New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York Daily News

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.”

New York Daily News NYC bill would put yellow taxi and Uber hails in a single app, offering possible help to struggling industry by Clayton Guse

NYC bill would put yellow taxi and Uber hails in a single app, offering possible help to struggling industry

New York City’s ailing taxicab industry may get a boost if a proposed bill gets a green light from the City Council.

The legislation would require the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission to establish a “universal e-hail app” to let riders order from a single app any for-hire vehicle — including taxis and cars that normally drive for Uber or Lyft.

ntroduced by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the bill is like one he pitched in 2014, before Uber raked in a majority of the city’s ride hails.

But with e-hail companies like Uber and Lyft getting three times the rides as yellow and green taxis before the pandemic — and more than eight times the rides as of September — Kallos said it’s high time to level the playing field.

New York Daily News NYC Council bill would raise wages for human services workers by Shant Shahrigan

NYC Council bill would raise wages for human services workers

Nonprofits that get city contracts to provide human services would have to give their employees raises, under a bill set to be introduced in the City Council on Thursday.

The legislation would help facilitate a “worker-led recovery” from the economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the bill’s prime sponsor.

New York Daily News A bridge to a better transit future by Amanda Schachter

A bridge to a better transit future

Cyclist and pedestrian access on the Queensboro Bridge isn’t just a leisure-time amenity connecting Manhattan and Queens locales. The North Outer Roadway is a vital interborough axis for essential delivery workers on e-bikes, heading to and from Manhattan from neighborhoods as far as Flushing and Jamaica. With round-the-clock flow, the afternoon rush hour gives way to a second peak around midnight, after restaurant closing times.

That the North Outer Roadway has avoided serious crashes so far is a testament to micromobility and biking’s forgiving nature. Cycling and scootering, even alongside pedestrians, can function because of clear sightlines and the ability to change direction and stop short — until crowding and higher speeds make it impossible.

Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer and Ben Kallos have promised immediate funding to build safety fencing on the South Outer Roadway, but NYC DOT says that the earliest they can work on this is 2022. That means the city is forcing people to share a narrow 30-block sidewalk with racing motor scooters for two more years.

New York Daily News P.C. Richard & Son says City Hall should be in the hot seat for their ‘Get Cool NYC’ program by Rich Calder

P.C. Richard & Son says City Hall should be in the hot seat for their ‘Get Cool NYC’ program

City officials claim P.C. Richard & Son failed to live up to its longtime slogan, “Richard IS Reliable,” by abruptly reneging on a nearly $10 million “emergency” contract in June to both supply and install 30,000 air conditioners in homes of low-income New Yorkers at least 60 years old by late July.

“P.C. Richard advertises itself as being reliable, but New York City couldn’t rely on them in our time of need,” quipped Ben Kallos, Manhattan NYC Councilman who chairs the Committee on Contracts.

However, company officials told the Daily News the deal went sour after just two weeks once P.C. Richard realized it could only install about 125 a day because most of the information city agencies provided for scheduling work was wrong and led to big delays. They claim the misinformation included providing the chain with faulty addresses and phone numbers for residents getting the units as well as assigning air conditioner models to homes that were not compatible.

New York Daily News As layoffs loom for city workers, NYC pays $163M to corporate consultancies by Shant Shahrigian

As layoffs loom for city workers, NYC pays $163M to corporate consultancies

In the face of staggering tax revenue shortfalls, this year’s $88 billion city budget inflicted painful cuts to numerous city agencies — including about $770 million to the Education Department, according to the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget. Meanwhile, contracts were trimmed by just over $300 million, to $17 billion, after ballooning for years.

The city should cancel contracts with multinational businesses like Deloitte and review the rest of the contracts with an eye to trimming or eliminating them, says NYC Councilman Ben Kallos, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Contracts.

“Before we start threatening to lay off and reduce wages for city employees, we should trim the fat and cut these bloated consulting contracts,” Kallos told The News.

New York Daily News Abrupt funding cut from Mayor de Blasio pulls rug out from under NYC nonprofits, critics say by Shant Shahrigian

Abrupt funding cut from Mayor de Blasio pulls rug out from under NYC nonprofits, critics say

Last week, de Blasio informed nonprofit leaders that funding for indirect costs would be cut by $20 million, down to $34 million.

“We recognize that this cut comes at a time that is also challenging for our city partners as they deliver services during COVID-19 re-opening,” Hizzoner wrote service providers last week, adding that the city was making “an effort to recognize all of these providers and respond equitably.”

That’s not good enough for Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the Council’s Committee on Contracts.

“Mayor de Blasio has the money and he needs to pay up,” he told The News. “These are nonprofits that helped our most vulnerable during the pandemic. Now he’s not only going to hurt them, but the New Yorkers that need the help more than ever.”