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.
After receiving a flood of complaints from residents, City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, sent a letter to the DOB's Manhattan commissioner, Martin Rebholz, on May 11 demanding the agency limit the number of after-hour variances the city grants to developers.
"As you are well aware, City Council District 5 is a densely packed residential area which makes any construction work done in the area extremely disturbing to residents," the councilman wrote. "This problem has only worsened with the increase in the approval of new construction projects and the Department of Building's willingness to grant after-hour variances to this project despite the negative impact on the quality of life of the residents in this area."
A Department of Buildings spokesman said the agency is reviewing Kallos' concerns with the site.
On a later panel, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilman Ben Kallos discussed how technology could help bridge the gap between the government and the public. With the establishment of laws she spearheaded, including open data and webcasting legislation, "now the challenge is making it work," Brewer said, to ensure that agencies fulfill the mandate, data is available in real-time and is up-to-date, as agencies also still face logistical and bandwidth hurdles when seeking to webcast meetings.
Kallos said Council legislation will be available through an open application programming interface beginning in July. Council legislation, meeting and member datawas already recently added to the open data portal. While those datasets had a deadline of Jan. 1, Council land use items are currently only scheduled to come on the portal in December 2018. Kallos emphasized the need for a partnership between government and the private sector and technology developers to ensure that the right of kind of data is made available in the right format.
“With fireworks on the East River, Roosevelt Islanders and East Siders should have a great vantage point with which to view them,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I am thrilled that the fireworks have been moved back to where many New Yorkers, from Brooklyn to Queens to Manhattan can enjoy them.”
The city's ambitious goal to stop sending waste to landfills by 2030 makes two controversial garbage stations unnecessary, a group of pols charged Wednesday.
New York, NY— Pesticides in parks would be limited by a bill announced today by Council Member Ben Kallos among members of the kindergarten and first grade class at PS 290, who first advocated for the city legislation. The law, co-sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, would require that the city use only biological pesticides, derived from natural materials, instead of synthetic, traditional pesticides--except under necessary circumstances. The EPA maintains that biological pesticides tend to be less toxic and safer than synthetic pesticides. The bill will be introduced on May 27.
City Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee, will introduce a resolution at Thursday’s full-body Stated Meeting calling on members of the United States Congress to commit to a constitutional amendment that would limit independent expenditures in election campaigns. It is a move aimed at reducing the “dark money” spent during political campaigns and to counteract the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United ruling.
“It’s important we put people power over corporate power,” Kallos told Gotham Gazette, “and it’s important to implement public finance to empower voters over independent expenditures.”
Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the City Council Governmental Operations Committee, spoke similarly, but did express concern about the general issue of underfunding BOE operations. Kallos told Gotham Gazette that while the BOE tends to overestimate its financial need, if it is not appropriately funded "it is the elections and democratic process that suffers." While Kallos is looking for stronger numbers in the executive budget, he also said that "if we over-budget then that means that another agency loses."
Since taking office on Jan. 1, 2014, New York City Council Member Ben Kallos has made it a priority to introduce legislation that uses technology to overcome issues in the Big Apple.
From requiring New York City laws to be easily accessible online, to improving the transparency of government operations, Kallos -- who represents NYC's Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island -- has leveraged his background as a software developer to illustrate the value of tech use in the public sector.
Government Technology spoke to Kallos about the strides he’s made during his first year in office, and how technology will continue to play a vital part of his legislative agenda in 2015 and beyond.
“Most of these properties were calendared before the technology existed for public outreach and dissemination of information existed,” said Upper East Side Councilmember Ben Kallos in a letter to the LPC. “Now, the LPC can and must make available to the public the extensive research compiled on these landmarks, including initial hearings’ files and statements of significance. Once the information is disseminated, 60 days of public input and testimony must be taken before any decisions on these landmarks are made behind closed doors.”
The following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), a software developer and Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, on Mayor Bill de Blasio's pledge to invest $70 million to bring universal broadband to New York City:
“Access to the Internet is as essential to helping New Yorkers stay in touch, find jobs and learn--but a stunning 36 percent of our poorest families in New York City go without it. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for committing to invest $70 million to universal broadband, a bold and forward-looking move that will improve mobility and connect more families."