Press Releases

January 18, 2017

New York, NY – Government invests billions every year in subsidies for private construction in New York City without training or transparency for the projects. The reintroduction of the Safe Jobs Act (Intro.1432) would require transparency around Federal, State or City government assistance received by developers and contractors whose construction workers would be required to receive training and graduate from State Department of Labor approved programs.
 
“No one should die from a construction accident that could have been prevented with proper education, apprenticeship, and protections for a worker's right to say no to a dangerous situation,” said Council Member Ben Kallos a union-side labor lawyer. “Any project that receives taxpayer dollars must pay a living wage, invest in workers with training and apprenticeship, and provide protection for worker's rights.”
 
Construction-related fatalities remain a serious problem in New York City almost doubling in Fiscal Year 2015 to 10 from an average of 5.5 the previous four years. Injuries have also increased by more than 50% to 324 injured workers in 2015 according to the Department of Buildings. Since 2012, 72% of the injuries at construction sites occurred at locations where employers did not participate in state-approved training or apprenticeship programs that this bill would require.

 

January 4, 2017

Singer was supportive of the legislation’s application of the threat of perjury to BSA applications, but questioned how such a bill would be enforced. Regarding the additional requirements from applicants, Singer stated that one size does not fit all, and that the BSA already had a set of required information on its website. Singer was open to working with the Council to change some of those requirements outside of legislation.

The BSA did not support the portion of the bill to post all applications online and all testimony received for every application. Singer stated that for security reasons such information should not be publicly disclosed. Council Member Ben Kallos questioned the BSA’s objection to publicly disclosing all applications. “I think the Open Data Law already requires you to put this online. . . . If I can’t make the tenant black list illegal. If a landlord taking a tenant to court is public information. If divorce proceedings are public information. If criminal proceedings, even when the person is acquitted, are public information, I think that a [BSA] application is public information.” Singer responded, saying, “It is public information subject FOIL requests, but we don’t believe it should be posted on our website.”

The legislation would also require City Planning to have a representative at every BSA hearing and to post all testimony. City Planning opposed the requirement. Alison McCabe, Assistant Counsel at the Department of City Planning, testified that while her agency keeps tabs on the BSA, it has only intervenes when it was “warranted.” City Planning relies heavily on individual borough offices for determining when City Planning testimony was warranted. “The fact that DCP is involved is news to me,” retorted Kallos.

 

December 23, 2016

NEW YORK, NY : Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Government Operations Committee, and Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Immigration Committee released the following joint statement after a construction worker fell to his death after falling down an elevator shaft on the Upper East Side Friday morning. 

 

December 15, 2016

New York, NY – New York City’s landmark small-dollar matching campaign finance system may soon be protected from an onslaught of dark money and special interests in City elections. Today the Committee on Governmental Operations chaired by Council Member Ben Kallos passed a package of legislation that expands the "doing business" definitions to include owners of companies that own companies and no longer matching funds they bundle as well as providing early determinations and payments of public funds". This package was first introduced in late 2015 by Governmental Operations Committee Chair Ben Kallos along with Council Members Jumaane Williams, Andy King, and Fernando Cabrera. This committee vote sends the legislation to the full council where it is expected to pass.

 

December 15, 2016

New York, NY — The Department of Building has just approved new zoning plans for a 524-foot skyscraper at 180 East 88th Street with the expansion of a 4-foot wide lot at the center of a six-month stop work order by 6 feet to 10 feet. Carnegie Hill Neighbors, Council Member Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer have filed with the Department of Buildings an official zoning challenge. 

 

December 14, 2016

Rezoning of Neighborhoods without Public Review 
Targeted for Reform by New York City Council 

Zoning Variances at Board of Standards and Appeals Subject of Council Reforms

 
New York, NY – Over the objections of local Community Boards and elected officials developers have been able to circumvent city zoning laws restricting building forms, use, height, density and more, through the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). The little agency, mostly known as a “rubber stamp” for developers, has been criticized for ignoring objections of community and elected officials, difficulty in appealing determinations without any written decision and short time frame, and ultimately “rezoning by variance” without public review.
 
The BSA granted 97% of variances in 2011 (102 of 105), with community boards only supporting 79% of the variances that they acted on (81 of 103) according to Citizen’s Union.

 

December 6, 2016

New York, NY – Nearly 9,000 scaffolds that entomb 190 miles of City sidewalks may soon be dismantled, under legislation introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos. Unnecessary scaffolding also known as “sidewalk sheds” would have to be removed if seven days pass without construction work.
 
Sidewalk sheds are temporary structures, made of wooden planks, boards and metal pipes to protect pedestrians from dangerous conditions that are being corrected or new construction. Scaffolding is not only an eyesore but attract crime such as drug deals and provide an alternative to shelter for homeless. Many sidewalk sheds persist for years, sometimes more than a decade. There are several sidewalk sheds in Council District 5 represented by Kallos that have been up for years, over two years at 340 East 64th Street and 301 East 95th Street and over three years at 349 East 74th Street. Often times, it is much more expensive to fix a dangerous condition than to leave a sidewalk shed up indefinitely
 Kallos’ legislation would set the following timeline for sidewalk sheds in place for dangerous conditions:

 

November 28, 2016

City Hall, New York- Members of the New York City Fire Department were honored this afternoon as City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Ben Kallos and Elizabeth Crowley presented them with a Proclamation. The firefighters were recognized for their response and heroic actions to the October 27th 6-alarm fire at 324 East 93rd Street. 

 

November 16, 2016

Yesterday, the Mayor’s Office of Operations announced that agency rule making and agency spending would now be more transparent with their inclusion in the Mayor’s Management Report (MMR) in response to requests by City Council Committee on Government Operations Chair Ben Kallos. The City Council also announced that it had sent a response to the MMR questioning indicators and performance with recommendations on improvements for the city.

“New Yorkers should know how their tax dollars are being invested to improve our city. The Mayor’s Management Report must show ‘the relationship between the program performance goals [and] corresponding expenditures’ as mandated by the Charter,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to the Director of Operations Mindy Tarlow for her partnership and commitment to improving the management of our city and reporting to the public.”