New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

CBS New York

CBS New York City Councilman Says Proposed GPS Tracking Systems For School Buses Could Have Prevented Snowstorm Nightmare by Lisa Rozner

City Councilman Says Proposed GPS Tracking Systems For School Buses Could Have Prevented Snowstorm Nightmare

“We actually spent from 2014 until 2017 working with the Office of Pupil Transportation to do it,” City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th) said. “Last year they said they were going to do it and last year they said it was going to be in the contracts and they were going to do it, and it was going to be on every single bus in the city.”

Kallos introduced legislation in September to require GPS devices be installed on all school buses contracted with the Department of Education. It would also require the city to provide real-time GPS location data to parents and school administrators.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about tracking the city’s school buses on Friday.

“We need anything that’s not working with GPS and every conceivable form of communication and then linked back to a center that parents can call and get updated information,” the mayor said.

Kallos says that just won’t cut it.

“I’m really concerned about the idea of a call center,” he said. “This is 2018. I want to be able to see it on my phone. I can see where my Uber is on my phone, I can see where a bus is and the MTA is not one of the better agencies in our city, why can’t I still see where a yellow bus is?”

It’s a concern echoed by schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, who said this week the DOE is working on having tracking system on all their buses.

“During our hearing in October we had Chancellor Carranza at the City Council,” Kallos said. “He refused to answer questions about the GPS system.”

Kallos’ proposal will come up for a vote later this month. If it passes, the city must institute the program in the next 180 days. Meantime, the DOE says there is GPS tracking on all special education buses, and they’re currently assessing a small pilot program that’s in place which allows parents to see their bus’ arrival time through an app.

CBS New York NYC Embarks On New Vetting Process For School Bus Drivers by Marcia Kramer

NYC Embarks On New Vetting Process For School Bus Drivers

When asked if he wonders why it took the city so long to do it, parent Edward Finkil said, “Yeah, I thought they did it. I thought that was something you do with the job.”

“I think there’s a lot of those things that you take for granted. You assume that your children are in the care of background-checked people, but I think sometimes that’s a false assumption,” added Chelsea parent Corynne Razos.

The city is also moving the unit which investigates bus driver complaints into its Office of Special Investigations, CBS2’s Kramer reported.

This also comes as City Councilman Ben Kallos has introduced a bill to outfit all school buses with GPS systems to help track buses and pupils who don’t show up.

CBS New York Mayor De Blasio Details Plan To Diversify New York City’s Elite High Schools by Marcia Kramer

Mayor De Blasio Details Plan To Diversify New York City’s Elite High Schools

Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, an alum of Bronx Science, is against the changes.

“The fact that fewer black and Hispanic kids is getting into these schools is not the failure of the schools. It’s the failure of the public education system that has been failing them since day one,” Kallos said.

The mayor admits getting Albany to eliminate the tests may be difficult and that he may have to wait until next year.

A statement from the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation and the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association pointed out that the mayor’s admissions formula is “exceedingly complicated.” It also says the plan does not address “educational disparities across New York City middle schools.”

CBS New York Councilman: Accidents Are Proof New York Needs Tougher Scaffolding Laws by Mike Smeltz

Councilman: Accidents Are Proof New York Needs Tougher Scaffolding Laws

One lawmaker said it's just proof that tougher regulations need to be put in place.

Web Extra: Scaffolding In New York | Active Sidewalk Sheds

Bricks from a 20 story building on the Upper East Side crashed through scaffolding Friday, injuring a 72-year-old man.

"Scaffolding is supposed to be there to protect us from falling debris, now it's actually not stopping items from hitting people," Councilman Ben Kallos said.

Kallos started battling for tougher scaffolding rules after November's accident in SoHo, when a so-called sidewalk shed colapsed, hurting nearly half-a-dozen people.

Kallos said his bill is running into some walls of its own.

CBS New York City Council Considering Ban On Sale Of Single Use Plastic Bottles At Parks, Beaches by Marcia Kramer

City Council Considering Ban On Sale Of Single Use Plastic Bottles At Parks, Beaches

People would still be allowed to bring their own plastic bottles to those places, but wouldn’t be allowed to buy them there.

The measure would also provide for filling stations at parks and beaches, so people could fill up reusable bottles at those locations.

The measure is backed by Council members Ben Kallos and Rafael Espinal.

As CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Kallos wants to start by stopping the sale of bottled water at city parks, beaches, golf courses, skating rinks, etc. Espinal would like to extend it to anything in a plastic bottle, like juice, soda, tea, etc.

“It would actually help and make a dent in the one billion plastic bottles that New York City throws away every year,” Kallos said.

“There are studies that show that if we don’t stop the current trend of the amount of plastic we’re using, we’re going to have more plastic than fish in our ocean,” said Espinal.

It’s a controversial proposal, Kramer reported. The International Bottled Water Association worries about dehydration.

CBS New York Council Stopped Midtown Tower Project At Behest Of Wealthy Neighbors, Developer Claims by Jessica Borga

Council Stopped Midtown Tower Project At Behest Of Wealthy Neighbors, Developer Claims

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Construction on upscale condominiumshas been stopped in its tracks on Manhattan’s east side.

New zoning rules now say the controversial tower is too tall.

It’s known as Sutton 58 — the site of a 62-story condo building under construction.

Last Thursday, a City Council vote to limit the construction of tall towers on side streets in the area, led to a stop-work order.

“New Yorkers are sick and tired of out-of-control, out-of-scale overdevelopment, and for so very long, no one would stand up for real estate,” City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th) said.

CBS New York 6 injured after scaffolding collapses in Manhattan by Sabrina Franza

6 injured after scaffolding collapses in Manhattan

"Scaffolding that is meant to protect residents should not be up long enough that it needs to be inspected over and over again year after year," City Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat representing the Upper East Side, said in a statement.

"We can do a better job at keeping New Yorkers safe, by making sure building repairs are done as soon as possible and scaffolding are up for no longer than they have to be."

CBS New York FDNY: High Winds The Culprit For SoHo Scaffolding Collapse by Brian Conybeare

FDNY: High Winds The Culprit For SoHo Scaffolding Collapse

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Strong, gusty winds were being blamed Sunday evening for a scaffolding collapse in SoHo that left six people injured.

As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, one woman just walking down the street was buried under falling debris and had to be rescued.Witnesses posted photos to social media showing wooden planks and metal scaffolding strewn about at the corner of Prince Street and Broadway.

There were frantic moments after the 40-foot section of construction scaffolding suddenly crumpled to the ground at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Artists and Fleas Vendor Market. One woman was across the street inside a Dean & Deluca market.

“Everybody ran from the store to try to remove the rubble before anybody arrived and they got a lot of it off even before the fire department came,” one woman told WCBS 880’s Ethan Harp.

Will Alston works in the building where it happened.

“It was crazy! It was real crazy!” he said.

Alston rushed to help pull wooden plans and twisted metal off one injured woman who was bleeding from the head.

“First thing I did, I just ran outside to check on her — but she was basically like hurt really bad,” he said. “I was pulling some of the scaffold out.”

The FDNY took six people to the hospital – five civilians and a firefighter. All suffered minor injuries, with the most severely injured being a woman whose condition was stable at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue late Sunday, the FDNY said.

 

CBS New York NYC Elementary Students Want City Council To Ban Toxic Pesticides In Parks by Erin Logan

NYC Elementary Students Want City Council To Ban Toxic Pesticides In Parks

It was first introduced in May 2015. Council Member Ben Kallos was one of its sponsors, and some of the children have been in the chambers advocating before.

“We protested a little bit,” Savann Basen said.

Kallos said his goal is to use only biological pesticides that come from natural materials instead of synthetic materials. He said what’s most concerning is the herbicide spray called Roundup.

“The World Health Organization found that it was a carcinogen, so we introduced legislation right away,” he said.