New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York County Politics

New York County Politics MANH Lawmakers on the Move, May 19, 2020 by New York County Politics

MANH Lawmakers on the Move, May 19, 2020

Kallos, Powers, Brewer Urge de Blasio to Open Streets, Sidewalks to Restaurants

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

Yesterday, Councilmembers Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) and Keith Powers (D-Upper East Side, Carnegie Hill) and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), urging him to open streets and sidewalks to restaurants to facilitate social distancing.

The letter followed reports that Upper East Side bars have been serving patrons who were gathering outside the establishments without regard for social distancing guidelines. The lawmakers suggested that to fix the problem, the City’s streets should adapt to make following those guidelines easier.

“We are all in this together,” they wrote. “It is not working to confine New Yorkers to narrow sidewalks and rely on enforcement to prevent crowding. The best way to keep New Yorkers safe is to reorder our streets for social distancing.”

Read the full letter here.

New York County Politics Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, May 13, 2020 by Michael Rock

Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, May 13, 2020

Assemblymember Dan Quart (Upper East Side, Midtown East) arranged a free mask giveaway Wednesday morning from nine to ten at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza with City Councilmember Keith Powers (D-Midtown East, Upper East Side, Murray Hill), Patch reported Tuesday.

He will host another Friday at the same time in Carl Schurz Park. Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, East Harlem) and Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright (D-Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island) will accompany him.

New York County Politics Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, May 7, 2020 by Michael Rock

Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, May 7, 2020

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

After Mayor Bill De Blasio (D) announced a plan to lay off numerous doctors, police officers, and teachers to balance the city budget Wednesday, numerous city officials rebuked him, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

Comptroller Scott Stringer (D) and Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, East Harlem) represented Manhattan in calling for the mayor to preserve these important jobs and instead cut ThriveNYC, a controversial $1 billion mental health program headed by De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray.

“At a time when city workers are on the frontline of the pandemic, the mayor should not threaten their livelihoods in this way,” said Stringer. “From ballooning contracts to runaway spending without results, I have said repeatedly that agencies can find greater savings without harming our workers.”

New York County Politics Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, Apr. 27, 2020 by Michael Rock

Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, Apr. 27, 2020

Kallos Blasts DOE’s iPad Investment

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

The city Department of Education’s investment into remote schooling included over $269 million in iPads for students, the New York Post reported Saturday.  Each of the 300,000 iPads and key services for them cost $897.

Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, East Harlem) criticized the investment, saying they could have spent less on laptops that had more utility for learning, and called it “a waste of money.”

“For what they spent on an iPad, they could have bought a full functioning laptop for every kid in the system,” Kallos said. “Instead, we got a bunch of iPads which don’t really create equity when families have laptops and broadband.”

New York County Politics City Council Introduces New Relief Package at First Ever Virtual Hearing by William Engel

City Council Introduces New Relief Package at First Ever Virtual Hearing

On Apr. 22, the City Council conducted the first virtual hearing in its 52-year history. The meeting saw the introduction of several new COVID-19 relief bills, courtesy of Laurie Cumbo, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen), and Council Members Carlina Rivera (D-East Village, Gramercy Park), Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), Adrienne Adams (D-Queens), Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) and Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill), among others.

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The four bills in this category were as follows:

  • Int. 1918, sponsored by Speaker Johnson and Majority Leader Cumbo, would require large employers to pay premiums to non-salaried essential workers, until New York lifts its state of emergency.
  • Int. 1923, sponsored by Councilmembers Kallos, Johnson and Lander, would ban all employers from firing essential workers without just cause.
  • Int. 1926, sponsored by Councilmember Lander, would expand the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act to include freelancers and gig economy workers.
  • Res. 1285, sponsored by Councilmembers Lander and Kallos, would prevent businesses from misclassifying their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits.

“As we continue to thank and praise all these workers, including cheering for them nightly, we must protect them from facing retaliation for speaking out against unsafe conditions and demanding protective equipment,” said Kallos, explaining the rationale behind Int. 1923.

New York County Politics East Side Lawmakers Talk Coronavirus in Virtual Town Hall by Ayse Kelce

East Side Lawmakers Talk Coronavirus in Virtual Town Hall

Electeds on the Upper East Side are continuing the citywide effort to keep local government connected with its constituents during the worst crisis the City has seen in recent memory.

Last Tuesday, Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Midtown, El Barrio and Roosevelt Island) brought together NYC Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, a senior analyst at NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and a plethora of Upper East Side electeds in a virtual town hall via Zoom to talk about the coronavirus.

Among the other electeds in attendance were U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens), Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright (D- Upper East Side, Yorkville, Roosevelt Island), State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Upper East Side, Lenox Hill), Council Member Keith Powers (D-Upper East Side, Carnegie Hill) and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D).

New York County Politics Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup by Michael Rock

Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup

Kallos Promotes Electronic Voter Registration

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more lawmakers to consider electronic voter registration as an option, Gothamist reported Tuesday.

As the piece explains, a current bill from State Senator Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblymember Michael Blake (D-Bronx) grew out a push by City Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Yorkville, Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, Roosevelt Island, Midtown East, Sutton Place, East Harlem) to allow residents of the five boroughs to register to vote online. Despite the bill passing into law, the city’s Board of Elections would not honor online registrations because the city Campaign Finance Board created the system. 

“While we’re telling everyone to just stay home, it’s wrong to still require people to print out a voter registration form, fill it out by hand, get a postage stamp, go to a post office, expose themselves to mail it, when we could just as easily do it online,” Kallos told Gothamist. “And then, similarly, it’s a little bit crazy that we would require very low-wage workers at the Board of Elections, often making minimum wage, to go in at a time like this and literally transcribe what people hand write into a computer, when we could just skip the step…let people enter it from home and keep everybody safe during the process.” 

New York County Politics MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Mar. 25, 2020 by New York County Politics


MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Mar. 25, 2020

Kallos Thanks the “Heroes” Keeping the City Running During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

Last Monday, Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) wrote an opinion piece for LaborPress.org thanking the workers who are providing vital services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kallos began by voicing his appreciation for the medical workers responsible for treating the City’s thousands of COVID-19 patients. He went on to thank public transit employees, who are not only transporting essential personnel across the City, but are also keeping heavily used public areas clean and sanitary during the crisis.

Among the other groups who received thanks in the article were grocers, utility workers and maintenance workers.

“While many of us are safe in our homes, there are workers, some making as little as $15 an hour some without benefits, who are putting their health and their families’ health at risk to keep New York City safe,” said Kallos. “These workers, who do so much, also receive little recognition for their efforts, as much of their work is done out of sight. Maintenance workers, cleaners, transit workers, healthcare workers, grocers, all have been affected by this pandemic in unseen ways. Join us in showing our appreciation.”

New York County Politics MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Mar. 13, 2020 by New York County Politics

MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Mar. 13, 2020

Kallos Announces Launch of Pre-K Dual Language Programs

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

Last Wednesday, Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) announced the launch of two French dual language at a Pre-K center in his district.

The center, located at 355 East 76th St., will use a side-by-side instructional model; each class will feature two Early Childhood- certified teachers, one of whom will be fluent in French. Kallos conceived the idea last December, when he hosted a petition urging the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to establish a French dual language program for School District 2. His petition accumulated 200 signatures from parents.

“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 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.”

New York County Politics MANH Lawmakers on the Move: Kallos, Maloney Cut Ribbon on $212K Worth of Renovations at Eleanor Roosevelt High School by New York County Politics

MANH Lawmakers on the Move: Kallos, Maloney Cut Ribbon on $212K Worth of Renovations at Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Kallos, Maloney Cut Ribbon on $212K Worth of Renovations at Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

Last Friday, Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) cut the ribbon at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, to celebrate the completion of renovations and upgrades to the school’s library and resource center.

Kallos facilitated the project with the allocation of $212,000 in funding out of his discretionary budget. The center was provided with new LED lighting, new flooring and new podcasting equipment, among other upgrades.

“High school libraries should be modern and welcoming places where students are comfortable and it is easy to learn,” said 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.”