New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Katie Honan

Wall Street Journal Councilman Calls for Hearing on Nonprofit Contractors and Their Business Ties by Katie Honan

Councilman Calls for Hearing on Nonprofit Contractors and Their Business Ties

A New York City councilman is calling for a hearing to look at nonprofit city contractors after officials opened an investigation into the allegedly undisclosed business ties that a top homeless shelter provider has with a security firm.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the city’s Department of Investigation had opened a probe into the relationship between Acacia Network Housing Inc., a nonprofit homeless services provider, and SERA Security Services LLC. SERA was founded by the Acacia’s CEO, Raul Russi.

Since 2010, Acacia has received more than $1 billion in contracts from the city’s Department of Homeless Services to operate shelters. The nonprofit paid more than $12 million to SERA in 2017 for the firm to provide security services at some of Acacia’s shelters, according to the nonprofit’s most recent federal tax filing.

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.”