An Identity Card for All New Yorkers

IDNYC Pop-Up Launches Today at Carter Burden

David Stone
Council Member Ben Kallos, Deputy Commissioner Kavita Pawria-Sanchez, Carter Burden Executive Director Bill Dionne
Council Member Ben Kallos, Deputy Commissioner Kavita Pawria-Sanchez, Carter Burden Executive Director Bill Dionne
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

The Office of Immigration Affairs opened a one week pop-up today at the Carter Burden Center on Roosevelt Island. A team will assist residents in applying for the IDNYC card. Unexpectedly, on the same day, a slipshod report in the New York Post attacked the popular program. Council Member Ben Kallos used the occasion to briskly knock the report down.

"What I love about this ID Card is it shows that what is good for older people is good for everyone," said Bill Dionne, Executive Director of the Carter Burden Center for the Aging.

Carter Burden, which oversees the Roosevelt Island Senior Center at 546 Main Street, is hosting the week long pop-up. It runs daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and until noon on Monday, October 17th. While Dionne and others spoke, Office of Immigration Affairs staffers could be seen at their computers in an adjoining room, already working with early applicants.

Deputy Commissioner Kavita Pawria-Sanchez reported, "As of today, enrollment has grown to 900,000 cardholders, already one out of every ten New Yorkers."

Records show that 66.7% of seniors, the age group taking greatest advantage of the program, use it for cultural events.

"That total is more than all the other municipal IDs put together," added Council Member Ben Kallos who, as Vice Chair of the Progressive Caucus, helped champion the program.

Cultural events are a huge part of the mission of IDNYC to bring city residents together with equal access. They range from discounts at Modell's Sporting Goods to free one-year memberships in some of the world's finest cultural institutions, including The American Museum of Natural History, The Brooklyn Children's Museum, The Museum of Chinese in America and The Museum of the City of New York.

For a list of free stuff that will keep the most avid culture junkie busy for months, click here.

What is the IDNYC Card?

Simply put, it's a "broadly accepted, official form of identification," available to New York City residents who are 14 and older, regardless of immigration status. It may be used for entering buildings, interacting with police and other officials or for opening bank accounts.

The card matters more in cities like New York where many people don't drive and have no need for the driver's licenses so often used for identification elsewhere.

Kallos Takes on the New York Post

"How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice or the IDNYC Card," joked Kallos, noting that the card is good for one year's free membership.

Then, he turned serious, making reference to a story in today's New York Post, alleging fraud in the program.

"I'm ashamed of the Board of Elections and their Commissioner," he said.

Commissioner Alan Schulkin was secretly recorded criticizing the program in broadly racist terms and claiming it was responsible for massive voter fraud at a party last December. The Post released the recording along with the article today. 

The unidentified woman who made the recording was mistakenly referred to as a "muckraker" and a "journalist" by the Post, but she is neither.

While clandestine recordings may be made by legitimate investigators to verify suspected wrongdoing, legal guidelines protect individuals from having their privacy invaded. Schulkin has not been accused of any illegal activity, and his comments were recorded without his consent.

Taken at a glance, the Commissioner's remarks come off like the careless barstool ramblings of a man in a bad mood who'd had too many drinks. Journalists don't make secret recordings without exceptional justification, and the bar is normally set much higher than what the Post condoned.

This scenario plays into Mayor Bill de Blasio's recent characterization of the newspaper as "a rag" with an agenda more in line with political objectives than honest news reporting. As for objectivity, the Post ran the article without a hint of balance or any explanation as to why this invasion of personal privacy was approved. They conceded that Schulkin later tried to walk back every accusation he made.

Kallos was having none of it.

"They didn’t vet people to see who they really are," Schulkin charged in the recording. "Anybody can go in there and say, ‘I am Joe Smith, I want an ID card,’ ” but Kallos waved a copy of the IDNYC application and instructions, calling the requirements for getting a card "quite stringent."

"You need three types of ID, including one photo," he said.

In fact, the requirement is a bit stronger, also requiring proof of residence. Most of us have used less to open an account or get a job.

To see a video of Council Member Kallos's remarks, click here.


Even for those of us who have driver's licenses and other forms of identification, the benefits of enrollment with the IDNYC card are enormous. Personally, I can't wait to use mine for free admission to one of my favorites, the Jewish Museum, and for special deals at New York City Center.

Visit the pop-up enrollment center any day this week, from 9:00 a.m until 5:00 p.m. or on Monday morning before noon, at the Carter Burden Center for the Aging at 546 Main Street. It's free, and the benefits are priceless.

How often does that happen in New York City?

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