New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Shant Shahrigian

New York Daily News Manhattan lawmaker wants more thorough data on NYPD arrests by Shant Shahrigian

Manhattan lawmaker wants more thorough data on NYPD arrests

Councilman Ben Kallos plans to introduce a bill requiring the NYPD to include all crimes in its weekly updates of the CompStat website, which currently maps the “seven major” crimes like murder and rape, along with a handful of other types of illegality.

“Whether it is the ongoing war on drugs only happening in certain communities or just other types of overpolicing, it would be helpful for folks to see that on a map and be able to see that happening in real time,” the Upper East Side Democrat told the Daily News on Wednesday.

New York Daily News NYC would share meeting info via new app, under bill from Manhattan lawmaker by Shant Shahrigian

NYC would share meeting info via new app, under bill from Manhattan lawmaker

You can’t fight City Hall, but it’s good to know what they’re doing from time to time.

Under a forthcoming bill from Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the city would be required to do a better job sharing info about future meetings and city business.

The legislation, set to be introduced Thursday, would make the city create an app to publish timely information about every public meeting held by municipal government entities.

The bill also mandates a standard format for the presentation of the info on the app and on city government websites.

“I want to put government in people’s pockets in a good way with an app that will tell you what’s happening and when you need to make your voice heard, so you get the city you want,” Kallos told the Daily News on Tuesday.

NYC Council Member Ben Kallos (Alec Tabak for New York Daily News)

A task force would be convened to come up with a concept to display meeting info on the app and city websites, according to Kallos.

He said by using open-source software for the app, the city could produce the technology cost-free.

New Yorkers who want to get involved with their communities are often in the dark about things like monthly community council meetings at local precincts and how to register to testify at City Council hearings, Kallos said.

“Ever since this election, people keep stopping me in the street asking me how they can get more involved in government,” the councilman said. “That’s a feature, not a bug. I think government is deliberate in making it difficult for people to get involved.”

New York Daily News Petition gathering makes no sense during COVID outbreak, say NYC Council Members by Shant Shahrigian

Petition gathering makes no sense during COVID outbreak, say NYC Council Members

The coronavirus outbreak gives renewed importance to a bill ending the petition-gathering part of qualifying for local elections, says Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan).

Under a bill he introduced in 2016, the city would end the requirement for candidates for City Council and other offices to gather signatures of support in order to run.

Instead, Kallos says raising enough cash to qualify for matching funds from the city’s Campaign Finance Board should suffice.

“On the list of bad ideas to do during a pandemic is running around asking people to sign a piece of paper so that folks can get on the ballot,” Kallos told the Daily News on Monday.

“We’re going to have hundreds of people running for City Council in 2021,” he continued. “The idea that we’re going to have millions of people touching the same pens, signing the same petition boards — it’s looking for trouble, even if we do it safely.”

New York Daily News As layoffs loom for city workers, NYC pays $163M to corporate consultancies by Shant Shahrigian

As layoffs loom for city workers, NYC pays $163M to corporate consultancies

In the face of staggering tax revenue shortfalls, this year’s $88 billion city budget inflicted painful cuts to numerous city agencies — including about $770 million to the Education Department, according to the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget. Meanwhile, contracts were trimmed by just over $300 million, to $17 billion, after ballooning for years.

The city should cancel contracts with multinational businesses like Deloitte and review the rest of the contracts with an eye to trimming or eliminating them, says NYC Councilman Ben Kallos, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Contracts.

“Before we start threatening to lay off and reduce wages for city employees, we should trim the fat and cut these bloated consulting contracts,” Kallos told The News.

New York Daily News Abrupt funding cut from Mayor de Blasio pulls rug out from under NYC nonprofits, critics say by Shant Shahrigian

Abrupt funding cut from Mayor de Blasio pulls rug out from under NYC nonprofits, critics say

Last week, de Blasio informed nonprofit leaders that funding for indirect costs would be cut by $20 million, down to $34 million.

“We recognize that this cut comes at a time that is also challenging for our city partners as they deliver services during COVID-19 re-opening,” Hizzoner wrote service providers last week, adding that the city was making “an effort to recognize all of these providers and respond equitably.”

That’s not good enough for Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the Council’s Committee on Contracts.

“Mayor de Blasio has the money and he needs to pay up,” he told The News. “These are nonprofits that helped our most vulnerable during the pandemic. Now he’s not only going to hurt them, but the New Yorkers that need the help more than ever.”

New York Daily News Is the NYC Board of Elections ready for November’s presidential election? by Shant Shahrigian

Is the NYC Board of Elections ready for November’s presidential election?

The city Board of Elections, which launched a Herculean, last-minute effort to conduct the vote amid fears of spreading the virus, got mixed reviews for its handling of the ballot — and its outlook for the fall.

“I have no confidence in the November election,” NYC Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) told the Daily News. “There’s a possibility that the absentee ballot is restricted again because we have one of the most backward laws in the country.”

He faulted the BOE for failing to follow a 2016 law he authored requiring the board to track absentee ballots from request to receipt — one of the issues at the heart of discounted ballots in June.

“We can cut their funding,” Kallos said of the board’s intransigence. “But in this case, cutting funding to the Board of Elections would only result in worse elections.”

New York Daily News NYC may fire 22,000 city workers to make up for massive revenue shortfall: Mayor de Blasio by Shant Shahrigian

NYC may fire 22,000 city workers to make up for massive revenue shortfall: Mayor de Blasio

The city may fire as many as 22,000 employees in order to make up for staggering revenue shortfalls, Mayor de Blasio said Wednesday.

“We have to talk about the last resort. The last resort would be layoffs and furloughs,” he said at a press conference.

“The last resort would be the thing I don’t want to do and none of us should want to see happen — taking away the jobs of city workers,” he continued, “who we depend on, and their families depend on them for their livelihood, but we are running out of options here.”

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Councilman Ben Kallos, who recently outlined billions of dollars in cuts to pork spending, rejected the mayor’s proposal to fire city workers.

“It is outrageous to fire dedicated city employees who make next to nothing just so we can keep bloated contracts with big corporations,” the Manhattan Dem told the Daily News.

New York Daily News With NYC in budget crisis, Manhattan pol wants to cut pork, free up nearly $1B for vital services by Shant Shahrigian

With NYC in budget crisis, Manhattan pol wants to cut pork, free up nearly $1B for vital services

With New York in a budget crisis the likes of which it hasn’t seen in decades, a City Council leader says now is the time to open the books, eliminate wasteful spending and save some serious cash for schools and other causes.

The city should end billions of dollars in tax exemptions and other funding for developers and cancel huge contracts with big firms doing vague jobs, Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the chair of the Council’s Committee on Contracts, wrote Mayor de Blasio on Monday night.

He identified up to $15 billion in possible cuts and savings, saying nearly $1 billion of that could go to schools, social services and other causes that are facing steep cuts in the wretched economic climate.

New York Daily News New Yorker voters overwhelmingly request mail-in ballots to NYC Board of Elections ahead of primary by SHANT SHAHRIGIAN

New Yorker voters overwhelmingly request mail-in ballots to NYC Board of Elections ahead of primary

To qualify for a mail-in ballot, voters were encouraged to indicate they have a “temporary illness” even if they’re just afraid of catching coronavirus.

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) said the state should dispense with the requirement.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with coronavirus and instead of having this temporary illness checkoff that a lot of residents have objected to because they're not sick, we need to go to full vote by mail,” he said.

Early voting runs through Sunday, June 21. While the last day to request a mail-in ballot is Tuesday, June 16, voters have until Tuesday, June 23 to put their ballot in the mail.

New York Daily News New York leaders grapple with economic impact of coronavirus by Denis Slattery, SHANT SHAHRIGIAN

New York leaders grapple with economic impact of coronavirus

With coronavirus wreaking havoc on the economy as the city and state are working on their budgets, leaders are starting to prepare for a major downturn.

Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday he’s asked the state comptroller to evaluate the outbreak’s impact on the state budget.

“You know what’s going on in the stock market. You also have what’s going on the economy overall, right? Conventions are being stopped, tourism is down, hotel bookings are down, restaurants are down,” Cuomo said in Albany. “So we just did the budget projection estimates. The world then changed since then, so I asked him for any advice that he might have."

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s spokesman acknowledged the request from Cuomo, saying, “the outlook has changed dramatically since the release of the consensus revenue forecast by the governor and the legislature.”

Earlier this year, Cuomo unveiled a proposed $178 billion budget. A projected deficit of $6 billion, blamed on runaway Medicaid spending, already posed a huge problem for lawmakers. But they had no way of predicting the coronavirus, too.

The deadly disease on Monday caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to incur its worst drop since the financial crash of 2008, among other economic woes, raising fears of a recession.