New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Good Government

As founder of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wikilaw.org/&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>WikiLaw.org</strong></a>, I believe that the Government and its body of law should be&nbsp;<strong>transparent</strong>&nbsp;for the people it governs. As founder of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.votersearch.org/&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>VoterSearch.org</strong></a>, I believe that protecting your right to vote is essential to an&nbsp;<strong>accountable</strong>&nbsp;government. As former Co-Chair of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cb8m.com/&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>Community Board 8</strong></a>'s Communication Committee, I worked to&nbsp;<strong>open</strong>&nbsp;the community board by announcing<a href="http://www.mbpo.org/free_details.aspid=64&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>community board membership applications</strong></a>&nbsp;and ensuring they were widely available at meetings. I have continued my work with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cb8m.com/&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>Community Board 8</strong></a>'s Communication Committee and we have made its television show "<a href="http://cb8mspeaks.blip.tv/&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>Community Board 8 Speaks</strong></a>" available online.<br><br>As your City Council member I will continue the work of making City Hall&nbsp;<strong>transparent</strong>&nbsp;by making its business available online through the web, PDF, podcast, and YouTube like videos. I will&nbsp;<strong>open</strong>City Hall by creating NYC.OpenLegislation.org, a local version of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opencongress.org/&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>OpenCongress.org</strong></a>, where anyone will be able to share their views on all business, in support of the mission of the<a href="http://www.participatorypolitics.org/&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>Participatory Politics Foundation</strong></a>. City Hall will become&nbsp;<strong>accountable</strong>&nbsp;to you the people as NYC.OpenLegislation.org, will let you track business before City Hall and how your representative voted on issues of importance to you.

City Land Council Member’s Legislation to Reveal Campaign Contribution Sources by May Vutrapongvatana

Council Member’s Legislation to Reveal Campaign Contribution Sources

Any contributions that do not include this information will not be eligible for public matching.

“In NASCAR you can see who is paying right on the hood of the car. A pie chart showing where politicians are getting their money from in a voter guide when you are deciding who to vote for is the next best thing. Too big a slice from real estate, and voters will know who the politician really serves. I’ve already included logos from labor union endorsements in mail to voters in my district, in fact most do. I believe with 869,000 union members in New York City having a nice slice from labor would become a benchmark to determine candidates in public service for our working families,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.

“Council Member Kallos’ bill will increase public awareness and education about where money is coming from to fund candidates for City office. A more aware public makes a big difference in having our campaign finance laws enforced and supported,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Gotham Gazette City Council Hears Bill to Expand Public Match in Campaign Finance Program by Samar Khurshid

City Council Hears Bill to Expand Public Match in Campaign Finance Program

That charter change was quickly implemented through local law, sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, for all special elections before the 2021 general election, thus applying to multiple races this year.

Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat, has also proposed increasing the public funds cap to roughly 89% of the spending limit, effectively allowing candidates to run their campaigns entirely on small contributions and the subsequent public match, and diluting the effect of wealthier, larger donors. And he hopes to put that reform into effect for the 2021 city election cycle, which will feature a massive number of local races, from citywide and borough wide posts through the City Council.

“I think this is a gamechanger,” Kallos said at Monday’s hearing, citing the recent citywide public advocate special election as proof that increasing the public funds match reduced big donations. He pointed to the latest campaign finance disclosures from all the campaigns, which showed that contributions of $250 or less made up 61% of all contributions, up from 26.3% of all contributions in the 2013 public advocate race, according to his office’s analysis of the numbers.

New York Post It’s time for the City Council to stop playing thought police by Post Editorial Board

It’s time for the City Council to stop playing thought police

When it comes to tolerating dissent or even unapproved wave-making, the New York City Council is starting to look a bit like the old Soviet Politburo.

The latest: Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) saw his land-use subcommittee shut down, apparently because he’d been asking too many uncomfortable questions about the mayor’s affordable-housing and tax-break deals.

Kallos himself didn’t suffer. By all accounts, he’s happy that he wound up being elevated to helm the Contracts Committee, where his brand of oversight won’t ruffle colleagues’ feathers.

Civicist Charts are us! by Micah L. Sifry

Charts are us!

Charts are us! New York City councilman Ben Kallos, one of the few computer programmers in elected office, has introduced a bill that would require pie charts explaining where council candidates get their contributions from. “What if politicians wore NASCAR logos?” Kallos asked the New York Post’s Rich Calder. “In NASCAR, you get to see who is paying right on the hood of the car. A pie chart showing where politicians are getting their money from is the next best thing.” On a more serious note, Kallos also wants more transparency for donations coming from homemaking spouses and college kids whose giving is often a way for well-heeled donors to skirt the campaign contribution limits.

NY City Lens City Council Committee Votes Unanimously to End Drug Testing of Prospective Employees by Emma Vickers

City Council Committee Votes Unanimously to End Drug Testing of Prospective Employees

In his opening statement, Committee Chair Mathieu Eugene explained the importance of the law in the context of growing calls for legalization in New York and beyond. “Unlike alcohol or other recreational drugs, the active ingredients in marijuana can linger in the system for weeks,” he said. “This potentially leaves New Yorkers vulnerable to failing a work related marijuana drug test even if they were legally consuming marijuana.”

Medical marijuana, as opposed to recreational use marijuana, is already legal in New York state, and over 96,000 patients are registered to access the drug, according to the state’s Department of Health.

New York Post Councilman: NASCAR is more transparent than New York politicians by Rich Calder

Councilman: NASCAR is more transparent than New York politicians

A Manhattan lawmaker says NASCAR provides more information about its sponsors than politicians do about their contributors, so he’s introducing legislation that would require pie charts showing where each candidate in a city race gets their money.

Councilman Ben Kallos said his bill would yield the “most transparent” information ever for voters in New York City.

The information would be easily readable in pie chart form and delineate special interest contributions, including contributions from real estate developers and lobbyists. The data would be made available by the city’s Campaign Finance Board, both online and in official voter guides mailed before elections to all voters.

Gotham Gazette Council Member Kallos Pushes Next Increase in Matching Funds Available Through Public Campaign Finance System by Samar Khurshid

Council Member Kallos Pushes Next Increase in Matching Funds Available Through Public Campaign Finance System

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos is moving forward with a bill to increase the amount of public funds a candidate running for elected office can receive from the city’s campaign finance program, in order to further reduce the influence of big money donors in local political campaigns.

New York City’s voluntary campaign finance program matches small dollar donations in order to afford candidates without deep pockets or wealthy donors a more level playing field in elections. In November, voters approved a ballot question that increased the matching ratio from 6-to-1 for the first $175 of a contribution to 8-to-1 for the first $250 for citywide offices ($175 for all other offices), and increased the maximum amount of public funds that could be paid out from 55% of the spending limit for an office to 75%.

The changes also reduced individual contribution limits across the board and gave candidates running in the 2021 city elections the choice to opt in to the new rules, which otherwise go into mandatory effect beginning 2022.

Gotham Gazette After Reform Commitments, City Council Democrats Appoint Three New Commissioners to Board of Elections by Samar Khurshid

After Reform Commitments, City Council Democrats Appoint Three New Commissioners to Board of Elections

The New York City Council’s Democratic conference held on Thursday what officials said was its first ever public vote to appoint three new commissioners to the New York City Board of Elections.

Gotham Gazette Everything You Need to Know About the Special Election for Public Advocate by Samar Khurshid

Everything You Need to Know About the Special Election for Public Advocate

Next month, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to cast a ballot for a new public advocate in the first-ever special election for a citywide office. The current vacancy was created when the most recent officeholder, Letitia James, was officially sworn in as the state’s attorney general, a position she won in the November general election.

New York Post Bill would require NYC developers to disclose relationships with politicians by Rich Calder

Bill would require NYC developers to disclose relationships with politicians

Developers who want to do business with the city would be required to publicly disclose previous relationships with government officials under a bill being introduced Wednesday at the City Council.

“Well-connected developers should not be getting sweetheart deals on the taxpayers’ dime,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the bill’s sponsor.

Under the bill, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development would be required to give the Council the “compliance package” submitted by prospective developers for mandatory background checks.