New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage

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.


Young immigrant artists are getting some much needed space in an Upper East Side apartment building.

Some commercial space at the St. Tropez building on 340 E. 64th St. has officially been transformed into a new gallery by Chashama, a nonprofit organization that finds unused real estate for artist gallery and studio use. City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who funded all four of the exhibitions scheduled to occupy the gallery, has allocated a total of $80,000 to the nonprofit over the last three years.


Building Access NYC in a way to eventually make it accessible to others who are working towards similar goals was a logical addition, according to Hia. Key to this was also continued support from elected officials in New York City.

Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, was a major proponent of the project. Kallos is also a software developer, and he has previously worked on projects with similar goals, including, which provides healthy recipes to users who are on a budget. Kallos introduced Local Law 60 in 2018, which spurred the city to consider how tech and data could advance access to benefits there.

Kallos said the API is going to be a way for private-sector innovators to avoid having to understand and navigate bureaucracy. Instead, they will be able to focus on creating a new digital means of using data and applications for other services to screen individuals and ultimately determine if they are eligible for benefits they aren’t receiving.

“Now that New York City has finally done the right thing by making its benefits available through an API, the challenge now comes to the private sector for how we can work together to finally end hunger and poverty in New York City,” said Kallos.


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.


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.


During his tenure, the Manhattan lawmaker approached routine, sparsely attended land use hearings somewhat like courtroom dramas — grilling housing agency officials and other applicants for details on financing, affordability levels and benefits awarded to workers on a given site and chastising them when they couldn’t provide answers...


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.


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.


City lawmakers want to curb the proliferation of a deadly disease, which means taking aim at cooling towers — and some landlords who reportedly aren’t keeping up with inspections — in an effort to snuff out Legionnaires’ disease at the root.

The city council passed a bill March 28 designed to toughen a law combating the rising number of Legionnaires’ cases in the city. The original law — passed following the deadliest outbreak of the disease in the city’s history in 2015 — produced somewhat tepid results.


Transit advocates vowed Thursday to ensure congestion pricing isn’t killed by New Yorkers looking for a free ride.

“We have 20 months until this goes into effect,” said Alex Matthiessen, who began forming coalitions around congestion pricing in 2010 after Mayor Bloomberg’s plan failed to muster enough support two years earlier. “There’s all kinds of possibilities for mischief-making, for rollbacks, for backlash.”


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.


On Tuesday, City Council members Margaret Chin, Brad Lander, Donovan Richards, Antonio Reynoso, Ben Kallos, and Keith Powers announced forthcoming legislation providing for a 5-cent fee on paper bags. Proceeds from every bag sold would be divided between the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, which would get 3 cents, and the city, which would use the remainder to buy reusable bags for New Yorkers (particularly low-income and elderly New Yorkers, who might have a hard time avoiding the fee otherwise).


(Beyond Pesticides, April 2, 2019) The new documentary film “Ground War” will have its New York City premiere screening on Saturday, April 6, 2019, 7:30pm at Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street, New York, NY. The film is a moving depiction of a son’s quest for answers about the cause of his father’s cancer—which takes him into the world of doctors, scientists, pesticide regulators, victims of pesticide poisoning, activists, and land managers. The issue is exposure to pesticides used to manage lawns and playing fields and the father’s exposure as an avid golfer. The son, who is the filmmaker, finds others on the same search for answers because of harm or death of a loved one, then finds a solution in the work of activists and organic land managers.


Dangerous jobs usually come with higher wages due to the risks involved. Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the world, but many construction workers receive little more than minimum wage. Many construction projects receiving government subsidies pay workers minimum wage. That hardly seems fair considering the risk of personal injury. Still, people need jobs, so they’re willing to take that risk for less pay.


UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A nonprofit that turns under-utilized real estate into spaces where artists can create and present their artworks opened a new studio on Monday that will feature the work of immigrant artists for its debut exhibit, the nonprofit and local elected officials announced.

The organization Chashama renovated an empty space in the St. Tropez condo complex on East 64th Street near First Avenue into an art gallery following the building's donation of the space. City Councilman Ben Kallos, the nonprofit and artists celebrated the opening of the space Monday with a ribbon cutting ceremony.


Voting opens on March 30 and end April 7 for New York City's eighth participatory budgeting cycle, city officials said. Residents of the Upper East Side will vote on whether to fund projects selected as finalists by City Council members Keith Powers or Ben Kallos, depending on whether they live within the council's fourth or fifth district.

Projects selected as finalists for participatory budgeting address community needs such as housing and school improvements, park upgrades, public safety and senior services. Most projects don't carry a funding value of $1 million, so multiple projects can win funding. If certain projects prove popular, city council members may chose to allocate even more funds.


NEW YORK — Sorry, kids — now you'll have to ask for that Coke. New York City restaurants will likely be banned from offering kids sugary drinks under legislation the City Council approved Thursday.

The bill restricts the beverages that eateries can offer with children's meals to water, juice and low- or non-fat milk. Restaurants could still give kids soda or another drink if they ask for one, but those that get caught offering heavily sweetened sippables could be fined up to $200.

"Healthy drinks with kid's meals will be the new normal in New York City no matter where they are eating," Councilman Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. "While parents can still order whatever they want the default will be healthy."


Kids who enjoy soda with their happy meals might not be too sweet about a new bill approved by the City Council on Thursday.

The legislation drafted by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) makes water, milk and 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice the “default beverage option” in all kids’ meals served at restaurants.

Kallos said his bill’s goal is to tackle childhood obesity.

“Healthy drinks with kid’s meals will be the new normal in New York City no matter where our kids are eating,” he said.

The new law is not an outright ban. Parents could still request soda or other sugary beverages when placing their order.

It would apply to all restaurants that serve kids’ meals.

Unlike former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s failed attempt to ban sales of large sodas at food outlets and movie theaters, the bill has the support of the American Beverage Association.


Restaurants that disobey the law would be subject to monetary penalties.

Public health advocates and the city Health Department supported the bill during a City Council hearing last month. The Health Department has described reducing the consumption of sugary beverages as a top agency priority. Nearly 1 in 5 children ages 6 to 19 are obese citywide.

"We know this change will do a lot to keep sugary drinks away from our children, helping them avoid childhood obesity and grow up to be healthy adults," Councilman Ben Kallos, the bill's sponsor, said in a statement.

Separately, the council approved a bill that would allow for the removal of a physician's name from a patient's birth certificate if the doctor's license has been surrendered or revoked for misconduct. The bill was introduced following BuzzFeed News' story on a patient who had been sexually abused by the OB/GYN who delivered her children. 


Towering structures have been a feature of many New York neighborhoods for quite some time now, but some of these buildings have big gaps in them that are supposed to be for mechanical purposes, hence why they’re known as “mechanical voids.” As skeptics grow more concerned about the increase in the use of these empty spaces, the city is looking to step in. The mayor and city council are ready to start looking into the matter that skeptics suggest could create dangerous situations and unnecessary and wasteful uses of space and resources.