New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

STATEMENT: Council Member Ben Kallos on Achieving Wage Parity for All Early Childhood Educators in NYC

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

“After years of unequal pay, we finally have wage parity for the hardworking early childhood education professionals at community-based organizations who have been essential to making New York City’s historic Universal Pre-K program a reality.

“Many of the teachers who were being paid less than their colleagues were women of color. With today’s agreement, which follows years of advocacy involving, rallies, marches, and press conferences, that inequity will finally come to an end.”

“Thank you to Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and DC 1707 President Kim Medina for working together to finalize this agreement today. Congratulations to coalition that fought for wage parity and to labor groups who stood firm on behalf of their members. Most importantly, thank you to the DC 1707 members who teach and care for our city’s children every day.”

STATEMENT: In Support of New York State’s Nine-person Campaign 'Public Financing' Commission

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

STATEMENT: In Support of New York State’s Nine-person Campaign 'Public Financing' Commission


"As the author of the legislation bringing a full public matching system to New York City’s elections, I applaud New York State for taking steps to do the same.  With today’s announcement naming the appointments to the State’s nine-person campaign 'public financing' commission, New York State is one step closer to implementing a Clean Elections system or at least implementing a system like the one the New York City Council recently adopted."  

"I am confident that if the commission listens to experts over the next months, they will decide on a strong matching system that will also see contributions limits decreased. I have every reason to believe the commission will do good work and I am pleased by the appointment of Mylan Denerstein, DeNora Getachew and Henry Berger who were all appointed because of how well they know our current system and what will be required to fix it. I am confident the new nine-person campaign 'public financing' commission will come back with a report that sets parameters for a public matching system that will benefit the people of the great state of New York."

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194 New Large Trash Cans Coming to the Upper East Side

Monday, July 1, 2019

194 New Large Trash Cans Coming to the Upper East Side 
Funded by Council Member Ben Kallos
Every Corner of the Upper East Side Will Have a Can Following Latest Investment

New York, NY – Litter-filled sidewalks on the Upper East Side are about to get cleaner with an investment of $135,000 from Council Member Ben Kallos for 194 new large trash cans. The new large trash cans are housed in a metal case with a dome top and a small opening that prevents trash from spilling and has been reported to deter rodents. Following this investment, every corner on the Upper East Side will have a can.
 

Million Dollar Investment for Pool at John Jay Park Finished in Time for Summer

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Upper East Side, NY New York City kids celebrating the first day of summer today can jump into the Upper East Side’s newly reopened John Jay Pool which has been renovated as part of a $5 Million investment in pools citywide. A ribbon cutting ceremony to reopen the pool was attended by Manhattan Parks Borough Commissioner Bill Castro and Council Member Ben Kallos. Following the ribbon cutting, Kallos cannonballed into the water to celebrate.

New York City will rally on the steps of City Hall in support of Resolution 0864-2019 Resolution declaring a climate emergency and calling for immediate emergency mobilization

Monday, June 24, 2019

New York City, NY -  New York City may soon make history as the largest city in the world to declare a climate emergency. On Monday, June 24th at 12pm, citizens of New York City will rally on the steps of City Hall in support of Resolution 0864-2019 (“Resolution declaring a climate emergency and calling for immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate.”) The NYC City Council Committee on Environmental Protection will hear testimony for the resolution, which was introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos and Environmental Protection Committee Chair Costa Constantinides. This declaration is a critical first step toward acknowledging the Climate and Ecological Crisis and moving toward a just transition for New York City to become carbon neutral. 

 October 2018’s IPCC Special Report on Global Warming shows that implementation must begin immediately - only rapid, drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and systemic changes will prevent global climate catastrophe.

“This declaration of a climate emergency by the New York City Council is an urgently needed move toward speaking truthfully in public about the undeniable empirical reality of global climate breakdown,” said Rory Varrato, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion.“In the face of this grim reality, major world cities can and must show how this dire planetary crisis can be addressed through local action. By doing so, these cities will become catalysts for the kinds of just, transformational changes we must enact if organized human life on Earth is to persist beyond the short term.” 

 The impacts of further planetary heating include droughts, food and water shortage, crop failures, mass displacement, and increasingly powerful storms, wildfires and floods, both in the US and abroad. Further, a May 6th United Nations report predicts the extinction of over one million plant and animal species due to human-caused climate change and habitat loss. This will impact every species on this planet, including human beings, in ways we cannot yet predict.

STATEMENT: In Regards to New York City Declaring a Climate Emergency

Monday, June 24, 2019

New York City may soon make history as the largest city in the world to declare a climate emergency. On Monday, June 24th at 12pm, citizens of New York City will rally on the steps of City Hall in support of Resolution 0864-2019 (“Resolution declaring a climate emergency and calling for immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate.”) The NYC City Council Committee on Environmental Protection will hear testimony for the resolution, which was introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos and Environmental Protection Committee Chair Costa Constantinides. This declaration is a critical first step toward acknowledging the Climate and Ecological Crisis and moving toward a just transition for New York City to become carbon neutral. 

"We are in the midst of a climate crisis," says Councilmember Ben Kallos, who introduced the resolution authored by partner organizations. "New York must take bold steps in protecting its citizens, or we will suffer more sea level rise, more climate injustices and more Hurricane Sandy's. We must face the climate crisis head on and look at the overall systemic issues that have put us here, as that is the only way to fully confront the issues.”

 

Ribbon Cut on New Playground and Exterior Renovations at P.S. 77 & P.S. 198M Following Half Million Dollar Participatory Budgeting Victory

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Ribbon Cut on New Playground and Exterior Renovations at P.S. 77 & P.S. 198M Following

Half Million Dollar Participatory Budgeting Victory

 

Exterior Renovations to the School Came at a Cost of $8.2 Million

 

Upper East Side, NY Public school students from the Battery to East Harlem will have a new playground thanks 1,139 votes winning votes in 2017’s Participatory Budgeting. Today, students, teachers and school administrators joined Council Member Ben Kallos to cut the ribbon on the new $600,000 playground.

 

Holmes Towers NYCHA Private Development In-Fill Application Withdrawn with Commitment to Meaningful Community Engagement

Friday, June 14, 2019

Holmes Towers NYCHA Private Development In-Fill Application Withdrawn with Commitment to Meaningful Community Engagement

New York, NY - Private development planned on the Holmes Towers public housing site on the Upper East Side will restart its community engagement process as the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has withdrawn its Section 18 application from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Since August 11, 2015, when Mayor de Blasio’s NextGen NYCHA infill program was announced as part of the 2015 NYCHA Annual Plan, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Ben Kallos, have joined tenants in expressing concerns that the program as proposed did not take sufficient input from tenants and community members and would not bring enough resources to NYCHA. NYCHA will now start a new community engagement process complete with new Section 18 application centered around residents, neighbors,  Community Board 8, and local elected officials.

 "I am delighted that the city is withdrawing its proposal to build a tall luxury building on Holmes Towers property, which would have taken light, air and a playground away from public housing tenants. The City proposed exchanging NYCHA land for funds to make repairs, but the amount of money they would receive was never enough to make the transaction worthwhile. Holmes residents were adamantly opposed to this proposal and I’m glad that the City listened to our concerns. Instead of selling off NYCHA property in certain neighborhoods for one-time cash infusions, NYCHA needs to get its fiscal house in order and come up with a realistic plan to make repairs across all its properties, "said Congress Member Carolyn Maloney.

“We’ve raised concerns about this in-fill project from the start, supporting residents at every step of the way. We are grateful that NYCHA has heard our voices and agreed to begin a new more meaningful community engagement,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We must find funding for billions in repairs and are committed to finding a way forward that supports public housing and builds more affordable housing.”

"Community Board 8 is gratified that community voices have been heard. Community engagement is essential. We look forward to working with NYCHA, our elected officials, and our neighbors, and being part of the decision-making process, "said Alida Camp Community Board 8 Chair.

“NYCHA was right to withdraw its application as it reflected both a flawed and secretive process and a misuse of land resources entrusted to its stewardship,” said Paula Segal, Senior Staff Attorney in the Equitable Neighborhoods practice at the Community Development Project. “We are really happy to support residents organizing for power over the future of our City and our precious public housing.”

“I have been on the front lines, opposing the proposed infill project since 2015.  We the Tenants never gave up and we felt strong about fighting to retain our Land and playground that the community utilizes.  The plan would have deprived and devastated this community.  We urge the city and state to allocate the much-needed funds to restore NYCHA dwellings citywide and stop taking away our playgrounds and parking lots. We will remain united to stop the privatization of New York City Public Housing Land,” said Saundrea Coleman a current Resident of Issac's house for 4 years and a former resident of Holmes Towers for 23 years.”  

 

Kill “Zombies” Committees and Empty War Chests Proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos

Thursday, June 13, 2019

New York, NY – Elections could get more competitive for incumbent politicians in city politics under a new bill to kill zombie committees and give war chests back to the tax payers proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos. Tens of millions of dollars sit dormant in political accounts amassed in war chests by incumbents to scare away and defeat challengers then remain like zombies as a personal piggy bank for term limited or disgraced politicians who have lost office.

Full Public Matching to Get Big Money Out Passes City Council Authored by Council Member Ben Kallos

Thursday, June 13, 2019

New York, NY – Today the City Council passed Int. 732-B authored by Council Member Ben Kallos. This legislation expands the new campaign finance laws overwhelmingly adopted by 80% of the voters on November 6, 2018 from only matching 75% of contributions to matching all of them at 89.89%. This follows more than a decade of advocacy by Kallos.
 
The legislation follows Local Law 1 of 2019, also authored by Kallos, that applied the Ballot Question 1 to the Public Advocates election. The results of the election demonstrated that the new system is work by flipping how campaigns are finance upside down. Big money no longer made up the three-quarters of campaign cash and was replaced by small dollars that now made up almost two-thirds of campaign cash. For the first time a candidate won citywide office with a pledge not to take real estate money.

Full Public Matching to Get Big Money Out Passes Council Committee Authored by Council Member Ben Kallos

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

New York, NY – Today the Committee on Governmental Operations passed Int. 732-B authored by Council Member Ben Kallos. This legislation expands the new campaign finance laws overwhelmingly adopted by 80% of the voters on November 6, 2018 from only matching 75% of contributions to matching all of them at 89.89%. This follows more than a decade of advocacy by Kallos.

Ribbon Cut on $2.1 Million Renovation of Senior Center Kitchen and Youth Center Lighting and Restrooms at Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center

Monday, June 3, 2019

Upper East Side, NY – Public housing seniors and youth joined Council Member Ben Kallos and executive staff as they cut the ribbon on the $2.1 million renovation of the senior center kitchen and youth center lighting and restrooms located in the Stanley Isaacs Houses-Holmes Towers NYCHA complex at 415 E 93rd Street with funding from NYCHA and the City Council. Project construction began last year and was completed ahead of schedule.   

The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center is a nonprofit organization with more than a 50-year history of serving the needs of over 6,000 children and low-income families, out-of-school and out-of-work youth, and older adults annually. The senior center, which helps to provide food security to hundreds of seniors daily through on-site hot meals and home-delivered+ meals to the homebound and medically fragile, was operating with outdated ventilation systems for over a decade. Lack of proper ventilation within the kitchen caused issues with food storage and respiratory issues for the meal preparation staff. The renovation was critical. Additionally, the Youth Center, which provides after-school programming for children residing in the Isaacs/Holmes development and education/workforce development services to hundreds particularly vulnerable young adults, also saw its restrooms renovated and brightened.
 
Council Member Kallos provided $680,000 to fully fund the project in his first year in office, and an additional $350,000 in 2017 in response to higher than expected bids to see the project continue for a total investment of $1,030,000. This was coupled with approximately $1 million in previous funding from former Council Member Dan Garodnick and NYCHA.

Mechanical Voids Loophole Closed By Council Vote: Statement from Council Member Ben Kallos

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Statement: "We're saying no to empty buildings filled with voids simply to give the 1% better views while leaving the rest of us in their shadow.

“Today, by strengthening and passing the proposal to limit the height of mechanical voids to 25 feet, we are taking a significant step forward toward stopping developers from getting around the zoning to give billionaires views instead of building affordable housing for New Yorkers.

 "This is only a start. We need to go much further by holding City Planning to its promise to expand this change to commercial districts this summer and to address unenclosed voids and ‘gerrymandered’ zoning lots that were first identified in my district.

Testimony Re: License Agreement Between York Avenue Tennis, LLC and City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation for the Development, Operation, and Maintenance of a Sports & Recreational Facility, Queensboro Oval, Manhattan, New York, M70-O-2017

Friday, May 24, 2019

Testimony Re: License Agreement Between York Avenue Tennis, LLC and City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation for the Development, Operation, and Maintenance of a Sports & Recreational Facility, Queensboro Oval, Manhattan, New York, M70-O-2017 May 6, 2019

Introduction Thank you to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation for taking seriously concerns raised by community members and elected officials about the use of the Queensboro Oval playground and for proposing a new contract that addresses many of those concerns. As you are likely aware, Council District 5, which together we represent, has among the least acreage of park land per person in the city. According to the latest edition of New Yorkers for Parks’ report Manhattan’s East Side Open Space Index, 170,000 residents in Council District 5 share just 36 acres of open space, far fewer acres than can adequately accommodate residents’ needs. As such, East Siders cherish and fight for their parks. Our hope is that at minimum, the expected $1.7 million dollars of revenue from this proposed contract should be used to benefit our local parks for the next 10 years.

New Gym Construction for Eleanor Roosevelt High School Announced by School Construction Authority and Council Member Ben Kallos

Thursday, May 23, 2019

New Gym Construction for Eleanor Roosevelt High School Announced by School Construction Authority and Council Member Ben Kallos

Undefeated Eleanor Roosevelt High School Varsity Girls Basketball and Volleyball Teams Finally Get a Gym

Student-Organized Petition Reaches Over 5,000 Signatures and Win New Gym

Upper East Side, NY – Today Council Member Ben Kallos and the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) President and CEO Lorraine Grillo announced plans to build a $6.5 million gym for Eleanor Roosevelt High School (EHRS) across the street at 355 East 76th Street as part of a new Pre-K Center. At the announcement, Kallos and Grillo were joined Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and by Principal Dimitri Saliani. Other speakers included ERHS alumni Amanda Cavaliero who asked Mayor Bill de Blasio for the gym at a town hall last year as well as Sadie Wenger who was one of the students who gathered more than 5,000 signatures as part of a petition to push the City to build a gym. 

 

Watch the Video

 

Charter Revision Commission Testimony

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Charter Revision Commission Testimony

May 9, 2019

The best part of democracy is that there is always room for improvement.

When I testified to this commission on September 27, 2018, the previous Charter Revision Commission had just approved ballot language that included in part proposals I had put forth on campaign finance reform, as well as urban planners and term limits for community boards. At the time, we had no way of knowing the results to come: the adoption of all three ballot questions. Campaign finance reform received the most support, an overwhelming 80%, with 1.1 million voters in favor, almost as many as voted for Mayor on the Democrat and Republican lines combined. I commend this Charter Revision Commission for respecting the will of the voters by not revisiting the issue areas covered by the previous ballot questions and for focusing on amendments to the Charter that can only be accomplished through a vote of the people.

At last September’s hearing, I proposed 72 recommendations for amendments to the Charter for this Commission’s consideration. The City Council included 16 of those recommendations in our Report to the 2019 New York City Charter Revision Commission this past January. Now this Commission has identified 9 of my recommendations in whole or in part for further discussion in its Preliminary Staff Report. I will be submitting only fifteen recommendations across the following five categories: conflicts of interests, city budget, land use, elections and redistricting, and empowering the offices of the Public Advocate and Borough President.

 

STATEMENT: Banning Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles in Hudson River Park

Monday, May 20, 2019

STATEMENT: Legislation banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles was introduced in the City Council over a year ago, it has not been passed. Yesterday Hudson River Park banned single-use plastic water bottles from their park because it is the right thing to do.  The time is now to pass Intro 0846-2018 and ban the sale of single use plastic water bottles in all New York City parks. Sign the petition at BenKallos.com/petition/banthebottle

NYC Department of City Planning, Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space and The Municipal Art Society of New York Announce New NYC POPS Logo

Monday, May 20, 2019

NYC Department of City Planning, Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space and The Municipal Art Society of New York Announce New NYC POPS Logo

“Have a Seat” will be displayed at all POPS, signaling they are open to the public

 

Have a Seat

 

NEW YORK – Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Marisa Lago, Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space (APOPS) President Jerold S. Kayden, and The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) President Elizabeth Goldstein today announced a new logo to be displayed at New York City’s more than 550 plazas, arcades and other Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS).

The logo was one of 607 logo design submissions from nearly 60 countries in an international design competition sponsored by DCP, APOPS and MAS. The design matches the City’s goal of creating inviting public spaces with an abundance of amenities, with seating being a priority.

The selected logo depicting playfully-arranged chairs was designed by Emma Reed, a New York-based graphic designer. The design was selected following an international logo design competition.

The After-“math” of the Council District 45 Special Election: Campaigns Continue to See Majority of Money Coming from Small Donors Under Campaign Finance Law Authored by Council Member Ben Kallos

Monday, May 20, 2019

Money in New York City politics continues to favor small dollars as of last week’s Special Election for City Council District 45 called following the vacancy created by the Special Election for Public Advocate. It was during the Special Election for Public Advocate in February that for the first time small dollars made up almost two-thirds of all the money candidates raised. This trend continued in the Special Election for Council District 45 demonstrating that the new program will work at every in elections at every level of government in New York City.

Every candidate that continued their campaign in the Special Election for Council District 45 chose the new 8 to 1 option with lower limits, a higher matching ratio of 8 to 1, and up to 75% of the spending limit available in public funds. Six out of the 8 candidates received a public grant for a total payout of $752,360 accounting for 79% percent of the funds available to candidates. In last week’s Special Election an analysis of contributions found that once again small dollars accounted for 63% of contributions.