New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

William Engel

New York County Politics City Council Introduces New Relief Package at First Ever Virtual Hearing by William Engel

City Council Introduces New Relief Package at First Ever Virtual Hearing

On Apr. 22, the City Council conducted the first virtual hearing in its 52-year history. The meeting saw the introduction of several new COVID-19 relief bills, courtesy of Laurie Cumbo, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen), and Council Members Carlina Rivera (D-East Village, Gramercy Park), Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), Adrienne Adams (D-Queens), Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) and Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill), among others.

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The four bills in this category were as follows:

  • Int. 1918, sponsored by Speaker Johnson and Majority Leader Cumbo, would require large employers to pay premiums to non-salaried essential workers, until New York lifts its state of emergency.
  • Int. 1923, sponsored by Councilmembers Kallos, Johnson and Lander, would ban all employers from firing essential workers without just cause.
  • Int. 1926, sponsored by Councilmember Lander, would expand the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act to include freelancers and gig economy workers.
  • Res. 1285, sponsored by Councilmembers Lander and Kallos, would prevent businesses from misclassifying their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits.

“As we continue to thank and praise all these workers, including cheering for them nightly, we must protect them from facing retaliation for speaking out against unsafe conditions and demanding protective equipment,” said Kallos, explaining the rationale behind Int. 1923.

New York County Politics Manhattan Lawmakers Share Their Thoughts on Warren’s WSP Rally by William Engel

Manhattan Lawmakers Share Their Thoughts on Warren’s WSP Rally

Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered a stirring speech at a packed rally in New York last Monday.

The rally took place in Washington Square Park, a block away from the site of 1911’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Warren used the fire as a cautionary tale about what happens when we let corporate interests dictate governmental policy. She claimed that history is repeating itself, as our government is still beholden to massive industries, from the oil companies to the gun lobby to big pharma.

“Everybody knew about these problems, but the fat profits were making New York’s factory owners rich,” said Warren. “Instead of changing conditions at the factories, the owners worked their political connections. They made campaign contributions and talked with their friends in the legislature. They greased the state government so thoroughly that nothing changed. Business owners got richer, politicians got more powerful, and working people paid the price. Does any of this sound familiar?”

New York County Politics Carnegie Hill Gets Smart About Rat Control by William Engel

Carnegie Hill Gets Smart About Rat Control

What’s the best way to get rid of rats? According to Caroline Bragdon, director of neighborhood interventions and pest control services for the Department of Health, the answer isn’t brute force but firm persuasion.

“What we talk about in neighborhood rat management is controlling them at the places they need to survive,” said Bragdon. “Many times in New York, when we get complaints, people want us to spray them, they want us to bomb them, they want us to nuke the place. But they’re gonna keep coming back unless the conditions that attracted them are removed or addressed.”

New York County Politics Brewer Lets Borough Testify on Zoning Loopholes by William Engel

Brewer Lets Borough Testify on Zoning Loopholes

City Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) got a little emotional when he stood up to testify at a recent hearing on zoning loopholes. By his account, the jogs he takes with his infant daughter at Central Park are becoming less and less enjoyable, as the surrounding architecture casts a larger and larger shadow over the park.

“Objects to the south cast a shadow, at least in this hemisphere, to the north,” said Kallos. “I go running with my daughter; she’s in a jogging stroller. And when I take her jogging in the afternoon, when I finally get to do it, it’s dark in the southern part of the park, particularly in the winter months when it gets cold. And she gets cold, and so we have to stay away from the southern end of the park, because it’s starting to be very, very dark and very, very cold.”