New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

City and State

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.

City and State NYC purged 200,000 voters in 2016. It wasn’t a mistake. by Stacey Asip- Kneitschel

NYC purged 200,000 voters in 2016. It wasn’t a mistake.

“Sadly it’s another case of Albany getting in the way of anyone having good elections in this state, or of Albany to fix the Board of Elections, give it back to the people and take it away from the party bosses.” – New York City Councilman Ben Kallos

“It’s interesting to see that the two people whose conduct was found culpable in Brooklyn lost their employment and yet the people involved in some of the other purges identified by the AG in Queens and Manhattan are still there. Why weren’t those people fired?” New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, a longtime critic of the city election board’s hiring system, asked rhetorically.

Not quite scapegoats, the two suspended Brooklyn clerks appeared to be more like settled-upon sacrificial lambs. A city Board of Elections spokeswoman recently described them both as “retired.” But in 2016, what they appear to have been doing was following orders.

City and State New campaign finance reform would return power to the people by Ben Kallos, Morris Pearl

New campaign finance reform would return power to the people

On Nov. 6, New York City voters will have the chance to limit the corrupting influence of large political contributions by voting “yes” on Ballot Question 1, a proposal from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Charter Revision Commission to lower donation limits and increase public matching funds.

New York is already one of the few cities that matches campaign contributions up to $175, a system that empowers normal citizens – who do not have thousands of dollars to spare – to financially support their preferred candidates. By doing so, it reins in the influence of big money in politics, and most candidates in New York City participate.

City and State Can NYC increase local input without endangering real estate projects? by Rebecca C. Lewis

Can NYC increase local input without endangering real estate projects?

The New York City charter is being revisited by not one, but two revision commissions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the first commission to review the city charter during his State of the City address in February. The stated intent of the mayor’s commission was to examine campaign finance and improve democracy in the city, but over the course of several public hearings, commissioners also examined local engagement through community boards and, in turn, the level of input that residents have in city land use decisions. That commission plans to wrap up in time to have proposals on the ballot in November.

Ultimately, substantial changes to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure – the standard public review process for city land use decisions – are unlikely given the commission’s narrow focus and short time frame. In its recently released preliminary staff report, the commission acknowledged the complexity of the matter and recommended not pursuing it further. The report defers consideration to future commissions, and recommends they conduct more outreach on the issue.

City and State NYC public employees need paid parental leave by Ben Kallos, Antonio Reynoso

NYC public employees need paid parental leave

Four years ago, after being elected to the New York City Council, we both learned what it means to be a public official the only way you really can: on the job. Now we are learning on the job in a very different role, with our families, as fathers of new children. As we experience this once-in-a-lifetime moment alongside our respective partners, we are excited and, perhaps like all parents, more than a little nervous. Helping to settle our nerves is the fact that we’re able to stay home with our families as we navigate this new stage in life. We are both lucky: As elected officials, our leave is at our discretion. We have both decided to take the time to be with our families.

In the United States, new parents seeking time with their child face both a legal and cultural challenge. There is no national mandate for paid family leave. Even where it is offered, fathers remain a lot less likely than mothers to take full advantage. As elected officials and as fathers, we hope that taking leave will help empower other new fathers who are considering their leave options to take time as well.

City and State The Best New York City Council Members by Jon Lentz

The Best New York City Council Members

ben kallos

NO. 4: BEN KALLOS

Representing Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, Kallos has positioned himself as a reformer. As chairman of the Committee on Government Operations, he has proposed numerous good government measures and pushed for greater transparency.

Attendance: 98.1% (No. 5)
Bills introduced: 17 (No. 5)
Bills enacted: 9 (tie for No. 4)
Constituent response: 17 hours, 26 minutes (No. 14)
Communications response: 53 minutes (No. 10)
Google results: 54,700 (No. 9)
Twitter followers: 4,005 (No. 38)

City and State Ranking The New York City Council Based on Bills Introduced and Enacted by Editorial Board

Ranking The New York City Council Based on Bills Introduced and Enacted

There’s a reason they’re called lawmakers.

As we continue our breakdown of the best and worst New York City Council members, one of the most obvious factors in assessing each lawmaker’s performance is the number of bills they’ve had signed into law.

To measure this, we tallied bill introductions but left out resolutions, which have little real weight. Only a lawmaker who was the prime sponsor of a bill qualified in this analysis. To reward effort, one criterion was the number of bills introduced. And to reward effectiveness, the other legislative criterion was the number of bills signed into law. For these criteria, we used data from calendar year 2016.

City and State Ranking The New York City Council Members on Attendance by Jon Lentz

Ranking The New York City Council Members on Attendance

Just behind Mark-Viverito and Matteo was City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who missed just one of his 83 meetings last year; City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who missed only two of 115 meetings; and City Councilman Ben Kallos, who was absent from two of 105 meetings.

To track attendance, we counted all the meetings that each member was obligated to attend in calendar year 2016, including committee and subcommittee meetings, and then determined how many he or she missed. (City Councilman Bill Perkins was left out of the analysis since much of the data we used is from 2016, when Inez Dickens still held his Harlem seat.)

Any time a member had two meetings scheduled at the same time, we didn’t count the conflict as an absence. But other absences – for medical reasons, jury duty or funerals – were included.

This may strike some as unfair, but an extended absence can affect performance – and in some cases, it appeared to correlate with lower scores on other measures, like introducing and passing bills.

Yet one representative who missed substantial time due to medical leave nonetheless performed well on the other measures. City Councilman Jumaane Williams missed 15 days for medical reasons, but came in at No. 2 in our overall rankings.

City and State IN WAKE OF DE BLASIO NONPROFIT PROBE, KALLOS SAYS LEGISLATION TO REGULATE 501(C)4 NONPROFITS UNDER DISCUSSION by Sarina Trangle

IN WAKE OF DE BLASIO NONPROFIT PROBE, KALLOS SAYS LEGISLATION TO REGULATE 501(C)4 NONPROFITS UNDER DISCUSSION

“I’m actually working actively with colleagues,” Kallos said during a Friday press conference at City Hall to promote various ethics reforms. “We’re drafting legislation around disclosure and limits to what people can do with (c)4s and moving forward, and to the extent that anyone has (c)4s, making sure that they engage in voluntarily disclosure ahead of us engaging in our legislative advocacy and actually making it a legal requirement. Right now is a good time, if anyone has a (c)4, for it to cease and for folks to disclose. … We need to make sure that we lock down every single place that money and corruption can happen.”

Kallos said it would be inaccurate to describe the legislation as his, however. The councilman said he had discussed potential reform measures with others, but he would not name any potential sponsors. Still, he said he hoped legislation related to 501(c)4 nonprofits would come before the Government Operations Committee that he chairs.

City and State NYC Board of Elections Seeks $10M for Handicapped Access by Sarina Trangle

NYC Board of Elections Seeks $10M for Handicapped Access

However, New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, who chairs the Committee on Governmental Operations chair, said the $12 million mentioned in Ryan’s testimony seemed like a lot of money for compliance.

“I'll be working closely with them and with our Law Department to make sure that we are minimizing the cost associated with the federal court order and trying to be as efficient as possible,” Kallos said. “We will be looking very closely to make sure that they are not over-budgeting and then coming back with a surplus because that’s millions of dollars we could be spending on social service programs and education.”