New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

PIX11

PIX11 Calls from local lawmakers to defund NYPD by Nicole Johnson, Stephen M. Lepore

Calls from local lawmakers to defund NYPD

HOLLIS, Queens — Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has been among those to push New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to cut the NYPD’s budget and put funding back into the community.

Williams is among several lawmakers in favor of cuts.

“We are here to change the framework and he’s setting us up for failure,” Williams said of the mayor.

De Blasio disagreed at a press conference Wednesday.

“I say to people that say 'defund the police,' I understand the impulse but that is not the way to move forward and misses the reality we are facing right now,” he said.

Council members such as Jimmy Van BramerBrad LanderMargaret Chin and Ben Kallos are among those who have also called on funding cuts.

PIX11 City Council reconvenes to plot COVID-19 response by Ayana Harry

City Council reconvenes to plot COVID-19 response

MANHATTAN — After responding to the city’s COVID-19 crisis for weeks, members of the City Council are back together thanks to technology.

On Wednesday, the council held its first virtual stated meeting.

“It was a little unreal. I never thought we'd actually be doing it,” Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos told PIX11 News.

“We have an essential workers’ bill of rights that I'm hoping we can get passed in the next two weeks in time to have a real impact during this pandemic,” Kallos said.

The bill of rights proposes paid sick leave for independent contractors and businesses with more than 100 essential employees would have to provide hazard pay ranging from $30 to $75 per shift.

“We have legislation that would put protections in place for those essential workers, so that they speak out and say, 'I need protective equipment,' they can't get fired for that,” Kallos explained.

PIX11 Senior centers closed in New York City, though meals are available by MONICA MORALES

Senior centers closed in New York City, though meals are available

NEW YORK — Monday morning, the signs are everywhere: closed.

Hundreds of senior centers across the city were close because of coronavirus. But Jacklyn Reed, 69, of Harlem, said she still needs her meal.

“I’m sick. I’m a dialysis patient. I have cancer. I’m getting my meal. It's a life saver,” said Reed.

At the King Towers senior center between 112th and 113th streets on Lenox Avenue, seniors have to grab and go.

Across town in Yorkville, seniors are picking up their lunch at the Isaacs Center on 93rd Street and 1st Avenue.

Barbara Scavone got her meal Monday afternoon, but she was not happy; she says she misses her friends.

Councilmember Ben Kallos represents the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and East Harlem; he tweeted this call to action: "The Isaac Center is looking for volunteers to serve the community in this time of need."

“We are looking for some heros, some volunteers who are feeling fine, who are willing to go there, pick things up, deliver to seniors, knock or ring and leave it there, and keep the social distancing and get people that food,” asked Kallos.

Reach out if you want to be a volunteer: communitysupport@isaacscenter.org

PIX11 NYC Council holds hearing on free after-school care by Ayana Harry

NYC Council holds hearing on free after-school care

MANHATTAN — City Councilman Ben Kallos is fighting for legislation that would create universal, free, after-school activities for all New York City public school students.

"After-school activities are literally thousands of dollars a year and that's just money most families don't have," Kallos told PIX11 News inside City Hall Tuesday.

"New Yorkers are working longer than anyone else in the country, and that is leaving kids

PIX11 New York sees drawbacks to delivery convenience by NARMEEN CHOUDHURY

New York sees drawbacks to delivery convenience

Delivery trucks come and go at all hours of the day, are sometimes double parked and sit idle and at times the sorting of endless packages is happening right on city sidewalks.

Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos says his district isn't happen and he believes delivery companies themselves should be doing more by getting themselves more warehouses.

An estimated million and a half packages flood into New York City daily and according to the Times that number tripled from 2009 to 2017. The delivery companies most utilized by New Yorkers? Amazon, freshDirect, Peapod, UPS and FedEx.

So, as the burden grows, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said congestion pricing will likely be the most immediate plan to ease the pain on the roads.

PIX11 School bus fails to show up; leaves children with special needs stranded by Magee Hickey

School bus fails to show up; leaves children with special needs stranded

NEW YORK — Lainie Gutterman has two children with special needs who rely on City Department of Education buses to take them to their special-needs school on Long Island.

But she got a text message from her bus driver that said: “There was a mechanical error, no bus today, bus running again on Monday.”

PIX11 New bus app tracker rolling out in NYC by kala Rama

New bus app tracker rolling out in NYC

An app for the 9,000 bus routes going to and from schools across New York City was just rolled out.

“We’ll have GPS in every bus on the first day of school, and through our partnership with Via, we’ll soon have a state-of-the-art app for families to track buses and get real-time automatic updates,” said Schools Chancellor Richard  Carranza. “We are grateful for the City Council's advocacy, leadership and partnership. Safe and reliable transportation is critical for all families, and we’re committed to getting it right this year.”

The app will feature updates on bus location, student ridership, route changes and vehicle delays.

PIX11 ‘It’s not fiction, it’s a horror story’: LES residents living in tiny apartment halfway between floors by Maggie Hickey

‘It’s not fiction, it’s a horror story’: LES residents living in tiny apartment halfway between floors

“I’m concerned for the safety of the tenants, mostly an immigrant population, Ben Kallos, a NYC Council Member, told PIX11 News. “Part of me thinks this is like the movie 'Being John Malkovich,' back in the 1990s. Then there was this idea of creating a floor in between. But that was fiction and this is a horror story,” he added.

The Buildings Department issued a vacate order for apartment 601 and the apartment right above, 701. You can even see from the outside of the building the many air conditioners and boarded up windows in the two apartments.

PIX11 Cyclists celebrate 2nd Avenue bike lane by BY ALICIA NIEVES

Cyclists celebrate 2nd Avenue bike lane

Bike lane advocates and local leaders gathered along 59th Street and 2nd Avenue Friday afternoon for a ribbon cutting and celebration.

The Department of Transportation has added a new protected bike lane along a new stretch of second avenue. That includes a lane by the entrance of the Queensboro bridge.

PIX11 Pictures of art structure at Hudson Yards become subject of controversy by GREG MOCKER

Pictures of art structure at Hudson Yards become subject of controversy

NYC Councilmember Ben Kallos, from the Upper East Side, said he planned to introduce legislation to make sure that tourists' photos and videos "are not taken and sold to the highest bidder."

"Security cameras can help keep us safe, but storing footage for marketing is a nightmare," Kallos said. He suggested that if photo-use policies similar to the Vessel's are in place elsewhere the Council should examine that as well.

Social media companies also have terms and conditions that grant permissions for use to the company.Purchasing a ticket for many other attractions and events also gives consent for photography.