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.

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.

El Diario Nuevas normas para el financiamiento de campañas políticas en NYC by David Ramirez

Nuevas normas para el financiamiento de campañas políticas en NYC

El alcalde Bill de Blasio promulgó ayer la legislación que amplía las reformas de financiamiento de campañas, las mismas que fueran aprobadas por el 80% de los votantes neoyorquinos en los comicios del 6 de noviembre. La nueva norma legal se aplicará tan pronto como el martes 26 de febrero, en que se celebrará la elección especial para Defensor Público y en las posteriores elecciones municipales de 2021.
 

Gotham Gazette Agenda 2019: High Hopes for Long-Awaited Reforms by Samar Khurshid

Agenda 2019: High Hopes for Long-Awaited Reforms

“Albany should look to all the things we’ve gotten done in the City Council over the past five years,” said City Council Member Ben Kallos, who previously chaired the governmental operations committee and helped lead the reform effort, “and it starts with no outside income, no more lulus, campaign finance reform...I believe that those three things would help clean up a lot of the corruption in Albany.”

To the dismay of good government groups and activists, however, the governor and Legislature have repeatedly wrestled over ethics reform with little to show for it. Cuomo infamously came to power promising that he would clean up Albany but later shut down the Moreland Commission that he had set up to fulfil that very pledge in the face of a resistant Legislature that kept seeing its members hauled off to jail. The compromise Cuomo struck with the Legislature created the state-run Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), which many have criticized for being an inefficient agency with too-close ties to the governor and legislative leaders, who appoint its members.

Gotham Gazette Next Steps for 3 City Charter Revisions Passed Election Day by Samar Khurshid

Next Steps for 3 City Charter Revisions Passed Election Day

City Council Member Ben Kallos, who unsuccessfully attempted to increase the public funds cap to 85 percent through legislation, was glad to see voters pass the improvements to the system. In a phone interview, he implied that concerns about the cost of the new system were overblown, and said that enhancing the system is key to eliminating real and perceived conflicts of interest.

“It’s far less than the city lost on Rivington, and whether it was a case of actual corruption or just appeared improper, it had significant cost to our city,” Kallos said, referring to the scandal around the city’s sale of Rivington House and related allegations of pay-to-play involving the mayor. “Just the defense of our city cost about $6 million,” he added in reference to the mayor’s legal bills accrued during law enforcement investigations of his fundraising that saw no charges filed. “So whether it is to save $100 million around Rivington or the $6 million in legal fees, it pays for itself.”

He continued, “When the next mayor’s going to have a budget in excess of $90 billion, [$18 million] to make sure that that elected official would only be accountable to the voters without the influence of big money is worth every penny

Gotham Gazette New York City Shouldn’t Regulate Ride-Hailing Apps - It Should Compete With Them by Devin Balkind

New York City Shouldn’t Regulate Ride-Hailing Apps - It Should Compete With Them

The idea of establishing a “ride sharing” (or “e-hail”) standard isn’t new. It has been discussed and proposed by a number of people in New York City’s tech community for years, including Ben Kallos, a tech-aware City Council member who proposed it in a 2014 bill, and by Chris Whong, now the lead developer of NYC Planning Labs, who proposed it in a 2013 blog post.

Critics of this approach have claimed that the city doesn’t have the capacity to develop its own e-hailing systems, but that simply isn’t true. Generic apps similar to Lyft and Uber exist in hundreds of markets around the world. Even local cab companies in New York City have developed their own apps.

Roosevelt Island Daily New York Times wants the State to follow Ben Kallos's lead by David Stone

New York Times wants the State to follow Ben Kallos's lead

Fears are that legislators will get a no strings attached raise without the outside income restrictions Kallos wrote into the City Council package. That's a huge risk in a State where corruption is so rampant that leaders from both major parties are now serving time in jail, joined by intimates of the Governor who were also caught misusing public positions for personal gain.

"The public would be better served if any pay raises that may come were tied to banning outside income and lulus for state lawmakers." Kallos concluded.

The Times agreed, "Good government demands fair compensation for lawmakers, but only when they earn and keep the public’s trust.

City and State Everybody loves Gale by Jeff Coltin

Everybody loves Gale

 

“Gale is 100 percent an honest broker. There’s no b.s. with her,” Banks said. “She tells you what’s on her mind, and she’s open to your ideas and suggestions and points of view.”

Brewer’s straight talk could easily come off as brusque, but people in politics who are used to hedging and circuitous language are quick to describe it as one of her best assets.

“People actually really appreciate somebody who just gives it to them straight and is honest and thoughtful about it,” Powers said.

“Gale Brewer gives me courage to be as honest as I am,” Kallos said. “She is one of the most honest people in politics, and I hope to be a close second.” Kallos emulates Brewer – “I want to be Gale Brewer when I grow up. I say it all the time” – and he means that in another way, too. He’s mulling a run to succeed her as borough president when she reaches the office’s term limit in 2021.

StateScoop NYC Council makes Mayor's Office of Data Analytics a permanent part of city government by Colin Wood

NYC Council makes Mayor's Office of Data Analytics a permanent part of city government

The New York City Council this week passed a bill adding the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics to the city charter. The move represents perhaps the first such move to add a data analytics office to a major city’s foundational document. It also prompted some data advocates to say it could encourage other cities to follow suit.

Wall Street Journal NYC Initiatives Seek to Curb Campaign Contributions and Board Term Limits by Katie Honon

NYC Initiatives Seek to Curb Campaign Contributions and Board Term Limits

But others see an opportunity for reform at every level if the provisions pass.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has pushed for campaign-finance reform since he ran for office in 2013.

“I really think that the system has too much big money into it,” he said. He hopes the changes will increase participation, particularly with first-time candidates.

“It is not humanly possible for someone to run for mayor on small dollars,” he said. “And with this change, it is.”