City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who has been a fierce proponent of CB8’s mission to end private management of the park, said he is ready to allocate funds for this cause.
“I have already represented to the parks department that I would be interested in investing capital funding from my office,” Kallos said, adding there was additional money available from Borough President Gale Brewer and the state.
“I am willing to put my money where my mouth is in investing in this park,” Kallos said.
CB8 has brought up the idea of establishing a conservancy for the park that would raise money for maintenance and other expenses.
The parks department has indicated that if it decides to revert the Queensboro Oval to public management, it would take more than three years to create a fully accessible park.
Kallos insisted that in that scenario, the park should not go unused. Sutton East, he said, could remain in the space during the months it has a license to run its tennis facility provided that it return the park to its original condition during the summer months –– as its license currently requires.
“I am excited to become one of the almost 1 million IDNYC cardholders, and I am proud to do it in my district on Roosevelt Island,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side-Midtown East-Roosevelt Island), who personally signed up for an IDNYC card after the press conference.
“New Yorkers have until Friday to register for what may be the most important general election in our lifetime,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos, who chairs the Committee on Governmental Operations with oversight over the Board of Elections. “New York City’s collective voice must be heard at this year’s election, for that occur residents must ensure they are registered to vote.”
The Office of Immigration Affairs opened a one week pop-up today at the Carter Burden Center on Roosevelt Island. A team will assist residents in applying for the IDNYC card. Unexpectedly, on the same day, a slipshod report in the New York Post attacked the popular program. Council Member Ben Kallos used the occasion to briskly knock the report down.
"What I love about this ID Card is it shows that what is good for older people is good for everyone," said Bill Dionne, Executive Director of the Carter Burden Center for the Aging.
Carter Burden, which oversees the Roosevelt Island Senior Center at 546 Main Street, is hosting the week long pop-up. It runs daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and until noon on Monday, October 17th. While Dionne and others spoke, Office of Immigration Affairs staffers could be seen at their computers in an adjoining room, already working with early applicants.
Deputy Commissioner Kavita Pawria-Sanchez reported, "As of today, enrollment has grown to 900,000 cardholders, already one out of every ten New Yorkers."
That outcome is largely the reason Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, requested that the authority add SBS to the M66, M96 and M79 bus lines.
“After the success of M86, we wanted to bring it to M79,” Kallos said after the meeting.
UPPER EAST SIDE — Thousands of locals have signed a petition to add East 72nd Street to the M15 Select Bus Service route along First and Second avenues.
The stop was removed from the M15's express route when the MTAreplaced limited bus service with Select Bus Service along the line six years ago.
Now, residents have to walk to East 68th Street, East 67th Street or up to the East 79th Street stop to catch the Select Bus, a hike they say is difficult for the elderly and disabled. The other option is to wait up to 30 minutes for the local bus, residents said.
"Why can't we just pay with our cellphones like you can in so many other places? Why can't you just tap and go as you get on every single entrance of the bus?" said City Councilman Ben Kallos of Manhattan.
Before the mayor or NYCHA tries to sell off our playground so he can put up luxury housing, he should reach into his own pocket,” City Councilmember Ben Kallos said. “And NYCHA and Mayor Bill de Blasio would go from being the worst landlords in the City of New York to the best landlords in the City of New York.”
In their continued opposition — not only to demolishing the playground, but to the overall infill project itsel — residents of Holmes Towers like Glendora Israel stressed that the new complex would make life rougher for NYCHA residents.
“Do you want to get rid of this playground? Do you want to put up fake affordable housing that you could never afford?” Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the area, asked the crowd of 50 people gathered at this weekend’s “Party to Protect the Playground” rally. Each time, the answer was an emphatic “no!”
Has the communication and decision-making process under Shorris been changed?
Although Shorris conceded that on Rivington his decisions were not adequately relayed and that there were gaps in communication between him and other top officials, he offered little in the way of fixes that have been made in that regard. He staunchly defended the administration’s record and insisted that Rivington was an “episodic” failure that would be prevented by an overhaul of DCAS’ process for deed restrictions. He insisted that he could not personally follow up on the innumerable decisions he makes each day considering his portfolio of about 30 city agencies and his coordinating role over people who supervise the city’s 350,000 employees. Shorris wouldn’t say, when asked by Council Member Ben Kallos, whether he would offload any of the city agencies he personally oversees.
“Overall, I would’ve liked to hear some management plan that would address the lack of communications that resulted in this outcome,” said Council Member Vincent Gentile, in a Friday phone interview with Gotham Gazette. Gentile chairs the Council’s Oversight and Investigations committee which held the joint hearing with the Committee on Governmental Operations chaired by Kallos.
"Something went very wrong here," said Councilmember Ben Kallos, Chair of the Council Committee on Governmental Operations. "We must address the issues of mismanagement, communication failure and outside influence."
Council member Kallos told those present at the hearing that he agreed to limit Shorris' questioning to two-and-a-half hours because the mayor's office told him that Shorris had to be on a plane to Oklahoma for a mayoral conference the same day.
But Shorris said he was not going to Oklahoma and added that he had no idea why the City Council got that impression.
Kallos said he found the misinformation "disturbing." The city council later released a statement on the matter.
City Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, said the hearing elicited a number of contradictions from prior accounts from City Hall.
Thursday’s hearing by the City Council’s Committee on Oversight and Investigations — co-chaired by Vincent Gentile and Ben Kallos — clocked in at a solid six hours.
CBS2’s Kramer asked Shorris if the administration thinks building the new facility will help the mayor dig out of the Rivington scandal.
“I don’t think it deals with all of the issues,” Shorris responded.
Council members said it won’t make Rivington disappear.
“The Rivington scandal is too deep to be gotten out from under. The whole thing is just a debacle,” said Councilman Rory Lancman, D-Queens.
Councilman Ben Kallos, D-Manhattan, said, “What happened at Rivington is wrong. There is no way that they dig out from this. Not only do they need to fix the policy, they need to change it so that something like this never happens again.”
And in another attempt to get out from under the scandal, the city is also going to hold public hearings. Members of the public will be allowed to testify about proposed restrictions to dead restriction laws.
That hearing is Nov. 1
Overall, the hearing lasted six hours, the New York Times reported with several other members of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration also questioned. There were questions about competency. City Coucilman Ben Kallos wondered how Shorris could do his job properly when he had to oversee 30 different city agencies, according to the Wall Street Journal.
There were questions over the timeline. De Blasio had previously stated that he only became aware of the whole wrongdoing towards the end of March, whereas Shorris’s testimony on Thursday seemed to suggest that it was towards the end of February or early March, according to the New York Post.
Councilman Ben Kallos of Manhattan asked why Mr. Shorris had not followed up to make sure his decision — that the center should remain a nursing home — had been observed.
Councilman Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat and chairman of the hearing, pointed out that Mr. Shorris is responsible for about 30 different agencies, making it difficult for him to know exactly what each is doing.
The miscommunication today played out in “real-time,” as City Councilman Ben Kallos, the chairman of the committee on governmental operations put it, when, during the hearing, he asked Shorris why he had to leave—”for the record.”
City Councilman Ben Kallos asked First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris if he would say on the record why he could only testify for a limited time.
Councilmembers Ben Kallos, chair of the committee of governmental operations, and Vincent Gentile, the chair of the oversight and investigations committee, sparred with a soft-spoken Shorris, who spoke in exhausting detail of his involvement in the deed removal beginning two years ago.
“We want to give the public an unprecedented view into what’s happening and the different forces and actors at play,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Governmental Operations, which is holding the hearing.
"Eric Phillips, the mayor’s chief spokesman, said: ‘We’re happy to have the city’s second-highest official and top lawyer testify. Providing that level of transparency, cooperation and accountability to the council and public are critical to the mayor.”
Faulting “a process that has failed to protect and preserve significant community assets, like Rivington House,” Councilmember Margaret Chin, whose district includes 28 Liberty, along with speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilmember Ben Kallos, and Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer, favor a process that would make deed restriction changes subject to a ULURP.