New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York Daily News

New York Daily News Long Island bus camera pilot program shows reckless drivers brazenly blowing past stopped school buses as NYC weighs program by Denis Slattery

Long Island bus camera pilot program shows reckless drivers brazenly blowing past stopped school buses as NYC weighs program

ALBANY — The flashing red lights and stop sign should be enough – but a staggering number of drivers blatantly ignore the warnings and blow past stopped school buses on a daily basis, according to video obtained by the Daily News on Friday.

New York Daily News Transit advocates vow to fend off exemptions to Manhattan congestion pricing by Clayton Guse

Transit advocates vow to fend off exemptions to Manhattan congestion pricing

Transit advocates vowed Thursday to ensure congestion pricing isn’t killed by New Yorkers looking for a free ride.

“We have 20 months until this goes into effect,” said Alex Matthiessen, who began forming coalitions around congestion pricing in 2010 after Mayor Bloomberg’s plan failed to muster enough support two years earlier. “There’s all kinds of possibilities for mischief-making, for rollbacks, for backlash.”

New York Daily News Why not charge cars to enter all New York City streets? A bigger congestion pricing idea by Ben Kallos

Why not charge cars to enter all New York City streets? A bigger congestion pricing idea

The discussion around congestion pricing has evolved from earlier goals of transforming our streets and fighting climate change to today’s single-minded focus on raising money for a failing transit system. There is an understandable urge among some transit advocates to focus only on the plan at hand as a practical way to stop the bleeding at the MTA. Certainly the Manhattan-centric plan is an improvement to the status quo, but it hasn’t changed much in more than a decade, and with minor variations it has been defeated repeatedly.

Now may be the time to try something different. With a fresh look at the evidence we can devise a plan that would more dramatically reduce congestion. Such a plan would:

Toll all entry points to New York City for all vehicles. All 4.4 million drivers — not just 717,000 — would pay a price to enter and drive around on New York City streets, likely getting hundreds of thousands if not over a million vehicles off the city’s crowded streets.

New development must fund public infrastructure. Projects that would bring hundreds or thousands of new residents to a neighborhood should be required to set aside funds at the outset so the transit system can add capacity in time for the project’s completion.

Expand and improve existing transit infrastructure throughout New York City as well as counties on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley to make it easier for commuters to choose public transportation.

High-speed automated tolling. Institute a universal system using now-ubiquitous license plate readers for tolls at all entry points to New York City.

Dynamic pricing could take advantage of electronic tolling to charge vehicles more during rush hours in the mornings and afternoons, while reducing or eliminating charges in the evening to allow residents to come home and to encourage deliveries overnight.

Real accountability is necessary to end the tug-of-war and blame games between state and city officials. New York City Speaker Corey Johnson’s idea for municipal control is a welcome answer here.

A lock box would be created by securing capital against new revenue, as suggested by former Lieutenant Gov. Dick Ravitch. We should borrow to build a transit infrastructure today that is ready for tomorrow when millions of commuters would transition from vehicles to a new and improved public transit system.

The time is now for New York to finally implement congestion pricing. We should take an honest look at our traffic and address the whole problem by expanding the congestion zone to all of New York City. The revenues from such a plan could build a true 21st-century public transit system, so that everyone can actually have a decent commute to and from working in the big city.

New York Daily News Council members call for more city scaffolding inspections by GRAHAM RAYMAN

Council members call for more city scaffolding inspections

Kallos cited seven scaffolding collapses dating back to February 2017 that resulted in either property damage or injury. In addition, the council members say companies often put up the scaffolding and then drag their feet on the actual work, leaving the metal structure in place sometimes for years.

“It’s bad enough that we regularly see scaffolding staying up for years, apparently unused. But when it is used, we can’t even be sure it will serve its purpose and keep us safe,” State Senator Liz Krueger said.”Clearly, the self-certification process is not sufficient.”

Added New York City Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel: “The unprecedented development around New York City is at a rapid pace. Longstanding scaffolding has created public safety issues.”

Council Member Margaret Chin said there needs to be an incentive to reduce how long scaffolding remains in place. “This will lead to a vast improvement of quality of life across our city, as repairs will be done in a timely manner leading to fewer shadows on our streets and other issues associated with perpetual scaffolding,” she said.

New York Daily News EXCLUSIVE: New laws to prevent NYC school bus abuses seen in 2018 crisis by Ben Chapman

EXCLUSIVE: New laws to prevent NYC school bus abuses seen in 2018 crisis

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side), a new parent who proposed the GPS bill, said that requiring city school buses to operate electronic tracking devices will provide worried parents with knowledge of their kids’ whereabouts.

“Parents have brought up concerns they don’t know when the bus is coming home,” Kallos said. “Now they’ll finally be in position to know where their kids are. I’m hoping it’ll have a big impact.”

Parents of public school children impacted by problems with the city’s long-struggling bus system were eager for relief promised by the proposed legislation, which would take affect by September.

“Right now it’s the Wild West and we don’t have proper oversight — that why the bus crisis was what it was,” said Rachel Ford, a Queens parent and member of the Parents to Improve School Transportation advocacy group, whose son was delayed on his school bus for nearly four hours at the start of the school year.

New York Daily News EXCLUSIVE: Council bill would apply new contribution limits to special election for public advocate by Jillian Jorgensen

EXCLUSIVE: Council bill would apply new contribution limits to special election for public advocate

The new campaign finance rules approved by voters at the polls last month don’t take effect until 2021 -- but City Councilman Ben Kallos has introduced legislation that would allow candidates in the upcoming special election for public advocate to opt into the new system.

“Almost every single candidate running for public advocate is already an elected official, and only one can win. And I just don’t want that many existing elected officials taking that much money,” Kallos told the News.

An architect of the new system passed as Question 1 on the ballot last November -- which set up a new campaign finance system that slashes contribution limits while increasing the amount of public matching funds a candidate can receive -- Kallos is looking to create similar changes for candidates running in special elections and other races that will crop up between now an

New York Daily News Disabled NYC kids spent hours stranded in the storm on buses, without food or bathrooms by Ben Chapman

Disabled NYC kids spent hours stranded in the storm on buses, without food or bathrooms

Citywide Council on Special Education Co-Chair Gloria Corsino said she was flooded with calls from parents whose kids with disabilities suffered on buses that were stuck on the roads for hours.

“These drivers don’t allow kids to eat on the bus or use the bathroom,” Corsino said. “Imagine the trauma. This is just poor emergency management.”

Manhattan City Councilman Ben Kallos said the storm exposed serious weaknesses in the city’s beleaguered, $1.2 billion yellow bus system, which is already undergoing an overhaul amid widespread service problems, allegations of corruption and a federal investigation.

“All of this could have been prevented,” said Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side and intervened with the NYPD to help other kids with disabilities get home from the same stricken bus as Reynoso’s son.

“When you already have a bus route that’s three hours long, and then there’s a storm, it’s going to double or triple,” Kallos said. “We’re setting up these drivers and kids for failure.”

The city will investigate busing problems encountered in the storm, said Mayor de Blasio spokeswoman Jaclyn Rothenberg.

New York Daily News New NYPD surveillance cameras to cover stretch of Upper East Side not easily reached by patrol cars by Rocco Parascandola

New NYPD surveillance cameras to cover stretch of Upper East Side not easily reached by patrol cars

City Councilman Ben Kallos said the 8 Argus cameras will cost $336,000.

Kallos said he has always had concerns about cameras and how they might impact on a person’s privacy as well as how law enforcement uses them.

But said his constituents want them.

“No one objected during participatory budgeting,” Kallos said, referring to the process by which citizens have a say in how city money is spent. “People want them.”

He also recalled speaking with a police commander at an FDR pedestrian bridge earlier this year and witnessing the deterrence of cameras.

“Two people walked past us,’’ Kallos explained. “They said, ‘There’s security cameras there — let’s not go there.”

The cameras will link to the NYPD’s Domain Awareness System, the surveillance network of more than 18,000 inter-connected cameras — including those in the private sector — as well as law enforcement databases.

New York Daily News NYC school bus horror stories — and possible fixes — discussed at packed City Council hearing by Ben Chapman

NYC school bus horror stories — and possible fixes — discussed at packed City Council hearing

Even before the hotly anticipated hearing even took place, protesters gathered on the steps of the city Education Department headquarters to call for improved service, and Council Member Ben Kallos (D-UES) led a press conference at City Hall in support of legislation to improve bus service.

Families said problems with bus service are ongoing, despite the city’s efforts.

New York Daily News City Council committee to hold hearing on school bus fiasco following Daily News series by Ben Chapman

City Council committee to hold hearing on school bus fiasco following Daily News series

"Parents should not have to wonder where their child is or when their child is finally getting home from a school bus ride gone off track. With the measures required in this bill, parents picking up or dropping off their child could rest assured knowing when and where their school bus is, using an app on their phone," said Council Member Ben Kallos (D-UES), a new parent who proposed the GPS bill.