New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York Post

New York Post DOE’s $269M iPad deal for remote learning is a ‘waste of money,’ says lawmaker by Susan Edelman

DOE’s $269M iPad deal for remote learning is a ‘waste of money,’ says lawmaker


The total cost: $269,187,271, the DOE said. The department will seek federal reimbursement, it added.

At least one lawmaker, City Councilman Ben Kallos, said the DOE “got a bad deal,” because laptops are not only much cheaper than iPads but better for schoolwork.

Enlarge Image“This is such a waste of money,” he told the Post.

DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot called it a “cost effective long-term investment in our kids that will be used as an educational tool long after the COVID crisis passes.”

The iPads are being “loaned” to kids, not given for free. A tracking device is installed in case kids do not return them.

Barbot said the DOE chose iPads because Apple could commit to producing devices on a large scale in a short time frame and give students connectivity without WiFi.

New York Post NYC Council holds first online meeting 5 weeks after coronavirus shutdown by Rich Calder

NYC Council holds first online meeting 5 weeks after coronavirus shutdown

The City Council met remotely Wednesday for the first time in its 82-year history — ending its five-week shutdown in response to the coronavirus.

The meeting, aired live on the Council’s website, was attended by 50 members — including seven who said they had recovered from the disease over the past month.

“The entire city has had to adjust daily to this ever-changing crisis in ways we never imagined,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson — speaking from his boyfriend’s house in Brooklyn.

“Certainly, our predecessors 82 years ago never imagined a remote stated meeting.

“The Council is proud to practice social distancing while continuing to pass legislation to improve the lives of New Yorkers. We’re looking forward in the weeks to come to holding remote stated meetings and introducing bills that are critical to coping with this crisis and its aftermath.”

At all times, the video feed included 25 council members or lawyers, who would rotate in and out of boxed screens as they were called for vote or speak.

Some like Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) sat in from his Bay Ridge district office, while others like Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) voted from home, occasionally petting his cat nearby. Councilman Chaim Deutch (D-Brooklyn) appeared to be the only legislator outdoors during the meeting, at one point even sporting a protective mask.

New York Post Emails suggest false testimony by de Blasio official over whistleblower’s firing by Julia Marsh

Emails suggest false testimony by de Blasio official over whistleblower’s firing

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who was one of the members questioning Camilo at the hearing, was surprised by the disclosure.

“I’m deeply disappointed in the administration for lying under oath and for doing so with knowledge and willfully,” Kallos said.

“I understand the litigation risk that they were dealing with however there were numerous other questions that were answered with, ‘We can’t answer due to ongoing litigation,'” Kallos said.

“I think we need to look into holding this administration accountable if they come before the council and swear under oath it needs to be the truth,” Kallos said.

New York Post Court order ‘beheading’ UWS tower could impact another super tall building by Sam Raskin, Jennifer Gould Keil, Nolan Hicks

Court order ‘beheading’ UWS tower could impact another super tall building

An opportunistic lawmaker hopes to use a controversial ruling that would knock 20 stories off of a nearly-complete Upper West Side condo highrise to cut another building in Midtown down to size.

“We’re going to file a motion to [re]argue based on this,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who represents a swath of Midtown and the Upper East Side.

The lawmaker’s target is an 847-foot pencil-thin skyscraper currently under construction at 430 East 58th Street that he would like to see cut down to just 400 feet.

New York Post More scaffolds won’t make NYC safer — we must fix Department of Buildings by Steve Cuozzo

More scaffolds won’t make NYC safer — we must fix Department of Buildings

Moreover, it is by no means clear that “sidewalk bridges” — which are really sidewalk tunnels — don’t cause more deaths and injuries than they prevent. Council Member Ben Kallos last January cited seven instances of people in the city injured by scaffold collapses since 2017.

In one case, Katherine Lefavre, then 34, was nearly killed when a “shed” collapsed at 568 Broadway in Soho in November 2018. The accident fractured the top model’s spine and required her to learn how to walk again.

New York Post City forcing dozens of property owners to erect emergency scaffolding by Julia Marsh and Jorge Fitz-GibbonJanuary

City forcing dozens of property owners to erect emergency scaffolding

La Rocca said there are more than 9,500 sidewalk sheds up in the city and that they have remained in place for an average of 300 days.

Some officials said that’s too long.

“New York City has 344 miles of sidewalk sheds,” City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) said. “That’s enough to stretch from City Hall to Canada. We need to study using drone technology and innovative solutions to get sidewalk sheds down while keeping New Yorkers safe.”

One hurdle facing the proposed drone-inspection measure is a 1948 city law, initially intended for airplanes and helicopters, that would prohibit the use of drones within the city.

New York Post New York can end its insane scaffolding plague by New York Post Editorial

New York can end its insane scaffolding plague

City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-UES) has a couple of bills to force landlords to take scaffolding down more rapidly, but the real estate industry fights furiously to avoid the added costs.

What’s needed is leadership to forge some compromise to end a mess unique to New York. If cities can avoid eternal scaffolding everywhere else in the world, it can be done here, too.

New York Post Some scaffolds in NYC have been up for more than 13 years by Georgett Roberts, Julia Marsh and Jorge Fitz-GibbonDecember

Some scaffolds in NYC have been up for more than 13 years

“It’s a quality of life problem for people who live in the buildings in the shadow of these sheds,” said city Councilman Ben Kallos, whose bill to put a timetable on sheds has lingered in committee for three years.

“There’s no reason we should have 300 miles of sidewalk sheds,” Kallos said. “We are the only city that does this. No one wants to walk under that scaffolding unless it’s raining.”

The scaffold scourge was raised Sunday by Post columnist Miranda Devine, who noted that the city has been “uglified” by the jungle of sidewalk sheds.

“It’s ugly,” agreed Crystal Gonzalez, manager at a supermarket across the street from the five-story building at 191 E. 115th St. that has been surrounded by scaffolding since December 2007.

New York Post Devine: How the scourge of scaffolding is ruining New York City by Miranda Devine

Devine: How the scourge of scaffolding is ruining New York City

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, has been trying for three years to fix the problem. But his two proposed bills have been languishing in the Committee on Housing and Buildings since Jan. 24.

He attributes the delay to “overwhelming opposition by the real-estate industry,” including the Real Estate Board of New York, which represents more than 13,000 building owners.

The worst offenders are rental buildings where landlords leave scaffolding in place indefinitely because the $1,200 a month it costs to rent the structure is cheaper than doing a $200,000 repair on the building.

Kallos says he can walk between his home on 92nd Street and Third Avenue and his office at 93rd and Second almost entirely under sidewalk sheds, one of which has been there since before he was elected in 2013.

“As a New Yorker, one of my pet peeves is sidewalk sheds everywhere when I don’t know what just dropped on my head and what they attract, whether people using them as a makeshift shelter or just having negative consequences on our quality of life,” he says.

It is politicians who have created this mess, piling regulation on top of regulation in a knee-jerk response to isolated incidents.

The problem began in 1980, as a well-meaning response to a tragedy on the Upper West Side. Grace Gold, 17, a Barnard College student, was killed by a falling piece of masonry that came loose from a building at Broadway and West 115th Street.

New York Post Condo owner busted for building ‘Being John Malkovich’-like 4th 1/2 floor by ernadette Hogan, Rich Calder and Elizabeth Rosner

Condo owner busted for building ‘Being John Malkovich’-like 4th 1/2 floor

The real estate market in New York has never been this tight.

A Lower East Side condo owner turned his small apartment into a mini-village — by converting it into an illegal duplex with 11 sub-units that had ceilings as low as 4 ¹/₂ feet high, officials said Friday.

The illegal micro apartments at 165 Henry Street are so cramped that condo owner Xue Ping Ni even put up bubble wrap as protection to keep residents from hitting their heads on the many low-hanging pipes.

The bizarre arrangement in Ni’s apartment No. 601 — which was raided and shut down Wednesday night by the city Buildings Department — was compared to something out of a movie.

“This is like the room out of the movie ‘Being John Malkovich,’” said Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos — a nod to the “7th 1/2 floor” Manhattan office in the 1999 indie flick.

“It was funny in fiction, but a horror story in real life.”

It wasn’t clear how much rent Ni was charging for the tiny units. But the residents there were stacked like sardines, as the 11 windowless units were all carved out of the upper-areas of Ni’s single 634-square-foot condo on the building’s 4th floor.

The condo, where nine people were living, also had an illegal bathroom, inspectors said.

The tenants were relocated from the nightmarish fire hazard, when Buildings Department inspectors raided the place in response to a 311 complaint, according to residents and city officials.

A vacate sign on an apartment door in 165 Henry St. on the Lower East Side.William Miller

Inspectors hit Ni with more than $144,000 in fines for failing to have sprinklers, along with proper electrical, structural and plumbing permits.

When The Post visited the building Friday, a reporter observed apparent additional changes to the apartment above Ni’s.

In the second apartment, No. 701 — which Ni has listed in the past as his address — air conditioning units were set up on both the top and bottom of floor-to-ceiling windows in an arrangement that appeared similar to the unit below it.

By 10:30 p.m. on Friday, officials in blue Buildings Department uniforms were back at the property — as seven tenants from No. 701 left carrying luggage or bags.

That apartment, too, had been illegally converted — into 9 single room occupancy units, a DOB spokesman confirmed early Sunday.

Vacate orders were issued for those additional tenants, who were offered immediate relocation assistance by the American Red Cross, the spokesman said.

The units lacked light, ventilation, fire protection systems and proper egress, the spokesman said, declining to confirm whether Ni was the apartment owner.

One departing tenant who didn’t want to be named told The Post Friday night that he and the others had just been ordered to vacate their tiny units in No. 701.

He said the landlord — whom he would not name — had charged him $600 a month for his cramped space, where he’d lived  for the past two months.

He couldn’t say how many tenants shared apartment No. 701 with him. “I don’t know exactly how many,” he said, as he walked away carrying two large suitcases. “But there was a good amount.”

Enlarge Image

NYC Department of Buildings

Kallos had called on DOB to investigate No. 701 too — and ASAP — with or without receiving a formal complaint.

“I’ve never seen air conditioners stacked atop one another like that — five air conditioners in three windows,” said Kallos, upon reviewing a photo of the building’s exterior.

“I can’t imagine needing that much air-conditioning in one apartment, so if someone sees this on the street, that should be more than sufficient for the Department of Buildings to also investigate that apartment.”

Another resident of the complex said short-term tenants were constantly coming and going.

“It was revolving door of people,” said a woman who pays $2,800 per month for her one bedroom apartment on the sixth floor. She has long suspected the building was dangerous.

“There use to be a lot of evacuation [vacate] notices. I just asked [management] if the building is safe because we’re paranoid and they said nothing about it,” the resident said. “The units are all set up real differently. This used to be a rabbinical school.”

Officials slammed the set-up as a life-threatening hazard.

“Every New Yorker deserves a safe and legal place to live, which is why we’re committed to routing out dangerous firetraps and ordering the landlords to make these apartments safe,” DOB spokesman Andrew Rudansky said.

“Tenants living in truncated and windowless dwelling units like this poses an extreme hazard to their safety, as well as the safety of their neighbors, and first responders – a hazard that cannot be tolerated in our city.”

Catherine Keener and John Cusack in “Being John Malkovich”©USA Films/Courtesy Everett Col

He added, “We are holding this landlord accountable for their egregious failure to keep the building safe and livable for tenants.”

In city records, the complex is listed as a 5-story building with 27 legal apartments.

Ni couldn’t be reached at the building for comment Friday.

In the fantasy film “Being John Malkovich,” a failing puppeteer played by John Cusack discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich while interviewing for a job on the “7 1/2 floor” of an office on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.