New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

City and State

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

City and State News Poli-Tech: The digital tools politicos need to gain an edge in 2013 by Aaron Short

Poli-Tech: The digital tools politicos need to gain an edge in 2013

 

Kallos scrolls through several political sites before pulling up votersearch.org, a free website he launched five years ago—one of the first to combine state voter records with online search functions.

The site contains a simple interface requiring a user’s first and last name, birthday and zip code, before it spits back an individual’s registration status, election districts and the location of the voter’s county board of elections.

Voter sites have evolved significantly since then.

...

 

Kallos has been busy building VotersGive.com, a site that allows candidates to create a website that meets campaign finance reporting requirements and gives voters a more substantive portrait of politicians’ backgrounds.

Six New York City Council candidates, including Kallos, have signed up with VotersGive, which Kallos hopes will compete with more established sites including NationBuilder and ActBlue.

“Candidates approached me and said ‘We need a website,’” he explained. “I built it for free, and anyone can use it for free and have a website by that day. This is a democracy platform. I even offered it to my opponents.”

City and State News In Efforts to Clean Up Albany, Reform Groups Tack in Opposite Directions by Chris Bragg

In Efforts to Clean Up Albany, Reform Groups Tack in Opposite Directions

New Roosevelt is funded by momentary lieutenant governor candidate and multimillionaire CEO Bill Samuels, who has reported his funding to the independent expenditure effort as more than $259,000 in loans. Over the course of five months, they have already spent $184,000 on a slew of consultants—Red Horse Strategies, Kallos Consulting, Hudson TG, Sunshine, Sachs and Associates, and others—which a spokesman for the group said were laying the groundwork for a field operation to defeat Espada.