Press Coverage

Our Town
Dan Rivoli
01/28/2009
 

Ben Kallos, chief of staff to Assembly Member Jonathan Bing, is the first person officially running for the seat held by first-term Council Member Jessica Lappin.

 

 

Our Town
Dan Rivoli
01/28/2009
 

Ben Kallos, chief of staff to Assembly Member Jonathan Bing, is the first person officially running for the seat held by first-term Council Member Jessica Lappin.

 

 

New York Times
Steve Lohr
05/06/1996
 

The business side of being a teen-age computer consultant can be daunting. Age may not be a barrier to getting into the business, but it can limit the compensation. "People take one look at me, and they figure they're not going to pay this kid $50 an hour," said Benjamin Kallos, a 15-year-old at the Bronx High School of Science, an elite public school in New York City.

So the high school sophomore, whose home page on the Web proclaims "Kallos Consulting" in bold red letters, charges $15 or $20 an hour.

Some businesses in New York seem to regard the high school as a job shop for Web site work. Steve Kalin, an assistant principal, says small companies occasionally call the school looking for a student to make Web pages, and more are calling all the time.

"Even the kind of kids who would have worked on the school newspaper in the past are often more interested in electronic publishing now," Mr. Kalin said. "They're making Web sites."

 

New York Times
Steve Lohr
05/06/1996
 

The business side of being a teen-age computer consultant can be daunting. Age may not be a barrier to getting into the business, but it can limit the compensation. "People take one look at me, and they figure they're not going to pay this kid $50 an hour," said Benjamin Kallos, a 15-year-old at the Bronx High School of Science, an elite public school in New York City.

So the high school sophomore, whose home page on the Web proclaims "Kallos Consulting" in bold red letters, charges $15 or $20 an hour.

Some businesses in New York seem to regard the high school as a job shop for Web site work. Steve Kalin, an assistant principal, says small companies occasionally call the school looking for a student to make Web pages, and more are calling all the time.

"Even the kind of kids who would have worked on the school newspaper in the past are often more interested in electronic publishing now," Mr. Kalin said. "They're making Web sites."

 

Gotham Gazette
Samar Khurshid
 

At a hearing Monday, the New York City Council's Committee on Governmental Operations approved the latest drafts of two bills that enhance the responsibility of city agencies to conduct voter registration and a resolution calling for the State Legislature to pass similar legislation.

These measures are an attempt by the Council to improve the compliance of City agencies with Local Law 29, also known as the Pro-Voter Law, which was passed in 2000. The law requires 19 city agencies to handle voter registration applications for customers.

Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of what he called the "good government committee," introduced Intro 493 A which expands scope of the Pro-Voter law and sets a deadline of December 1, 2015 for agencies to integrate their forms with voter registration.

 

New York Daily News
Erin Durkin
 

But the city is resisting, saying a pilot program in middle schools only increased lunch participation by 6%.

“We have an opportunity to make sure that 1.1 million children don’t have to worry about hunger, which would be huge,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan).

But Farina said it would have to show better results before getting expanded. “Our numbers are not reflecting this has made a major difference,” she said.

 

New York Daily News
Erin Durkin
 

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) asked the schools boss to conduct a mock election and let kids cast ballots for their presidential favorites as a way to boost civic engagement.

“It turns out that voting is hereditary trait, and social science has shown if parents take their kids to vote, they’re more likely to vote himself,” he said.

But Fariña was reluctant to endorse the idea, though she said she shares the same goal.

 

Erin Durkin
 

Until now, a 311 complaint might result in a violation but those violations were rarely collected,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the sponsor. “Bad neighbors will have to improve their behavior.”

 

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
 

The move comes after Councilman Ben Kallos got a flood of complaints from residents about the pileup of garbage and reached out to the agency for help, he said.

"Every day, I hear from residents complaining about trash on 86th Street, calling, emailing and even Tweeting pictures," Kallos said. "The internet says 'Don't feed the trolls,' but you never know. This is an example of residents having an impact."

 

Gotham Gazette
Samar Khurshid
 

The chair of the City Council’s governmental operations committee, Council Member Ben Kallos, is hopeful that a package of eight campaign finance reform bills,introduced November 10, will move through quickly after they are heard for the first time next month.

The legislative package, scheduled for a hearing May 2, is aimed at making improvements to the New York City campaign finance system, including its landmark small-donor public matching program, ahead of the 2017 municipal election cycle.

While the system is already robust and held up as a national model by many, these bills aim to make it stronger. Among other things, the bills would prevent lobbyists who do business with the city from bundling contributions to candidates, provide public matching funds to candidates at earlier dates in the campaign cycle, and improve disclosure of donations from entities that do business with the city. The bills came out of recommendations that the New York City Campaign Finance Board made in its comprehensive 2013 post-election report.

 

Erin Durkin
 

“The city should not be providing public dollars to amplify the already strong voices of special interests,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the sponsor.

In the 2013 citywide election, 19% of all bundlers were doing business with the city - and they brought in 24% of all bundled funds, he said.

The city Campaign Finance Board backed the changes.

Allowing lobbyists and contractors to bundle unlimited gifts and get matching funds is “a loophole that undermines the intent of the law to prevent or limit the appearance of ‘pay to play’ corruption,” said executive director Amy Loprest.

 

Michael Gartland
 

A bill by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), discussed at a hearing Monday, would prohibit campaigns from accepting public matching funds off money raised by lobbyists who bundle unlimited contributions from other donors.

By law, lobbyists, contractors and others doing business with the city can give no more than $400 to a mayoral candidate. But a loophole allows those same individuals to bundle unlimited amounts from others to the same candidates.

 

Gotham Gazette
Samar Khurshid
 

As Mayor Bill de Blasio is mired in controversy over his fundraising activities and proximity to lobbyists, the City Council is moving on bills to reduce the possibility of ‘pay-to-play’ campaign financing and make significant tweaks to strengthen an already-robust public-matching system.

The Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations held a hearing on Monday to examine a package of eight bills that would reform campaign finance rules and improve the city’s public matching funds program, which, though it has some critics, is often held up as a national model.

The bills, introduced in November, aim to implement recommendations made by the New York City Campaign Finance Board (NYCCFB) after the 2013 city election cycle. Perhaps most notably, the bills would eliminate public matching funds for contributions bundled by people who do business with the city, provide earlier public matching funds to candidates, and improve disclosure requirements for companies or people that own entities that do business with the city.

 

DNAinfo.com
Shay Weaver
 

Parents at P.S. 183, who worked with Councilman Ben Kallos to increase the total seats on the Upper East Side from just over 123 to 515 since 2014, say they are relieved to have more pre-K seats because it can be tough getting a spot in the neighborhood.

"As an Upper East Side parent, I am concerned not only about the chances of my own child obtaining a pre-K spot in the neighborhood but also about the children of my friends and neighbors," resident Ariel Chesler said. "That is why I have been speaking out about the insufficient number of seats in the area."

For more than a year, members of the Roosevelt Island Parents' Network, which advocates for more than 500 families' needs, also worked to get more free pre-K seats on the island, according to member Eva Bosbach.

 

DNAinfo.com
Valeria Ricciulli
 

NEW YORK CITY — The city's Rent Guidelines Board voted Tuesday to consider rent freezes for the city's nearly 1 million rent stabilized units.

The preliminary vote to raise rents for one-year leases between 0 and 2 percent passed 5-4, with the members who represent tenants' and owners' interests all voting against it, the Board's executive director, Andrew McLaughlin, told DNAinfo.

Over the next several weeks, the nine-member board will also consider raising rents on two-year leases between 0.5 to 3.5 percent — following last year's first-ever freeze for rent-stabilized apartments.

The board based its proposal on an RGB study that showed that the price of operating for rent-stabilized apartments decreased 1.2 percent this year, mostly due to the fact that fuel costs decreased 41.2 percent. Another study found that the city's unemployment rate fell in 2015 by 1.5 percent. 

The changes would take effect on all lease renewals after Oct. 1, 2016.

Board member Sheila Garcia, who represents tenant's interest, proposed a rent decrease instead of a freeze, which is why she voted against it. 

"The data this year merits a [rent] rollback," said Garcia, referring to lowered fuel costs. "I didn't think [the rent freeze proposal] was radical enough. The board has over-compensated landlords over the years."

"We see that we are evicting less people but more people are homeless because they can't afford to live in NYC." 

Upper East Side council member Ben Kallos joined advocates calling to lower rent for rent-stabilized apartments. 

 

 

Politico
Miranda Neubauer
 

Councilman Ben Kallos will introduce legislation today to make budget information accessible in a format that is searchable and accessible to third parties who want to build applications that could make the city's $82 billion in spending more transparent.

 

New York Daily News
Erin Durkin
 

The City Council voted Thursday to require the Board of Elections to send voters texts and e-mails telling them when their poll sites change and reminding them of upcoming elections.

Under another bill passed by the Council, BOE will have to set up a website and mobile app to let voters check their registration and party affiliation, and change information like their address.

During April’s presidential primary, many voters had no idea they had been dropped from the rolls or from their party until they arrived to vote. There’s currently no way to check online.

“Tens of thousands of voters showed up to vote thinking they were registered or registered with a political party, only to be told by election workers they were not in the poll books,” said Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Mahattan). “Voters should be able to easily access information about elections at any time.”

 

Mark Chiusano
 

DCAS is in the process of revamping the review process to include more public review. Right now, the main notification is a brief appearance in the City Record, which you can view here for some light reading.

A fix is necessary to stop those looking to make a killing on land, that most precious NYC quantity. Besides profits there are a few other things we need in NYC — truly plentiful and affordable housing, schools and homeless shelters, as Councilmember Ben Kallos noted at Friday’s hearing.

It would be a shame for none of those needs to be addressed on plots that were intended to be preserved.

But those are the current rules of the game.

 

The Lo-Down
 

During her testimony, Camilo said DCAS has put all pending deed change applications on hold while the investigations are conducted. There are 13 or 14 active requests, according to the commissioner. In its story, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the concerns of Council members, including committee chairman Ben Kallos:

Mr. Kallos said the Rivington deal was disturbing, in part because it allowed a building once designated for a nonprofit to be turned into condos when the city could have used the space for other needs. “We need schools like you wouldn’t believe. We also need homeless shelters. And affordable housing,” he said. Ms. Camilo said agency officials shared council members’ concerns about the Rivington deal. “No one was happy with the outcome,” she said.

 

Sarah Ferguson
 

Councilmber Ben Kallos of the Upper East Side wondered if throwing more money at the B.O.E. is the answer.

“Mayor de Blasio restored the B.O.E. budget to $123 million in 2016,” he noted. “Is that enough, not only to run an election, but to not run it poorly?”

Pointing to the high stakes this November, Kallos warned: “The presidential election is the Super Bowl of the elections. We can’t see the same problems as we’ve seen in the primary.”

Kallos is an I.T. geek who prior to being elected to the Council designed an online database called VoterSearch.org. He practically scoffed at Ryan for not being able to keep track of voting stats, and asked why B.O.E. staffers and poll workers can’t be hired through public job postings under a “merit-based” system, instead of the current patronage mill we have now.

 

Terrence Cullen
 

But city officials and local groups still took issue with the legislation and the timeline. Councilman Ben Kallos opposed the bill yesterday when the land use committee pushed it through to go for a full council vote. Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, rallied outside City Hall with preservation groups before Tuesday’s vote over the timeline and limited options in terms of getting that extended, as New York Yimby reported yesterday. By putting a deadline on the system, they argued, the community would have less input in the landmarking process.

Meanwhile, the real estate industry has supported the bill. At a Real Estate Board of New York event last night, the organization’s president, John Banks, said the legislation was a middle-of-the-road compromise.

 

Our Town
Madeleine Thompson
 

A group of families celebrated Father’s Day last Sunday by participating in a union strike at 1735 York Avenue and E. 90th Street.

Members of 32BJ who work at the building — along with their children, some of the tenants, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Member Ben Kallos — were there to protest their treatment by Bonjour Capital, which bought the building from Glenwood Management. The strike started last Thursday and ended Monday morning

 

Politico
Miranda Neubauer
 

A bill introduced in the City Council on Tuesday seeks to expand on and codify the practice of optimizing city websites based on the analytics of their visitors.

Councilman Ben Kallos, chair of the Committee on Government Operations, introduced the legislation. It would require the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications to ensure that all agencies use web analytics in maintaining and designing their websites.

 

Jackson Chen
 

And Maloney isn’t the only outspoken ally of the park, as Borough President Gale Brewer, City Councilmember Ben Kallos, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Assemblymembers Dan Quart and Rebecca Seawright have also joined the call for de-privatization.

For Kallos, it was his first time in the Queensboro Oval because, he said, Sutton East’s tennis bubbles made the space inaccessible for a majority of the year.

In crunching the numbers, the councilmember compared the $80 to $225 per hour costs of playing at Sutton East Tennis Club to the city permits that have tennis fees of just $200 a year (though the Parks Department has noted the availability of free and reduced programming at the facility).

“This space is on an order of magnitude more expensive by 15 times than a comparable space run by the Parks Department,” Kallos said. “Worse yet, this is what the space looks like when they gave it back… an empty lot with dirt.”

 

Edgar Sandoval and Rich Schapiro
 

A group of gun violence survivors joined lawmakers in Manhattan Wednesday to call out Congress for laying down to the NRA.

The “sit-in” at Carl Schurz Park on E. 86th St. was led by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) who demanded that House Speaker Paul Ryan hold a vote on legislation aimed at tightening background checks and preventing terror suspects from buying guns.