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The proposal is particularly frustrating for housing advocates in neighborhoods that have spent decades fighting for "contextual" zoning, making major concessions to developers in exchange for height and massing limits. The proposed new zoning plan would sweep those hard-won limits away in one stroke, opponents of the plan say.
"We fought so hard and sacrificed so much for height caps. In exchange for giving up these height caps, we're not getting anything in return," said City Councilmember Ben Kallos yesterday, at a rally on City Hall steps against the plan.
Kallos positively cited the elimination of voter cards, listing voters' ages in poll books, the board's adoption of City Time, its subscription to the Social Security Death Master File Index, implementation of electronic detection of write-ins and the purchase of high-speed printers to print various types of ballots as needed.
As preliminary budget hearings at the City Council approach the end of their third week, the Committee on Governmental Operations will meet Thursday to evaluate the expense plan for a host of city agencies.
Members of the committee, chaired by Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos, will meet representatives of eight city agencies to question them about performances and budgetary needs. The hearing will also look at the city's 59 community boards.
"The Council Member's aim will be to ensure all tax dollars get spent wisely," and that "the operations of the agencies that Governmental Operations has oversight over are open, transparent and work seamlessly for the people," an aide to Kallos said by email.
That was the chant I heard go up from the crowd of parents and teachers gathered at one of the dozens of protests held at public schools all over New York City on Thursday. What is Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan? He offers increased funding, but only if his reforms on teacher evaluation and so-called merit pay are also adopted. An open letter from teachers to parents at the highly regarded Public School 321 in Brooklyn discussed the changes to the way teachers would be evaluated:
Voter participation has been steadily declining for decades, and continues to find shocking new lows. Last November, New York was the fifth worse state in the country for voter participation, with a staggering 29.5 percent turnout. In New York City, the turnout was just above 21 percent.
"In this age of devastatingly low voter confidence in our elections," said George, "making voting easy and convenient for citizens is of critical importance."
Now, two bills introduced by members of the New York City Council aim to do just that.
Tuesday morning, the Committee on Governmental Operations, chaired by Council Member Ben Kallos, a Democrat from Manhattan, discussed two new pieces of legislation that could help re-engage thousands of voters in the election process.
"We want every eligible voter to register and cast a ballot," Kallos told Gotham Gazette. "Absentee ballots are essential to maximizing turnout."
Other members presented specific concerns: Jumaane Williams was troubled by funding levels for the NYPD, Jimmy van Bramer complained of insufficient money allocated for libraries—which Fuleihan indicated would be altered in the revised capital budget—and Ben Kallos questioned the growth and overall cost of the city's debt.
When cars are moved because of things like parades or movie shoots, drivers often have no clue where their vehicles are, and now one city lawmaker is looking to change that.
Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos is pushing a bill that would require the city Transportation Department to notify 311 and put information about relocated cars on its website.
Drivers would then be able to visit the website or call the city's helpline to find their cars.
That's the way it currently works when a car is towed to an impound lot for a normal parking restriction.
Kallos tells the Daily News he decided to introduce the bill after his disabled mother's car was towed several blocks from her home, and was covered in tickets once she found it.
Legislation proposed by a city council member Friday would help New Yorkers find their vehicles when they're towed because of temporary parking restrictions.
Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, said cars that are towed for temporary parking violations -- like when a movie is being filmed -- are often moved blocks away without the owner's knowledge.
Kallos introduced the legislation so owners would no longer be left wondering what happened to their cars.
“Imagine arriving at your parking spot to find its gone, not knowing if it is stolen or towed, without being able to find out where it is, unless you’ve got the time to walk every block of your neighborhood,” Kallos said.
Efforts are underway to end the game of hide and seek that occurs when cars are towed to make way for parades, and other events.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer explained, a happy ending may be in sight for New York City motorists whose cars are towed to the land of ‘who knows where’ to make room for parades, construction, and most often TV and movie shoots.
One city councilman is suggesting a common sense, and common courtesy solution.
“Anytime a car got towed, you’d be able to just call 311, go online, find your car. Not worry if it got stolen, where it got towed, just find it, move on with your life,” Councilman Ben Kallos D-Upper East Side, said.
Councilman Ben Kallos is expected to introduce legislation today that would allow residents to get information on the locations of vehicles towed due to temporary parking restrictions by accessing the Department of Transportation's website or calling 311.
Currently, according to Kallos, that is only possible for vehicles taken to impound lots for regular parking violations. When vehicles are moved to a surrounding block due to construction without the owners' knowledge, the police may have no record of it, Kallos said, and owners are told to search surrounding blocks or contact construction crews who may have left.
A Manhattan city councilman is looking to end the game of hide-and-seek that faces drivers whose cars are towed because of temporary parking restrictions.
A bill introduced Thursday by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side) would let owners find out where their car was moved by calling 311 or consulting the Department of Transportation’s website.
Helping people find their towed cars is the idea behind a proposal being made in the city council.
Imagine this scenario: you park your car legally and when you come back, it’s gone!
“A lot of people first think their car got stolen,” City Councilmember Ben Kallos said.
Kallos said then imagine you see a temporary “no parking” sign, either resulting from a TV shoot or street fair.
“So you can either try to touch base with your precinct and see if they’ve got a list of where it might be, or you have to resort to walking around the neighborhood until you find your car,” Kallos told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
If your car has been moved, Kallos wants the new location entered into a single database.
“Call 311, go on a website and you’d be able to find out where’s my car,” he said.
Kallos and James propose that Comcast fix the loopholes in Internet Essentials so that all low-income New Yorkers are eligible. But the most striking feature of their request is that Comcast should offer free broadband to all New York City public housing residents. Two weeks ago, California's equivalent of the PSC, the Public Utilities Commission, approved the merger with similar conditions such as expanding Internet Essentials to all low-income Californians and setting an enrollment quota for the program., Notably, California's conditions were lacking the requirement for free Internet in public housing. Even so, Comcast reeled at California's requirements, calling them intrusive and unrealistic.
"New York City is the landlord for nearly half a million New Yorkers living in 178,000 public housing units," says Kallos. "With the digital divide so big and income inequality being one of the primary causes, we need to make sure that every single New Yorker has access to the Internet. And that starts with our very low income living in public housing."
Council Member Ben Kallos, whose East Side district has been significantly affected by the subway construction, feels businesses need more than just easy access. "While the Second Avenue Subway will be beneficial to our residents, construction has been disruptive in our community, affecting small businesses and residents alike," he said. "Many small businesses have closed, and those that have stayed open have seen up to a 30 percent decline in revenues." Kallosproposed an idea for providing financial relief to these businesses through city grants, but his proposal has not seen movement.
Council Members Rosie Mendez and Ben Kallos were on hand Monday to support Garodnick's proposal. "There's a reason we're out here in the cold today - because we don't want, in the future, New York City retirees to be left out in the cold," said Mendez.
"Fiscal responsibility means setting aside funding for our health benefits when they accrue," Kallos said. "We can't leave a $92 billion health obligation debt to the next generation."
Council Member Ben Kallos has long been advocating for more efficient government, especially now as chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations. In the last few months, he said, the legislative process has sped up. "I think that we have a lot more legislation being introduced and a lot of legislation that's passing, and having the support of a drafting unit is really helping the Council adjust to a new pace of things where legislation and the legislative process and our city is really moving quickly so that it can be more progressive as soon as possible."
Kallos is on the same page as NYPIRG's Russianoff and Citizens Union's Fauss. "What's interesting is with everyone criticizing Albany, one of the things it does do right is it has a legislative bill drafting commission," Kallos said.
It is a City Council in transition, moving toward more transparent and efficient procedures. Kallos said he will continue to advocate for increased funding for the independent bill drafting unit until all bills can be drafted there. Till then, the existing committee counsels will continue to play a major role in the drafting process.
Before I became a City Council member, I was a civic technologist and activist seeking to make government better through technology. In one such action, I FOILed Albany voting records and posted them online for the public to see, prompting the legislature to follow suit. Because of this background, I am especially looking forward to helping other civic technologists create tools that will make government more transparent, efficient and engaging.
These tools have great potential to be tools that the next generation of citizens actually uses to engage with their local officials. The funding from Knight Foundation will allow me to assist teams in doing just that, with firsthand knowledge of how governments use technology.
A Manhattan councilman is calling on Mayor de Blasio to do more to combat illegal hotels, saying they pose a threat to tourists and neighbors alike.
In a Feb. 16 letter to the city’s Department of Information Technology, Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos urged the agency to provide more public information on complaints about illegal hotels and apartment owners that use sites like Airbnb and requested that 311 create a specific category for people to lodge complaints.
"...we're fighting tech with tech. If you're using Air BnB online and see you're building's on there, you should be able to use the 3-1-1 website to report someone's renting your building."
SBS supporters say M15 ridership would not have increased if passenger travel times were not reduced. If that were true, the corollary must also be true. That since ridership on the M15 was lower in 2013 than it was before SBS began, travel times must have increased with the introduction of SBS so it has not been successful. The logic cuts both ways.
The truth, according to the Straphangers Campaign, is that the M15 bus route with its SBS feature is the most unreliable route in the entire city. Local Councilman Ben Kallos stated that complaints regarding M15 service are among the heaviest grievances he receives.
EVERYWHERE—Council Member Ben Kallos unveiled a proposal today to add an illegal hotels complaint category to the city's 311 App in order to help the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications deal with those types of complaints more efficiently. A recent City Council hearing on Airbnb revealed that the city has a difficult time dealing with the volume of illegal hotel complaints it receives. [UPDATE: The DoITT is responsible for building the app, not for handling individual 311 calls.]
City Council Member Ben Kallos staged a State of the District event on Sunday, February 8, to highlight his accomplishments and present his goals for 2015.
Since his election in November 2013, said Kallos, he has proposed and gotten passed four local laws and two resolutions. With fellow Council Member Jimmy Vaca, he introduced and secured passage of a local law that mandates online publication of all items currently in the City Record. Two other laws “improve transparency, efficiency, and participation in our city;” the fourth will make City laws available online.
Kallos reported that he secured $35 million of the $110 million needed to complete the East River Waterfront Esplanade project, which is connecting two miles of public space along the East River.
He is also one of 24 Council Members involved in participatory budgeting, a process that allows community members to decide directly how tax dollars are spent. He allocated $2.7 million toward selected projects.
Said Kallos of the time remaining in his term, “With two years, 10 months, 19 days, 10 hours, 30 minutes and about 40 seconds left, we’ve got so much more to get done, in precious little time.”
In August, Governor Cuomo signed legislation lowering the minimum age from 18 to 16 years old and alloting up to two seats on each community board for 16 and 17-year olds. The legislation, originally introduced in 2008 by Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), had many backers, including City Council member Ben Kallos of Manhattan and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Queens).
Kallos also believes young people bring a unique perspective to the discussion in local government, said spokesperson Sarah Anders. “Community boards are really the most local form of government,” said Anders. Kallos “believes that young people should have just as much of an opportunity to get involved.”
October 2013: Ready for the General Election
I was honored and thrilled to win the Democratic nomination to represent the neighborhood where I grew up in the City Council. As we prepare for the general election on November 5, I am excited to get the chance to discuss with more of you my progressive vision for our neighborhood – and hear from you on the issues you care about, like fighting the Marine Transfer Station, improving our schools and protecting our senior services.
As the race moves into July, my team and I are meeting community members across the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island – and it’s the best part of this race. Always feel free to email me at Benkallosforcouncil [dot] com (Benkallosforcouncil [dot] com) or call (212) 960-3440. I look forward to hearing from you.
As the days get hotter, so does the campaign! We celebrated the start of June with two key endorsements from the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the League of Independent Theater, as well as the launch of petitioning to get on the ballot -- not to mention a move to our new office! We're rapidly gaining momentum as we move into summer, and we need supporters like you more than ever:
- Donate today to help us build a better City.
- Volunteer to join Team Ben.
- towsenkallosforcouncil [dot] com (subject: Host%20a%20House%20Party) (Host a House Party)
- Attend our Campaign Office Grand Opening on Wednesday, June 26 from 6-9 pm.
Read on for updates on the latest developments in our campaign:
Our campaign is fighting for a transparent and fair government – one that never stops working for you.
- Running for a Better City
- Community Activities
- Upcoming Events and Opportunities
- Join the Team
Our campaign is about results now, not about waiting until Election Day. We’ve been working tirelessly to improve everyday life here on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island. Our efforts are already paying off, garnering grassroots support and receiving strong media coverage.
This February our campaign for a better City moved forward by building great momentum with endorsements from national and statewide leaders as well as labor unions, while we fought to make our City safer, technologically accessible, sustainable, and took a break from the campaign to celebrate Black History Month.
- Endorsements for the "Progressive Candidate"
- Endorsements for the "Labor Candidate"
- Tagged as the "Tech Candidate"
- Fighting to Keep Our Children Safe
- Roosevelt Island Public Safety
- Responsible Development on Roosevelt Island
- Celebrating Black History Month
Support Our Campaign For A Better City:
Please join former Public Advocate Mark Green at the home of Bill Samuels at 7PM on Monday, March 11, at what we hope will be our final fundraiser. We've already raised $55K and only need another $30K to reach our spending limit in time for the March 11 filing deadline.
Thank you for your financial support that kept us in the lead for 2013. We've once again outraised all of our opponents combined and could never have done it without your help. We've made it well past the halfway point for a fully funded City Council campaign by raising almost $50,000, with only $30,000 left to raise.
Happy New Year! 2012 was an amazing year, full of challenges to overcome, super storms and threats of apocolypse, unbridled success like the re-election of Barack Obama, landing the mars rover, discovering the Higgs Boson, and even sky diving faster than the speed of sound from space. We enter 2013 in a world where more is possible than the year before. What preconceived norms can we shatter in 2013? I would love to know your New Year's resolution for how you will make the world a better place in 2013.
- Supporting Small Business on Roosevelt Island
- Join Your Community Board
- Seniors and Social Services
- Reinventing the Payphone
- Holiday Party Pictures
- New Year's Party Invitation
- First 2013 Filing
Following Sandy it was hard for many to return to normalcy, and some still haven't or never will. The outpouring of support from the community was both humbling and amazing. In my own volunteering I was struck by portions of the population displaced by Sandy as well as before by the economy or other factors. As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday please take a moment to pause and reflect on how lucky we are, give thanks, and lets figure out how to make things better for all of us.
- Supporting Israel
- Election Day Victory, Voter Protection, and Youth Voting
- Sandy Recovery and Emergency Preparedness
- Resources for Seniors with Lenox Hill
- Tech Tools for 2013
- Free Meet and Greets, Better Laws, and Investing in Youth
- Upcoming Events
- A New New York: The Constitutional Dimension
- Holiday Party
- Hacking Democracy
- Project 2012: Registering H.S. Seniors, Civics Classes and Mock Elections
- Fall for Arts on Roosevelt Island
- The Nobel Prize, Jewish Identity and Taking on Anti-Semitism
- Wednesday, October 17 – Code v. Code – Discussion 0 – Broken Copyright Laws
- Thursday, October 18 – Progressive Young Leaders
- Friday, October 19 – Brooklyn Castle Movie Premiere and Q&A with Director and Players
- Tuesday, October 23 – Free Meet the Candidate Event on Roosevelt Island
- Wednesday, October 24 – Free Meet the Candidate Event on the Upper East Side