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Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Citizens Union
 

Ben Kallos

Ben Kallos

  • progressive caucus 2009

    City Council Progressive Caucus (photo via Progressive Caucus website)


    The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to sign a bill, passed at the end of the legislative session in June, which would create a new state commission on prosecutorial misconduct. The caucus, which includes 21 of the Council’s 51 members, referred to the bill as “the most substantive criminal justice reform passed

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  • Ben Kallos Bill de Blasio

    Council Member Kallos & Mayor de Blasio at a town hall (photo: Mayor's Office)


    A large public turn out and testimony that touched on topics such campaign finance reform, improving voter participation, enhancing police discipline, and the benefits of participatory budgeting marked the Manhattan hearing of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Charter Revision Commission on Wednesday night at the main branch of New York Public Library.

    It was the last of five hearings, one in each borough, to launch the mayor’s charter revision commission, which

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  • boe nyc website

    (NYC BOE website)


    New York’s voting and registration laws have long been derided as onerous and needlessly restrictive, falling far behind most other states that have implemented modern methods to register and cast a vote. While significant changes to state election laws are being debated in Albany ahead of a new state budget, the New York City Board of Elections may improve, albeit incrementally, people’s access to the ballot by soon providing digital aid to register to vote.

    The Board of Elections, a quasi-state agency funded by the city, is set to roll

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  • Corey Johnson Mark-Viverito City Council

    Speaker Johnson and former Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    The Manhattan Democratic County Committee is dropping a lawsuit against the New York City Council over a nomination for a commissioner to the Board of Elections.

    In December, the Manhattan Democratic Party, led by Chair Keith Wright, filed a legal challenge against then-Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s attempt to confirm her preferred candidate to a Manhattan BOE commissioner seat over the county party’s choice. A lawyer for the

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  • Johnson podium stated meeting

    Speaker Johnson (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    After weeks of mostly procedural activity to start its new four-year term, the New York City Council convened Wednesday afternoon for its first legislation-focused 2018 meeting, which included discussion and reintroduction of bills from the previous session that had not passed, as well as the introduction of new bills.

    Some of the 408 pieces of legislation reintroduced deal with tenant

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  • Kallos Salamanca City Council

    Council Members Ben Kallos, left, and Rafael Salamanca (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    When new City Council Speaker Corey Johnson reshuffled committee portfolios earlier this month, Council Member Ben Kallos lost his position as chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations. Sources say the move was punishment for Kallos’ approach to Board of Elections commissioner nominations and because of his support for one of Johnson’s opponents in the speaker race.

    By virtually all accounts, Kallos had done an exceptional job chairing

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  • kallos hearing

    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo via @NYCCouncil)


    Ahead of the September 12 primary, mayoral candidate Sal Albanese seemingly had the Reform Party ballot line locked up. It meant that Albanese would be on the general election ballot even if he lost the Democratic primary to Mayor Bill de Blasio. At the last minute, however, Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis and independent candidate Bo Dietl attempted to snatch the Reform nomination from Albanese through an “opportunity to ballot,” which had effectively opened up the Reform line to write-in

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  • de Blasio public hearing City Council bills

    De Blasio at a public hearing (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    Four government transparency bills that were passed by the City Council on October 31 aged into law on Friday, having gone 30 days without any action in favor or against them by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The bills all relate to increased disclosure by the administration of billions in city government spending and have been praised by good government advocates.

    Among the bills was one that ...

  • Ben Kallos campaign finance reform

    City Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    As he ran for mayor this year, former City Council Member Sal Albanese typically didn’t go more than five minutes without mentioning his call to bring additional campaign finance reform to New York City. Despite the fact that the city already has a heralded public-matching system that encourages small donation fundraising, Albanese pointed to the “democracy voucher” program instituted in Seattle, which is even more radical in its efforts to lower individual donation

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  • polling place

    Polling place (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)


    As New York State’s archaic election and voting laws continue to dampen voter turnout, the New York City Council is about to take a step to encourage participation. The City Council’s governmental operations committee will vote on Tuesday, November 14 to approve a bill allowing online voter registration for city residents, Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the committee, told Gotham Gazette on Thursday. The bill is then expected to pass the full City Council on Thursday.

    “With the historic low in

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council)


    The New York City Council passed legislation on Tuesday mandating that the government agency that oversees the city’s $85.2 billion annual budget provide all budget documents to the public in an easily accessible and machine-readable format.

    The legislation, sponsored by

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  • paul vallone by john mccarten

    Council Member Paul Vallone (photo: John McCarten)


    Legislation barring City Council members from making outside income will go into effect on January 1, forcing several sitting and incoming Council members to make tough decisions about their side jobs.

    The regulations, which were linked to a significant pay increase for all city elected officials, including a salary bump from $112,500 to $148,000 for City Council members, were approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council last

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  • c8ske5txoaa5ql4.jpg large

    Mayoral candidate Robert Gangi (photo:@GangiForMayor)


    The first official debate in the Democratic mayoral primary is set for Wednesday, August 23, where Mayor Bill de Blasio will face former City Council Member Sal Albanese. But three more Democrats, all of whom will be on the September 12 ballot, failed to qualify for the debate and are crying foul that the Campaign Finance Board’s eligibility criteria are excluding them from

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  • powers petitioning stuytown keithpowersnyc

    City Council candidate Keith Powers (photo: @KeithPowersNYC)


    Candidates across the city this year are running for City Council on all sorts of issues, but only one has released a detailed list of government, campaign finance, and voting reform proposals. That agenda, called “

    sts op ed

    photo, including three of the authors, via the Progressive Caucus


    We’ve seen it in our districts. A new landlord takes ownership of a building and starts a construction project that never finishes in order to evict long-term residents. They may turn off the cooking gas indefinitely; they may even knock out the boiler with no explanation.

    For too many New Yorkers, this nightmare is their reality. The stories are plentiful: heat and gas shutoffs in the middle of winter, jackhammering causing cracks in apartment walls, loss of power, and lead dust in the air lasting for

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  • open data portal

    (screenshot from Open Data Portal)


    The city released its annual update to its Open Data plan on July 15, detailing the progress by city agencies to release all of their public data by 2018. The initiative, originally launched in 2012 under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was expanded by the de Blasio administration two years ago under its Open Data for All plan, which aimed to make

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  • kallos council street presser

    Council Member Kallos (photo: City Council)


    As the September 12 primary elections approach and campaigns kick into high gear, a vast majority of candidates for the city’s elected offices will have their coffers bolstered by the Campaign Finance Board’s (CFB) public matching funds program, which matches eligible donations at a 6-to-1 ratio.

    Most candidates, but not all. According to data provided by the CFB, 14 of 51 incumbents this cycle are not participating in the program, which was created by the city in 1988 in part to allow

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    Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Mayor de Blasio (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    New York City elected officials and independent watchdogs continue to voice concerns about the Department of Education’s transparency and contract procurement process. The issue became a flashpoint in the debate over mayoral control of New York City schools, which Albany lawmakers have yet to extend despite a June 30 expiration date. Like other powers over the schools, education-related contracting -- totaling billions of dollars per year -- has been

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    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    The City Council Committee on Governmental Operations met on Monday to discuss a bill to relax the deadline for candidates seeking public office to submit disclosure reports to the Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB).

    COIB is a city agency tasked with enforcing conflicts of interest laws for public officials and preempting potential conflicts for those seeking elected office. Candidates for public office are required to submit financial disclosures to the agency detailing, among other

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  • diaz sr and gjonaj crop

    Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., left, & AM Mark Gjonaj (photo: @RevRubenDiaz)


    There are only a handful of City Council seats opening up this year due to term limits. Of the seven “open” races in the 51-seat Council, all of which are up for election this fall, several feature state legislators seeking to make the jump to the city’s legislative body.

    Seeking to stay closer to home for work, legislators who now have to commute to Albany several days a week for half the year have declared their candidacies. Entering City Council races to succeed a

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  • greenfield nyccouncil

    City Council Member David Greenfield (photo: @NYCCouncil)


    At a City Council hearing on Friday, representatives of the city’s Campaign Finance Board expected to answer questions about their proposed budget for the next fiscal year but instead found themselves defending their processes for post-election auditing of campaigns.

    One of the Campaign Finance Board’s prime functions is to perform detailed examinations of how candidate campaigns utilize funds and whether they adhere to the strict requirements of campaign finance law. These

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  • Kallos Lander Mark-Viverito Council

    Council Member Ben Kallos, right, has a new API bill (photo: William Alatriste)


    City Council Member Ben Kallos is always looking for ways to make government more efficient and accessible through technology and the use of data. To that end, Kallos, himself a programmer, introduced a bill last week that would require information generated or

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  • vote here long line

    Long line of voters (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    The executive director of the New York City Board of Elections said at a City Council budget hearing on Friday that recent failings by the board, revealed in a WNYC report, were not entirely the BOE’s responsibility and that voters in New York needed to step up their participation and involvement in ensuring that their votes count.

    WNYC radio’s Brigid Bergin reported

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  • de Blasio retirement savings

    (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor’s Office)


    Through a recently-signed resolution, President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have struck a death blow to New York City’s plan to become the first city in the country to establish a retirement savings program for private-sector employees.

    After advocates and elected officials identified a crisis in the limited amount most workers have saved for retirement and started calling for government action, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during his February 2016 State of the

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  • kallos council

    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: @NYCCouncil)


    A bill heard by the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations on Thursday aims to further limit the influence of big-dollar donations and special interests in city elections. The bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, who chairs the committee, would tweak the city’s public campaign finance system by removing a cap on public funds disbursed to candidate campaigns by the Campaign Finance Board (CFB).

    The city’s campaign finance system is held up as a national model that incentivizes small

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