New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Releases

The After-“math” of the Public Advocate Special Election: How Campaigns Are Financed Just Got Flipped Upside Down Under New Campaign Finance Law Authored by Council Member Ben Kallos

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Money in New York City politics got flipped on its head in the recent Special Election for Public Advocate. For the first time small dollars made up almost two-thirds of all the money candidates raised when in the last competitive public advocate election small dollars only made up a quarter. The dramatic change was the result of Local Law 1 of 2019 authored by Council Member Ben Kallos. The law applies Campaign Finance Question 1 from the November 2018 ballot that won by 80% with 1.1 million votes as an option to the Special Election for Public Advocate and the elections that follow through 2021. Of the 17 candidates who appeared on the ballot, 11 qualified to receive a public matching grants, all but one of which chose the new system, receiving $7,178,120 accounting for more than 73% percent of the funds available to candidates.

Homeless New Yorkers and Advocates Demand Construction of More Housing for Homeless New Yorkers at Town Hall

Friday, March 8, 2019

Groups Call on Elected Officials and Mayor to Include 30,000 Units for Homeless Households, with 24,000 to be Created Through New Construction in Housing New York 2.0 Plan

 Homelessness in NYC Remains at Record Levels, with more than 63,000 people – including 23,000 Children and All-Time High 17,700 Single Adults – Sleeping in Shelters Each Night

NEW YORK, NY – Advocates and homeless New Yorkers hosted a town hall meeting with elected officials to call on Mayor de Blasio to increase the number of apartments set aside for homeless New Yorkers in his Housing New York 2.0affordable housing plan to 30,000 units, with 24,000 of those units to be created through new construction.

St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum to Be Commemorated by The Spence School in Partnership with St. Joseph’s Church, Council Member Kallos and Community Board 8

Monday, February 25, 2019

Yorkville, NY – A new athletics and academic facility currently under construction at 412 East 90th Street by The Spence School will honor the former chapel of the St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum, in response to a request by Father Boniface Ramsey on behalf of St. Joseph’s Church of Yorkville and in partnership with Community Board 8 Manhattan and Council Member Ben Kallos.

 

The collaboration between Spence and St. Joseph’s will cover a range of projects, including the installation of a permanent commemorative plaque on the exterior of the new building in proximity to the location of the former chapel and the joint curation of an educational display to be located in the new lobby that will celebrate the rich history of St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum. In addition, the School will work with Father Ramsey on incorporating the role of St. Joseph’s into its rich curriculum on New York City history.

The partnership was formed in a meeting on Friday, February 15, 2019, convened and moderated by Council Member Ben Kallos, with Father Boniface Ramsey of St. Joseph’s Church Yorkville representatives of the School and Community Board 8 Manhattan Chair Alida Camp to discuss appropriate measures to preserve an important aspect of Yorkville neighborhood history.

 

Nyc Parks Announces $75 Million In Mayoral Funding For Ongoing Reconstruction Of East River Esplanade Projects

Thursday, February 21, 2019

NYC PARKS ANNOUNCES $75 MILLION IN MAYORAL FUNDING FOR ONGOING RECONSTRUCTION OF EAST RIVER ESPLANADE PROJECTS

State of good repair projects include Harlem, E. 90s and Midtown East sections of esplanade

Today, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, joined Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; Manhattan Deputy Borough President Matthew Washington; Council Member Ben Kallos; Mili Bonilla, Chief of Staff for Council Member Diana Ayala; Nilsa Orama, Manhattan Community Board 11 Chair; Cynthia Rodriguez, District Director for Congressman Adriano Espaillat; Terell Brock, Community Liaison for State Senator Jose M. Serrano; Barry Schneider, Manhattan Community Board 8 Parks and Waterfront Committee Co-Chair, and East Sixties Neighborhood Association President; and Judy Schneider, East Sixties Neighborhood Association to announce that Mayor Bill de Blasio has allocated additional funding, $75 million, to further East River Esplanade reconstruction projects spanning from East Midtown through East Harlem.

“Thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s continued commitment to addressing waterfront needs, we are able to continue the extensive work of bringing our beloved East River Esplanade into a state of good repair,” said Commissioner Silver. “New York City is hundreds of years old and much of the work we are doing here fixes vital infrastructure so that for decades to come we can enjoy our esplanade, greenway, and public piers.”

The Proposed Temporary Co-Location of a Portion of East Harlem Scholars Academy with Life Sciences Secondary School in Building M645 for Two Years Beginning in the 2019 - 2020 School Year

Thursday, January 31, 2019

To the Panel on Education Policy,

 

We oppose the proposed two-year co-location of a charter school, East Harlem Scholars Academy, in the Life Sciences Secondary School building at 320 East 96th Street.

 

We are concerned that Life Sciences’ existing facilities are insufficient not only for this co-location but for the school’s current needs. We challenge the validity and accuracy of the Educational Impact Statement, which must be corrected prior to approval. The notice for this co-location was defective, leaving our office and the community unaware of the proposal. Finally, we are concerned that the Department of Education is setting up Life Sciences’ for failure by truncating the school last year, only to use the vacancies created as grounds for a co-location within months.

Historic Holocaust Remembrance Bill Passes NYC Council

Sunday, January 27, 2019

 "I am proud of my Jewish heritage and I am beyond appreciative of the sacrifices made by my grandparents who fled Anti-Semitism in Europe. It is up to us to speak out against Holocaust deniers in the era of fake news.  It is up to us to point out and teach the lessons of this genocide,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Resolution 673 makes January 27 an opportunity to remember the over 6 million souls that were taken, and the culture that was lost so that it never happens again to any group of people.”

Statement in Support of Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment by Council Member Ben Kallos

Monday, January 28, 2019

“There is something wrong when developers would rather build empty spaces to prop up the wealthy rather than building the affordable housing that 99% of New Yorkers need.
 
“Every New Yorkers should have a right to light and air, to see the sky, and should not be condemned to live in the shadows of the wealthy.
 
“Buildings on stilts looked cool on the Jetsons, but the reality is more like Blade Runner, where the poor must live in the shadows below the wealthy above.

Collapsing Scaffolding Targeted for Inspections by Council Members Kallos, Adams, Chin and Ampry-Samuel

Thursday, January 24, 2019

New York, NY – The 349 miles of scaffolding covering New York City has begun collapsing on the residents it is meant to protect. Under the current laws, scaffolding is self-certified for safety by the contractors who install it, without any independent inspection by the city’s Department of Buildings. Under new legislation Int. 1353 authored by Council Member Ben Kallos and sponsored by Council Members Adams, Chin and Public Housing Chair Alicka Ampry-Samuel, scaffolding that has been up for a year or more will be required to undergo safety inspections by the Buildings Department at least once every three months at the expense of the building owner. Two of the council members who are co-sponsoring the bill have had scaffolding collapses in their districts, some resulting in serious injuries.  

Statement on Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Campaign Finance and Election Reforms

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

 

Campaign Finance Reform Generally

"1.1 million New Yorkers voted for campaign finance reform in New York City politics and it is time to get big money out of Albany.

"Whether your top issue is education, transit, environment, or public safety, a precondition to winning is a public campaign finance system that forces politicians to work for voters over the interest of big money.

Mayor de Blasio Backs “Retirement Security for All” to Help New Yorkers Save for Retirement in Package Carried by Council Members Kallos & Miller

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New York, NY – Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his intention to move forward with “Retirement Security for All,” previously announced on February 25, 2016. The plan met with uncertainty following the passage of House Joint Resolutions 66 and 67 by Rep. Walberg (R-MI) and Rep. Rooney (R-FL) on March 30, 2017 and signature by Trump on April 13, 2017, to roll back regulations permitting States and Municipalities to offer retirement savings plans.

New York State Attorney General and then Public Advocate Letitia James authored legislation now re-introduced by City Council Member Ben Kallos and Civil Service and Labor Committee Chair I. Daneek Miller, Int. 888 & Int. 901, that would allow every private sector worker in New York City to save pre-tax for retirement even if their employer did not offer a 401K.

Developers Would Provide Construction Workers with Prevailing Wage and Benefits on Government Subsidized Projects under Legislation Proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


New York, NY – Affordable housing and economic development projects receiving city subsidies would be required to pay workers a prevailing wage and provide training in the classroom and on the job through apprenticeship coupled with transparency, under legislation introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos.

Construction-related injuries and deaths continued to rise for the fifth straight year to 744 injuries and 16 deaths in fiscal year 2018, approximately triple the 212 injuries and 6 deaths in fiscal year 2014 according to the Mayor’s Management Report, as reported by City and State. Over the past fiscal year, when incidents further increased by 20%, Local Law 78 of 2017 authored by Council Member Ben Kallos was implemented forcing developers to report of construction-related injuries and fatalities with new minimum fines of $2,500 for failure to report. The Local Law 78 reports have been available on a monthly basis since June 2018 from the DOB.

Revolving Door between New York City Government and Real Estate Industry Would Be Disclosed in Application Process

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Council to Have Increased Oversight of HPD’s Affordable Housing Programs as a Result of Legislation Introduced by Planning, Dispositions and Concessions Chair Kallos.
 

New York, NY – Real Estate developers will be required to disclose contacts within government agencies who have the potential to influence projects currently being considered for city subsidy. Developers will also have to disclose to the City Council their ownership interests and Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) status, as well as their efforts to hire locally, prior to seeking permission to build on city land or obtain millions in city subsidies. Introduction 1323 of 2019, authored by Council Member Ben Kallos, continues his push for transparency in government especially at the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD). This legislation forces HPD to provide the City Council with a copy of its 37-page “Compliance Package” prior to hearings so that the Council has an opportunity to review and look into contacts that may be facilitating deals for developers.

Laws to End School Bus “Nightmares” Pass City Council

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Laws to End School Bus “Nightmares” Pass City Council

GPS Devices to be Installed on All Public School Buses and Routes Shared with Parents Ahead of Time in Two Bills Sponsored by Council Member Kallos
 

New York, NY – Today, the City Council passed legislation aimed at preventing the annual back to school “nightmares.” At the start of every school year, New York City's students are stuck on buses for hours, leaving parents worrying as to where their children are. Council Member Ben Kallos introduced two bills passing the Council today as part of the STOP Act, that would give parents an opportunity prior to the school year beginning to review and challenge routes and require bus companies to test routes with dry runs. The second bill co-prime sponsored by Council Member Chaim Deutsch, requires the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) to install GPS devices on buses so parents know where their children are.

640 New Public School Seats Now Planned and Funded for Upper East Side Following Years of Advocacy by Council Member Ben Kallos

Monday, December 31, 2018

Upper East Side, NY – The Upper East Side will be getting 640 new public school seats thanks to advocacy by Council Member Ben Kallos. The seats are planned as part of an estimated $324.64 million investment to fund a total of 2,794 new public school seats for School District 2, which includes the Upper East Side, along with Tribeca and the Village (912 seats) as well as Chelsea and Midtown West (1,242 seats). The seats are outlined in the School Construction Authority and Department of Education’s proposed fiscal years 2020 – 2024 five-year capital plan. Since taking office in January of 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos has been a zealous advocate for new school seats for the Upper East Side.

Over 1,400 new public school prekindergarten through eighth-grade seats have been planned, funded or built on the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island and Midtown East since 2014, with this announcement, following direct advocacy by Council Member Kallos.

Council Member Kallos has expressed his concerns to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Department of Education, and in particular to the School Construction Authority (SCA) at hearings dating back to 2015. Kallos has consistently questioned the administration about the Upper East Side’s need for more school seats in at least half a dozen separate hearings including: May 28, 2015, March 16, 2016, May 16, 2016, March 8, 2017, March 21, 2017, March 26, 2018, April 18, 2018, and May 22, 2018. This summer, Kallos brought to the attention to the SCA that his district was at 102% elementary utilization and that with new construction, new seats were necessary to help prevent any further overcrowding.

640 New Public School Seats Now Planned and Funded for Upper East Side Following Years of Advocacy by Council Member Ben Kallos

Monday, December 31, 2018

Upper East Side, NY – The Upper East Side will be getting 640 new public school seats thanks to advocacy by Council Member Ben Kallos. The seats are planned as part of an estimated $324.64 million investment to fund a total of 2,794 new public school seats for School District 2, which includes the Upper East Side, along with Tribeca and the Village (912 seats) as well as Chelsea and Midtown West (1,242 seats). The seats are outlined in the School Construction Authority and Department of Education’s proposed fiscal years 2020 – 2024 five-year capital plan. Since taking office in January of 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos has been a zealous advocate for new school seats for the Upper East Side.

Over 1,400 new public school prekindergarten through eighth-grade seats have been planned, funded or built on the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island and Midtown East since 2014, with this announcement, following direct advocacy by Council Member Kallos.

Council Member Kallos has expressed his concerns to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Department of Education, and in particular to the School Construction Authority (SCA) at hearings dating back to 2015. Kallos has consistently questioned the administration about the Upper East Side’s need for more school seats in at least half a dozen separate hearings including: May 28, 2015, March 16, 2016, May 16, 2016, March 8, 2017, March 21, 2017, March 26, 2018, April 18, 2018, and May 22, 2018. This summer, Kallos brought to the attention to the SCA that his district was at 102% elementary utilization and that with new construction, new seats were necessary to help prevent any further overcrowding.

Letter to Gov. Cuomo on Second Avenue Subway Extension Phase 2

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

New York State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo,

Phase Il of the Second Avenue Subway ("SAS") is critical to the development and future health of my community. We are writing to ask that you lead a tour of the Phase Il extension with myself, other local elected officials, and community stakeholders in East Harlem to update us on your goals and immediate objectives of this critical project. Your leadership during Phase I of the SAS project was instrumental in its completion. It is even more important now given the opening of Phase I that we harness the momentum so that we can complete this equally important Phase Il.

Community organizations, local advocates, elected officials from all levels of government, and the residents of East Harlem strongly back the SAS Phase Il extension — which as you know — would bring the Q train from the existing 96th Street stop to 125 th Street. This has been long promised to residents of East Harlem, many of whom live in transit deserts that continue to deny its residents and my constituents access to job opportunities and educational advancement that stymies economic activity and commerce; and prevents reasonable access to hospitals and medical care, particularly for seniors. The completion of the Phase Il extension of the Second Avenue Subway will be invaluable to the constituents we both serve and demonstrate that it is more than just wealthy Upper East Siders who will benefit from these large-scale Metropolitan Transportation Authority projects. For my community, this extension will connect strap-hangers to bus services connecting to LaGuardia Airport and Metro North line that connects New York City to several counties outside of the Five Boroughs

Council Member Ben Kallos Cuts Ceremonial Ribbon at 92nd Street Y as $2.3 Million in Security Upgrades and Facades are Underway

Friday, December 21, 2018

 “I am proud to represent such a wonderful organization, a true pillar of the community,” said Council Member Kallos. “I am delighted that I could be helpful in providing City Council funding for these vital upgrades to the building and for a range of 92Y arts education programs in District 5 schools and senior centers.”

Legislation Expanding New Campaign Finance Laws to Upcoming Special Elections, Including the Public Advocate's Race, Passed by Council

Thursday, December 20, 2018

“Over a million voters demanded fewer big dollars in New York City elections,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who has not solicited and actually refused big dollars from New York City real estate developers. “We must start with the next Public Advocate, who could be the first city-wide candidate without the influence of big dollars from real estate developers elected instead on small dollars.”

Pending Further Order of the Court, No Construction at 428-432 East 58th St. Will Be Permitted Above 80 Feet Until At Least February 26, 2019

Thursday, December 20, 2018

“Developers can’t keep getting away with breaking the law. Public safety was endangered by after-hours variances and street closure permits that were issued under false pretenses and then not even complied with by the developer. We are in court to finally stop developers from perverting the law to harm communities when those laws were originally intended to protect residents,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Pro Bono Co-Counsel for ERFA and a petitioner. “Thank you Michael Hiller for a strong argument for applying the law as written. Judge Debra A. James is a credit to our judiciary with her ability to handle diverse cases, digging into a complex subject matter, and asking tough questions that really got to the heart of the matter.”