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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
Capital New York
Friday, October 24, 2014

Ben Kallos, one of the Council's most active and outspoken members on issues involving data and technology, thinks that open-government advocates have a special opportunity at the moment. 

"When you have a new administration and a new mayor, [any revelation] from the data is somebody else's dirty laundry," he said. "Whatever you find, it's somebody's else problem, not the current mayor's."

On Monday, the Council technology committee, under chair James Vacca, will hold anoversight hearing on New York City's open data portal, with civic technology advocates expected to push for improvements to data quality and accessibility, which has also been a priority of Kallos.

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Press Coverage
The Epoch Times
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A group of city and state elected officials urged the state’s Public Service Commission, in a letter, to require that Comcast commit to universal broadband in New York City before it approves the cable giant’s $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable (TWC). 

The merger is currently undergoing review by federal agencies, but the state commission is also authorized to block changes in the ownership of cable companies if they don’t meet public interest standards. 

The letter demands that Comcast provide free broadband Internet access in the city’s public housing complexes, community centers, and homeless and domestic violence shelters as well as free Wi-Fi in public parks. 

“The single unemployed mother spending money she doesn’t have on broadband just so she can apply for jobs, the elderly who must sit outside, in a library, or in a park in the cold of winter just to communicate with loved ones,” said City Council member Ben Kallos, a signatory of the letter. “Every New Yorker must have the opportunity to access the world-knowledge on the Internet.” 

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A group of New York politicians is lobbying Comcast to provide free broadband to all city public housing residents and expand other low-cost Internet offerings as a condition for the cable operator’s proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable.

Led by New York City’s public advocate, Letitia James, and City Councilman Ben Kallos, the group of state and local politicians is calling on Comcast to help bridge the so-called digital divide between people who have access to broadband connections and those who do not. About a third of New York City families do not have broadband, according to the Knight Foundation.

“With every second we wait, the digital divide is widening,” Mr. Kallos said. “What we have with the Internet is literally a portal to the world’s knowledge. One third of our city can’t get on the Internet and can’t learn whatever, whenever they want.”

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Press Release

Digital Divide Would be Greatly Diminished by James/Kallos Proposal for Free and Low-Cost Internet for Millions of New Yorkers

New York, NY– Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Ben Kallos and elected officials today called on the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to guarantee universal broadband and consumer protections in the prospective Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger, which the PSC will approve or reject on November 13. The coalition of 22 state and local elected officials argued that for such a merger to be in the public interest, it would require key public benefits.

The merger of the two cable giants would provide Comcast with Time Warner Cable’s 2.5 million customers in New York State and 40 percent of Internet subscribers across the nation. The FCC has delayed a decision on the merger, but states such as New York State and California are conducting their own review processes.

The New York coalition demanded specific guaranteed public benefits for the Public Service Commission to consider the merger, including, but not limited to:

  • Universal broadband to bridge the digital divide, providing free wi-fi programs to NYCHA, senior, youth and community centers, and expanding affordable broadband services to all who qualify for means-based federal, state and city subsidies;
  • Improvements in infrastructure, transparency, and customer service to keep New York competitive and ensure residents have effective and reliable cable by reducing wait times, vastly improving service and reducing consumer complaints;
  • Increased transparency around interconnect transmission data to ensure compliance with Net Neutrality standards and a commitment to an Open Internet.

The standards were outlined in a letter sent to the Public Service Commission today, with a broad coalition including State Senator Kevin Parker, State Senator Jose Peralta, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Karim Camara, Assembly Member Walter Mosley, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Council Member Donovan Richards, Council Member Brad Lander, Council Member Stephen Levin, Council Member Deborah Rose, Council Member Paul Vallone, Council Member Mark Levine, Council Member Margaret Chin, Council Member Danny Dromm, Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Council Member James Van Bramer, Council Member Carlos Menchaca and Council Member Alan Maisel.

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Yorkers would finally be able to register to vote with a click of a mouse under a bill to be introduced in the City Council.

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) will introduce legislation to allow would-be voters to register online.

Currently, the Board of Elections requires paper registration forms to be mailed in the old fashioned way.

“We hope to have a city where everyone who is eligible can vote easily,” Kallos said. “We make it really hard to register, really hard to vote, and we can make it a lot easier.”

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Press Coverage
Edible Manhattan
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

City Councilman Ben Kallos has come a long way from his days at The Bronx High School of Science, though not so far from its rooftop greenhouse, where he tilled the soil as a teenager. The council member has been at the forefront of pushing New York City’s food agenda to new heights, from providing 1.1 million children with free lunches and dinners to making fresh fruits and vegetables available at NYCHA housing developments to cooking for his constituents at the Greenmarkets.

We caught up with Councilman Kallos to talk new initiatives, old favorite restaurants and where New York stands in terms of progressive food policy in America (hint: relatively speaking, we’re doing pretty well).

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Press Release

Intro 508 to allow New York City residents to register online was introduced today by Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations and Progressive Caucus Members Co-Chairs Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards, as well as Council Members Danny Dromm, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Stephen Levin, Brad Lander, Ydanis Rodriguez, Debi Rose, and Carlos Menchaca. The bill requires the Board of Elections to provide a secure website for registration. Twenty four States offer online voter registration in some form, many with a fully paperless process that can be submitted directly online. New York City consistently struggles with voter participation and turnout.

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Newsletter

Dear Neighbors,

It has been my pleasure to represent you in the City Council since January. Over the past nine months, my favorite moments have been the ones spent together in the community, such as inauguration, First Fridays, policy nights, cooking demonstrations at the Green Market and community events. If you have an event you would like me to attend, please send over an invitation. I will try my best to be there. 

Since the New Year, we have taken great strides towards greater opportunities for all New Yorkers with:

  • 50,000 universal pre-k seats, and more to come;
  • Paid sick leave;
  • More affordable apartments;
  • $35 million in funds for the East River Esplanade;
  • Steps to make streets safer through Vision Zero; and
  • A stronger fight against the Marine Transfer Station.

There is more to do, but the progress is encouraging. Please contact me with any thoughts, questions, requests for assistance or ideas for a better city. Here are just a few ways you can reach me:

Phone: (212) 860-1950 
Email: BKallosatcouncil [dot] nyc [dot] gov
Website: www.BenKallos.com
Twitter: @BenKallos 
Facebook: Facebook.com/BenKallos
In person: 244 East 93rd Street 

I look forward to working together.
As always, I am at your service.

Sincerely,Council Member Ben Kallos

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Look both ways before crossing this street — and then look again.

The intersection of East 57th Street and Second Avenue is the most dangerous in the area — with more than 130 crashes and 19 people injured in the past two years, according to a survey by City Councilman Benjamin Kallos.

That amounts to an average of more than five collisions every month.

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