New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

Four New 2020-2021 Community Board Members Nominated by Council Member Kallos and Appointed by Borough President Brewer

Friday, May 29, 2020

Upper East Side, NY - Five new active neighborhood leaders join Community Boards serving the Upper East Side after being nominated by Council Member Ben Kallos and appointed by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Manhattan’s 12 community boards are local organizations each composed of 50 volunteer members serving staggered two-year terms. Community boards are tasked with being the independent and representative voices of their communities — the most grass-roots form of local government. The boards are pivotal in shaping their communities and work to enhance and preserve the character of the city’s many unique neighborhoods.

AS CONCERNS FROM NYC RESIDENTS MOUNT ABOUT NUTRITIONAL QUALITY OF FOOD BEING DISTRIBUTED BY CITY, BP ADAMS, CM KALLOS, DOCTORS OF COLOR ANNOUNCE NEW LEGISLATION STRENGTHENING NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR MEALS SERVED TO MOST VULNERABLE NEW YORKERS

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Brooklyn, NY – Today, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined City Council Member Ben Kallos and doctors of color to unveil new legislation that would strengthen nutritional guidelines on meals funded by the City, including grab-and-gomeals. The announcement came as New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs have expressed concern about the quality and nutritional standards of the food distributed through the GetFoodNYC initiative, launched in response to the growing number of New Yorkers who have lost jobs or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Borough President Adams and Council Member Kallos have been vocal in recent weeks about the need to provide healthier meal options to New Yorkers.

“Our City cannot be literally feeding our public health crisis by serving foods that have no nutritional value. Numerous residents throughout Brooklyn have raised concerns to me about the quality of the food they are getting through grab-and-go sites, food pantries, and other operations subsidized by the City. The leading co-morbidities associated with COVID-19 are diet-related, like obesity and hypertension. We must change the paradigm in the way we feed residents to prioritize health and wellness, rather than just caloric intake,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“COVID-19 is no excuse to feed our most vulnerable New Yorkers junk food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” said Council Member Kallos. “Nutritional value must be a priority when our City acquires food to give to hungry residents. This legislation works to improve the quality of the food the City will give out going forward. Thank you to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for calling attention to this issue citywide and working with me to fix it.”

STATEMENT: Council Member Kallos on Street Closures for Safe Outdoor Social Distancing

Friday, May 1, 2020

As the weather gets warmer, New Yorkers will want to go outside more and they should be able to do so safely. East End Avenue in my district is a perfect street to open exclusively to pedestrians. Making East End from 83rd to 89th Street one continuous pedestrian plaza will expand our open space to make it much easier for residents to get fresh air without risking infection. Once the street is open to pedestrians, this will relieve the pressure off our local parks and give everyone the space they need to practice social distancing outdoors correctly. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson for working to make the street closures happen. Looking forward to the expansion across the City and in my district.

Wildcat Workers Join Council Member Ben Kallos in Delivering Meals to Seniors at Isaacs and Holmes NYCHA Towers

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Wildcat Workers Join Council Member Ben Kallos in Delivering Meals to Seniors at Isaacs and Holmes NYCHA Towers

wildcat

Wildcat Services Works with Chronically Unemployed Persons and those with Criminal Convictions as part of their Efforts to Help Individuals to Achieve Economic Wellbeing

Upper East Side, NY- Today Council Member Ben Kallos in partnership with the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center was joined by volunteers from Wildcat services in delivering 200 meals to seniors living at the Holmes Towers and Isaac’s Houses as well as older adults residing in other public housing facilities in the surrounding neighborhoods. During to the COVID-19 pandemic, food provided to seniors and individuals in need must be delivered directly to the recipient’s door to avoid the risks posed by pick-ups. As a result, the Stanley Isaacs Center has had to work and rely on energetic community volunteers to help deliver the food and there has been a consistent need for more volunteers.

Council Member Kallos, who has worked with Wildcat Services since 2018 when he contracted them to help keep neighborhood streets clean, noticed that the decline in foot traffic due to businesses being closed meant that some Upper East Side streets could skip a day of cleaning. He contacted Wildcat management to inquire whether their workers would instead be willing to join him in distributing meals to the City’s most vulnerable. After coordinating and some preparation, today, a team of Wildcat service workers spent time with Council Member Kallos and facility employees going door to door ensuring residents in need received their meals. 

The 200 meals were provided by New York Common Pantry. Council Member Ben Kallos has funded New York Common Pantry with $11,000 in discretionary funding for FY 2020. This funding is used in their mission to help meet the food needs of New York City families by providing culturally-appropriate and nutritiously-balanced meals that also reduce hunger and promote dignity, health and self-sufficiency.

“Our neighborhood facilities that feed our seniors and house NYCHA residents needed help with getting meals to the community,” said Council Member Ben Kallos “I knew I could not do it all myself so I called in enforcements. My friends over at Wildcat pounced at the chance to help, today is a win for everybody involved. Thank you to the folks from Wildcat and whose help made this possible and to the other volunteers who really made a difference today.”

“Throughout our history, Isaacs Center has provided essential services to seniors, especially those who - under normal conditions - are living on fixed incomes and are forced to make hard choices every month between food, medicine, and rent. In this moment of extraordinary crisis, and in alignment with all appropriate health and safety guidelines, we are proud to maintain critical operations to provide meals to isolated, homebound, and medically fragile older adults. We applaud and thank Council Member Kallos, Common Pantry, and Wildcat for their continued partnership and support, said Gregory J. Morris, President and Executive Director, Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center.” 

“Ben Kallos has always been supportive of us here at Holmes and Isaacs.  It is very important to the seniors and the community as a whole to a have food especially at a time like this.  We are appreciative to all the volunteers that come out to deliver food, putting their own health at risk. The Stanley Isaacs Community Center is a valuable resource in our community. Food insecurities, safety, health and well-being are things that our community has struggled with for years.  We can only combat these with continued support from our elected officials,” said La Keesha Taylor, Holmes Towers resident and community stakeholder. 

“On behalf of Wildcat it is our pleasure to help with such a compassionate and necessary need for the community. We thank Council Member Ben Kallos for entrusting us, together we will get through this,” said Lortesha White Senior Supervisor at WildCat services.

 

"We are always proud to partner with Council member Kallos. Serving our community together allows us to ensure all residents get the healthy, nutritious food they need, especially now when so many are affected by the crisis,” said Deana Murtha Senior Director of Development and Communications New York Common Pantry.

About Wildcat: Since its founding in 1972, Wildcat has continued to add innovative services and programs centered on transitional employment, job placement and workforce development to help justice-involved individuals, the homeless, the chronically unemployed and public assistance recipients achieve economic wellbeing.

As a pioneer in transitional employment, Wildcat touches the lives of tens of thousands of justice-involved individuals and their families. We are proud that our work informs the national conversation about mass incarceration and justice reform.

 

STATEMENT: Council Member Ben Kallos on Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order to Send Absentee Ballot Applications to Voters due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, April 24, 2020

STATEMENT: Council Member Ben Kallos on Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order to Send Absentee Ballot Applications to Voters due to COVID-19 Pandemic
 

“Democracy cannot be another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The safest way to hold an election in these uncertain times would be by doing so on paper by mail. 

“New Yorkers should be able to request their absentee ballots online, there is something wrong with the fact that voters will have to go through these bureaucratic steps just to vote. The Erie County Board of Elections has already done it and every other county should follow their lead. Governor Cuomo should also implement online voter registration for everyone, even if they don’t have New York State driver’s license or issued identification.

“If Governor Cuomo cannot order absentee ballots be delivered to every voter, then sending the applications is the next best thing. Mailing every voter an absentee ballot application will be a crucial reminder that they need to actually apply to vote absentee.

“New Yorkers should get absentee ballot applications with a pre-stamped self-addressed envelope as well as instructions on how to submit by fax, email, or where possible just filling out the form online.

“Governor Andrew Cuomo is doing the right thing and proving that there is no reason to prohibit voting by mail. If New York can have everyone vote by mail during a pandemic, this is one part of the ‘new normal’ that should remain."

 

BACKGROUND:

Governor Cuomo today stated in a press conference that he had ordered the Board of Election to mail all registered voters absentee ballot applications. Mailing ballots to all New Yorkers was one of the key steps Council Member Kallos in an op-ed in the Gotham Gazette on how to “Ensure Voter Access Amid Coronavirus.” New York is in the minority of states without vote by mail as 28 other states allow for no-fault absentee voting, including Florida, Michigan, Ohio and California.
 

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Job Protections for Essential Workers Including Whistleblowers Proposed by Council Members Ben Kallos, Brad Lander and Speaker Johnson

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

“Just Cause” Legislation Would Provide Protections for Essential Workers During the Pandemic

New York, NY—Today, New York City Council Members Ben Kallos, Brad Lander, and Speaker Corey Johnson introduced legislation to protect essential workers from termination without “Just Cause.” Essential workers include healthcare workers, first responders, utility workers, and those on the frontline including those at supermarkets, making deliveries, and anyone working at an essential business as defined by Executive Order. Heroic health care and warehouse workers have faced retaliation for speaking out against unsafe conditions where they work. Essential businesses would be required to provide progressive discipline and a “just cause” within a week of termination subject to arbitration, a private right of action, with essential employees able to recover back pay and employers subject to fines of up to $2,500 per violation.

“No one should lose their job simply for asking for protective equipment during a pandemic. Our city’s essential workers are heroes and deserve to be treated that way complete with job protections for putting their lives on the line,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Brad Lander, and our brothers and sisters in labor for joining us in our fight to protect essential workers.”

“At a time when the very lives of our hospital and health care workers are on the line, it is unconscionable that they would be fired for ringing the alarm bell about health and safety issues,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “It is imperative that we stand up for these doctors, nurses, and health care workers, listen to and lift up their concerns, and ensure that they cannot be unjustly fired for telling the truth about the conditions they face.”

Over the last month, private hospitals have issued guidance to their workers about what public communications is deemed acceptable. Some of the guidance threatened workers with termination if the communication is not first approved by executive-level staff. New York City’s 11 public hospitals have not issued such warnings and the Council Members urge the private hospital network and all healthcare institutions to follow the lead of New York City’s Health + Hospitals and allow their frontline workers to speak out without fear of an unfair firing. 

Spring Has Sprung with New Planters Adorning Second Avenue Bike Islands in East Nineties Thanks to Public-Private Partnership Funded by Council Member Kallos

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Spring Has Sprung with New Planters Adorning
Second Avenue Bike Islands in East Nineties Thanks to
Public-Private Partnership Funded by Council Member Kallos

New York, NY – Previously empty bike islands in the east nineties along Second Avenue have just got a little greener to match bike islands with a tree following a public-private partnership between Horticultural Society of New York and the office of Council Member Ben Kallos. New planters have been installed on traffic islands that will be maintained through the season.

Council Member Kallos provided $50,000 in discretionary funding through the Greener NYC initiative for Fiscal Year ending in 2020 to fund this partnership which was approved by the Department of Transportation for new planters on previously empty bike islands on Second Avenue at:

  • 95th Street
  • 93rd Street
  • 92nd Street
  • 91st Street

Hundreds of Children to Participate in Virtual Ben Kallos Chess Challenge Tournament

Friday, March 27, 2020

Hundreds of Children to Participate in Virtual Ben Kallos Chess Challenge Tournament

  

NEW YORK, NY — On Saturday, March 28, over 200 New York City students are expected to participate in the Council Member Ben Kallos Chess Challenge. This annual Chess-in-the-Schools event will be held online for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on daily activity in New York City.

 In an effort to provide those young people with at-home learning and extracurricular activities, Chess in the Schools, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering intellectual and social development among low-income young people through chess education, will hold the virtual chess tournament originally scheduled to take place at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in the Upper East Side. 

 "I love chess and I love computers, what better way to practice ‘social distancing’  than playing chess from home," said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Debbie Eastburn, President, and CEO of Chess in the Schools, for teaching and inspiring students to play chess and for going the extra mile and teaming up chess24.com to give the children a platform to play online during these tough times. This online chess tournament will go a long way in helping keep children busy and doing something productive while they have to stay indoors. “

Kallos, a chess player and longtime advocate for chess in public school classrooms, made the tournament possible thanks to discretionary funding allocated to Chess in the Schools for fiscal year 2020. This tournament was originally scheduled to take place at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in the Upper East Side. Due to restrictions on crowd size and the need for social distancing, while our city addresses the COVID-19 pandemic; that tournament had to be indefinitely postponed. In consultation with Council Member Kallos’office, Chess in the Schools was able to develop a way to ensure that the over 200 hundred young people looking forward to the tournament would not be stopped by COVID-19.

 "We have long believed that chess is an important part of a young person's education and life, providing lessons that go far beyond the chessboard," said Debbie Eastburn, President and CEO of Chess in the Schools. "Those lessons must not stop simply because coronavirus has fundamentally disrupted our lives, and we must work hard to ensure that these essential opportunities remain for our young people. We thank Council Member Kallos for supporting this tournament and our city's young people, and we are thrilled that the Council Member Ben Kallos Chess Tournament will continue virtually."

The tournament will begin at noon on Saturday, March 28th. Interested participants can register on Chess in the Schools tournament website, where they can select their section based upon ability level and USCF rating. 

 Each online tournament takes about three hours to complete. 

 

About Chess in the Schools

Since 1986, Chess in the Schools has taught, inspired, and empowered more than 500,000 students in low-income New York City public schools. Through structured classroom, after-school, weekend, and summer programs, Chess in the Schools fosters the intellectual and social development of low-income youth through chess education.

For more information on Chess-in-the-Park, contact Shaun Smith at ssmith@chessintheschools.org or 646-688-0725. For more information about Chess in the Schools, contact Debbie Eastburn at deastburn@chessintheschools.org or 646-688-0726.

 About Council Member Ben Kallos

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos was praised by the New York Times for his “fresh ideas” and elected in 2013 to represent the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and East Harlem along with all 8.6 million New Yorkers in the New York City Council. During the 2014-2017 session as Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee, he sought to root out patronage, de-privatize government, eliminate billions in waste, expand elections, and to use technology to improve access to government. As Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus he has become a leading advocate for education, affordable housing, public health, sustainable development, and transportation improvements and safety. As Chair of the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions from 2017 through 2019 he focused on preserving and building more than 7,000 affordable homes overseeing every deal made by the City to ensure New Yorkers are actually getting the affordable housing they need. Currently, as Chair of the Committee on Contracts, he brings the same scrutiny and tenacity to oversee procurement policies and procedures, government and collection agency contracts, as well as the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services and the Procurement Policy Board. His office is open and transparent, with constituents invited to decide on how to spend one million dollars on local projects in the district as well as to join him in a conversation on the First Friday of each month, or he will go to them for “Ben In Your Building.” For more, visit Benkallos.com.

Education Equity Campaign Announces 31 of the Students in its Test Prep Programs Accepted to NYC’s Elite High Schools

Friday, March 27, 2020

Education Equity Campaign Announces 31 of the Students in its Test Prep Programs Accepted to NYC’s Elite High Schools

 

Black and Latino Students in EEC Test Prep were More than 400% More Likely to Gain Admission

 

With only seven weeks of test prep, EEC helped dozens of disadvantaged students of color secure placements at the Specialized High Schools, including 10% of the African American students entering SHS’s citywide and 20% of those entering Stuyvesant

New York, NY — Today, the Education Equity Campaign (EEC) released the results of its inaugural pilot program aimed at preparing disadvantaged students of color for the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). Funded by philanthropist Ronald S. Lauder, a Bronx Science graduate, and businessman Richard Parsons, EEC partnered with five education groups to tutor a total of 197 students.

Citywide, 12,422 Black and Latino students sat the SHSAT last year. Of those, 470, or 3.8% were offered admission. In contrast, of the 197 students enrolled in EEC’s 7-week programs, 31 were accepted into a specialized high school, or 15.7%. That means that students of color in EEC programs were more than four times more likely to secure admission.

Of the 190 African American students in the city who were admitted to a specialized high school this year, 20 were students tutored by EEC’s educational partners, including 2 out of the 10 black students who were accepted to Stuyvesant, the most selective of the elite public schools. 

The overall admission numbers to the specialized high schools are a reminder that systemic change is necessary to unlock all kids’ potential, which is why EEC has continued to call on the City to implement free, citywide test prep that runs for at least 12-15 weeks, in addition to expanding the number and capacity of specialized high schools to increase opportunity for all students.

While Black and Latino students make up nearly 70% of NYC public school students, they only account for 10% of admitted students in the City’s specialized high schools; this year follows that same trend. Instead of pursuing policies that would address the root causes of the inequity, the de Blasio administration previously and misguidedly sought to eliminate the SHSAT. However, after NYC parents and students spoke out, the Mayor abandoned his plans to scrap the test.

EEC has continued to advocate for achieving systemic, long-term change in NYC’s education system in addition to creating the tutoring pilot program. The group has partnered with a coalition of state and city legislators to expand access to quality educational opportunities for more students.

Working with a coalition of state and city legislators, advocates, parents and students, EEC helped draft the following legislation, which will bring the city’s school system forward and open opportunities for an unprecedented number of students:

Public Advocate Willliams Join Council Members Cornegy, Kallos and Brannan in Announcing Comprehensive Legislation to Dramatically Improve Equity at New York City’s Specialized High Schools

Thursday, March 19, 2020

New York, NY – Today, a coalition of city elected officials, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Council Members Robert Cornegy, Ben Kallos and Justin Brannan unveiled bold new legislation aimed at increasing racial equity at NYC’s Specialized High Schools. The legislation would require DOE to finally provide every middle school student with free test preparation. The legislation would also end DOE’s practice of making students register for the SHSAT through a confusing multistep process—and instead automatically register every 8th grader for the SHSAT and asking each of them to take the test.  The legislation would immediately make thousands more Black and Latinx students eligible for admission to a specialized high school.

Currently, fewer than 10% of NYC’ public middle schools provide access to free test prep. The legislation introduced today would ensure test prep is systemwide. In 2019, only 35% of 8th grade public school students sat for the SHSAT. By making the SHSAT the default option for all 8th grade students, today’s legislation would immediately and dramatically increase the number of Black and Latinx students eligible for SHS enrollment every March.

While Black and Latinx students make up nearly 70% of NYC public school students, they recently only accounted for 10% of admitted students in the City’s five specialized high schools. The sponsors of today’s legislation are committed to reversing that trend.  The legislation proposed today would directly address this issue by requiring every student—regardless of their income, background, or demographic—be provided the opportunity to succeed.

The Education Equity Campaign led by Ronald Lauder and Richard Parsons has long called for these proposals and provided over $350,000 in free test prep funding in 2019 to prepare hundreds of students of color for the SHSAT.

Public Advocate Williams graduated from the Brooklyn Technical High School starting in 1992 when demographics included 13% Hispanic, 16% White, 32% Asian, and 38% Black, whose Black student population has been in free fall by a factor of five to only 7% as of 2016. Council Member Kallos graduated the Bronx High School of Science starting 1994 when demographics included 10% Hispanic, 12% Black, 38% White, and 40% Asian, whose Hispanic and Black student populations have more than halved to only 9% as of 2017.

Letter to Mayor de Blasio Concerning the Effect of COVID-19 on Nonprofit Businesses

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing Non-profit organizations, specifically human service providers, to operate under heavy financial burdens. Many are providing vital services under serious challenges, while others face mandated closures. One of the biggest challenges being faced, include not being able to meet contracted service requirements. While non-profits face these increasing challenges, they continue to have fiscal obligations such as rent, payroll, and other overhead costs that are primarily paid for by City provided funds. These funds are typically tied to unit of service requirements established in their City contracts.

Many providers are reporting that clients are not able to participate in person for safety reasons and many have started utilizing phone and video conferencing as opposed to in-person meetings. Although, these organizations are being innovative in delivering services, most are not currently equipped to do so and all have incurred increased costs creating cash flow concerns.

Providers are also communicating other issues affecting staff. Some have staff who are unable to work onsite safely due to social distancing guidelines but could work remotely. However for various reasons, including contractual language, providers cannot allow for telecommuting as an option for staff.  Still other providers have workers who cannot practically work from home, such as food servers, who they must send home without a guarantee of being able to pay these workers to stay home. The City must provide relief for these affected providers.

Statement in Support of Expanding Beds at Coler Public Hospital for Coronavirus Treatment

Monday, March 16, 2020

We need every bed we can find to care for those who may come down with coronavirus. These 350 beds at Coler public hospital can really help provide the critical care that our family, friends, and neighbors may need to recover. I am proud to represent so many hospitals, including public hospitals like Coler, that can play a pivotal role in treating our most vulnerable.

Once we are through this crisis, we must reverse the damage done by the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century in 2006 that recommended closure of 9 facilities, affected 57 hospitals and 81 acute care and long-term care facilities removing as many as 4,200 inpatient beds from our healthcare system. We must rebuild a resilient medical system that can run at a fraction of built capacity, ready to take on the next major medical emergency or pandemic.

STATEMENT: Council Member Kallos on New York City Schools Remaining Open During COVID-19 Outbreak

Friday, March 13, 2020

Many parents have expressed concern that New York City public schools have so far remained open during this COVID-19 outbreak. As a parent myself, I too share those same concerns regarding the safety of our children.

The decision to close schools rests with Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Education. I have personally communicated your concerns to City Hall and have joined Speaker Corey Johnson and UFT President Michael Mulgrew in urging the Mayor to take aggressive actions such as an official policy allowing students the option to learn from home or even full school closure, in order to keep our teachers and children safe.

Moving towards temporarily online instruction will be difficult without Universal Broadband. In the past, we've worked with Charter Communications to help bridge the digital divide with Internet Assist for students on free and reduced lunch or seniors receiving supplemental social security. 

After I worked with Silicon Harlem to recommend free broadband during this outbreak, Charter announced free broadband and Wi-Fi for every student K-12 to college who does not already have broadband for the next 60 days starting this Monday.

Free and low-cost broadband for all students is the key element we needed to allow our children to continue their learning in the safety and security of their homes.

My office and I remain in close communication with state officials and the Mayor's office as this situation develops.

Kallos and Silicon Harlem Applaud Free Broadband for Students from Charter and Call on All Other Providers to Do the Same

Friday, March 13, 2020

Statement from Council Member Ben Kallos:

Technology is going to be a major tool in fighting the spread of novel coronavirus, but only for those who aren't trapped on the wrong side of the digital divide.

We've worked with Charter to bridge the digital divide with Internet Assist for students on free and reduced lunch or seniors receiving supplemental social security. Today, Charter announced free broadband and Wi-Fi for every student K-12 to college who does not already have broadband for the next 60 days.

Free and low-cost broadband for all students is the key element we needed to allow our children to continue their learning in the safety and security of their homes.

Thank you to Silicon Harlem for their leadership and partnership. Thank you to Charter for leading by example and I call on every other phone and cable internet provider to take similar steps to save us all.

 

Statement from Clayton Banks Co-Founder and CEO of Silicon Harlem:

The 2020 pandemic sheds light on the need for connectivity, devices, and digital literacy for our workforce, students, and underserved communities. I stand with Ben Kallos, and commend the effort of Charter to be a part of the solution.

French Dual Language Pre-Kindergarten to Launch on the Upper East Side Response to Demand from Parents and Council Member Ben Kallos

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

 

Upper East Side, NY- Today the New York City Department of Education and Council Member Ben Kallos announced the creation of two French dual language classes to the Pre-K center located at 355 East 76th Street. Council Member Kallos worked with the Francophone community including immigrants from Canada, Africa, and even France itself to gather more than two hundred families that pledged to send their children to a French dual language program in Manhattan. The classes will open in September 2020 with Pre-K applications for the French dual language classes are now open through March 16, 2020.

The Department of Education will run 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 have a Bilingual Extension alongside a second Early Childhood certified teacher. Currently the Department of Education is seeking more dual language certified teachers who can apply online and email prekduallanguage@schools.nyc.gov for information.

“We are pleased to continue expanding our Pre-K Dual Language programs to serve as many children in New York City as possible, and thank Council Member Kallos for his ongoing partnership on early education,” said Josh Wallack Deputy Chancellor, Early Childhood and Student Enrollment

“I hear so many languages spoken in my district from every corner of the world and now we are working with the Francophone community to address a need in the neighborhood as we hope to increase the overall diversity of our schools,” 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.”

Ribbon Cut on $212, 000 Worth of Renovations for Eleanor Roosevelt High School Library & Resource Center

Friday, March 6, 2020

Ribbon Cut on $212, 000 Worth of Renovations for Eleanor Roosevelt High School Library & Resource Center

elro

Upper East Side, NY- Today, parents, school administrators and students were present as Council Member Ben Kallos and Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney cut the ribbon at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, marking the completion of renovations to the school’s Library & Resource Center. The renovations and upgrades are a result of $212,000 in funding provided by Kallos out of his discretionary budget.

The upgrades and renovations include LED lighting, new flooring and technology, and even new podcasting equipment.

Since elected into office, Council Member Kallos has allocated over $549,580 to Eleanor Roosevelt High School to improve everything from technology to infrastructure within the school.

“High school libraries should be modern and welcoming places where students are comfortable and it is easy to learn,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Funding education initiatives has been a priority of mine since I got into office. I am proud to have allocated these funds because I know they will have a positive impact on the students that attend Eleanor Roosevelt High School.”  

Eleanor Roosevelt High School, which, opened in September of 2002 is located at 411 East 76th Street. The school is part of New York City Public School District #2 and currently has over five hundred students and over forty staff members. Congress Member Carolyn Maloney was instrumental in getting the school started along when she led a grassroots effort to secure location and funding.

“As we come together to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the newly renovated Eleanor Roosevelt High School library, I can’t help but remember the day we cut the ribbon to open this school. I was proud of my work to create a new school on the East Side, and I commend Council Member Ben Kallos for his work to allocate the funding this school needs to remain a beacon for academically rigorous public education,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).

“This new and improved library will benefit generations of students at Eleanor Roosevelt High School for years to come,” School Construction Authority President and CEO Lorraine Grillo said. “On behalf of our entire SCA team, I’d like to thank Council Member Kallos for providing the funds that allowed us to provide students with another tool to enhance their learning, foster their imagination and expand their growth potential.”

“We celebrate these incredible renovations with the community of Eleanor Roosevelt High School and thank Council Member Ben Kallos for making these upgrades possible and for his ongoing support of New York City schools,” said CSA President Mark Cannizzaro. “We’d also like to once again acknowledge Congress Member Maloney’s tremendous efforts to secure funding and resources for the school when it was first opened in September of 2002. Libraries and resource centers continue to serve a critical role in providing a high-quality education to our city’s high school students, and these further investments will no doubt be well-utilized under the leadership of Principal Dimitri Saliani, his administration and staff.”

“We are delighted with these upgrades. Our students will have the opportunity to create their own podcasts as part of these library improvements, which is another proven way to engage them in their own learning and to help them discover their own voice,” said Janella Hinds, Vice President of Academic High Schools at the United Federation of Teachers

"I commend Councilman Ben Kallos for his dedication to the school children of his community. He understands that’s our students need a place that will allow them to grow and be our future leaders “said Shaun D. Francois I President, Local 372.

Bill to Create New Office of Technology Focusing on Digital Services with a Moonshot Division of “Tech Officers” Proposed by Tech Chair Holden and Software Developer Kallos

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Under legislation introduced to the City Council, New York City would create a new technology “moonshot” division complete with its own Chief Technology Officer (CTO) as it follows the likes of Google and President Barack Obama. Legislation authored by Technology Committee Chair Robert Holden and free and open source software developer Council Member Ben Kallos, with co-sponsorship by former Technology Committee Chair Peter Koo, would establish an Office of Technology and Digital Services and create “Technology Officers” (“Tech Officers”) under the auspices of the CTO. The new office would compete for city technology projects, be embedded in city agencies, and work with the CTO to drive down costs, support forward thinking agency technology, and take on moonshot challenges to bring city government into the 21st Century.

“There is virtually no problem that can’t be solved with the use of technology, and our city agencies should constantly be exploring new and innovative ways to simplify and improve services through the use of technology,” said Council Member Robert Holden, Chair of the Committee on Technology and co-author. “Thanks in large part to the software development expertise of my colleague, Ben Kallos, we want tech experts to become a primary resource for this city on every front. The Office of Technology and Digital Services and its Technology Officers will ensure that we are always looking toward a better, more efficient future for New York.” 

“We need to bring city government into the 21st century with tech officers embedded in every agency who can solve old problems by building new technology quickly. New York City’s new Chief Technology Officer can use a platoon of Tech Officers to modernize the government from the inside out to better serve our city.” said Council Member Ben Kallos, a free and open source software developer and co-author. “Chair Robert Holden brings years of teaching at the New York City College of Technology with the vision and legislation we need to upgrade government for the 21st Century.”

Universal Summer Youth Programs Proposed by Council Members Rose and Kallos

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Universal Summer Youth Programs Proposed by

Council Members Rose and Kallos

New York, NY – As summer break approaches, tens of thousands of low-income public school students and their families are relying on Summer Youth Programs to keep them safe, fed, and positively engaged. However, $20 million in funding for Summer Youth Programs serving at least 34,000 middle school students was excluded entirely or in part from the preliminary budgets in Fiscal Years 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016 with funding restored each time by the City Council in the Executive Budget. Legislation co-authored by Youth Service Chair Debi Rose and Council Member Ben Kallos would eliminate proposed budget cuts and mandate Universal Summer Youth Programs.

“Year after year, our summer youth programs are not funded until we come to a final budget agreement in June, leaving parents and providers in a shadow of uncertainty,” said Youth Services Committee Chair Debi Rose. “Summer program are invaluable experiences that build self-esteem, social skills, leadership skills and friendships in a safe, constructive environment. They also help curb summer learning loss, which disproportionately affects students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is time we build on our successes with early childhood education in the city and give all students seeking a spot in a summer program the opportunity to participate. I am grateful to partner with Council Member Ben Kallos on this legislation, and I look forward to building support from across the Council to pass this bill and make an investment in our future city.”

“Our children need us to take care of them, whether after school or during summer break it doesn’t matter, these children need access to healthy food, enrichment, and positive engagement,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Every year summer youth programs go unfunded in the Mayor’s proposed budget and every year Youth Service Chair Debi Rose leads the way to restore that funding to serve more than 34,000 children. This Universal Summer Youth Programs legislation will finally put an end to the budget dance and put our city on a path to guarantee every child a place to enjoy their summer.”

Access to City Contracting Information Now Available Online and through Public Access Center

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Access to City Contracting Information Now Available Online and through Public Access Center

Watch the Announcement

New York, NY –Now information regarding the City’s  $20 billion in contracts will be available for the public to inspect at an inspection terminal and online via a new public access platform, courtesy of a partnership between Contracts Committee Chair, Ben Kallos, Council Member Brad Lander and the Mayor’s Office of Contracts (MOCS).

A computerized system designed for tracking information within City contracts and vendors doing business with the City, was created by legislation authored by then City Council Contracts Committee Chair, U.S Congress Member Carolyn Maloney.

Local Law 52 of 1987 was enacted as part of the City Council’s effort to ensure that City contracts go only to responsible vendors and that the City obtain the highest quality and quantity of goods and services.

Maloney’s legislation required a public inspection terminal, which has been available for the past 30 years. When Council Member Kallos became Contracts Chair in May of 2019 one of the first issues he championed was upgrading the Public Access Center to retire data from the City’s legacy VENDEX system and replace it with information from PASSPort, the City’s new Procurement and Sourcing Solutions Portal. Council Member Kallos worked with MOCS over the past 9 months to upgrade the Center.   

During that same time, Council Member Kallos also recognized that Local Law 76-2017, which is sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander and requires that the public inspection terminal be available online, would require a similar effort.   Kallos and Lander worked together with MOCS to develop an online platform for accessing information on the City’s contracts, which is now available on the MOCS website. 

Now, every single resident of the City of New York and members of the press can use the new PASSPort terminal at 253 Broadway to access information on City contracts without appointment.

“Capturing and sharing reliable procurement data helps the City make smart, strategic decisions and improves service delivery and outcomes for New Yorkers. PASSPort has already made it easier for over 14,000 vendors to directly file disclosure information. In future releases, PASSPort will fully digitize the procurement process and achieve greater transparency into the process for vendors, agencies, and the public,” said Dan Symon, New York City’s Chief Contracting Officer and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. “Maintaining this Public Access Center and online viewing platform exemplifies MOCS’ commitment to transparency, efficiency, and the reliability of contracting information relevant to the public.”

Brandon Chiazza, Chief Technology Officer for MOCS, also offered that “The transparency enabled by reports we publish strengthens public confidence in the work we do and helps partners actively engage in efforts to transform procurement.”

“I want to know how every single dollar of taxpayer dollars is being spent and whether it's coming to the public inspection terminal or searching online, every New Yorker has that right,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos, Contracts Committee Chair. “Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and the Mayor's Office of Contract Services Director Dan Symon, for this collaboration and Councilmember Brad lander for this visionary legislation.”

Bringing our public contracts into public view is a critical piece of building trust and accountability in local government. When the public inspection terminal and online database of city contracts go live, individuals, watchdog groups, journalists, and oversight officials will gain new access and insight into how public funds are being spent. This kind of transparency is essential to ensuring both confidence and participation in local democracy,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

“I’ve always believed that transparency and accountability in City contracts is critically important to building trust in local government. That’s why, when I was Chair of the City Council Contract Committee, I authored and passed legislation to track City contracts and vendors. I’m so glad access to City contracts will now be available to the public online, which will undoubtedly increase transparency and encourage civic participation,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).

 

  Watch the Announcement