New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York Daily News

New York Daily News Airbnb rentals could be required to register with NYC says Manhattan lawmaker Ben Kallos by Shant Shahrigian

Airbnb rentals could be required to register with NYC says Manhattan lawmaker Ben Kallos

While the mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement is charged with implementing the law, it has been “nearly impossible” to do so, Kallos says, due to legal challenges.

That’s where his bill comes in.

By requiring renters to register with the city before offerings are advertised online, the city would be able to reject them in advance. Failure to comply would result in steep fines.

Kallos expects thousands of units to go off the short-term-rental market as a result — paving the way for hotels to start recouping losses from the pandemic.

New York Daily News NYPD returns ‘scary’ robot dog to manufacturer after backlash by John Annese

NYPD returns ‘scary’ robot dog to manufacturer after backlash

Kallos — who issued a subpoena to learn that the NYPD leased Digidog at $7,850 a month for 12 months, with a minimum payment of $94,200 — cheered the robot’s return to its maker.

“Our city needs more community policing, officers connecting to residents, not scary military-style gadgets that scare folks,” the Upper East Side Democrat said. “We did the work to find out how much was spent on this and we put pressure on the city to adjust priorities. I am glad the robot dog has been put down and we can use the money that would have gone to buying more of these to invest in communities and building better relationships with residents.”

New York Daily News Back in business: Too many vacancies on too many blocks by Daily News Editorial Board

Back in business: Too many vacancies on too many blocks

One problem is that commercial rents here don’t obey normal laws of supply and demand. Generations ago, many proprietors owned their stores. Nowadays, most rent and they often lease from limited-liability companies or sprawling investment groups disconnected from the neighborhood. So though owners ask for sky-high rents, many can afford to leave a space empty for years, waiting for a deep-pocketed occupant to come along and snap it up.

The tax code doesn’t help, since property owners can count losses from vacancies as offsets on what they owe. Some mortgages have minimum rent rates locked in, and others are securitized and sold as financial products — all of which makes it extremely difficult for tenants to negotiate lower rents with their landlords in response to, oh, say, a world-changing pandemic.

With such a complex welter of causes, it’s unlikely legislation sponsored by Councilman Ben Kallos, which would require disclosure of obscure property owners’ identities, will do much to help fill empty retail spaces. It will shine a light on who it is that’s behind the glass, though, and we count that as a step forward.

New York Daily News NYC should boost free supper for students, says Manhattan councilman by Shant Shahrigian

NYC should boost free supper for students, says Manhattan councilman

The city should boost its free supper program for students, says Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos.

The push would build off of existing programs providing free breakfast and lunch at city schools.

Kallos, a Democrat, says if the city expands after-school programs, it will be able to tap federal funds for late-day meals.

“We’re leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table,” Kallos told the Daily News. “We could guarantee every child three square meals a day and end youth hunger as we know it.

“We should have community schools where the schools are there from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. while parents are at work,” he added.

The Education Department already offers supper at after-school programs, but at a far lower rate than free breakfast and lunch. In fiscal year 2019, the latest year for which the department had data, an average of 58,128 suppers were given out per day. That compared with 218,153 free breakfasts before the bell per day and 603,244 daily free lunches.

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New York Daily News Manhattan lawmaker wants more thorough data on NYPD arrests by Shant Shahrigian

Manhattan lawmaker wants more thorough data on NYPD arrests

Councilman Ben Kallos plans to introduce a bill requiring the NYPD to include all crimes in its weekly updates of the CompStat website, which currently maps the “seven major” crimes like murder and rape, along with a handful of other types of illegality.

“Whether it is the ongoing war on drugs only happening in certain communities or just other types of overpolicing, it would be helpful for folks to see that on a map and be able to see that happening in real time,” the Upper East Side Democrat told the Daily News on Wednesday.

New York Daily News NYC Councilman Kallos to push for expanded early voting access, blasts Albany lawmakers by Michael Gartland, Denis Slattery

NYC Councilman Kallos to push for expanded early voting access, blasts Albany lawmakers

Just months after New York City offered early voting for the first time during a presidential election, voters could soon get more early voting options under a new City Council bill expected to be introduced Thursday.

The bill, which Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos, plans to introduce to the Council at a Thursday meeting, would increase the number of early voting sites, with expanded hours of operation and at least two sites required in each Council district initially for the upcoming June primary.


“This would add at least two early voting polling sites per Council district for the coming election and would eventually scale up to eight. It would also give voters more hours to vote,” Kallos told the Daily News. “During the last election, there were zero early voting sites in my Council district. To be fair, one was 500 feet outside my district, but we don’t have enough early voting sites.”

Kallos blamed the city Board of Elections and legislators in Albany and called state lawmakers “corrupt” for not passing a law mandating more early voting sites.

The current state law requires just seven sites per county, he pointed out.

New York Daily News NYC would share meeting info via new app, under bill from Manhattan lawmaker by Shant Shahrigian

NYC would share meeting info via new app, under bill from Manhattan lawmaker

You can’t fight City Hall, but it’s good to know what they’re doing from time to time.

Under a forthcoming bill from Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the city would be required to do a better job sharing info about future meetings and city business.

The legislation, set to be introduced Thursday, would make the city create an app to publish timely information about every public meeting held by municipal government entities.

The bill also mandates a standard format for the presentation of the info on the app and on city government websites.

“I want to put government in people’s pockets in a good way with an app that will tell you what’s happening and when you need to make your voice heard, so you get the city you want,” Kallos told the Daily News on Tuesday.

NYC Council Member Ben Kallos (Alec Tabak for New York Daily News)

A task force would be convened to come up with a concept to display meeting info on the app and city websites, according to Kallos.

He said by using open-source software for the app, the city could produce the technology cost-free.

New Yorkers who want to get involved with their communities are often in the dark about things like monthly community council meetings at local precincts and how to register to testify at City Council hearings, Kallos said.

“Ever since this election, people keep stopping me in the street asking me how they can get more involved in government,” the councilman said. “That’s a feature, not a bug. I think government is deliberate in making it difficult for people to get involved.”

New York Daily News Tax on second home, pay freeze for city workers and more suggested by NYC’s Independent Budget Office by Shant Shahrigan

Tax on second home, pay freeze for city workers and more suggested by NYC’s Independent Budget Office

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who’s outlined billions of dollars in budget savings, applauded many of IBO’s suggestions.

“If only the city would listen, we could save so much money,” he told the Daily News.

But some of this year’s proposals, like raising the fare for Access-A-Ride, the city service for disabled commuters, were non-starters, Kallos said.

“Raising fares on the disabled is just a bad idea,” he said.

New York Daily News NYC still short on masks and PPE to fend off second COVID wave: Councilman by Michael Gartland

NYC still short on masks and PPE to fend off second COVID wave: Councilman

Those numbers are all certainly large, but according to Councilman Ben Kallos, three of them fall short of the city’s stated goals.

An internal de Blasio administration document obtained by Kallos and shared with the Daily News reveals that the city goal is to have a 90-day supply of each item. As of Tuesday, it only has a 15-day supply of gloves, a 62-day supply of N95 masks and an 87-day supply of face shields.

“We are 30 days short of the supply we need,” Kallos said of the masks. “It’s dishonest for the mayor to put out the numbers claiming victory when people need to know we don’t have enough N95 masks.”

Shortages of those masks during the height of the pandemic in March and April quickly became a lightning rod as hospital staffers were forced to recycle them for days past their shelf life.

New York Daily News Petition gathering makes no sense during COVID outbreak, say NYC Council Members by Shant Shahrigian

Petition gathering makes no sense during COVID outbreak, say NYC Council Members

The coronavirus outbreak gives renewed importance to a bill ending the petition-gathering part of qualifying for local elections, says Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan).

Under a bill he introduced in 2016, the city would end the requirement for candidates for City Council and other offices to gather signatures of support in order to run.

Instead, Kallos says raising enough cash to qualify for matching funds from the city’s Campaign Finance Board should suffice.

“On the list of bad ideas to do during a pandemic is running around asking people to sign a piece of paper so that folks can get on the ballot,” Kallos told the Daily News on Monday.

“We’re going to have hundreds of people running for City Council in 2021,” he continued. “The idea that we’re going to have millions of people touching the same pens, signing the same petition boards — it’s looking for trouble, even if we do it safely.”