2011 New Year's Update

New Year's is a great time to take stock in the previous year or previous two years, reflect on decisions past and present and perhaps begin anew.  In that spirit here is an update with some highlights that you may or may not already know about.

2009
20102009

Working for Laws to Make Life Better 
Shop 2nd AvenueThroughout 2008 and through the first months of 2009 I had the privilege of serving as a Chief of Staff to Jonathan Bing  in the New York State Assembly.  During that time we helped constituents with their problems, provided financial support to non-profits serving the community and authored some of the most progressive legislation out there.  

Some highlights include Economic Development for Second Avenue SubwayBusiness, Tax Incentives for 
Open Source Development and Emergency PreparednessTenant Protections from Unfair Credit Reporting, and Elections Law Reforms including Youth Registration InitiativesElectronic Voter Registration andAbsentee Ballots, and Statewide Registration.  With support from people like you these bills can someday become laws that will make life better.
 
Finding a Better Way to Make Sausage
 
Having seen the “Sausage” making process behind legislation I left the Assembly to fight for reform.  While my incumbent City Council Member pondered a city-wide run I explored the opportunity of filling her vacancy launching KallosForCouncil.com where we started things off with a strong section on public policy and a commitment to making the legislative process transparent, accessible and open.
Open Legislation
 
While the City Council campaign concluded when the incumbent sought re-election, my commitment to transparency in Government did not with the founding of Open Government Foundation and the launch of OpenLegislation.org where we were the first to post attendance, legislation and voting records going back to 1995 along with an application that showed how often your New York City or State legislator voted with the majority.  Soon after the New York State Senate and New York City Council would launch similar portals and certain legislators would be forced to step down for poor records that were not previously easily accessible over the Internet.100 Ideas for a Better City
  
Following former Public Advocate Mark Green’s announcement of his candidacy to be New York City’s next Public Advocate in 2009, I joined his campaign as his Director of Policy and Communication where we came up with “100 Ideas for a Better City.”  While we made it through the primary, we didn’t make it through the run off.  But the good news is that many of the ideas have already made it into the "connected city" policies adopted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
 
Inspiration & Recognition
  NYCPoliticalCalendar.com
As the holidays and the multitude of political and non-profit holiday parties came near, I was inspired to create a crowd sourced calendar of events for the greater New York City area where everyone and anyone could post and access events.  NYCPoliticalCalendar.com has become a political mainstay as it enters its second year with about 20,000 visitors, nearly half of whom are regulars.
 
The crowd sourced political calendar, along with putting legislation online, and a prior project that allows voters to verify their registrations prior to election day earned recognition as a Tech Entrepreneur andOne-Man Political Geek Squad in the New York Observer's “Insurgents of 2010.”
 
The Women of 2009
 
BideaweeAs we conclude 2009, it would be inappropriate not to acknowledge two important additions to my personal life: Pandora and Jackie Topol. 
 
Ben & Jackie at the GuggenheimPandora was my Valentine, adopted on Valentine’s Day weekend from

Bideawee where we fell in love at first sight.  Though it took a lot of love and patience, Pandora has grown from a very frightful cat hiding in a closet to a cat that helped my write this update by sitting on my desk, pressing keys on the keyboard and generally supervising everything (as cats tend to do).
  
Jackie Topol and I met at one of the last First Fridays at the Guggenheim, an event that I initiated a social media campaign for eventually building the group to 1,800+ yielding above capacity crowds to monthly events exposing young professionals to visual and musical arts.  Jackie is finishing her Masters in Nutrition at NYU, teaches kid's cooking and healthy 30 minute meals classes at the JCC and will be starting her residency at NY Presbyterian later this month to become a registered dietitian.  Ever since we met she has been a loving part of my life as we support one another in our careers and build an amazing life together.
 
2010
 
Making New York’s Legislature the Best in the Nation
 
New Roosevelt InitiativeContinuing on 2009’s trajectory, I signed on withBill Samuels’ campaign for Lieutenant Governor and New York State Senate President, as his Special Counsel and Director of Policy.  The campaign focused on bringing Five Pillars of Reform (Campaign FinanceEthicsFiscal IntegrityLegislative Rules, and Redistricting) to Albany resulting in the founding of the New Roosevelt Initiative, New York State’s first government reform political committee.  Soon after, Bill ultimately decided to invest the resources of his Lieutenant Governor campaign into an independent expenditure by the new committee to oust disgraced Senator Pedro Espada electing insurgent idealist Gustavo Rivera in his place by a two to one margin.  Following our victory the committee continues to focus on the Five Pillars including testifying on redistricting reform.
 
Educating Voters on the New Machines 
 
Over the years New York Democratic Lawyers Council (NYDLC), an organization that has been an integral part of my life since 2006, has focused on voting rights and voter protection.  Last year, New York State finally complied with Help America Vote Act adopting new electronic machines. The Paper Based Optical Scan (PBOS) machines that were used were of our choosing (and much better than the highly controversial direct-recording electronic machines that leave no paper trail).  However, with any new system, it is always important to educate people on how to use it.  So we went to work organizing forums all over the City and State.  We also continued our tradition of training lawyers and law students on election law and voter advocacy and I was proud to serve as Statewide Voter Protection Coordination Chair.
 
Business Takes Off
 
Kallos Consulting and Kallos Law, founded in 1996 and 2007 respectively continue to succeed.  Kallos Consulting has been focusing on technology and web development with last year’s website launches for the Democratic National Committee’s Law School DemocratsNew York State Democratic Party, and New York City Government’s Community Board 8 Manhattan.  On the legal front business has focused on insurance litigation, corporate and non-profit law, and I have recently joined a venture capitalist as in-house counsel.National Democratic Law Students Council

Taking Care of Family
 
Over the years I’ve done my best to care for my mother, who has recently fallen ill requiring three hospitalizations in the past few months.  This is why you may have noticed my absence from many events I would regularly attend.  I have been working closely with her doctors, social service agencies, and healthcare providers to make sure she gets the care she needs.  This way she can get back on the road to recovery and hopefully regain her independence.
 
2011
 
A Milestone
 
If you’ve read this far, then you’ve earned this invitation to join me in celebrating the milestone of my 30th Birthday, this Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City (5th Avenue & Central Park South a.k.a 59th Street).  The event is free, begins at 9:30PM, and features the Michael Fredo Orchestra.
 

 

These are just the highlights but I hope you enjoyed.