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Opposing the Marine Transfer Station

Marine Transfer Stations must not be placed in residential neighborhoods or existing...

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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
Crain's New York
Thursday, May 26, 2016

As Crain’s investigated an assertion by City Councilman Ben Kallos last week that Law Department reforms would save the city $430 million over the next four years, one thing became clear: There’s not a lot of love lost between Kallos and the de Blasio administration.

Kallos has been pestering and pressing the Law Department for two years about reducing the amount of money it pays out to people who sue the city, or threaten to.

When budget documents revealed the predicted savings, he claimed victory, issuing a press release attributing the $430 million to his advocacy and the administration’s grudging cooperation. He cited a decision to expand a Bronx pilot program in which one city lawyer handles a case from beginning to end, a policy known as “vertical case handling.”

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Press Coverage
New York Post
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Lisette Camilo testified at a City Council hearing two weeks ago that she would share records on more than a dozen properties with pending restriction changes, but according to Brewer and Councilman Ben Kallos, she still hasn’t.

The requests come several months after the city lifted deed restrictions on the Rivington House nursing home, paving the way for the property to be sold to a developer that plans to convert it to luxury housing — a deal now being investigated by the US Attorney’s Office.

Kallos suggested the delay could hurt the mayor’s spending plan. “We need to see it before we pass the budget,” he said.

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Press Release
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Yorkers have won a rare victory over developers by stopping a skyscraper in a residential neighborhood. Even when a Borough President, Council Member, Community Board, neighborhood association, and local residents pool resources, the odds may be against us, but together we can win. I am glad we stopped this loophole before it was too late.

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Press Coverage
City Limits
Monday, May 23, 2016

New York State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Manhattan Borough PresidentGale Brewer, and City Council Member Ben Kallos attended Big Swim Big Kick to show their support for Asphalt Green and cheer on the swimmers and soccer players.

Big Swim Big Kick’s corporate sponsors include Fried Frank, Glenwood, PepsiCo, Bloomberg, Skadden, LaLiga, Bloomberg Philanthropies, TYR, Morgan Stanley, Omni New York LLC, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hospital for Special Surgery, Citizen360, Elite Service Group, Paul Hastings, Sakura Lifesave Associates, Inc., Skanska and USA Swimming.

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Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Monday, May 23, 2016

City Council Member Ben Kallos is accusing Joe McMillan’s DDG Partners of using a novel tactic to expand the size of its planned Upper East Side condo tower that Kallos says violates the spirit of the city’s zoning regulations.

The developer filed to alter the tax lot at 180 East 88th Street back in 2014, seeking to slice off a narrow, four-foot strip of the property. The change, which was eventually approved, allowed the developer to skirt requirements for buildings abutting the street, which in turn allowed DDG to build its planned tower a full 60 feet higher, opponents charge.

The “sole purpose” of the alteration, Kallos wrote in a letter to the city’s Department of Buildings, was “to frustrate the intent of the zoning resolution,” the New York Times reported.

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Press Release
Monday, May 23, 2016

Four Foot Lot Allowed Developer to Skirt Law

New York, NY — Foundations are getting poured for a 521 foot skyscraper at 180 East 88th Street that would be against the law, but for a determination by the Department of Buildings that by creating a 4 foot by 22 foot lot, the property does not front on East 88th Street despite its address so that it can ignore limitations that would lower the building’s height. Council Member Ben Kallos and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer are opposing the zoning determination with a letter and are seeking a reversal of the decision.

“The law must apply evenly to all New Yorkers including developers,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Zoning laws were created to protect our residents from over-development and must not be eroded by creating new loopholes.”

“At first glance, this project looks like a prime example where the Department of Buildings has failed to enforce the law,” Manhattan Borough Presidents Gale Brewer said. “The zoning here is what it is, not what the developer wishes it were.”

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Sunday, May 22, 2016

Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat from the Upper East Side, sent a letter to the Buildings Department last Monday requesting an immediate stop-work order for the tower, arguing that the “unbuildable lot” could create a “dangerous precedent for a new and dangerous loophole.”

In March 2014, the department said the project could go forward with the adjacent lot along 88th Street. But at the time of that approval, the lot proposed by the developer was more than 30 feet deep — a size that could be developed into a separate building.

After that determination, the developers shrunk its size and filed papers with the city that created the new four-foot-wide property, known as Tax Lot 138. Plans describe the space between the building, Tax Lot 37, and the side street, designed as a garden for residents that is open to the street, as a “rear yard.”

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Monday, May 23, 2016

Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat from the Upper East Side, sent a letter to the Buildings Department last Monday requesting an immediate stop-work order for the tower, arguing that the “unbuildable lot” could create a “dangerous precedent for a new and dangerous loophole.”

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Press Coverage
The Villager

Councilmber Ben Kallos of the Upper East Side wondered if throwing more money at the B.O.E. is the answer.

“Mayor de Blasio restored the B.O.E. budget to $123 million in 2016,” he noted. “Is that enough, not only to run an election, but to not run it poorly?”

Pointing to the high stakes this November, Kallos warned: “The presidential election is the Super Bowl of the elections. We can’t see the same problems as we’ve seen in the primary.”

Kallos is an I.T. geek who prior to being elected to the Council designed an online database called VoterSearch.org. He practically scoffed at Ryan for not being able to keep track of voting stats, and asked why B.O.E. staffers and poll workers can’t be hired through public job postings under a “merit-based” system, instead of the current patronage mill we have now.

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The expectation that Manhattan will have fewer students going to public schools might result in a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” worried City Councilman Ben Kallos, whose Upper East Side neighborhood is short 2,000 pre-K seats, forcing many parents to commute with their 4-year-olds in the morning rush to free programs in Lower Manhattan or pay a high price for private programs nearby.

4. A school has to be significantly overcrowded before the years-long process of building a new one can begin.

The city won’t consider building a new school until there’s a 5 percent increase in an existing school’s population, School Construction Authority president Lorraine Grillo told City Council members at budget hearings this week.

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