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.

Gothamist A Day Of Virtual Action To Push Online Voter Registration Amid Coronavirus Outbreak by Brigid Bergin

A Day Of Virtual Action To Push Online Voter Registration Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The state bill grew out of a push for an online voter registration system here in New York City, led by City Councilmember Ben Kallos.  He said three years ago that he wanted to make registering to vote as easy as calling an Uber. His bill passed the Council and was signed into law by Mayor de Blasio in 2017. But the New York City Board of Elections has indicated it would not process the forms completed online through a system built by the New York City Campaign Finance Board, unless it is required by a change in state law. 

Kallos said it’s time for the state to act, not just to make registering to vote easier, but to reduce the risk to public health. 

“While we're telling everyone to just stay home, it's wrong to still require people to print out a voter registration form, fill it out by hand, get a postage stamp, go to a post office, expose themselves to mail it, when we could just as easily do it online,” he said. “And then, similarly, it's a little bit crazy that we would require very low-wage workers at the Board of Elections, often making minimum wage, to go in at a time like this and literally transcribe what people hand write into a computer, when we could just skip the step...let people enter it from home and keep everybody safe during the process.” 

New York Post Emails suggest false testimony by de Blasio official over whistleblower’s firing by Julia Marsh

Emails suggest false testimony by de Blasio official over whistleblower’s firing

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who was one of the members questioning Camilo at the hearing, was surprised by the disclosure.

“I’m deeply disappointed in the administration for lying under oath and for doing so with knowledge and willfully,” Kallos said.

“I understand the litigation risk that they were dealing with however there were numerous other questions that were answered with, ‘We can’t answer due to ongoing litigation,'” Kallos said.

“I think we need to look into holding this administration accountable if they come before the council and swear under oath it needs to be the truth,” Kallos said.

The Chief-Leader Judge: Emails Hint At False Testimony In ‘Whistleblower’ Firing by RICHARD STEIER

Judge: Emails Hint At False Testimony In ‘Whistleblower’ Firing

A Federal Judge in Manhattan stated in a recent ruling that an email exchange between de Blasio administration officials indicated that Commissioner of Administrative Services Lisette Camillo falsely claimed that a fired whistleblower was terminated based on performance after her superiors ordered her to deny it had anything to do with his testimony to Federal prosecutors.

On March 13, 2017, less than three weeks after former Deputy Commissioner Ricardo Morales was fired, Ms. Camilo told a City Council hearing that his discharge had “nothing to do with Rivington,” referring to a longtime hospice for AIDS patients known as Rivington House that the previous year had been “flipped” at a $72-million profit to a developer after city officials revoked two deeds.

Lifting restrictions contained in those documents allowed the site to be used for purposes other than health care.

Gotham Gazette City's $20 Billion in Contracting Takes Another Step into Modernity by Ethan Geringer-Sameth

City's $20 Billion in Contracting Takes Another Step into Modernity

New York City government spends roughly $20 billion per year on goods and services through contracts with non-governmental vendors, including thousands of opportunities for companies of all types and sizes to work with the city. But the contracting process has long been arduous for vendors to navigate and difficult for watchdogs to closely monitor. Officials say that is now changing as a multi-step effort has unfolded over the past few years to modernize the technical infrastructure and databases that support city contracting.

And on Wednesday, the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS) in partnership with City Council Member Ben Kallos announced the launch of updated in-person and online terminals where key information about city contracts and vendors is now accessible. The announcement is part of an ongoing effort that began in 2016 to implement a new electronic system -- the Procurement and Sourcing Solutions Portal, or PASSPort -- that will serve as a one-stop-shop for agencies, vendors, oversight entities, and the public involved or interested in government procurement.

The latest update corrects some of the growing pains that emerged while moving to the more modern, “end-to-end” platform intended to expand accessibility and transparency to city contracting and streamline the process for vendors and agency staff.

Sludge The Business of Homelessness: NYC’s Biggest Shelter Contractor Makes Millions, Offers Shoddy Facilities by Walker Bragman Alex Kotch

The Business of Homelessness: NYC’s Biggest Shelter Contractor Makes Millions, Offers Shoddy Facilities

Other Acacia residents have filed complaints against SERA Security Services, the private firm Acacia contracts with to provide security at its shelters. SERA and another private contractor used by city shelters, FJC Security, faced 21 lawsuits over violence as of mid-2018.

According to New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, the City Council is probing the abuse allegations from Acacia residents.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet with several people who have stayed in Acacia Network scattered site housing and shelters and was concerned with their personal stories and what they went through,” Kallos told Sludge. “We met with them as well as investigators from the City Council, and if the allegations are true it gives rise to serious concerns. And we are actively looking into it and have reported it to the proper authorities, including referrals to the Department of Investigation.”

City Limits City Campaign Finance System Charts Path—and Highlights Challenges—for State Reform by Kate Pastor

City Campaign Finance System Charts Path—and Highlights Challenges—for State Reform

Recent City Council legislation sponsored by Councilmember Ben Kallos also brought up percentage of the spending limit that can be publicly funded to 88.89 percent, meaning that a candidate only needs to raise 11.11 percent in match-eligible private contributions in order to max out the spending limit.

When it comes to getting big money out of politics to level the playing field, a clear victory can be seen in the 2019 public advocate special election — the first with an 8:1 match on small donations. The race attracted a wide range of contenders, with 11 of the 17 candidates receiving matching funds and all but one opting for the higher match (there were two options in this election). Together, they received $7,178,120, accounting for more than 72.25 percent of the funding in the race, according to Kallos’ office and the CFB respectively.

The high public match also seemed to encourage candidates to seek out small donations, with contributions of $250 and under making up 93.82 percent of donations and 60.78 percent of the private money raised. Compare that with the last competitive public advocate election in 2013 in which small contributions made up only one-quarter of the private money raised, according to Kallos’ office. In the 2019 special election, the most common donation was just $10, according to the CFB.

Gotham Gazette Launch of Required City Reporting on Required Reports Shows Gaps in Reporting by Samar Khurshid

Launch of Required City Reporting on Required Reports Shows Gaps in Reporting

The New York City Council regularly passes bills mandating that city agencies create reports on their work, ostensibly as part of the Council’s oversight responsibilities. From city jail populations to hate crimes statistics to use of force by police officers, the Council has passed bills requiring a report be delivered to it.

The Council passes so many reporting bills that last year, it passed legislation that would help it track the number of total reports required under local law, the City Charter, or mayoral order. The bill compelled the city’s Department of Records and Information Services to create a central list of every single report required from every city agency, board, or office.

The result: a 57-page document that lists a whopping 842 required reports of various types due at a variety of time intervals. Of those, 490 are listed as not received by DORIS, despite some being producing by agencies on a regular basis, raising questions for Council members about whether agencies are refusing to comply with the law or are overwhelmed with burdensome reporting mandates.

New York Daily News NYC spends millions on cheap, single-ply toilet paper by Anna Sanders

NYC spends millions on cheap, single-ply toilet paper

New York City is literally flushing millions down the toilet.

The city has spent at least $8.8 million on cheap toilet paper since June 2013 – and the costs are piling up under Mayor de Blasio.

Around $1.58 million was wasted on toilet paper last fiscal year, a 12% bump since 2014, according to records obtained by The Daily News. Last month alone, the city bought $126,000 worth of toilet paper rolls.

The city uses about four million rolls every year, buying only cheap, single-ply toilet paper, according to the Citywide Administrative Services. An average of $1.45 million was spent on potty paper annually over the last few years.