Updates

Press Release
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Yesterday’s lawsuit against a company owned by Jared Kushner highlights the City of New York's obligation to ensure tenants are not being cheated by unscrupulous landlords. The allegations are yet more proof of a broken system that allows landlords to charge tenants more than they are legally allowed. After exhaustive research by ProPublica, it is estimated that 50,000-200,000 units in New York City may be illegally rented at market rate. This issue is one of the most serious problems in our fight for affordable housing and why I authored Introduction 1015.
 Introduction 1015 requires all owners of any affordable units in New York City to register those units with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and disclose the monthly rent. That allows the City to track the locations of these units and verify they are being rented at or below the legally allowable rate and fine bad landlords who flout the law.
 
While State law requires landlords to register with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the penalties for non-compliance were removed in 1993. It is a law without teeth, unable to force or persuade landlords to comply.
 
I applaud Housing Rights Initiative for their thorough research into these properties. But it should not have taken over a month of painstaking efforts to find this information. It should be as easy as going to HPD’s website. More importantly, the City should be doing this proactively.

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Press Coverage
City and State
Sunday, August 13, 2017

ben kallos

NO. 4: BEN KALLOS

Representing Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, Kallos has positioned himself as a reformer. As chairman of the Committee on Government Operations, he has proposed numerous good government measures and pushed for greater transparency.

Attendance: 98.1% (No. 5)
Bills introduced: 17 (No. 5)
Bills enacted: 9 (tie for No. 4)
Constituent response: 17 hours, 26 minutes (No. 14)
Communications response: 53 minutes (No. 10)
Google results: 54,700 (No. 9)
Twitter followers: 4,005 (No. 38)

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Press Coverage
NY1
Friday, August 11, 2017

But if experience matters, so does name recognition, which critics say creates an unfair advantage. The irony is that Council term limits and the city's robust public campaign finance system are designed to attract political newcomers, not professional politicians.

"The point of term limits is, we're supposed to have a citizen legislature," said City Councilman Ben Kallos of Manhattan.

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Press Coverage
City Limits
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Among those items passed are 11 of the 12 bills in the Stand for Tenant Safety package, which aims to address the use of construction as a type of tenant harassment. A large coalition of tenant and community organizations has been advocating for the bills since 2015. Members of the Progressive caucus also recently penned an op-ed calling on the Council to pass the package.

“Even as preserving and creating affordable housing has remained a focus of both the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, the myriad loopholes landlords use in existing laws allow the number of rent-regulated apartments to dwindle. With both the cost of living in the city and rent continuing to rise, protecting the health and safety of tenants through legislation is the minimum of what can be done,” wrote Council members Antonio Reynoso, Donovan Richards, Helen Rosenthal and Ben Kallos in Gotham Gazette on July 31.

The other seven bills include a package aimed at strengthening the city’s laws concerning harassment of all types and a bill that seeks to improve the city’s fine-collection by denying landlords with certain levels of debt the ability to obtain work permits (excepting for repairs necessary to correct dangerous situations).

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Press Release
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New York, NY – Council Member Ben Kallos Vice Chair of the caucus was the prime sponsor of Int. 930 and 931 which aim to correct the behavior of  landlords and building owners that neither fix reoccurring problems on their properties nor pay the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end. The Stand For Tenant Safety (STS) legislative package will offer greater protection for tenants, especially in regards to the use of construction as harassment by landlords. STS was pushed by a citywide alliance of grassroots tenant organizations and legal service groups collaborating with the Progressive Caucus.

 

"Believe it or not, construction being used to harass and push tenants out is a huge problem in New York City. This package of legislation aims to fix the behavior of unscrupulous landlords who cut corners, neglect repairs and take advantage of loopholes to hurt tenants and avoid paying fines. Thank you to the coalition of tenant organizations and legal service groups that worked for two years to get these bills passed, “said Council Member Ben Kallos Vice chair of the Progressive Caucus.

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Press Coverage
AM New York
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The lawmakers also demanded answers for why capital construction costs so much. At $4.5 billion for three new stations, the Second Avenue subway’s first phase was the most expensive subway project in the world, according to transit experts.

“In other parts of the globe, when subway systems are being built or expanded, they do not remotely come close to the challenges we are facing here in New York City,” Hakim said. “You see it when you go by an open utility construction pit and you look in at the maze, the spaghetti of utilities.”

Still, several council members felt that New York was falling behind other cities.

“What does Russia know that we don’t?” asked Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, who wondered why Moscow runs more trains per hour than the MTA.

Hakim pointed out that Moscow doesn’t run a 24-hour subway system. “Try to get the subway in Moscow at 2 o’clock in the morning; they’re closed,” she said.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Friday, August 4, 2017

UPPER EAST SIDE — Commuters will begin seeing new countdown clocks at more than a dozen bus stops in the neighborhood, as well as the area's final Citi Bike station, city officials said.

On Thursday, Councilman Ben Kallos and DOT Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez announced 15 countdown clocks have been installed or will be at stops along the M15, M31, M57, M66 and M72 lines.

The clocks will appear at 70th, 72nd and 75th streets along First Avenue; on Second Avenue at 94th Street; on York Avenue at 72nd, 74th, 76th, 77th, 79th, 84th, 86th and 88th streets; on First Avenue at 57th Street; and on First Avenue at 67th and 72nd streets.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com

On Thursday, Councilman Ben Kallos and DOT Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez announced 15 countdown clocks have been installed or will be at stops along the M15, M31, M57, M66 and M72 lines.

The clocks will appear at 70th, 72nd and 75th streets along First Avenue; on Second Avenue at 94th Street; on York Avenue at 72nd, 74th, 76th, 77th, 79th, 84th, 86th and 88th streets; on First Avenue at 57th Street; and on First Avenue at 67th and 72nd streets.

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Thursday, August 3, 2017

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Fifteen bus stations on the Upper East Side have brand-new countdown clocks thanks to neighborhood residents, City Councilman Ben Kallos announced Thursday morning. The clocks — located at stops long the M15, M31, M57, M66 and M72 lines — were a top vote getter in the district's participatory budgeting election years ago.

"I hope that new bus countdown clocks will bring more riders back to our buses, as they walk by and see a bus on the way to help get them where they are going faster,” Kallos said during a Thursday press conference. "Riders will finally know when the next bus is coming or if it isn’t coming at all, so they can make that crucial decision of whether it is faster to ride or walk."

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Press Release
Thursday, August 3, 2017

New York, NY – Upper East Side bus riders may have noticed something new on their rides, bus countdown clocks showing when the next bus is coming. The bus countdown clocks were actually voted for by local residents in Participatory Budgeting and are a part of Council Member Ben Kallos’ fight against service cuts to the M31, M66, M72, and other bus routes in the neighborhood.
 
“I hope that new bus countdown clocks will bring more riders back to our buses, as they walk by and see a bus on the way to help get them where they are going faster,” said Council Member Ben Kallos who rides the M15, M31, and M79 through the district. “Riders will finally know when the next bus is coming or if it isn’t coming at all, so they can make that crucial decision of whether it is faster to ride or walk. I hope to have a bus countdown clock anywhere my constituents will use them so please reach out for one at your bus stop today.”
 
“Neighborhoods flourish when they have a multitude of transportation options, and NYC DOT is proud to work with the community and CM Kallos to continue bringing transportation upgrades to the Upper East Side,” said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez.  “With the arrival of Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) bus countdown clocks, and a new Citi Bike station in this district, Upper East Siders are able to receive visual and audible real-time bus arrival information should they decide to get around by bus, as well as a denser Citi Bike network should they choose to bike.”
 
The bus countdown clocks were three years in the making. In 2014, Rider’s Alliance advocated for bus countdown clocks in the city’s capital budget, but was met with some skepticism by Council Member Ben Kallos, who agreed to add the bus countdown clocks to Participatory Budgeting where residents voted on how to spend one million dollars in the community.

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Press Coverage
West Side Spirit
Monday, July 31, 2017

“Benches are one of those things where you actually get them for free,” said City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the area. Unlike, say, garbage cans and tree guards, which have to be funded by so-called member items, the city is brimming with available benches, he said.

 

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Press Release
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Statement: Council Member Ben Kallos on Voter Data Release
 Today’s decision by the New York State Board of Elections is a shameful capitulation to the President’s fear mongering about voter fraud. Allegations of widespread voter fraud have repeatedly been disproven and there exists no evidence to suggest it occurred in last November’s election or any election.
 
The President’s sham commission is nothing more than yet another Republican attempt to restrict voting rights and only serves to perpetuate dangerous myths and spread doubt about our democratic process. That the commissioners of the State Board of Elections would assist such a commission casts doubt on their integrity and their commitment to protecting the personal data of New York’s 12.5 million voters.

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Press Release
Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Photo caption (L-R):  Mark Hannay (Director, Metro New York Health Care for All), Richard Mollot (Executive Director, The Long Term Care Community Coalition), Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried, Peter Morley (Patient Advocate), Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Councilmember Ben Kallos, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Michael Rawlings (Chief Operating Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue)

NEW YORK—Following the failure of Senate Republicans’ proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) hosted a roundtable at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue with healthcare professionals, patient advocates, and concerned constituents to discuss the future of the health care law. The group focused on steps forward, strategies for strengthening the ACA, and ways to combat Administration efforts to undermine the landmark legislation.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions more Americans have access to good, affordable healthcare. We need to preserve the protections the ACA put in place and build on our progress,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “Democrats and Republicans must work together to bring down costs and expand coverage to really deliver the A—affordable—of the ACA. Although the ACA has done really tremendous things, a stronger, better version can do more – and its’ up to us in Congress to make that happen. Prices are still too high. There are counties where the exchanges have one or no insurers. We can do better. If Republicans can drop their obsession with repealing the ACA, then we can get to work on making sure all Americans have access to good, affordable and reliable healthcare.”

"The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of Americans get the health insurance they need to live healthy lives," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "When Congress passed the ACA many amendments were necessary to pass this historic legislation, but now is the time to revisit those amendments and make it even stronger. Thank you to Congress Member Carolyn Maloney for leading the charge on protecting and improving the Affordable Care Act."

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Monday, July 31, 2017

We’ve seen it in our districts. A new landlord takes ownership of a building and starts a construction project that never finishes in order to evict long-term residents. They may turn off the cooking gas indefinitely; they may even knock out the boiler with no explanation.

For too many New Yorkers, this nightmare is their reality. The stories are plentiful: heat and gas shutoffs in the middle of winter, jackhammering causing cracks in apartment walls, loss of power, and lead dust in the air lasting for months on end. For years, city and borough officials and community advocates have encountered a critical mass of stories like these, detailing the unscrupulous conduct of landlords as well as the insufficient response from the City of New York.

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Newsletter

In July, the New York Times covered legislation to quiet noise in our city, scaffolding and our communty's efforts to fight overdevelopment.

We also broken ground on the reconstruction of the East River Esplanade with $35 million that I secured as co-chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney.

When the MTA proposed service cuts of up to 33% to the M31, M57, M66 and M72, over Father's Day Weekend, I authored a letter with fellow elected officials which was followed by maintained service levels on the M57. Join us in fighting for crosstown bus service at BenKallos.com/share/CrosstownBus

Ben Kallos 


Council Member 

 

  1. Groundbreaking on East River Esplanade
  2. Stop Work Order on Sutton Superscraper
  3. Fighting Cuts to Crosstown Bus Service

QUALITY OF LIFE

  1. New Legislation for a Quieter Neighborhood
  2. Scaffolding Almost Old Enough to Vote

NATIONAL

  1. Resistance: Saving Medicaid and Affordable Care Act and Standing with Transgender Military and Immigrants
  2. Fighting for Net Neutrality, Again

JOBS

  1. Fighting for Jobs
  2. Supporting Our Small Businesses

ENVIRONMENT

  1. Launching Weekly Compost Drop Off On Your Morning Commute
  2. Fresh Food Box
  3. Compost in Your Building

LOCAL

  1. New Community Board 8 Members Appointed
  2. Bike Safety
  3. Helping the Homeless
  4. In the Neighborhood

RESOURCES

  1. Here to Help
  2. Free Legal Clinics
  3. Mobile Office Hours
  4. Resource Guide
  5. Ben in Your Building

EVENTS

  1. City Council Events

 

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Press Coverage
PIX11
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Locally, officials hope the Astoria route will help alleviate the inundated 7 train and help commuters traveling to and from Roosevelt Island.

“Roosevelt Island has waited generations for ferry service which will finally arrive this summer,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the area.

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The new datasets released in the update include NYPD complaint data on felonies, misdemeanors and violent crimes reported between 2006 and 2016; details of City Council participatory budgeting projects from 2012 onwards; data on the programs, benefits and resources for 40 health and human services available to New Yorkers; and a Department of City Planning database of more than 35,000 records on public and private facilities from 50 sources. Other new aspects of the program include legal mandates for compliance with FOIL requests and on timing of responses to data requests.

Though FOIL requests involving data are being streamlined, City Council Member Ben Kallos, a longtime advocate of open data, thinks that it can be improved further by passing his “Open FOIL” bill, which would create “one searchable database of Freedom of Information Law requests sent to city agencies.” Kallos also believes that the city could do more outreach about the existence of the open data initiative.

"The City is getting better and better at getting the word out about Open Data,” Kallos told Gotham Gazette. “I for one want to see Open Data classes taught at our city libraries so anyone can learn how to use the data sets, not just techies." Indeed, while many data sets are available, they aren’t always easy to digest or utilize to find patterns or other takeaways.

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Press Coverage
Queens Gazette
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Noise is the number one complaint in New York City, but to NYC Councilman Ben Kallos and NYC Council Environmental Chair Costa Constantinides it doesn’t need to be a fact of life in the Big Apple. Kallos and Constantinides introduced legislation in June to be heard in the fall that would require the city to respond to noise complaints for nightlife and construction within two hours or on a subsequent day within an hour of the time of the complaint. The bill aims to increase the likelihood that inspectors will identify the source of the noise, issue a violation, and restore quiet.

“Noise is such a big problem that it might be better to call us ‘Noise’ York City. If 311 is any indication, residents are tired of all the noise, and it is time we did something about it,” said Councilman Kallos. “It is hard to imagine a government of the people for the people ignoring the people’s top complaint and expecting them to be happy living here. I am disappointed by recent reports that the city is actually doing less to quiet noise as complaints rise. We as a city need to take this problem seriously, take it head on without excuses, and give every New Yorker the peace and quiet they need.”

“The nuisance that bothers New Yorkers most is loud noises, however, it could take days for agencies to respond to noise complaints. By that time, a violation would unlikely be issued.  That's why we're introducing this legislation that would require the city to respond to noise complaints within two hours. New Yorkers deserve a responsive government and noise-free neighborhoods. Thank you to my colleague Council Member Ben Kallos for leading the way on this quality-of-life issue,” said Environmental Committee Chair Constantinides.

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Press Release
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

NEW YORK—The Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications today released the annual update to the NYC Open Data Plan, a schedule of public datasets City agencies plan to release through 2018. Over the last year, agencies have released datasets across hundreds of categories, from the number of trees planted to FDNY incident dispatch numbers. The annual update is part of Open Data for All, a strategic overhaul around how the City collects and reports data to New Yorkers, with a focus on helping as many New Yorkers as possible view, understand, and engage with information that describes how government is helping them live, work, and play.

"Open Data empowers residents with data they need to learn about city services first hand and is an invaluable tool for elected officials like me to analyze and oversee how our city delivers services,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “In particular, I’m excited to see the inclusion of the Programs and Benefits API. Residents can now get the help they need from a list of benefits available, who qualifies and how to apply. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and DoITT Commissioner Anne Roest for continuing to make New York City more transparent with each new data set."

 

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Monday, July 24, 2017

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz noted that the authority "reviews and evaluates bus schedules on a regular basis to ensure that they accurately match current rider demand and operating conditions, as well as to ensure there are resources available where needed to provide customers with the most efficient and effective bus service possible. 

"Schedule revisions also address the need to more accurately reflect changing traffic conditions which have generally slowed in recent years," he continued, without saying whether the agency is considering the community's requests.

Councilman Kallos said he and the other elected officials are pressing the MTA to release its swipe data to get the hard facts on how many people are using on the crosstown buses.

"They are not considering the Americans with Disabilities Act — this neighborhood has seniors almost more than anywhere else," he said. "We just have to keep making our voices heard."

 

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Press Release
Friday, July 21, 2017

"We are breaking ground on a new East River Esplanade that was literally crumbling into the river after generations of neglect," said Council Member Ben Kallos, who advocated for the $41 million in the City's budget for this work and co-chairs the East River Esplanade Task Force with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney. "Having already secured this funding, we were able to get shovels in the ground soon after the sea wall collapse occurred here at Carl Schurz Park. This investment spans two Council Districts to fix various collapses and sinkholes between 63rd and 125th Streets. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for agreeing to provide $35 million in initial funding for the Esplanade, the Parks Department for getting these repairs started in time to address the recent collapse, and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney for prioritizing our waterfronts and her longstanding co-leadership of the East River Esplanade Task Force."

 

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Press Release
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"As an elected official, it's in my job description to stand with my constituents -- all of my constituents. Many New York residents are immigrants, and all of us should do what we can to actively welcome them into our city. I'd like to extend a huge thanks to the hackers and programmers who showed up today to say that they do," said Councilman Ben Kallos, New York City Council, 5th District.

 

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Monday, July 24, 2017

The cuts also caught the attention of a coalition of local, state and federal elected officials representing the impacted areas, which sent a letter to the MTA New York City Transit's acting president, Darryl Irick, objecting to the cuts and expressing concern that increased wait times “will leave our residents feeling abandoned by our buses.” The letter was signed by City Council Members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Members Dan Quart and Rebecca Seawright, state Senators Liz Kruger, Brad Hoylman and José Serrano, and U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler. And last week, Community Board 8 unanimously approved a resolution requesting that the MTA reconsider the proposed service reductions.

One source of frustration for elected officials and community members is that the MTA has thus far declined requests to release the underlying data used to evaluate service and ridership, such as farebox data. The elected officials asserted in their letter that the MTA's research and evaluation is “not done in a transparent manner that is subject to public review.”

“They have to show us the data that supports why they need to make these changes,” Kallos told Straus News after the cuts were announced.

Seawright echoed Kallos' call for the transit authority to release the data. “The MTA basically is refusing to share it, saying that it's not in a format that they're willing to distribute,” she said. “I think it's totally unacceptable.” Seawright said she planned to raise the issue of transparency at the MTA's next budget hearing in Albany

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