New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal New York City Council Introduces Bills to Aid Restaurants in Coronavirus Recovery by Emma Tucker

New York City Council Introduces Bills to Aid Restaurants in Coronavirus Recovery

Councilman Ben Kallos on Wednesday is expected to introduce two additional bills intended to support small businesses during the pandemic. The first one would streamline the process for restaurants to obtain a sidewalk-cafe license or renew one if it was previously approved. It would also allow for licenses to be transferred if the establishment undergoes a change of ownership.

Mr. Kallos, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan, also plans to introduce a bill that would establish a low-interest small grants and loans program that would provide restaurants with up to $250,000 in funds to bring their restaurants into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. Mr. Kallos said the funds could be used for infrastructure changes, as well as ventilation improvements and other public health measures to assist those who are at greater risk for developing serious complications of the coronavirus.

“Accessibility can be a challenge because there are so many old buildings that were built prior to the ADA,” said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the city’s hospitality alliance, a nonprofit association representing restaurants and nightlife establishments. “This bill could provide the much needed support to assist them in becoming more accessible.”

Wall Street Journal U.N. Gathering Will Be Virtual, Hampering Informal Diplomacy by William Maudin

U.N. Gathering Will Be Virtual, Hampering Informal Diplomacy

The pared-down event schedule also may affect climate-change demonstrations and other gatherings meant to catch the attention of top officials from around the world and the media.

The lack of a surge of diplomats will hurt New York economically in September, especially when the U.S. Open has no fans and New York Fashion Week will be reduced in size.

“A lot of restaurants, hotels and other venues are going to go unbooked, losing millions of dollars for the city,” said New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents an area of Manhattan north of the U.N. “The only group of people I know who won’t be complaining is anyone who drives a car in Manhattan. That is the only silver lining.”

Wall Street Journal Investigation of New York City Shelter Operator Grows by Katie Honan

Investigation of New York City Shelter Operator Grows

Mr. Medina is the former CEO of Puerto Rican Organization to Motivate, Enlighten and Serve Addicts, a nonprofit affiliate of Acacia. Neither he nor Distinctive Maintenance’s management team could be reached for comment.

After the city launched its initial investigation, City Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan, called for a hearing on nonprofit city contractors.

He said the city should not have to worry about “self-dealing,” especially with funding for the city’s neediest. The hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.

Wall Street Journal Councilman Calls for Hearing on Nonprofit Contractors and Their Business Ties by Katie Honan

Councilman Calls for Hearing on Nonprofit Contractors and Their Business Ties

A New York City councilman is calling for a hearing to look at nonprofit city contractors after officials opened an investigation into the allegedly undisclosed business ties that a top homeless shelter provider has with a security firm.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the city’s Department of Investigation had opened a probe into the relationship between Acacia Network Housing Inc., a nonprofit homeless services provider, and SERA Security Services LLC. SERA was founded by the Acacia’s CEO, Raul Russi.

Since 2010, Acacia has received more than $1 billion in contracts from the city’s Department of Homeless Services to operate shelters. The nonprofit paid more than $12 million to SERA in 2017 for the firm to provide security services at some of Acacia’s shelters, according to the nonprofit’s most recent federal tax filing.

Wall Street Journal New York City Ferry Riders Faced Long Waits Over Holiday Weekend by Malanie Grayce West

New York City Ferry Riders Faced Long Waits Over Holiday Weekend

City Councilman Ben Kallos said he planned to enjoy Sunday’s sunny weather with his family aboard a NYC Ferry boat. He arrived at the ferry system’s East 90th Street stop in Manhattan just before 11 a.m. When a ferry pulled up, only 50 people, about half of the waiting line, were able to board, he said. The councilman and his family waited 30 minutes more for another boat. By that time the line had grown by an additional 40 people, who then had to wait for the boat after his.

“This is supposed to be a form of public transportation,” Mr. Kallos, a Democrat, said in an interview Monday. “We can’t live in a reality where you have to wait for a ferry and then not have enough room on that ferry. Or wait an hour or half an hour for the next ferry. That’s just not acceptable.”

Wall Street Journal New York City and New Jersey Take Heat Over Response to Snowstorm by Paul Berger

New York City and New Jersey Take Heat Over Response to Snowstorm

In New York City, several buses serving special-needs students struggled to get through the city’s traffic-snarled roads. Five children spent more than 10 hours without a bathroom break or meal because their school bus got stuck in Manhattan and the Bronx on Thursday, according to New York City Council member Ben Kallos.

Wall Street Journal NYC Initiatives Seek to Curb Campaign Contributions and Board Term Limits by Katie Honon

NYC Initiatives Seek to Curb Campaign Contributions and Board Term Limits

But others see an opportunity for reform at every level if the provisions pass.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has pushed for campaign-finance reform since he ran for office in 2013.

“I really think that the system has too much big money into it,” he said. He hopes the changes will increase participation, particularly with first-time candidates.

“It is not humanly possible for someone to run for mayor on small dollars,” he said. “And with this change, it is.”

Wall Street Journal More Pre-K Seats Planned for Upper East Side by Leslie Brody

More Pre-K Seats Planned for Upper East Side

Wall Street Journal Ben Kallos, a Democratic councilman who represents the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, has pushed for more pre-K seats there for years, often sending photos of empty storefronts that could serve as centers to the Department of Education. Mr. Kallos said private pre-K in that area typically starts at $24,000 per child yearly, and getting a free public seat lets parents keep working and stay in the city.

“My only concern is that this is an incredibly popular program and it will continue to be a victim of its own success as more and more parents apply,” and demand will keep outpacing supply, he said.

 

 

 

Wall Street Journal: Bill Seeking Transparency in Affordable Housing Passes New York City Council by Cezary Podkul

Bill Seeking Transparency in Affordable Housing Passes New York City Council

Applicants also would be able to track the progress of their applications and see where they are on waiting lists to rent units, which are awarded by lottery. By 2021, residents also would be able to verify with the city that they are being charged a legal rent.

The legislation is meant to make the application and search process more transparent and efficient, said the bill’s lead sponsor, Council Member Benjamin Kallos.

“I want to make it more like StreetEasy or Zillow,” Mr. Kallos said, referring to the popular housing search websites.

The city already runs a website that helps tenants find income-restricted apartments, NYC Housing Connect, but Mr. Kallos said it is “incredibly broken” because it doesn’t do enough to match tenants with available units.

Wall Street Journal: New York City Landlords Soon Could Be Required to Post Energy Ratings by Josh Barbanel

New York City Landlords Soon Could Be Required to Post Energy Ratings

Large buildings across New York will have to post letter grades in their lobbies disclosing their energy efficiency, if a measure before the City Council passes.

The new rating system is modeled after the ubiquitous grades for sanitation posted in restaurant windows across New York.

The proposal is part of a package of quality-of-life measures due to be taken up by the City Council on Tuesday, at its final scheduled meeting of the year.

A second measure is designed to limit noisy after-hours construction that has led to complaints in residential neighborhoods, especially on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

The report card bill was approved by the council’s environmental protection committee on Monday. It requires both commercial and residential buildings with more than 50,000 square feet to post a notice near each building entrance.

The notice would include the posting of a federal energy efficiency rating already required under existing law, and a simplified letter grade from A-D  (or F for some buildings that fail to file) beginning in 2020.

Council member Daniel Garodnick of Manhattan, the lead sponsor of the bill, said he expected it to pass the council easily. He said it would allow commercial tenants and residential renters and owners to pressure building owners for improvements.

“We think that a market-driven approach here will help encourage more efficient buildings,” said Mr. Garodnick, whose tenure on the council ends this month because of term limits. “We think it will foster a higher level of engagement.”