New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Coronavirus

Letter to Mayor and Schools Chancellor Proposing Remote Learning Centers

Friday, July 10, 2020

Dear Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carranza, and President Grillo,

As you prepare to open New York City public schools in September offering parents the option of staggered schedules or remote learning, I urge you to explore bolstering this blended learning model with remote learning centers for children who cannot stay at home.

Remote learning centers could be temporarily established by utilizing closed private and parochial schools or finding a new use for existing public spaces such as libraries or youth, senior and community centers. In neighborhoods where these existing schools or public spaces are already in use or provide insufficient space, we can look to the countless empty storefronts, houses of worship, or other temporarily closed or partially closed businesses. Remote learning centers established in these spaces would be supervised, required to follow social distancing measures, and would provide a safe space with a computer and an internet connection. Most importantly, they would provide a space for students whose parents cannot watch them at home to do remote learning, on days when they are not scheduled for in-person instruction at their school, or even full time if attending school requires a dangerous commute.

 

New York Times Public Spaces Weren’t Designed for Pandemics. N.Y.C. Is Trying to Adapt. by Matthew Haag

Public Spaces Weren’t Designed for Pandemics. N.Y.C. Is Trying to Adapt.

Some Upper East Side residents have called for one-way sidewalks. “The stressful part of going anywhere is getting there, because the sidewalks are so narrow,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents parts of the neighborhood and Roosevelt Island. “There’s no room for distancing, especially when people are walking toward you.”

Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio proposing $15.24 billion in potential savings and revenue in order to invest $827 million in spending on programs that support children, families, seniors, and our planet

Monday, June 15, 2020

As we face unprecedented times and a budget that must-see painful cuts, we should look for possible waste and opportunities for revenues and savings. I have proposed $15.24 billion in potential savings and revenue for our city’s budget in order to invest $827 million in spending on programs that support children, families, seniors, and our planet that will reduce costs and generate revenues. 

Our Town Outdoor Cafes for Social Distancing by Jason Cohen

Outdoor Cafes for Social Distancing

After numerous people on the Upper East Side disobeyed social distancing last weekend and converged in front of bars, elected officials are trying to come up with a solution.

On May 18, Council Members Ben Kallos and Keith Powers and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking to grant temporary permission before Memorial Day weekend for bars and restaurants to use sidewalks and streets to serve patrons safely for everyone’s benefit.

The elected officials were quite angry with the recent behavior on the UES and hope that if the city approves these plans, it will prevent those actions.

“Rather than rely on enforcement or fine individuals and small businesses that may already be hurting financially from the pandemic, we should adapt our city’s streets to allow for and encourage safe practices,” the letter states. “Without granting businesses a better option, we are afraid restaurants and bars may just take the risk and pay whatever violations may be issued as a cost of doing business rather than shutter their doors permanently.”

6sqft NYC politicians call for outdoor restaurant seating on sidewalks, streets, and parking spots by DANA SCHULZ

NYC politicians call for outdoor restaurant seating on sidewalks, streets, and parking spots

 

Today, NYC Council Members Ben Kallos and Keith Powers joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in addressing a letter to Mayor de Blasio requesting that “the city immediately grant temporary permission before Memorial Day Weekend for bars and restaurants to use sidewalks and streets to serve patrons safely for everyone’s benefit.” Despite warnings from the NYPD, the letter says that residents on the Upper East Side were “congregating outside the establishments without face coverings or respecting social distancing, putting essential workers, themselves, and those passing by at risk.”

Therefore, the letter asks the mayor to open certain stretches of parking spaces and streets for outdoor service and seating. Due to the scene in the neighborhood this past weekend, the officials are asking that the following Upper East Side locations be rolled out prior to this weekend:

  • Second Avenue from 49th to 53rd Street, 55th to 58th Street, 66th to 70th Street, 73rd to 79th Street, and 81st to 92nd Street.
  • First Avenue from 49th to East 64th Street, 68th Street to 69th Street, 73rd to 78th Street, 81st to 84th Street, and 87th to 89th Street.
  • York Avenue from 75th to 79th Street and 84th to 86th Street.

Courthouse News Service Warren Joins NYC Workers on Virus Front Lines to Strengthen Protections by Amanda Ottaway

Warren Joins NYC Workers on Virus Front Lines to Strengthen Protections

Councilman Ben Kallos co-sponsored a bill in the package with Lander and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson that calls for just-cause firing protection for workers. He referenced the city’s tradition of applauding essential workers at 7 p.m. every evening. 

“The reality is, we need to do more than clap,” he said. 

Gotham Gazette City Council Questions De Blasio's Priorities at First Executive Budget Hearing by Samar Khurshid

City Council Questions De Blasio's Priorities at First Executive Budget Hearing

With the city facing a severe budget crunch because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget proposal released last month cut $6 billion in planned spending, tapped $4 billion from reserves and delayed major capital investments to future years when another mayor will be in office. On Wednesday, about eight weeks before a deal must be reached between the two sides, the City Council held a virtual hearing on the mayor’s spending plan. Council members questioned de Blasio administration budget officials on the mayor’s decisions, why he chose to prioritize certain city agencies and programs over others, and whether they have any contingencies now that the city’s reserves have been all but depleted and tax revenue projections continue to slide. 

The mayor’s $89.3 billion executive budget proposal was crafted with much uncertainty. The city has received far less than it has asked for in federal stimulus funds. The state shifted as much as $800 million in costs onto the city. Cash flows have been interrupted as the annual tax deadline was postponed. It could be months before the economy can be rebooted, with no certainty around what that reboot will look like given the contraction taking place. And the city continues its daily struggle against the coronavirus, with the administration spending $950 million by April 21 on its pandemic response, according to the mayor's office, with those costs only increasing by the day.