Press Coverage

Ameena Walker
05/02/2017
 

While its a step in the right direction, annoyed New Yorkers are saying its not enough and call for legislation that will penalize property owners who keep the sidewalk sheds up for extended lengths of time to avoid making necessary repairs. “We already know how big a problem it is, and unless the city is willing to take steps to get the scaffolding down, it doesn’t matter,” City Councilman Ben Kallos told the Times. He has proposed a bill that would require building owners to make facade repairs within three to six months so that scaffolds aren’t up for longer than that.

 

As a result of the new map, the DOB was able to order 150 scaffolds to be dismantled since work had been finished. Though the database consolidates data, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will help scaffolds come down any quicker. “We’re erring on the side of safety to keep them in place so no one gets hurt,” said DOB Commissioner Rick Candler.

 

Our Town
Madeleine Thompson
05/02/2017
 

Mayor Bill de Blasio rolled out a new initiative last week to offer universal pre-kindergarten to all New York City 3-year-olds, though kinks in the original program have yet to place all 4-year-olds in their preferred schools. Before the mayor’s announcement, Council Member Ben Kallos already had a rally planned for April 30 to demand additional seats for 4-year-olds within his district. “Pre-K for all must include the Upper East Side,” Kallos said at his event. “Three hundred 4-year-olds are being told that they have to take a commute down to the financial district.”

There has been progress on the Upper East Side, however. Since 2013, seats available for 4-year-olds enrolling in pre-K have increased fourfold, from about 150 to about 600. This school year, though, 900 4-year-olds applied to fill them. As of 2014, more than 2,700 children in that age group lived on the Upper East Side, some of whom choose private school. Numerous elected officials attended Kallos’ rally, including city Comptroller Scott Stringer and state Senator Liz Krueger, all of whom echoed Kallos’ call for de Blasio to keep his promise.

 

Mike Smeltz
04/30/2017
 

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Officials and parents rallied Sunday on the Upper East Side, calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to open up more pre-kindergarten seats in neighborhood schools.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, Irina Goldman was planning on placing her 4-year-old into the City’s Pre-K program this upcoming school year. Living at 83rd Street and First Avenue, she was really looking for anything within a 20-minute walk.

But as many parents in the neighborhood are facing, her child was placed in a school six miles away in Lower Manhattan.

“When I found out, honestly, I cried, just out of frustration,” Goldman said.

Upper East Side parent Rob Bates was also hoping he could get his son, Michael, a pre-K seat a program somewhere – really anywhere – in the neighborhood. But Michael, 4, was assigned to a program in Union Square – at least a 30-minute subway ride away.

Bates said the trip was a huge burden for their family.

“The subways are very crowded, and it makes us nervous,” he said. “You know, you have a fragile little child. You don’t want to put him on a crowded subway like that, especially for that length of time.”

In all, more than 900 Upper East Side families with 4-year-olds applied for the Pre-K program. A third of them were given seats outside the neighborhood, creating a logistical nightmare for parents.

Goldman said her family has no clue now if they are going to send their child to pre-K at all.

 

Gotham Gazette
Samar Khurshid
04/28/2017
 

A bill heard by the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations on Thursday aims to further limit the influence of big-dollar donations and special interests in city elections. The bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, who chairs the committee, would tweak the city’s public campaign finance system by removing a cap on public funds disbursed to candidate campaigns by the Campaign Finance Board (CFB).

The city’s campaign finance system is held up as a national model that incentivizes small dollar donations by matching them with public funds. Each qualifying contribution up to $175 is matched 6-to-1 by the city, through the CFB, allowing candidates with a lack of access to personal wealth or deep-pocketed donors to run competitive campaigns. Currently, the CFB only matches public funds up to 55 percent of the spending limit for a particular seat.

 

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
04/28/2017
 

"If you own a piece of land where the zoning says you can't build a skyscraper in this part of the district, you don’t get to draw an imaginary line in the sand," said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who filed the appeal with other elected officials and the Carnegie Hill Neighbors group this month.

 

Tanay Warerkar
04/28/2017
 

Neighbors and local elected officials have however argued that that consensus was ludicrous, and that it would be hard to imagine a building going up in a 10-by-22-foot lot. Neighbors have already filed two appeals against the project, according to DNAinfo, and now led by their local City Council member, Ben Kallos, they have filed a third. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has expressed her opposition to the project as well.

 

New York Daily News
Erin Durkin
04/25/2017
 

“We’ll be able to see who’s getting hurt, where and why so that we as a city can make construction safer. We must count every life,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the bill’s sponsor.

 

AMANDA MIKELBERG
04/25/2017
 

Councilman Ben Kallos, who co-chairs the East River Esplanade Taskforce, applauded the plan. “I will finally be able to run the full length of my district from Midtown East to East Harlem,” he said.

 

AMY PLITT
04/25/2017
 

Local officials, including City Council members Ben Kallos, Dan Gardonick and Ydanis Rodriguez; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney also cheered the decision, with Garodnick noting that, “while we still have some considerable gaps, our plans just got a whole lot closer to reality.” Another $5 million will be allocated to a study of the Greenway’s remaining parcels, with the goal of clarifying next steps in finishing the entire waterfront.

 

Brendan Krisel
04/25/2017
 

“The dream of an East River Greenway is getting closer with a vital connection to fill the gap between 53rd and 61st streets. I will finally be able to run the full length of my district from Midtown East to East Harlem,” City Council Member and Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce Ben Kallos said in a statement.

 

 

Our Town
LAURA HANRAHAN
04/25/2017
 

Council Member Ben Kallos said his office is working with police to increase oversight of that stretch of York.

Kallos said his office worked to eliminate asymmetric lights at East 79th Street and York, and recently installed leading pedestrian intervals at the intersection where the collision took place, which allow pedestrians to enter the intersection before vehicles.

 

New York Daily News
Erin Durkin
04/24/2017
 

The legislation introduced by Councilman Ben Kallos would cover stores, restaurants, office building lobbies and all other public buildings where New Yorkers now often only have the option to trash paper and plastic items that could be recycled.

 

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
04/24/2017
 

More than 900 4-year-olds and their families applied for pre-K this year, but there were only 596 seats available on the Upper East Side, meaning that 300 students and their parents must travel outside the neighborhood to get to school, according to City Councilman Ben Kallos.

 

New York Daily News
Jillian Jorgensen
04/22/2017
 

Scientists are ditching their labs and taking to the streets Saturday — with marches planned in New York City and Washington aimed at protecting the public funding of science.

Among those marching in Manhattan is Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side), a computer scientist by trade — who hopes the marches sway scientists to run for office.

“It would be nice not to be the only nerd in government,” quipped Kallos.

The councilman said he’d like to see the federal government recognize climate change is real — a dig at President Trump’s policies on the issue.

“I would like to see a government that makes decisions based on science and measures the results of those decisions,” he said.

While Trump’s planned budget cuts and disdain for climate science may have precipitated the march, its local organizers stressed the event won’t be partisan.

 

Nathan Tempey
04/21/2017
 

East Side Councilman Ben Kallos is planning to introduce a bill to cut down on light pollution by mandating that the city use light-directing fixtures when replacing streetlights.

 

Gotham Gazette
Samar Khurshid
04/20/2017
 

Excerpt:

The City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations, which has oversight of the CFB, is set to hear a bill on April 27 that would raise the cap on matching funds from 55 percent of the spending cap to a full match of the cap. The bill is sponsored by the committee’s chair, Council Member Ben Kallos, who is a participant in the public funds program and has spearheaded campaign finance reform in the Council. Kallos had reservations about some of the bills that were expedited through the Council late last year and believes his bill will significantly shift the election landscape.

“I was concerned with recent amendments and their impact on the campaign finance system,” he said, “and as we get closer to the June deadline for opting in or out of the system, we will learn just what impact that legislation had and whether it improves participation in the system or actually discourages it. And whatever the results, I hope to create new incentives for people to participate.” The CFB is reviewing Kallos’ proposal and will testify at the hearing.

Read the whole story at http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6882-city-council-members-opt-out-of-campaign-finance-program

 

Rachel Sugar
04/19/2017
 

According to the audit, the vast majority of POPS hadn’t been inspected in four years—and if they had been, those inspections were regularly “late, incomplete, or ineffective.” In the last four years, only 58 locations had been inspected in total. Of those, 41 were found to be noncompliant. Of those, only 10 were issued violations.

But enforcement may be about to get a whole lot more stringent. In addition to the report’s recommendations—proactively investigate POPS, maintain a better database of them, install more and better signs around the plazas—three new bills were introduced in City Council last month. The bills, introduced by Council members Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick, are designed to protect POPS through steeper fines, annual inspections, increased signage, and a new website where people could register complaints.

 

 

 

Jonathon Sizemore
04/11/2017
 

Intro No. 0931-2015, sponsored by Ben Kallos, would treat unpaid judgments rendered by the Environmental Control Board as tax liens on the property in question, which would potentially subject the building to the City’s tax-lien sale program.

 

Rachel Sugar
04/11/2017
 

To help compensate for the potential loss of height, the plan would allow a slight increase in maximum floor-area ratio (from 12 to 13), encouraging more building density in the area. And—the final tenet of the rezoning proposal—20 percent of new units would be required to be “dedicated to below-market-rate housing on site.”

So far, the Alliance’s rezoning proposal has some pretty big backers, DNAInfo reports. Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick have all said they’d sign off on the plan if it passes the Department of City Planning’s review process.

The Department of City Planning is expected to certify the Alliance’s application “in the next two weeks,” making way for a formal public review process.

 

Brendan Krisel
04/11/2017
 

Then the neighborhood decided to take action into its own hands.

Late last year the East River 50s Alliance submitted a rezoning plan to the Department of City Planning that would cap building height at 260 feet in Sutton Place and convert the area into an Inclusionary Housing Designated Area, Mercurio told Patch.

The plan would preserve the context of the neighborhood while advancing Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing agenda, Mercurio said. Four local elected officials — City Councilman Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Kreuger and Borough President Gale Brewer — co-signed the rezoning application.

 

 

 

Our Town
Madeleine Thompson
04/11/2017
 

Some of the projects the Council wants to see prioritized are air conditioning in public schools, moving adolescents off Rikers Island and funding the East River Esplanade project. Council Member Ben Kallos, in whose district most of the esplanade is located, said the problem is “bigger than anyone ever thought it was.”

 

Miriam Hall
04/10/2017
 

A Sutton Place community group working to curb supertalls in the neighborhood has formally submitted a rezoning proposal to the Department of City Planning. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick support the proposal.

 

Mary McDonnell
John Annese
03/31/2017
 

He was caught on video hurling a table at a 46-year-old man on E. 81st St. at 3:38 p.m. March 18, police said. Sources said Uno was trying to scare the man.

Despite her notoriety, this is Barrionueva’s first arrest and she was released without bail.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side, said residents have complained about her for years.

“I’m hoping that between law enforcement and city agencies providing mental health (treatment), that she isn’t subject to jail,” Kallos said.

Uno was held on $2,500 bail.

 

Our Town
LAURA HANRAHAN
03/29/2017
 

One of Manhattan’s busiest — and slowest — bus routes will soon join the growing list of select bus services (SBS). The M79 crosstown bus, which serves more than 14,000 riders each day, is expected to make the change in service later this May. The select service will require riders to pay at kiosks on the sidewalk before boarding the bus, in an attempt to cut down on time spent idling and improve the route’s 4.3 mph average speed. Signs with real-time arrival information will also be installed at each stop. The annual operating budget is expected to be approximately $1.73 million, according to the January 2017 MTA Transit and Bus Committee meeting handbook.

Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, personally requested that the service be implemented.

“Our crosstown buses serve tens of thousands of passengers a day and it makes a huge difference and cuts a lot of time off people’s commutes,” he said. “On 79th Street I, like many residents, have had to wait in lines around the block to get on the bus and I’ve often found that when the lines get that long it’s faster to just walk where I’m going instead of waiting for the bus.”