Eric Garner.

New Yorkers took to the streets in the name of Black Lives Matter to demand that we Defund NYPD by $1 billion to invest in communities harmed by over-policing.

Since then, we have received over 125,000 emails and thousands of calls. Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like it.

As a person benefiting from white privilege, it is my responsibility to use that privilege to empower New Yorkers from all communities, particularly voices of color, black voices, and listen when they demand that we Defund NYPD.

As a member of a Council that made the mistake of adding 1,300 police officers and increasing the NYPD budget by a billion dollars, it is our responsibility to right that wrong.

When the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus Members led our body in a bold statement with Speaker Johnson supporting cuts of at least 1 billion dollars this year, the Progressive Caucus, which I co-chair, stood in solidarity.

The cuts we are voting on today depend on a half-billion-dollar transfer of school safety agents from the NYPD to the Public Schools budget that seems like an accounting trick.

I join the Speaker and so many of my colleagues on the Budget Negotiating Team who fought so hard -- in their disappointment in a budget that fails to achieve our initial proposal.

This is not the transformative change of the NYPD that New Yorkers are demanding.

I vote no on the budget and vote yes on all other matters.

NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS ANNOUNCES COVID-19 TESTING POP-UP SITE ON ROOSEVELT ISLAND

Monday, June 29, 2020

NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS ANNOUNCES COVID-19

TESTING POP-UP SITE ON ROOSEVELT ISLAND

Watch the Press Conference

All New Yorkers should get a Covid-19 swab test; mobile testing site will be available at Motorgate Helix Field from Monday, June 29 to Friday, July 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Site was made possible with the support and advocacy of Council Member Kallos,

Roosevelt Island elected officials, and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation

Roosevelt Island, NY (June 25, 2020) – NYC Health + Hospitals today announced the first Covid-19 testing pop-up site on Roosevelt Island. The site will be available at Motorgate Helix Field from Monday, June 29 to Friday July 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a capacity to do 80 Covid-19 diagnostic nasal swab tests per day. This is the first testing site on Roosevelt Island, an island in the East River with more than 12,000 residents. The site was made possible with the support and advocacy of Council Member Kallos, Roosevelt Island elected officials, and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. All New Yorkers should get a Covid-19 nasal swab test. The test is free and there are no out-of-pocket fees or copays; however, patients with insurance will be asked for their insurance information.

“NYC Health + Hospitals is grateful to have such passionate advocates in every corner of this city that will support the access to important health care needs,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “Accessible, comprehensive care for all New Yorkers is foundational to the City’s public health system, and universal Covid-19 testing is a critical tool to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus and keep the City on track to re-open.”

“The key to beating Covid-19 is testing, testing, testing; I cannot stress that enough. We need to get as many New Yorkers tested as possible and that certainly includes the 12,000 or so residents living on Roosevelt Island,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to NYC Health + Hospitals for working to bring this mobile facility into the island. It is our goal to get as many residents tested during these seven days, so please spread the word and make sure all your neighbors get tested if they have not done so already.”

More Than 300 Units of Affordable Housing Open on Roosevelt Island with 50% Community Preference

Thursday, June 25, 2020

More Than 300 Units of Affordable Housing Open on Roosevelt Island with 50% Community Preference

More than 1,000 Affordable Units Built or Preserved During Council Member Kallos’ Tenure

Roosevelt Island, NY- 313 units of mixed-income apartments have opened up on Roosevelt Island as part of the City’s affordable housing lottery program for applications due on July 6th. The Riverwalk Park complex is a 21-story permanently affordable building. Preference for 50 percent of the units will be given to residents of Manhattan Community Board 8 on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island. This comes just days after a law authored by Council Member Ben Kallos helped the City’s Housing and Preservation Department (HPD) identify an unprecedented 2,500 affordable housing units that will be re-rented on the new Housing Connect website for New Yorkers to apply for this July.

Council Member Kallos and Hudson Related will host an announcement and information session on Tuesday, June 30th at 6 pm to educate the public on how to apply in time for the deadline on July 6th. The Riverwalk Park units are available for qualifying New Yorkers earning 40, 50, 80, 130, and 165 percent of the area median income corresponding to incomes as low as $20,298 for a one-person household to as high as $187,605 for a family of four. Rent for these apartments ranges from $506/month for a studio to $3,432/month for a three-bedroom apartment.

“We are facing an affordable housing crisis and every unit counts. Opportunities to build hundreds of units like this are few and far between and we couldn’t be prouder to bring this affordability to the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.  “The units that have opened up on Roosevelt Island will go a long way in helping rent-burdened families that apply and win. Thank you to David Kramer at Hudson Related for building this affordable housing and Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation for their partnership. I encourage anyone who qualifies living on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island along with the rest of the city to apply the right way.”

Over the years Council Member Ben Kallos has been instrumental in opening or preserving countless affordable housing units throughout the Upper East Side.

In July of 2019, L+M Developments announced it would be purchasing a portfolio of 2,800 New York rental apartments that were set to age out of affordability requirements. Thanks to a deal brokered with the support of Council Member and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, two-thirds or 1,800 of these apartments, including more than 600 on Roosevelt Island were preserved as affordable in exchange for tax breaks for L+M and Invesco the two companies that made the buy. These apartments had been developed under New York State’s Mitchell-Lama affordable-housing program but many had left the program and were no longer subject to rent restrictions. 

In May of 2019 Kallos worked with Extell Development and HPD to build 28-units of affordable housing starting with incomes of $36,858 for individuals to $96,800 for a family of six (at 70% to 80% of the area median income. The properties are located on 1768 Second Avenue at 91st Street across the street from his district office. The new buildings also offer private childcare on the ground floor operated by Alef Bet Preschool.

In August of 2018 Council Member, Kallos collaborated with supportive housing organization Win and construction companies RiverOak & Azimuth Development to open up a seven-story building located at 316 East 91st Street, which contains 17 one- and two-bedroom apartments dedicated for homeless women and children. That same year in May, Council Member Kallos also partnered with Urban Pathways to open the Howard Amron House, an 11-unit building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. That facility houses formerly homeless individuals and offers residents supportive services like case management to encourage independence and wellness.

In February of 2018, Kallos worked with Azimuth Development and HPD to open a 21-unit residential building located at 321 East 60th Street in the Lenox Hill section of Manhattan. All of the units in the building are 100% permanently affordable to low-income households earning at or below $53,440 annually.

Citi Bike Stations Arrive on Roosevelt Island Just in Time for Summer 2020

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Citi Bike Stations Arrive on Roosevelt Island Just in Time for Summer 2020

The Pilot Program is a Result of Years of Collaboration between Council Member Kallos, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, and Lyft.

Watch the Announcement

 

Roosevelt Island, NY- Citi Bike is coming to Roosevelt Island with brand new stations. The first stations are being installed today and throughout the week and will be home to 74 bikes as the bike share program expands to Roosevelt Island to serve its residents for the first time. In 2014 there were more requests for CitiBike in Roosevelt Island’s zip code than anywhere else in New York City, with a bikeshare pilot dating back to 2010. This was a campaign promise of Council Member Ben Kallos who has spent years working with Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and Citi Bike now operated by Lyft to finally get wheels down.

This pilot program by Lyft, which operates Citi Bike, is part of an expansion bringing a $100 million investment to improve, strengthen and expand Citi Bike over the coming years -- doubling its current service area by thirty-five square miles and more than tripling its number of bikes to nearly 40,000. As Lyft expands its physical footprint, it is also expanding its programming to ensure Citi Bike is equitable and accessible to the communities it serves.

“Citi Bike for Roosevelt Island was one of my first campaign promises,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, whose Fifth District includes Roosevelt Island. “Now, the years of work to make this happen are paying off. I am looking forward to riding a Citi Bike on Roosevelt Island after years of working with RIOC, RIRA, and residents, through multiple owners of Citi Bike, in pursuit of this expansion. None of this would have been possible without the power of the press and a commitment to covering this and every issue by the Roosevelt Islander. From Four Freedoms to Lighthouse Park and destinations in between, Citi Bike is going to make getting around Roosevelt Island more convenient and more fun.”

This has been a multiple year long collaborative effort. Through it all, Council Member Kallos has worked with all the key figures in private industry and government to bring Citi Bike to the 12,000 residents who live on the island.

“We are so excited to bring the first Citi Bike stations to Roosevelt Island as we double the Citi Bike network in the coming years,” said Laura Fox, Lyft's General Manager of Citi Bike. “Now more than ever, Citi Bike is meeting the needs of this moment, offering New Yorkers a reliable, affordable, sustainable, fun, and socially distant way to get around. We are grateful to RIOC and Council Member Kallos for their partnership through this process and look forward to Roosevelt Island residents incorporating bikeshare into their daily lives.”
“ RIOC is proud to support this pilot program that gives our residents and visitors a convenient, environmentally responsible way to experience Roosevelt Island,” said Shelton J. Haynes, RIOC’s Acting President and CEO.

“Delighted to see that Citi Bike is finally coming to Roosevelt island! Access to various transit options is always important, but is especially welcome now as our city grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. I thank Council Member Ben Kallos for his dedication to bringing Citi Bike to the residents of Roosevelt Island and delivering this highly requested bike sharing program to our constituents,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

“Access to bike sharing will not only provide a green transportation option for Roosevelt Island residents, but will enhance opportunities for safe exercise and recreation during the current health emergency and in the long term. A truly successful bike share program must link together the entire city, and Citi Bike's expansion into Roosevelt Island is an important step toward ensuring equity across all neighborhoods. Thank you to Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Lyft, Councilmember Ben Kallos and my other colleagues in government for their leadership on this issue,” said State Senator Jose Serrano.

"It is exciting to once again to have Citi Bike further its footprint on New York City by expanding into new territory," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "With residents looking for new means of travel amidst the COVID-19 crisis, Citi Bike will be a welcome addition to an island that already has unique transportation needs."

“I commend Council Member Ben Kallos for his cyclist advocacy and commitment to closing gaps in transportation and to the expansion of transportation alternatives. Roosevelt Islanders have awaited the expansion of Citi Bike to come to their part of the Manhattan Borough.  Now, more than ever, we need to help people get around outside of the confines of our buses, subways and tram cars,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. 

Kallos previously worked with Roosevelt Island Residents Association and Manhattan Community Board 8 to pass resolutions in 2012 in favor of bringing CitiBike to Roosevelt Island.

About RIOC
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) was created in 1984 by the State of New York as a public benefit corporation with a mission to plan, design, develop, operate, and maintain Roosevelt Island. With a focus on innovative and environmentally friendly solutions, RIOC is committed to providing services that enhance the island's residential community. RIOC manages the two-mile-long island's roads, parks, buildings, a sports facility, and public transportation, including the iconic aerial tramway. Additionally, RIOC operates a Public Safety Department that helps maintain a safe and secure environment for residents, employees, business owners, and visitors.

About Citi Bike
Citi Bike is New York City's bike-share system, and the largest and most popular in the nation with more than 90 million rides taken to date across more than 13,000 bikes at nearly 900 stations. Over the coming years, Citi Bike will greatly expand into new neighborhoods as Citi Bike doubles its service area by 35 square miles and triples the number of bikes in the fleet to 40,000. Annual memberships are $169 for 365 days of unlimited 45-minute rides, and New Yorkers who live in NYCHA developments or receive SNAP benefits can access Citi Bike for only $5 a month through Reduced Fare Bike Share, presented by Healthfirst. Citi Bike is now available in the Lyft app, where customers can find real-time station information and unlock bikes. Learn more at https://www.citibikenyc.com/.

Watch the Announcement

OPEN RESTAURANTS: AS NEW YORK CITY PREPARES FOR PHASE 2 OF REOPENING, MAYOR DE BLASIO ANNOUNCES OUTDOOR DINING GUIDANCE FOR RESTAURANTS

Friday, June 19, 2020

OPEN RESTAURANTS: AS NEW YORK CITY PREPARES FOR PHASE 2 OF REOPENING, MAYOR DE BLASIO ANNOUNCES OUTDOOR DINING GUIDANCE FOR RESTAURANTS

Qualifying restaurants can use sidewalk, roadways and other outdoor space to allow for social distance among customers; Mayoral Executive Order creates a new and streamlined application process to allow restaurants to expand capacity outdoors

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced guidance for the City’s Open Restaurants program, which allows qualifying restaurants and bars to expand outdoor seating on sidewalks, curb lanes, backyards, patios, plazas, and Open Streets as New York City begins Phase 2 of reopening. The City has established an expedited approval processes by allowing restaurants and bars to self-certify their eligibility for curb lane and sidewalk seating using a new, streamlined application process at NYC.Gov, which will be available starting Friday, June 19th. The mayor codified the guidance by signing Executive Order 126.

“Restaurants are the backbone of New York City’s neighborhood culture, and they’ve done their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19. It’s our City’s turn to help them reopen safely and responsibly,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These commonsense guidelines will help local businesses get back on their feet – and let New Yorkers safely enjoy the meal they’ve earned.”

"Cautious step by cautious step, New York City restaurants will come back and thrive again," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "The City allowing for restaurant seating on sidewalks, patios, plazas, and open streets is a smart move that will help our small businesses recover faster and push our local economy in the right direction. While ultimately the responsibility is on individuals to socially distance, get tested, wear masks, and wash our hands often, this plan will give mom and pop shops a fighting chance to come back. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for listening to suggestions and making this plan a reality in the coming days."

 

Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio proposing $15.24 billion in potential savings and revenue in order to invest $827 million in spending on programs that support children, families, seniors, and our planet

Monday, June 15, 2020

As we face unprecedented times and a budget that must-see painful cuts, we should look for possible waste and opportunities for revenues and savings. I have proposed $15.24 billion in potential savings and revenue for our city’s budget in order to invest $827 million in spending on programs that support children, families, seniors, and our planet that will reduce costs and generate revenues.