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Investing in our open space and waterfront

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About Ben Kallos

Confronted with corruption in Albany, Ben put voting records online so New Yorkers could finally hold politicians accountable. Since then he's run a government reform organization that successfully removed corruption from government and served as Policy Director for former Public Advocate Mark Green.

Ben grew up on the Upper East Side with his mother, who still lives in the neighborhood, and his grandparents, who fled anti-Semitism in Europe. A Bronx Science graduate, Ben knows that our public schools are more than just budget line.  He attended SUNY Albany and SUNY Buffalo Law School, where he paid his own way through.

In the City Council, Ben chairs the Committee on Governmental Operations, where he promotes transparency to ensure every dollar gets spent to improve your quality of life--from affordable housing to senior services to better schools.

Most Recent Newsletter

August 2016 News: Deed Restrictions, More Pre-K Seats, and Better Bus Service

I hope you had a chance to relax and enjoy yourself this month, maybe at Carl Schurz Park, where the New York Classical Theatre gave us our very own Shakespeare in the Park, with very well attended performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

We secured dozens of additional Pre-Kindergarten seats for the East Side, which allow four year olds to go to school in their own neighborhoods. I allocated $2 million this year  to revitalize the East River Esplanade. This adds to $45 million I have previously secured as Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Task Force with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney. And in Ruppert Park, I helped fund Big Belly solar compactor trash cans to keep the park clean and pest free.

The Department of Investigation released its independent query into why the city removed deed restrictions on the Rivington Street nursing home, allowing it to be turned into luxury condos. The report confirmed that the best interest of the city was not given due consideration in this deal. I plan to hold a Council hearing in the fall to ask more questions and discuss proposals for how we can prevent a similar deal from happening again.

Don't forget on Thursdays from 3:30pm to 6:30pm, until November 17, you can get a GrowNYC Fresh Food Box full of farm fresh produce for only $12 at my district office (order the week before). There are only a few weeks left of the summer -- make sure you are outside enjoying them.

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos
Council Member

P.S. We will hold First Friday this month on August 12, not 5.

SPECIAL EVENTS
August 20 & 21
12pm – 4pm
FDR Four Freedoms Park
Imagination Playground & the Uni Project

August 4
6pm – 9pm
FDR Four Freedoms Park
Music at Sunset: Swing with Fleur Seule

DISTRICT OFFICE EVENTS
August 4, 11, 18 & 25
3:30pm – 6:30pm:
Fresh Food Box

August 9
6-8pm
Policy Night

August 12
8am-10am:
First Friday

August 25
6pm-7:30pm:
Citi Bike Skills Class

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TOP HEADLINES 

  1. Deed Restrictions Initial Investigation Findings
  2. More Pre-K seats to the Upper East Side
  3. Better Bus Service

PARKS

  1. Investing Additional $2 Million in East River Esplanade
  2. Shakespeare in Our Park
  3. Cleaning Up Ruppert Park

ENVIRONMENT

  1. Fresh Food Box
  2. Cooking with Kallos
  3. Reusable Bags
  4. Celebrating 40 Years of GrowNYC
  5. Kicking Off City of Water Day
  6. Catskill Challenge with Governor Cuomo
  7. Studying Microbes in Subways

TECH

  1. Pokémon Go “PokéStop” at Our Office
  2. Law.com: Leading the Civic Revolution
  3. United Nations Civic Camp
  4. STEM Institute for Public School Teacher
  5. Free Course from NYU’s GovLab

COMMUNITY

  1. Citi Bike Expansion and Station Modifications
  2. Holmes Infill Update
  3. Honoring Our Constitution

CITY COUNCIL UPDATES

  1. Perfect Attendance
  2. Legislative Corner
  3. Legal Clinic
  4. Here to Help
  5. Mobile District Hours
  6. Ben In Your Building

EVENTS

  1. City Council Events
  2. Events Funded by Our Office
  3. Community Events

Updates

Press Coverage
Real Affordability For All
Thursday, August 11, 2016

"This is a major victory for our coalition and for countless New Yorkers. Through intense advocacy and organizing, we demanded a better plan with deeper affordability, and that’s what the New York City Council has secured. We are very grateful to City Council Members Jumaane Williams, Ritchie Torres, Donovan Richards, and Ben Kallos for their tireless leadership on behalf of the most vulnerable low-income New Yorkers. They played a crucial role in securing a stronger, more robust affordable housing and rezoning plan,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Campaign Director of Real Affordability for All. 

Read more

Press Coverage
City Limits
Thursday, August 25, 2016

One issue that adds to the confusion is a communication gap between city agencies, who have to explain complex projects to the public, and board members, who must parse civic-planning jargon to understand how new projects will impact them. A solution to this would be for each board to have professional planning staff, something envisioned by the city charter but very rarely achieved in practice. Councilmember Ben Kallos introduced a bill in March 2015 requiring the appointment of at least one planner for every four community boards. The bill has yet to go to a vote.

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Press Release
Monday, August 22, 2016

New York, NY – Artists and community groups seeking a space to perform or meet would be able to search and rent city-owned or operated spaces online under “City Spaces” legislation authored by Council Member Ben Kallos with Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer, Laurie Cumbo and Helen Rosenthal. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) that  manages a large portfolio of the city’s properties, will be required to post all suitable properties and accompanying information to a publicly accessible website where artists or anyone can rent municipal spaces.

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Press Coverage
SILive.com
Thursday, August 18, 2016

The bill, introduced by Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore) and Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, would add a council member, the commissioner of Parks and Recreation, and the commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development to the WMAB. It would also expand the number of public members of the board to 18, half to be appointed by the mayor and half to be appointed by the City Council speaker.

"When I was appointed chair of the Council's committee on waterfronts, I learned that this board had been inactive for so long," said Rose. "That was unacceptable to me, especially in light of all the new development taking place along our waterfronts. This bill will expand the size of the board to incorporate more community stakeholders, and to engage more city agencies. It is my hope that the expansion of the WMAB will help us better oversee development on our waterfronts and improve their overall upkeep."

Read more

Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New proposed legislation aims to help tenants blacklisted for their history in housing court.

Councilman Benjamin Kallos on Tuesday introduced legislation to the council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that would force screening companies to provide landlords with fuller descriptions of housing court cases. The measure is intended to combat overzealous tenant blacklists, which are compiled by tenant-screening data companies based on housing court records.

Housing attorneys argue that the blacklist is riddled with errors and fails to show when a tenant won a case, the New York Times reported. After two years of being homeless, Margot Miller, 68, recently was denied housing at an apartment for low-income seniors when the owner discovered that she had been sued by her previous landlord.

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Press Coverage
Curbed
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The dreaded tenant blacklist that debriefs landlords on whether prospective renters have appeared in housing court is still making it hard for those on the list to rent apartments in New York City. Now, Councilman Ben Kallos has introduced legislation to the City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that would require the blacklist to paint a fuller picture of why certain tenants have ended up in housing court, the Times reports. Unsurprisingly, things aren’t always as they seem on the database.

 

 

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Press Release
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New York, NY – Tuesday August 16, the New York City Council passed Introduction 507-A, by Council Member Ben Kallos and Waterfronts Chair Debi Rose. The legislation reconstitutes the role of the City’s Waterfront Management Advisory Board (WMAB) to play an important part in advising New York City on how to best revitalize and protect our 520 miles of shoreline while also ensuring our waterfront investments are anchored to the priorities of our coastal communities.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com


 'Tenant Blacklist' firms could be regulated under proposed City Council legislation.  'Tenant Blacklist' firms could be regulated under proposed City Council legislation.View Full CaptionDNAinfo/Dartunorro Clark

NEW YORK CITY — Companies that create so-called "tenant blacklists" — used by landlords to deny prospective renters from getting apartments — could become regulated under a new piece of City Council legislation. 

The "blacklists" are created using housing court cases but the reason for the court case and its outcome are often not included in the reports, officials said. The lists are sold to landlords along with credit reports.

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