New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

City and State

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.”

City and State Council Member Will Introduce Bill to Boost Youth Vote by Sarina Trangle

Council Member Will Introduce Bill to Boost Youth Vote

New York City Councilman Ben Kallos plans to introduce legislation today aiming to ensure that city high schools fulfill their legal mandate to distribute voter registration forms to graduating students, in part by instituting a tracking system to be used by the Department of Education.
 
Kallos, who will be joined by Council Members Linda Rosenthal and Fernando Cabrera, said the Young Adult Voter Registration Act already directs both public and private high schools to have voter registration applications available on campus and to hand them out with diplomas upon graduation, but that it has gone largely unimplemented since its passage in 2004.
 
Under his legislation, schools would maintain a stash of voter registration forms in several languages and distribute them to students. The Department of Education would then be required to track how many forms make it back to the city's Board of Elections each year, and to submit annual reports to the City Council. 
 
“The current law just requires that they put voter registrations with diplomas and mail it to the kids. One hundred thousand go out a year, and 100,000 kids do not register to vote,” Kallos said, also noting that in the time since he began helping students register to vote in 2012, he has never called a campus that reported having forms on hand. “We’re just trying to improve it and make sure we’re actually following it,” he said.
 

City and State News Upgrading Our Laws by Ben Kallos

Upgrading Our Laws

Code runs our world. Whether legal or software lines of code, we live by rules that dictate what can and cannot be done. While software code has grown exponentially more advanced in recent years, our legal code lags behind. Courts struggle to resuscitate laws as living by applying them to facts and technologies that were not possible when those laws were written. The Legislature must stand up to the challenge of upgrading our legal code and systems to keep pace with our software code—to build a government as modern and innovative as the rest of the world we live in.

New York City— the largest in the country—is in a unique position to lead on the most exciting developments in technology and transparency

City and State News NYPD Promises More Transparency on TrafficStat by Kristen Meriwether

NYPD Promises More Transparency on TrafficStat

As part of his continued push to increase transparency in the New York Police Department, Commissioner Bill Bratton announced on Tuesday that the department will open up TrafficStat to more city agencies. The reforms are aimed at meeting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalitie