New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

NYCHA tenants move forward with lawsuits against Housing Authority and City after court hearing

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 15, 2020

Contact: Loretta Kane (917-410-7242 or loretta@caminopr.com) 

NYCHA tenants move forward with lawsuits against Housing Authority and City after court hearing

NYCHA agrees to maintain Holmes-Isaacs campus to standards required by law

NEW YORK — Tenants of Holmes Tower and Isaacs Houses of the Upper East Side appeared in Civil Court today in their suit against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which was filed in December 2019, for its failure to maintain safe and livable conditions. 

At today’s hearing before Civil Court Judge Daniele Chinea, NYCHA agreed to maintain the building’s systems to the standards required by law including elevator service, heat, hot and cold water, garbage collection, pest management and extermination, front door locks and cleanliness maintenance and lighting of public areas on the Holmes-Isaacs campus. If NYCHA does not follow through on that agreement, residents will be able to take the Housing Authority back to court to ask the court to hold them in contempt. NYCHA did not admit that the buildings have the problems residents listed in their December petition to the court; the judge explained that the court may decide to schedule a full trial to decide the question.

Residents, represented by TakeRoot Justice, held a press conference outside of 111 Centre Street, prior to the hearing, to express the frustrations that led to filing this case. Residents of the two developments have been organizing since 2015.

 

 

City Council Holds Hearing on Universal After School

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

City Council Holds Hearing on Universal After School

Hundreds of thousands of children left alone and unsupervised
could finally get necessary after school programs

 
New York, NY – Universal after school could soon be available for more than 1.1 million public school students in New York City providing academic enrichment, arts, physical activities, and even nutrition if all goes well at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 14, 2020 in the City Council’s Youth Services Committee. Legislation authored by Youth Services Chair Debi Rose, Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger, and Council Member Ben Kallos, Introductions 1100 and 1113 of 2018 would mandate universal after school that would be phased in through an annual plan that would include reporting on implementation and results.
 
It is far less common for children to have a stay at home parent than a generation ago and far more common for parents to work late with New Yorkers working longer hours than anyone else. This is leaving a gap between school dismissal and when parents are home. In New York there are 584,597 children in K-12 that are left alone and unsupervised with 1,151,361 awaiting an available program, and only 632,076 enrolled in after school according to the Afterschool Alliance. After-school keeps young people positively engaged during the hours of 2 pm to 6 pm when research shows that they are most vulnerable to illicit behavior and criminal justice involvement according to the Council for a Strong America.
 
“After-school programs provide a safe, stress-free environment for children to receive additional academic and social support while their parents contribute to the necessary economic well-being of their families. These programs have been found to improve student outcomes and provide equity and opportunity by leveling the playing field. This bill makes an investment in the future of our city by ensuring that no child is turned away,” said Youth Services Chair Debi Rose.
 
“After school programs provide vital learning, enrichment and personal growth opportunities for students. Expanding after school programming to all K-12 students who wish to enroll will keep our children safe, encourage academic achievement and inspire participation in extracurricular activities,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education. “The pair of bills heard today will support students to excel beyond the classroom and deliver kinesthetic learning all year round.”
 
“Universal access to after school will increase and equalize educational opportunities, keep kids out of the criminal justice system, and make life easier for parents whose jobs keep them at work until at least 5pm, if not longer. As a new parent myself, I rely on an extended day and enrichment activities to keep my daughter busy while my partner and I are working,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs must be satisfied if we want every child to reach their full potential, this means addressing physiological needs with universal breakfast, lunch, snack, and supper, safety needs with child health plus, and finally love, belonging, and esteem through universal after school. I want to wake up in a city where every child has the love and self-esteem they need to grow up to their full potential.”

"Universal after-school programming would provide New York City students with a safe, supportive environment where they could engage in additional academic and extracurricular activities. Working families would no longer have to pay for after-school out of pocket or worry about having their children home alone," said Council Member Diana Ayala, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “As a working mother who has relied on after-school throughout my career, I wholeheartedly support this legislation and look forward to working alongside my colleagues to ensure a successful passage."

"Parents shouldn't have to sacrifice their childcare duties to preserve their jobs, yet too often they're pitted against each other because of prohibitive after school costs," said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22. "As the working challenges of New York City change, it's on us to deliver the vital services all of our citizens deserve.  I'm proud to support my friend and colleague Ben Kallos in securing universal after school." 

Council Member Ben Kallos Hosts Winter Festival Storytime at 67th Street Library to Celebrate Recent Reopening Following $2.5 Million Rehabilitation

Friday, January 3, 2020

Council Member Ben Kallos Hosts Winter Festival Storytime at 67th Street Library to Celebrate Recent Reopening Following $2.5 Million Rehabilitation
 

Upper East Side, NY – Children, parents, seniors, librarians, and residents joined Council Member Ben Kallos at the 67th Street branch of The New York Public Library for a winter festival and storytime celebrating the November reopening of the building after $2.5 million in repairs. The facility was closed to receive $2.5 million in capital improvements including needed repairs to its roof and upgrades to the HVAC system for the 114-year-old building.
 
$1.5 million was allocated in June 2018 by Speaker Corey Johnson following a request by Council Member Kallos. The remaining $1 million in funding was provided by the Mayor’s office as part of a citywide investment in libraries supported by the City Council.
That same year, the 67th Street Library also received a portion of $200,000 allocated by Council Member Ben Kallos through Participatory Budgeting for technology upgrades to all three of Council District 5 Library branches.

ON NEW YEAR’S DAY, SOUP KITCHEN OPENS TO SERVE HUNGRY AND HOMELESS WITH CUTS TO FOOD STAMPS LOOMING

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

ON NEW YEAR’S DAY, SOUP KITCHEN OPENS TO SERVE HUNGRY AND HOMELESS WITH CUTS TO FOOD STAMPS LOOMING

Anonymous Donor funds new facility as tens of thousands of New Yorkers face cutoff from benefits

NEW YORK – January 1st, 2020 - With deep cuts looming to the federal food stamp program for tens of thousands of New York families, the Bronx Parent Housing Network, Inc. (BPHN) on New Year’s Day opened the BPHN Loving Arms Soup Kitchen on the Upper East Side to help feed the growing number of hungry and homeless New Yorkers. The facility has been funded by an anonymous donor.

“Wall Street might be breaking records, but there are hungry people in New York, and the situation is threatening to get even worse,” said Victor M. Rivera, President and Chief Executive Officer of BPHN, once a homeless man himself.

Many of the facility’s customers are not homeless, but rather are New Yorkers contending with food insecurity due to the high cost of living, which often forces them to choose between eating and paying for their other expenses.

DOB Announces Strengthened Façade Inspection Process & Hiring of Double the Amount of Façade Inspectors

Monday, December 30, 2019

Safety sweep of 1,331 facades found that 220 needed additional pedestrian protections

New York – Today, Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca announced enhancements to DOB’s existing façade inspection process, and a doubling of the Department’s existing dedicated façade inspection team with the hiring of 12 new staff positions to the unit. Property owners with buildings greater than six stories in height can expect more frequent and thorough proactive inspections from the Department under these tough new policies. In addition, DOB announced the results of their facade safety sweep that immediately followed the fatal facade incident that occurred on Tuesday, December 17. This sweep built upon DOB’s overall efforts to hold building owners accountable for unsafe conditions.

Bicycle Safety Improves on East Side for Five Years in a Row

Monday, December 30, 2019

Bicycle Safety Improves on East Side for Five Years in a Row

Bike Safety Education, Equipment & Enforcement Program Led by

Council Members Kallos and Powers Gets Results

 New York, NY — Following an expansion of the Upper East Side’s safe streets network, coupled an increase in education, safety equipment, and enforcement, bike safety from 30th to 97th streets on Manhattan’s East Side continues to improve as a result of a program led by Council Members Ben Kallos and Keith Powers.  Since the program’s launch by Council Member Kallos in 2014 there has been a reduction in the number of collisions involving cyclists each year, and fewer pedestrians and cyclists injured in collisions.

 The NYPD traffic data 17th and 19th precinct report Year to Date (YTD) as of December:

·2,472 summons issued to bicycles mostly for not giving right of way to pedestrians and disobeying a steady red signal;

·19,012 moving violations issued to vehicles, the violations, were issued  for  infractions such as improper turns, disobeying a traffic control device, for red lights, not yielding the right of way to pedestrians among other violations as of November; and

·62 seizures of “e-bikes” with most receiving summonses as well (ECB/OATH.

 This year, DOT closed the 2nd Ave Gap at the Queensboro Bridge adding protected lanes between 68th Street and 59th Street. Other infrastructure improvements made by the Department of Transportation in the Upper East Side include.

·Doubling bike lanes from just First Avenue and the 90th & 91st Street pair to include protected lanes on Second Avenue, 70th & 71st Street and 77th & 78th Streets in 2017, parking protected bike lanes from 68th to 59th Street on Second Avenue in 2018.

·Safe crossing across the entrance to Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge with new bike lanes and cross walks installed in 2019.

·Leading pedestrian intervals along York Avenue to give pedestrians a chance to cross before vehicles get the green light in 2016. 

·“Safety neckdowns” have extended the curb and islands have been added at dangerous intersections throughout the Upper East Side, so pedestrians have less distance to cross. 

 "Our first priority is to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe from cars, and we’ve made great strides doing so on the Upper East Side,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Particularly older residents are also afraid of getting hurt in a collision with bikes that disobey the rules every day. Whether it is ‘near misses’ from a failure to yield to pedestrians, or reports of cyclists who run red lights, go the wrong way, or ride on sidewalks, everyone must know the rules of the road in order to share it safely. Thank you to the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Bike New York, Citi Bike, and Transportation Alternatives for their partnership in making our streets safer.”

“As the city grapples with injuries and fatalities from crashes, safety and enforcement measures are more important than ever. Designing our streets with all New Yorkers in mind and implementing necessary infrastructure, including completing the Second Avenue bike lane gap, allows both cyclists and pedestrians to safely follow the rules of the road. I am glad to partner with Council Member Kallos on programs that keep our residents safe, and thank the Department of Transportation, NYPD, Bike New York, Citi Bike, and Transportation Alternatives for their continued commitment to safe streets," said Council Member Keith Powers.

184 New Public School Seats Funded for Upper East Side Following Local Law 167 Authored by Council Member Kallos

Thursday, December 19, 2019

184 New Public School Seats Funded for Upper East Side

Following Local Law 167 Authored by Council Member Kallos

 

New York, NY – An additional 184 public schools seats for the Upper East Side were proposed by the School Construction Authority, increasing the total from 640 to 824 new seats. The new seats follow the first report of Local Law 167 of 2018 authored by Council Member Ben Kallos, to provide transparency around where the city plans for new school seats.

 “We need more school seats, especially with all the new construction throughout Manhattan,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “As far as I’m concerned we should be building new school in every new large development. The fact is that we’ve demonstrated the model at multiple new buildings in the neighborhood. When I got elected, the Upper East Side was slated for no new seats, despite overcrowding, and I thought something was wrong. With new found transparency around the planning processes, our need for seats was confirmed and now we are getting the seats we need for every child to get a world class education.”

 Council Member Kallos has been successful in his advocacy to win more seats from the Department Education for the Upper East since his election in 2013. When he took office in 2014 there were only 154 full day seats. After years of advocacy, the need has been met with a total of 1,122 seats for four-year-olds.

 

Council Passes Legislation to Help Nearly a Quarter Million Public School Students with Disabilities Get Services They Need

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Following James’ Lawsuit Council to Pass Her Legislation Mandating Tracking to Give Students with Disabilities Necessary Assistance
 

New York, NY – New York City public schools had 224,160 students with disabilities nearly 40,000 receiving only partial or none of their mandated services during the 2017-18 school year. Then-Public Advocate, now-Attorney General Letitia James, sued the Department of Education in 2016 over a failure to track and thereby deprive disabled students of necessary assistance.
James introduced Int. 900 on May 9, 2018, which was co-sponsored and is now carried by Council Member Ben Kallos. This legislation seeks to guarantee that students with disabilities receive necessary services by increasing reporting from an annual basis to three times a school year and expanding what is reported to include: speech therapy, counseling, occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT), hearing education services, vision education services, assistive technology services, and special transportation services (busing).

Kallos Testimony at Hearing on Affordable Housing Development: To examine programs supporting affordable housing development, including policies relating to building density

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
header

Testimony before the Assembly Standing Committee on Housing and Cities

 

Hearing on Affordable Housing Development: To examine programs supporting affordable housing development, including policies relating to building density

Monday, November 25, 2019

The last thing New York City needs is more density for taller towers in the largely overbuilt borough of Manhattan. Raising or removing the 12 FAR cap in New York State’s Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL) would displace immigrants and historic communities of color living in existing rent-regulated housing that is actually affordable. That displacement would make way for luxury super tall buildings for billionaires living atop a handful of affordable units in their shadow.

I represent the Upper East Side, with the three densest zip codes in America: 10162 with 151,835, 10028 with 126,068, and 10128 with 122,357 people per square mile. Only one residential zoning district in the City of New York has the maximum floor area ratio, and that is R10. More than 90% of those R10 lots, lot area, and buildable floor area are in Manhattan.

Counter-intuitively, the Upper East Side’s Council District 5, which I represent, consists of more than three-quarters affordable and/or regulated housing. The district’s housing stock consists of 60.5% rent stabilized, 17.3% subsidized, and 1.5% public housing for a total of 92,785 affordable homes, according to the Displacement Alert Project. Manhattan Community District 8, which includes the entire Upper East Side, has a density of 109,960 people per square mile, spanning 2 square miles housing 219.9 thousand people, according to City Planning. It is of note that given the high concentration of affordable housing in rent stabilized, four-to-six story walk ups, the path to building new housing includes demolishing many of these 100% affordable housing buildings, sometimes resulting in a net loss of affordable housing.

 

In contrast, Queens Community District 11, represented by Assembly Committee on Cities Chair Edward Braunstein, has a density of 12,386 people per square mile over 9.4 square miles, with 116.4 thousand total people. In Queens Community District 11, there is no public housing, 9,323 units of rent stabilized housing and 8,027 units of subsidized housing for a total of 17,350 affordable and/or regulated housing units. More than two-thirds of residences are in homes of four units or smaller. The numbers don’t lie. There is more affordable and/or regulated housing on the Upper East Side than in Queens Community Board 11, by a factor of more than 5 times.

Requesting Immediate explanation of the Department of Education’s (DOE) failure to abide by Local Law 32,

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Dear Chancellor Carranza,

 

We are writing to request an immediate explanation of the Department of Education’s (DOE) failure to abide by Local Law 32, which took effect at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

The intent of this local law, introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos and co-signed by 22 other members, is to require every school bus in New York City to be equipped with GPS tracking technology. The law also stipulates that “GPS data regarding the real time location and velocity of the bus or other motor vehicle used to transport students to or from schools shall be made available electronically to the department, as well as to authorized parents or guardians of students who are being transported by such bus or other motor vehicle.” It has come to our attention through a constituent complaint and subsequent communication with a DOE official that this provision has not been met.

Union & Nonunion Construction Workers Deliver Demand Letter and Over $70,000-Invoice for Owed Wages at New Line Structures

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

"Wage theft and serious safety violations cannot be tolerated on New York City construction sites," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "New Line Structures hired the contractors who owe workers over $70,000 in back wages. New Line should stop doing business with low-road contractors with worker deaths, wage theft, and safety violations on their hands. This is not fair; this is not acceptable and has to be corrected immediately. I stand with the workers demanding these back wages be paid."

Ribbon Cut on New $600,000 Science Lab at P.S. 183 Funded by Council Member Kallos Following Participatory Budgeting Win

Friday, October 25, 2019

Ribbon Cut on New $600,000 Science Lab at P.S. 183 Funded by
Council Member Kallos Following Participatory Budgeting Win
 

WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE
 

Upper East Side, NY – Today, students, teachers, school administrators and members of the school's PTA joined Council Member Ben Kallos to cut the ribbon on a new $600,000 hydroponics lab. P.S. 183 won the discretionary funds from Council Member Ben Kallos to build the lab during Participatory Budgeting in 2017 with 1,514 votes.
 
Construction began in July of 2018 and was completed in under a year. Construction in the lab featured electrical upgrades, moving a heating unit, and all new sinks, countertops, cabinetry, furniture, as well as lab equipment.
 
“We must invest in STEM education to prepare students for jobs of the future and today we cut the ribbon on a $600,000 science lab,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who has allocated funding through Participatory Budgeting in 2017. “Voting creates real change. The 11-year-olds and parents who voted can see for themselves, as they learn first hand the power of democracy, not to mention all the science they’ll get done.”

$3.3 Million Playground Reconstruction for Dilapidated Carl Schurz Park Playground Funded by Borough President Brewer and Council Member Kallos

Thursday, October 3, 2019
park

WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE

Upper East Side, NY – An Upper East Side playground in need of repair will be starting full reconstruction. Today, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Ben Kallos, who together provided $3,270,000 in funding, joined NYC Parks to break ground on Carl Schurz Park Playground.
 
At the request of parents, construction was postponed until the end of the summer. Construction completion is anticipated for September 2020, with Catbird Playground at the north end of the playground expected to remain open throughout.
 
 The new playground upgrades will include:

  • A reconstructed spray shower,
  • New play equipment for children ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12,
  • Swings for children of all ages,
  • New accessible ramps that connect to Catbird Playground,
  • New game tables, benches, plantings and pavers.

The $3.3 million project was funded by a $2.5 million allocation from New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, $775,000 from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and an additional 89,000 for Mayor Bill de Blasio. In the fall and winter of 2015, Council Member Ben Kallos and NYC Parks hosted two meetings to receive community input and ideas on how to reconstruct the playground.
 
“We are happy to break ground on this reconstruction project,” said NYC Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner Castro. “The updated layout with new play equipment, benches, and swings will provide a brighter, safer, and more welcoming playground for the community. Thanks to Council Member Ben Kallos and Borough President Gale Brewer for this remarkable investment in Carl Schurz Park.”

Council Member Kallos on Pedestrianizing the QBB South Outer Roadway

Friday, September 27, 2019

FRIDAY, September 27, Council Member Ben Kallos joined Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Bike New York, Transportation Alternatives, cycling advocates, and community members to call on the NYC Department of Transportation to create separate, exclusive lanes for pedestrians and cyclists on the Queensboro Bridge. Council Member Kallos supports the proposal to convert the south outer roadway into an accessible walkway and the north outer roadway into a dedicated bike lane.

New York City Is Poised to Become the Largest School District in the Country to Require Stop-Arm Cameras on All School Buses

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

New York City Is Poised to Become the Largest School District in the Country to Require Stop-Arm Cameras on All School Buses 
 
Bill by Council Member Ben Kallos Is an Effort to Prevent Irresponsible Drivers Who Illegally Pass Stopped School Buses Endangering Children
 

New York, NY - Looking to better protect children, a bill being introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos on Wednesday seeks to make New York City the largest school district in the nation to require that stop-arm cameras be installed on school buses to better catch motorists who endanger students by illegally passing school buses during drop off and pick up.
 
Int. 1724 of 2019 authored by Council Member Ben Kallos comes after a series of high profile instances of drivers around the City caught on video going around stopped school buses. It would require the cameras on all of the city's nearly 10,000 school buses.
 
According to the NYS Association of School Pupil Transportation, in a study cited by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee as part of Operation Safe Stop, last year an estimated 50,000 drivers throughout New York State illegally passed a stopped school bus every day. Additionally, a study by the National Safety Council showed that 70 percent of deaths related to school buses occur outside of the bus, and it's been found that more school-age pedestrians have been killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day.
 
In a recent one-month (26 school day) pilot by the East Meadow School District in nearby Nassau County (conducted by BusPatrol and the Logan Bus Company), 10 school buses captured 615 violations for an average of about 2.3 violations per bus per day (615 violations on 10 buses over 26 school days). Using that violation rate in modeling the New York City school bus fleet, which has roughly 10,000 buses, we can expect to see an estimated 23,000 violations per day or 4.2 million violations per school year in the city.
 
“Every child must be safe as they get on and off the school bus. It could be anyone’s child at risk from drivers speeding by and worse yet drivers who have actually driven up on sidewalks," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "We are all in a rush to get where we are going, but there is no excuse to put our children at risk. Stop-arm cameras will catch dangerous drivers and automatically issue tickets to keep our children safe." 
 
“It’s time to hold reckless drivers accountable by ticketing those who illegally pass a school bus when the stop-arm is active. As the co-prime sponsor of the legislation, I’m proud to join Council Member Kallos in introducing this important bill that will open the door for better enforcement of irresponsible driving to protect the safety of school children while they’re traveling to and from school. Parents have enough to worry about without having to be concerned for the safety of their children getting on and off the school bus,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education
 
While it’s already illegal in New York to pass a stopped school bus, it previously was required that a police officer had to witness the violation to issue a ticket. But the state earlier this year enacted a law that allows localities and school districts to install cameras on school bus arms that capture the license plates of cars that pass stopped buses.
 
The photos are sent to law enforcement, who determine whether a violation occurred. Tickets are then sent to the vehicle owner. Though the vehicle owners are fined, there are no moving violations or points issued. In other states that allow such technology, repeat offenders are virtually non-existent.
 
Kallos' bill would require the Department of Education and the Office of Pupil Transport to install stop-arm cameras on all nearly 10,000 school buses.
 
Under the legislation, the NYPD’s Parking Violation Bureau would enforce fines for first-time offenders ranging from $250 to $275 and $300 for second and third offenders. The bill also requires that some of the funds recouped from the fines be given to the New York City Department of Education. 
 
Once passed the legislation will take effect immediately, requiring the City to issue a Request for Proposal for vendors who could install the cameras most efficiently and cost-effectively.  

###

New Park Opened for Sutton Place by Conservancy, Community and Elected Officials at Ribbon Cutting

Thursday, September 12, 2019

New Park Opened for Sutton Place by Conservancy, Community and Elected Officials at Ribbon Cutting
Public-Private Partnership Yields Millions in Investments and New 10,000 Square Foot Park

 
Midtown East, NY – Magic was in the air as residents of all ages came out to celebrate a new park for Sutton Place built a top a deck over the F.D.R. Drive. What was once a private garden connecting two small parks at 57th and 56th Streets will now add some 10,000 square feet of park space to a Council District known for having the least park space per capita in the city. The new park was the result of a collaboration between the Parks Department and 1 Sutton Place South who subdivided their private garden in order to provide more park space for the community.  Elected officials joined Sutton Place Parks Conservancy and Sutton Area Community for a ribbon cutting and celebration that included music, games, and magic.

“Retirement Security for All” to Offer Savings to New York City Private-Sector Workers Moves Forward with Rally and Hearing

Monday, September 23, 2019

New York, NY – More than one million private-sector workers in New York City that do not have any access to retirement plans through their employers could finally get one as “Retirement Security for All” legislation sponsored by Council Members I. Daneek Miller and Ben Kallos received a public hearing in the City Council. Employers with more than 4 employees that do not currently offer a retirement plan would be required to automatically enroll employees through payroll deduction. There would be no cost to employers with small employers and gig workers able to voluntarily join the program.
 
States and municipalities throughout the nation are seeking to take provide a state-sponsored retirement savings program, with at least 43 states acting to implement a new program, undertaking a study, or proposing legislation according to Georgetown University Center for Retirement Initiatives. So far, 10 states and 1 city that have enacted government-sponsored retirement programs for private-sector workers. OregonSaves Network launched its first-in-the-nation auto-IRA for private-sector workers in 2017 and has already signed up 3,200 employers, established 50,000 accounts for new savers, with a participation rate of 70% and $30 million saved in just two years, with monthly contributions of nearly $4 million a month and increasing. As it was pointed out in a recent op-ed titled "Make Retirement Savings Plans Accessible to All New Yorkers" by Council Members Ben Kallos, I. Daneek Miller and Ben Finkel the New York state director of AARPdata shows people are a full 15 times more likely to save for retirement if an employer offers a plan. A survey conducted by AARP also found that over half of all Boomers, and two-thirds of Gen X say they will likely leave the City because they can no longer afford to live here. Their significant spending power will be lost if they flee. 

Construction Workers and Allies Target New Line Structures Over Unpaid Wages and Hiring Practices

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

 

 

New York, NY --New York City’s construction workers, including immigrant workers, members of the construction trades,  and non-unionized workers, gathered at the headquarters of general contractor, New Line Structures, in Manhattan to speak out about the contractor’s ties to construction worker deaths, worker exploitation, wage theft, and hiring practices of subcontractors who put construction workers’ lives in danger.

 

Lead by organizers from the Laborers’ International Union of North American (LIUNA), construction workers demanded that New Line end their practice of hiring irresponsible contractors. They shared a laundry-list of violations, ranging from wage theft, illegal dumping of hazardous construction waste, and dangerous jobsite accidents proving the company does not prioritize worker safety, wages, or New York City residents.

 

New Line hires subcontractors with histories of worker deaths on their current projects. Currently cranes owned by Cranes Express are permitted to operate at 85 Jay Street, Brooklyn, a project managed by New Line Structures. On April 13, 2019, at a different construction site, a 7.5 ton counterweight fell on Greg Echevarria, a 34-year-old father, and crushed him to death as he was setting up equipment owned by Cranes Express. Highbury Concrete is another questionable subcontractor that operated under New Line in 2016 and 2018. Mahamoudon Marega, a 30-year-old employee of Highbury Concrete, died two days before Christmas 2016 when he fell three stories down an elevator shaft. OSHA issued a violation against Highbury for failing to provide adequate fall protection. An earlier OSHA investigation of another jobsite in 2014 found that Highbury did not meet fall protection standards and fined the firm $4,900. These incidents and others demonstrate a clear pattern of disregard for workers’ lives and safety.

City of New York Releases Plan for Next Decade of Open Data

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

NEW YORK -- The de Blasio administration today released its annual Open Data plan, update on Open Data for All, and its strategic plan for the next decade of NYC Open Data. This 10-year vision builds on a legacy of New York City leading the way on public data access. Nearly 600 datasets were published on NYC Open Data during Fiscal Year 2019, including:

Community to Get Advance Notice in Fight Against Overdevelopment Under Proposal from Council Member Kallos

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Community to Get Advance Notice in Fight Against Overdevelopment
Under Proposal from Council Member Kallos

Transfers of Development Rights Would Trigger Public Notice


New York, NY – Communities seeking to fight back against living in the shadow of supertall buildings for billionaires seeking better views could get a new weapon in the form of a public notice provided when real estate developers transfer development rights, under legislation authored by Council Member Ben Kallos. Introduction 1701 of 2019 would require that anytime a transfer of a development site is recorded with the city a copy be provided within 5 days to the relevant Community Board, Council Member, and Borough President along with the Speaker of the City Council.
 
While New York City is no stranger to tall buildings, ever since the birth of Billionaire’s Row with 432 Park Avenue, developers have been using the transfer of development rights to stack all the development rights on to very small lots seeking to build narrow supertall buildings (in excess of 984 feet). Now development of out of context skyscrapers and supertalls are being proposed for residential neighborhoods at 58 Sutton, 180 East 88th Street, 249 East 62nd Street, 200 Amsterdam Avenue, and 50 West 66th Street, all of which have faced fierce community challenge. Residents involved in the transfers often do not know they are helping bring a supertall to their community and community challenges are often a race to the clock making public notice essential.
 
"One by one we see storefronts shutter, lights out in apartments at night, at first just buildings, then whole city blocks go abandoned, a blight in even the nicest of neighborhoods. We're solving the mystery of who is buying what so that neighbors know what is going on and the community can respond in time to do something about it," said Council Member Ben Kallos who has actually thwarted a developer's assemblage of development rights at 58 Sutton. "Residents in my district really didn't know they were helping a developer amass development rights for a supertall and once they found out with lots of work we were able to stop the developer in his tracks and cut the height down."