For New York City Council
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: August 30, 2013
MANHATTAN’S DISTRICT 5 (Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island): A few months ago, this race looked as if it would be an easy win for Assemblyman Micah Kellner. Then came the accusations against him of sexual harassment — charges now being investigated by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics in Albany. Fortunately, there is a better candidate in this race: Ben Kallos, a lawyer and activist. Mr. Kallos has government experience as a legislative aide in Albany, where he worked to begin putting voting records online. He has impressive proposals to help students who attend the City University of New York by forgiving college loans to those who work and stay in the city, and to require developers to build more affordable apartments to get tax abatements. He wants to expand broadband service and revisit congestion pricing. Ben Kallos brings fresh ideas and merits this seat.
Confronted with corruption in Albany, Ben put voting records online so New Yorkers could finally hold politicians accountable.
Since then he's run a government reform organization that successfully removed corruption from government and served as Policy Director for former Public Advocate Mark Green.
Ben grew up on the Upper East Side with his grandparents, who fled anti-Semitism in Europe and his mother who still lives here, and who Ben currently supports in her battle against Parkinson's disease.
Graduating from Bronx Science, Ben knows that our public schools are more than just budget line. he also attended SUNY Albany and SUNY Buffalo Law School, where he paid his own way.
In the Council, Ben will promote transparency to ensure every dollar gets spent to improve your qulaity of life - from affordable housing to senior services to better schools.
Protecting Your Quality of Life
- Fought corruption by making voting records easily accessible online
- Forced developers to invest in the community
- Supported seniors by advocating for home and community care to keep them healthy and independent
- Protected residents and businesses along the 2nd Avenue subway construction by advocating for safety and helping to draft small business grants legislation
- Improved education by supporting new schools
- Committed to fighting the Marine Transfer Station on 91st Street
As a member of the City Council, he will represent you in the Fifth District, be open and accountable to you, and put the focus back on issues of utmost importance to the community, succeeding Councilmember Jessica Lappin as she runs for Manhattan Borough President.
The City Council on Wednesday confirmed Councilman Ben Kallos as its appointee to the Commission on Public Information and Communication, one day before Public Advocate Letitia James plans to hold a hearing on the commission.
Though often invoked by city open government advocates, the commission, which aims to improve access to city information and data, has held only infrequent meetings and has had little influence in recent years.
In remarks before the rules committee on Wednesday morning, Kallos said that the "great commission" was one reason he had wanted to become chair of the Governmental Operations committee, which has oversight over COPIC.
"It has been slightly dysfunctional and hasn't been meeting," he said. "We have a great leader in our public advocate, Tish James, and I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to ... [work] with our public advocate to get the word out on all the information and all the great things this government does."
Never mind Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision Wednesday to ban hydrofracking statewide. And ignore the absence of natural-gas reserves in the five boroughs. The City Council will move ahead with its own moratorium on the controversial drilling process.
The bill was initially conceived as an endorsement of local fracking bans in such upstate communities as Otsego County's Middlefield and Tompkins County's Dryden.
"Whereas before, the bill was an expression of solidarity with these municipalities and an attempt to pressure the state to move forward, it is now an expression of support of the governor's action," explained a spokeswoman for Councilman Ben Kallos, who is co-sponsoring the legislation.
But Mr. Cuomo's decision to heed the advice of his commissioners on health and environmental conservation to prohibit fracking rendered the council's gesture moot, which it was anyway because there is no gas-rich shale under the city. Mr. Kallos' spokeswoman said that the bill would be reworked in the coming days to reflect the new reality, but could not say how exactly. —AJH
City government's most obscure commission assembled for the third time in its 25-year history Thursday. A data-transparency panel, it gathered on less than two days' notice, but plans on getting together more often.
Public Advocate Letitia James convened the Commission on Public Information and Communication for the first time since her predecessor Bill de Blasio did in May 2012. All but one member of the incomplete committee was new to COPIC, making it a fresh start for the body, which was written into the City Charter in 1989 to improve dissemination of public data.
Chaired by Ms. James and made up of members including Manhattan City Councilman Ben Kallos (who was elected Wednesday afternoon by his colleagues to serve on the committee), the city'snewly named chief analytics officer, Amen Ra Mashariki, and representatives from city agencies such as the Department of Records and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, COPIC's re-entry into the public was made cautiously.
Ms. James opened the meeting by enumerating the panel's possibilities, stressing its role of "balancing between privacy and the public’s right to know" and pointing to examples like how it can push for more searchable data on city websites and the future application of body cameras worn by police officers.
In New York City, Councilman Benjamin Kallos introduced an "e-hail" bill on Dec. 8 that would allow taxicab passengers to use a mobile app to electronically summon one of the city's 20,000 yellow cabs that traverse the city's streets, as well as additional green taxis that serve northern Manhattan, according to Sarah Anders, a Kallos spokeswoman. The proposal, which still has quite a road to travel before ever being finalized into law, has "generated a lot of interest from New Yorkers," said Anders.
Kallos' proposal came because "he wanted New Yorkers to have the opportunity to pick up yellow and green cabs on their phones conveniently," said Anders. "They know the fares [they'll be charged] in advance, and they trust yellow and green cabs. The future of e-hailing is inevitable, and we think this fits very well into that idea. We're very optimistic."
Some local polling places may open two weeks ahead of schedule if the City Council signs off on some new legislation.
Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos is introducing a bill Wednesday.
Currently, 33 states and Washington DC already allow voters to cast ballots early, making it easier for everyone to get to the polls.
Kallos' bill would apply only to primaries and general elections for mayor, City Council and other municipal offices.
State and federal elections would not be affected.
Kallos wants at least 51 polling sites -- that's one in each City Council district -- to open two Tuesdays before Election Day.
They would operate on weekdays and on weekends until the Friday before Election Day.
New Yorkers would be able to cast their ballots early under new legislation set to be introduced in the City Council Wednesday.
The bill sponsored by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) would open select polling places for local elections two weeks before election day.
“New York is currently last in the nation for voter turnout,” Kallos said. “And part of that is because two thirds of the United States and Washington DC offer early voting to residents, and New York doesn’t.”
“New Yorkers should be able to vote when it is convenient for them, not when it is convenient for elected officials,”
"Many more New Yorkers should have the opportunity to serve on their local community boards and share their valuable perspectives," Council Member Kallos said by email Tuesday. "I want to create a culture of mentorship and knowledge-sharing, so residents who have been on for a long time can help train new members as they move to an informal role."
The city's 59 Community Boards represent slightly smaller areas of the city than city council districts, of which there are 51, and focus largely on qualify of life issues. But Community Boards also play a vital role in the land use process (also known as ULURP). Developers must see their projects passed through Community Boards before getting them to the City Council. The Boards are the first line of defense for projects and often the best place to negotiate things like affordable housing, park space, or schools in exchange for development.
NEW YORK—The city is making its presence known in the battle to keep hydraulic fracturing out of the state.
A new bill, expected to be introduced Wednesday, will effectively ban hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” in New York City.
Council members Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal, and Costa Constantinides are sponsoring the bill to support the local municipalities in upstate New York that have successfully banned fracking in their towns. They hope that other municipalities will be encouraged to amend local laws as well.
“We are standing in solidarity with those towns in banning hydrofracking in our municipality in hopes that we can do this across the state and across the nation,” said Council member Kallos in a telephone interview.
Ortiz is not the first city pol to draft a bill to curb the services.
Last month, City Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn)proposed capping fare increases at 100% of the regular rate. And Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) wants the city to compete by launching its own taxi-hailing app.
Complaints against the services have grown with their popularity.
Just Monday, the Twitterverse exploded in outrage after Uber capitalized on a hostage crisis in Sydney by pumping up fares for riders trying to flee the area. Earlier this month, a judge in Madrid ordered a temporary shutdown of the rideshare service, calling it unfair competition.
Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley was joined by other councilmembers and other advocates last week on the steps of City Hall, issuing a rallying call to the city’s Fire Department to hire more women firefighters.
Currently, Crowley said, there are only 44 female firefighters serving in the FDNY, comprising less than one percent of a 10,500-member workforce.
Where's theThe rally included Crowley (D–Glendale), the chair of the Council’s Committees on Fire and Criminal Justice and also co-chair of the Women’s Caucus; the United Women Firefighters; Councilmembers Helen Rosenthal, Laurie Cumbo and Ben Kallos, and other advocate