"A threat to working New Yorkers from Gray Line bus company during ongoing negotiations is unacceptable. Guides help show the greatness of our city, and they should not be laid off or threatened. A great city deserves great guides. Nor can in-person guides be replaced by machines, for both safety and quality of experience. I applaud Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for leading the way on this issue," said Council Member Ben Kallos.
Finding your car when it gets towed is about to get easier thank to legislation introduced today in the City Council by Council Member Ben Kallos. Owners of cars towed due to temporary parking restrictions would be able to find where their car was moved through the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) website or by calling 311. Currently, this is only available for vehicles taken to impound lots because of regular parking violations.
“Imagine arriving at your parking spot to find its gone, not knowing if it is stolen or towed, without being able to find out where it is, unless you’ve got the time to walk every block of your neighborhood,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Anytime you can’t find your car, New Yorkers should be able to find them online or by calling 311.”
In the wake of the FCC ruling on net neutrality, New York City Council Member and free and open source software developer Ben Kallos said:
"Universal broadband is best supported by a free and open Internet, which the FCC guaranteed today by reclassifying the Internet as a utility.
As a city of more than 8.4 million residents, over a third of whom are foreign born, New York has long advocated for Net Neutrality. Our growing tech industry, which has brought a new wave of middle class jobs back to New York, relies on the equality of access that the FCC granted today.
In addition to the FCC, thank you to President Obama, Governor Cuomo, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and my colleagues in the City Council, Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm, Corey Johnson, Karen Koslowitz, Stephen Levin, Antonio Reynoso, Ydanis Rodriguez, and Ruben Wills, as well as the nearly four million Americans who submitted public comments to the FCC, for helping to protect the Internet’s foundation of democracy and equality.”
"Our nation faces a $6.8 trillion retirement deficit, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security, which this legislation seeks to solve," said Council Member Ben Kallos, an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Attorney. "Erosion of pensions in the public sector and retirements benefits in the private sector have left our working families without a way to save a nest egg for retirement. Providing small businesses in the private sector with the tools they need to offer their employees better retirement benefits will go a long way towards filling the retirement deficit and providing workers the retirement they deserve. It has been a pleasure to work with Effective New York founder Bill Samuels on this big idea and thank you to Public Advocate James for her leadership on this and other issues of income security and inequality."
“Vision zero will help end preventable traffic collisions. I am proud to have worked with the de Blasio administration to gather feedback from my community in order to create safe and livable streets for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who mailed 60,000 constituents soliciting dangerous intersection and street improvements for a livable streets report. “Thank you to Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Trottenberg, and Chief Chan for working with my office, district, and constituents to improve street safety for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.” Download the Report.
Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) came out strongly against Intro 495 this morning at a hearing on the legislation, issuing the following statement:
"Introduction 495, is not waste equity, it is waste inequity. Rather than relieving burdens on environmental justice communities, it simply creates new environmental justice communities..."
“Internet service has become a necessary utility for the general public to communicate with one another and government. Whether receiving emergency information during a storm, applying for services or communicating via video chat with family, all Americans deserve equal access to an open internet,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, a Free and Open Source Software Developer. “President Obama, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler and Mayor de Blasio agree: We must protect net neutrality.”
New Yorkers could easily track their absentee ballot applications online, if Council Member Ben Kallos’ bill, introduced today, becomes law. One in five Americans vote absentee, but 250,000 of those ballots were rejected in 2012,according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The bill requires the Board of Elections (BOE) to provide a secure website through which any registered voter can track the following:
- Receipt of application for absentee ballot by Board of Elections
- Approval or rejection of application, and reason if rejected
- Status of ballot being mailed
- Receipt of completed ballot by Board of Elections
- Status of counting completed ballot and reason if rejected
New York, NY -- Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Council Member Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright applauded the Mayor’s proposal for new ferry service in New York City today, including locations to connect Roosevelt Island with Astoria, Long Island City and 34th Street, and to connect East 90th Street and East 62nd Street with lower Manhattan and the Bronx.
New York, NY -- Following the announcement from Mayor de Blasio that New York City will see expanded ferry service by 2017, combining existing routes with new stops, City Council Member Ben Kallos (D- Manhattan) released the following statement:
"We're taking back the waterfront and improving commutes through expanded ferry service for New Yorkers. Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for investing in our waterfront and transportation through ferry service which I have been proud to advocate for following the leadership on a Federal level by Senator Chuck Schumer and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney."
“More than one billion dollars in unpaid Environmental Control Board fines could be financing our schools, building affordable housing and revitalizing our open space. It is imperative that we have the oversight necessary to find cost-savings at the ECB,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I want to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio and Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras for their commitment to this transparency measure.”
New York, NY– Council Member Ben Kallos, author of the “Universal E-Hail App” bill today testified before the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) to call for innovation and open competition in the TLC’s e-hail rules (the video will be available online and testimony is attached). The TLC is considering new rules for a permanent e-hail marketplace. As proposed, the rules expand the ability of cabs to accept e-hails and make it safer for them to do so, but do not include an Open Application Processing Interface (API) or a NYC TLC E-Hail App.
New York, NY – An “Anti Tenant-Blacklist” City Council bill to be introduced today would protect tenants named in housing court from being placed on “blacklists." The legislation, sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos, Rory Lancman, Alan Maisel, and Mark Levine would prevent landlords from using the information to discriminate against tenants when they have satisfied the terms of an order issued in housing court. The so-called blacklists contain an estimated hundreds of thousands of names of would-be renters.
High School students in public and private schools will be required to receive voter registration forms during class under new legislation that would improve upon the decade long-unenforced Young Adult Voter Registration Act (YAVRA), if Council Members Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal and Fernando Cabrera have a say.
New York, NY – Following the New York Court of Appeals' decision in Wallach vs. Town of Dryden and Cooperstown Holstein vs. Town of Middlefield to allow municipalities to ban fracking within their limits, Council Members Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal and Costa Constantinides have introduced a bill for New York City to stand in solidarity with Otsego County’s Middlefield and Tompkins County’s Dryden in banning hydro-fracking. The move is a strong statement from New York City against fracking in the city, surrounding areas and the state.
According to FracTracker.org, New York City would be joining 80 municipalities with a ban, 100 with moratorium in place, and 87 making a push for a ban or moratorium. Though there are many unknowns about hydrofracking, it has already been shown to pose serious dangers to human health and the environment, including:
New York, NY – New Yorkers may soon be able to vote early, according to a bill being introduced today by City Council Members Ben Kallos and Costa Constantinides with support of members of the City Council's Progressive Caucus. The bill would allow residents to vote in municipal elections early, from the second Tuesdayprior to the election to the Friday prior to the election from 8am-8pm during the week and from 9am-5pm on the weekend in at least one polling place in each of the fifty-one council districts.
Two-thirds of US States and Washington, D.C. offer early voting to residents. New York State, however, currently only allows early voting through absentee ballots with an excuse such as an unavoidable absence or an illness. In those cases, one can vote by mail or in person at the Board of Elections Office. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010, 27% of nonvoters said that the reason they did not vote was because they were too busy or could not get time off.
“New Yorkers should be able to vote when it is convenient for them, not when it is convenient for elected officials,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, which oversees the Board of Elections. “It should be easier for more New Yorkers to participate and to vote, so we can raise our city’s participation rates from one of the lowest in the nation. One step is removing the barrier to voting created by having elections on only one day.”
Democracy must be a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Today, that means freeing government from the chains of a bureaucracy intentionally created to maintain the status quo. Digital democracy can help facilitate a more agile government that is as responsive to the needs of its people as the private sector is to its clients. In so doing, digital democracy cannot simply replace more traditional forms of record-keeping and communication, but must meet the people where they are, and to open democracy up to new possibilities.
Digital democracy can provide new tools to support making laws, representing citizens, scrutinizing the work and performance of government, encouraging citizens to engage with democracy, and facilitating dialogue amongst citizens. While implementing digital democracy, the Digital Democracy Commission has an opportunity to build free and open source software tools in the United Kingdom that can be shared with localities as well as globally.
The recent experience of legislators in New York City, New York State, and the United States of America has illustrated the importance of several key components of a digital democracy:
- Law is a constantly changing code, and we must treat it as such when designing publication platforms. The free and open source software model can inform the principles by which the law is created and disseminated. If residents are presumed to know the law, then the law must be published for free online for anybody to access.
- Legislation should be treated as a work in progress, which can be drafted, commented on and followed by any interested resident.
- Representing citizens can be improved using a customer relationship management (CRM) software as well as a single point of contact such as a phone number like 311 or platform with an open API like open 311 for non-emergency government service requests and tracking of those requests until issues have been resolved.
- Scrutinizing the work and performance of government is essential but dependent on underlying laws that provide for open meetings along with their video and webcast, freedom of information law, open 311, open legislation and law, along with placing public notices and data online in a human and computer readable formats available through open application program interfaces (API) in as close to real time as possible.
- Encouraging citizens to engage with democracy can be improved upon by local government officials and agencies by using a combination of low- and high-tech tools to communicate with and serve citizens.
- Facilitating dialogue amongst citizens through programs that encourage and allow substantive resident involvement in government decision-making, such as Participatory Budgeting, result in better understanding of the decisions of government.
The solutions offered and those that the Digital Democracy Commission will ultimately recommend should be scalable and versatile both horizontally and vertically across democracies everywhere at all levels of government. The Commission has an opportunity to continue and maintain the digital democracy brand as a convening point for the sharing of free and open source software tools and knowledge globally.
The following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan):
New York, NY – City Council Member Ben Kallos today introduced a bill to create a free Universal E-Hail App to allow New Yorkers to e-hail any of the 13,637 yellow cabs and 6,000 green cabs that participate. The Universal E-Hail App would be contracted or created by the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC). It would not alter existing apps and would also allow for any third party app like Uber or Lyft to e-hail yellow and green cabs.
“City taxis need an app of their own to compete, and New Yorkers need to be able to get a cab in the rain without having to worry about surge pricing.” said City Council Member Ben Kallos, a software developer who used his expertise to propose the app called for in the legislation. “New York City must support our tech sector: Instead of making new technologies illegal, or regulating them out of business, we should provide a level playing field with fair competition so that companies, drivers and riders all win.”
Statement From Council Member Ben Kallos on Eric Garner Grand Jury Decision
New York, NY -- An Expanded Agency-Based Voter Registration bill passed the City Council today. The bill adds seven more agencies to those required to provide voter registration forms and strengthens the mandate to assist residents in filling out and mailing the registration forms to the Board of Elections.
New York State’s Pro-Voter Law, passed in 2000, required 18 agencies to keep the forms and did not mandate agencies to actively assist residents. An additional bill, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, to improve reporting and compliance with the 2000 law, also passed the Council.
"America is a nation of immigrants, from the pilgrims to today. We have always welcomed 'your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free' from all over the world to our nation of opportunity. We must continue to give our newest residents an equal opportunity to achieve the American dream," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "I am glad that this nation, that once provided safe harbor for refugees from Anti-Semitism, like my wife and grandparents, will become a safe haven once again."
Letter from elected officials on the lack of safety plan for the MTS construction site written by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and signed by Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Dan Quart, Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, Council Member Dan Garodnick and Council Member Ben Kallos.
New York, NY -- Council Member Ben Kallos released the following statement applauding the MTA today for releasing more data sets for developers to use: "Historical Bus Time datasets released today demonstrates a government empowering New Yorkers to use data to improve our lives. Thanks to the MTA for prioritizing open information, which I have been working with them and the Civic Tech community on using to improve service," said Council Member Ben Kallos, a civic free and open source software developer.
“Rebuilding and resiliency for HHC hospitals are essential investments for a City prepared to take on the next Sandy,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents Coler Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island. “Senator Schumer and Mayor de Blasio merit recognition for their leadership in securing FEMA federal funding and investing it in our public hospitals.”