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Opposing the Marine Transfer Station

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A Vision for the Esplanade

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.

Updates

Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette

As Mayor Bill de Blasio is mired in controversy over his fundraising activities and proximity to lobbyists, the City Council is moving on bills to reduce the possibility of ‘pay-to-play’ campaign financing and make significant tweaks to strengthen an already-robust public-matching system.

The Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations held a hearing on Monday to examine a package of eight bills that would reform campaign finance rules and improve the city’s public matching funds program, which, though it has some critics, is often held up as a national model.

The bills, introduced in November, aim to implement recommendations made by the New York City Campaign Finance Board (NYCCFB) after the 2013 city election cycle. Perhaps most notably, the bills would eliminate public matching funds for contributions bundled by people who do business with the city, provide earlier public matching funds to candidates, and improve disclosure requirements for companies or people that own entities that do business with the city.

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Press Coverage
New York Post

A bill by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), discussed at a hearing Monday, would prohibit campaigns from accepting public matching funds off money raised by lobbyists who bundle unlimited contributions from other donors.

By law, lobbyists, contractors and others doing business with the city can give no more than $400 to a mayoral candidate. But a loophole allows those same individuals to bundle unlimited amounts from others to the same candidates.

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Press Coverage

“The city should not be providing public dollars to amplify the already strong voices of special interests,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the sponsor.

In the 2013 citywide election, 19% of all bundlers were doing business with the city - and they brought in 24% of all bundled funds, he said.

The city Campaign Finance Board backed the changes.

Allowing lobbyists and contractors to bundle unlimited gifts and get matching funds is “a loophole that undermines the intent of the law to prevent or limit the appearance of ‘pay to play’ corruption,” said executive director Amy Loprest.

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Press Coverage
Roosevelt Islander
Monday, May 2, 2016

Ninety more 4-year-olds will have free pre-kindergarten seats on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island thanks to the efforts of Council Member Ben Kallos who organized parents and children to identify new providers to which parents pledged to send children.

Of the 90 new seats, 54 will be at the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery and 36 seats will be at the Manhattan Schoolhouse in the Upper East Side. This is an increase over the 425 seats previously offered on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island for the school year starting in September of 2016 to 515.

Parents can apply for Round 2 of Universal Pre-Kindergarten starting on May 2, 2016, including families who already applied, accepted an offer, or have not yet applied.

“Universal Pre-Kindergarten means having a seat for every four year old in their neighborhood where children can get an education and parents get the help they need in order to afford to live, work and raise a family in the city,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Eva Bosbach of the Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network as well as Ariel Chesler and Jack Moran of P.S. 183 for working with me, parents, children, providers, and the Department of Education to bring Universal Pre-Kindergarten to the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island.”

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Press Coverage
The Chief-Leader
Monday, April 11, 2016

City Council Speaker Me­lissa Mark-Viverito has separately proposed a parallel system of handling violations for certain quality-of-life crimes, including public drink­ing and littering, with administrative summonses that would be adjudicated by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

That system would remove those violations from the criminal courts and avoid the threat of warrants issued for people who don’t keep their court dates. Ms. Mark-Vi­v­erito has said that the NYPD will set guidelines for when summonses would be handled administratively or criminally.

Some bills have already been introduced by Ms. Mark-Viverito and Council Members Ben Kallos, Rory Lancman and Vanessa Gibson.

 

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Press Release
Monday, May 2, 2016

New York, NY – Ninety more 4-year-olds will have free pre-kindergarten seats on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island thanks to the efforts of Council Member Ben Kallos who organized parents and children to identify new providers to which parents pledged to send children.
 
Of the 90 new seats, 54 will be at the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery and 36 seats will be at the Manhattan Schoolhouse in the Upper East Side. This is an increase over the 425 seats previously offered on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island for the school year starting in September of 2016 to 515.
 
Parents can apply for Round 2 of Universal Pre-Kindergarten starting on May 2, 2016, including families who already applied, accepted an offer, or have not yet applied. “Universal Pre-Kindergarten means having a seat for every four year old in their neighborhood where children can get an education and parents get the help they need in order to afford to live, work and raise a family in the city,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Eva Bosbach of the Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network as well as Ariel Chesler and Jack Moran of P.S. 183 for working with me, parents, children, providers, and the Department of Education to bring Universal Pre-Kindergarten to the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island.”
 

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Newsletter

With the promise of warm weather this month I continue to focus on improving quality of life, fighting corruption, and a budget that is responsive to you.

Nearly 2,000 residents turned out to vote in person or online on how to spend $1 million as part of Participatory Budgeting, investing your tax dollars in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education with green roofs for two schools, laptops for ten schools. Read the results and more information below.

We’ve focused on quality of life by cleaning up our streets, improving city management, launching free public wifi, helping our homeless, and passing new enforcement laws. Quality of life legislation I authored was signed into law to recover $1.6 billion and prevent businesses from repeatedly leaving trash on the streets, engaging in dangerous construction, or excessive noise. As chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, I am working to address the Board of Elections’ presidential primary failures, as covered by the New York Times, and the improper sale of a nursing home at 45 Rivington Street.

Good news came to 86th Street, as I announced twice-a-day trash pickup with Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and our work with community and business leaders to form an 86th Street Business Improvement District for a full and sustainable solution made substantial progress. Come to support a Business Improvement District (BID) to clean up East 86th Street once and for all at a public meeting on Wednesday, May 18.

This month I hope you will join us to learn about your rights as a tenant and how to reduce rent stabilized rents with a rent roll back at our housing forum on May 19. As always join me monthly for First Friday, Policy Night, Mobile Hours, Legal Clinics; or I can come to you for "Ben In Your Building" or at your cooperative or condominium annual meeting.

How did you celebrate your Easter, Passover or Spring Break?

Regards,

Ben Kallos
Council Member

 

SPECIAL EVENTS:

May 18, 6PM
86th Street Business Improvement District Public Meeting

May 19, 6PM
Housing Forum:
Tenants Rights, SCRIE/DRIE and Rent Guidelines Board Rent Rollback

UPCOMING EVENTS:

May 6, 1PM
Life Planning Session

May 14, 11AM
Free Bike Helmets

May 16, 10AM - 3PM
Free Legal Assistance

MONTHLY EVENTS:

May 6, 8AM - 10AM
First Friday

May 10, 6PM
Policy Night

May 26, 6PM
CitiBike Street Skills

 

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Press Coverage
77 WABC
Sunday, April 17, 2016

NYC Councilman Benjamin Kallos

The state of affordable housing in NYC and specific legislation initiatives
he has sponsored in an effort to help New Yorkers find and keep affordable housing
and aid the fight against homlessness in NYC.

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Event
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - 8:00am - 10:00am

Learn more about the Business Improvement District we have formed to clean up 86th Street and the surrounding areas.

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Event
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Learn more about the Business Improvement District we have formed to clean up 86th Street and the surrounding areas.

Read more