New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — The International Union of Operating Engineers’ six New York locals are endorsing City Council Member Ben Kallos, who last week launched an early bid for Manhattan borough president. Kallos has pushed bills to track construction deaths and injuries and to require workers on city-subsidized projects to get prevailing wage.

 

Upper East Side Council Member Ben Kallos officially kicked off his campaign last week to become the next borough president of Manhattan, running on a platform of anti-corruption and community empowerment...

Kallos said he wants to continue the work he started on the Council, which he notes has included adding a thousand pre-kindergarten seats to his district, securing $200 million for parks and cleaning up the streets of the Upper East Side by adding green trashcans on every corner.

He also pointed to his record on cleaning up the political system. When he first ran in 2013, Kallos rejected donations from real estate companies and corporations, saying he hoped it would push other members to do the same. Since then, he helped pass legislation to ban outside income for members...

When speaking about their work with Kallos, leaders of the Upper East Side described the councilman as someone who is caring, a good listener and invested in working with the community.

Community Board 8 chair, Alida Camp, said Kallos has been a good partner of the board since he’s taken up his role on the city council. She said he often attends the board’s meetings ...

Valerie Mason, president of the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association, said she appreciated how Kallos has empowered community groups and taught them how to be activists.

Betty Cooper Wallerstein, who serves as the head of the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, said the quality most distinct about Kallos is how much he cares. She said this was particularly important because she has seen a lot of representatives who come into office with their own ideas and are not open to what others have to say.

Wallerstein said she’s seen Kallos listen to constituents, evaluate what they’ve had to say and changed his position on things because of what the community needed...

 

City Councilmember Ben Kallos announced his bid Wednesday to replace the term-limited Borough President Gale Brewer, touting a record as a reformer in the City Council and several labor union endorsements. Kallos also cited the fact that he was one of the first members of the City Council to refuse campaign contributions from the real estate industry.

"Without the corrupting influence of big money from real estate I've been free to stand up for residents alongside our Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and win. We've made so much progress and the stakes have never been higher, we can't afford to lose momentum. Manhattan's next Borough President must continue the work of Gale Brewer, standing up to the Mayor and real estate, in favor of communities," Kallos said in his announcement.

Kallos has represented the City Council's Fifth District — which spans much of the Upper East side, Roosevelt Island and small portions of East Harlem and Midtown East — since 2014. Since taking office, Kallos has fought for improvements in his district such as the installation of new trash cans on every corner and the addition of more than 1,000 Pre-K seats. Kallos has also fought for reforms in the City Council, authoring laws to limit outside income for councilmembers and eliminate compensation for leadership and committee posts...

Seven labor unions endorsed Kallos on the day of his campaign launch, including: Communications Workers of America Local 1101, Heat and Frost Insulators Local 12, New York Professional Nurses Union, Organization of Staff Analysts (OSA), Steamfitters Local 638, Sheet Metal Workers Local 28, and Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2.

 

He put a trash can on every corner in his district, but can he clean up all of Manhattan?

Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos is betting voters will say yes as he officially launches his borough president run.

“We’ve proven that communities with a Council member and a borough president who actually work for them instead of big money donors can accomplish almost anything,” he told the Daily News.

“I want to continue the work of [term-limited BP] Gale Brewer standing up to the mayor and real estate in favor of communities,” he added.

The Democrat cited his work on ethics reforms along with constituent services during his nearly six years so far on the Council.

The term-limited pol recently authored legislation to increase taxpayer matching funds to political candidates, with the goal of reducing the influence of big money in politics. His bill increased matching funds so they apply to nearly 90% of a pol’s donations, up from the status quo of 75%...

While the BP is viewed as a ceremonial job, Kallos promised to use all the powers at the office’s disposal to continue his crusade against new “super-tall” buildings. Among other steps, he said he’d use funds to hire urban planners and other experts for community boards so residents can fight back...

Kallos kicks off his campaign Wednesday with a string of endorsements. They come from: Communications Workers of America Local 1101, Heat and Frost Insulators Local 12, Organization of Staff Analysts, Sheet Metal Workers Local 28, Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2, Steamfitters Local 638 and the New York Professional Nurses Union.

 

“The report proves there is a giant need in one of the wealthiest cities in the world for food pantries that rely on donations,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos. “New York City should be doing more to fight hunger to protect our kids and our seniors as they are most vulnerable and more likely to face hunger and food insecurity.”    

 

Cleanup efforts are underway across the Big Apple after the first snowfall of the season downed trees and brought the Thursday evening commute to an icy halt.

It was the biggest snow storm in November, a record for the most snow for the day.

All five boroughs were hit hard with some areas seeing as much as six inches of snow.

 

 

“Gale is 100 percent an honest broker. There’s no b.s. with her,” Banks said. “She tells you what’s on her mind, and she’s open to your ideas and suggestions and points of view.”

Brewer’s straight talk could easily come off as brusque, but people in politics who are used to hedging and circuitous language are quick to describe it as one of her best assets.

“People actually really appreciate somebody who just gives it to them straight and is honest and thoughtful about it,” Powers said.

“Gale Brewer gives me courage to be as honest as I am,” Kallos said. “She is one of the most honest people in politics, and I hope to be a close second.” Kallos emulates Brewer – “I want to be Gale Brewer when I grow up. I say it all the time” – and he means that in another way, too. He’s mulling a run to succeed her as borough president when she reaches the office’s term limit in 2021.

 

Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos attended an anti-Amazon rally in Long Island City last week, but told The Post, “You have me dead to rights,” when asked about his own Amazon Wish List.

“I’m a dad. Tech companies make my life easier,” he said, adding that doesn’t mean Amazon should get its own private helipad.

“Even a billionaire like Mike Bloomberg rode the subway,” Kallos said.

 

“We left pre-kindergarten students in special education on a bus for ten hours, without a bathroom, without food, without their parents," Kallos said.

He explained he was horrified and immediately called Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.

“They reached out to the police. We got the kid rescued. We got the kid in the hands of his mother by midnight," Kallos said.

The weather was one thing, but Kallos said the bus route was also so convoluted that it would have taken three hours to get this student home on a good day.

 

“We actually spent from 2014 until 2017 working with the Office of Pupil Transportation to do it,” City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th) said. “Last year they said they were going to do it and last year they said it was going to be in the contracts and they were going to do it, and it was going to be on every single bus in the city.”

Kallos introduced legislation in September to require GPS devices be installed on all school buses contracted with the Department of Education. It would also require the city to provide real-time GPS location data to parents and school administrators.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about tracking the city’s school buses on Friday.

“We need anything that’s not working with GPS and every conceivable form of communication and then linked back to a center that parents can call and get updated information,” the mayor said.

Kallos says that just won’t cut it.

“I’m really concerned about the idea of a call center,” he said. “This is 2018. I want to be able to see it on my phone. I can see where my Uber is on my phone, I can see where a bus is and the MTA is not one of the better agencies in our city, why can’t I still see where a yellow bus is?”

It’s a concern echoed by schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, who said this week the DOE is working on having tracking system on all their buses.

“During our hearing in October we had Chancellor Carranza at the City Council,” Kallos said. “He refused to answer questions about the GPS system.”

Kallos’ proposal will come up for a vote later this month. If it passes, the city must institute the program in the next 180 days. Meantime, the DOE says there is GPS tracking on all special education buses, and they’re currently assessing a small pilot program that’s in place which allows parents to see their bus’ arrival time through an app.

 

“We are very concerned about the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods we represent — Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Astoria and Roosevelt Island — and on the already overburdened housing markets in these areas,” wrote Ben Kallos, member of the New York City Council representing Roosevelt Island, in a joint statement issued via Twitter with three other council members. “Our offices are constantly working with constituents who are losing their homes due to rapidly escalating rents.”

 

In New York City, several buses serving special-needs students struggled to get through the city’s traffic-snarled roads. Five children spent more than 10 hours without a bathroom break or meal because their school bus got stuck in Manhattan and the Bronx on Thursday, according to New York City Council member Ben Kallos.

 

The New York City Council this week passed a bill adding the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics to the city charter. The move represents perhaps the first such move to add a data analytics office to a major city’s foundational document. It also prompted some data advocates to say it could encourage other cities to follow suit.

 

 "Bad luck" was to blame for the city descending into travel chaos as the first snow of the winter hit Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday. The storm blanketed Central Park in more than six inches of snow, the most for that day in more than a century.

 

On May 16, 1979, shortly after completing her freshman year at Barnard College, Grace Gold was walking near the corner of Broadway and 115th Street when a chunk of masonry worked loose from the eighth-floor facade of a building owned by Columbia University. The masonry plunged to the sidewalk, killing Gold. She was 17. 

 

Thousands of commuters were stranded outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, the busiest bus station in the country, after more than 1,100 scheduled buses were canceled. The line of people stretched a full city block.

 

Citywide Council on Special Education Co-Chair Gloria Corsino said she was flooded with calls from parents whose kids with disabilities suffered on buses that were stuck on the roads for hours.

“These drivers don’t allow kids to eat on the bus or use the bathroom,” Corsino said. “Imagine the trauma. This is just poor emergency management.”

Manhattan City Councilman Ben Kallos said the storm exposed serious weaknesses in the city’s beleaguered, $1.2 billion yellow bus system, which is already undergoing an overhaul amid widespread service problems, allegations of corruption and a federal investigation.

“All of this could have been prevented,” said Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side and intervened with the NYPD to help other kids with disabilities get home from the same stricken bus as Reynoso’s son.

“When you already have a bus route that’s three hours long, and then there’s a storm, it’s going to double or triple,” Kallos said. “We’re setting up these drivers and kids for failure.”

The city will investigate busing problems encountered in the storm, said Mayor de Blasio spokeswoman Jaclyn Rothenberg.

 

Numerous speakers also blasted the inclusion of a helipad in the construction of the campus, which was held up as a totem of what they saw as Bezos’ elite attitude, refusal to ride the subway, or spend a second longer in Queens than he might have to. City Council Member Ben Kallos of the Upper East Side went as far as comparing Bezos to a Bond villain.

Kallos was also the only speaker of the bunch to bring up a letter that he and many other lawmakers (including rally leader Van Bramer and Queens state Senator Mike Gianaris) signed last year asking Amazon to explore moving to New York City, an awkward juxtaposition with the day’s anti-Amazon sentiment. “A lot of us did sign a letter saying we wanted to have a conversation with Amazon, and I’ll be the first to say talking to tech companies is a good thing,” Kallos explained. “But we didn’t sign on the dotted line that we were signing away our tax dollars. They’re taking $3 billion out of your pockets and none of us get a say in that.

 

The city also agreed to facilitate construction of a new helipad on the site for Amazon executives. The Manhattan city councilman Ben Kallos said the arrangement made Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, look like a “Bond villain”.

“The governor and the mayor have decided to throw Jeff Bezos almost $3bn in subsidies and tax breaks – and throw in a helipad so he doesn’t have to take the damn 7 train,” said city councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City. “He wants this helipad so he doesn’t actually really have to spend any time in Queens.”

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Addressed to Bezos — whom one of its signatories, Councilman Ben Kallos, compared to a "Bond villain" on Wednesday — the letter stated officials' belief that "Amazon will be a strong contributor to our civic and commercial life."

Gianaris, who signed the letter, said the officials thought the jobs stemming from the project would be good, but "never contemplated that public dollars would be secretly given to Amazon to get them here."