Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Ben Kallos

Ben Kallos

  • Manhattan Borough President candidates 2021 MBP

    (l-r) Mark Levine; Elizabeth Caputo; Brad Hoylman; Kim Watkins; Ben Kallos


    The five Democratic candidates running to be the next Manhattan Borough President via the upcoming 2021 election gathered by Zoom on Wednesday for a candidate forum hosted by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, with topics focused on the devastated local economy and small businesses in the borough.

    The participating candidates, seeking to replace term-limited Democrat Gale Brewer, were Elizabeth Caputo, a former community board chair on the Upper West Side;

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  • demo bp3

    (L-R) Mark Levine, Elizabeth Caputo, Brad Hoylman, Kimberly Watkins, Ben Kallos


    As 2021 creeps closer, so does the most consequential municipal election in possibly decades, one that will decide the entire political roster that represents the city with few incumbents eligible to run for their current seats due to term limits. In overwhelmingly Democratic New York, the Democratic Party primary in June is all but certain to determine the winner of almost every seat. In Manhattan, nearly half of the borough’s 1.6 million registered voters are Democrats, more than seven times the

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  • rosenthal absentee ballot mailbox

    Voting absentee (photo: @HelenRosenthal)


    A law passed by the New York City Council in 2016 could have helped prevent some of the many problems plaguing the absentee ballot process from the June 2020 primary elections. But that law was never implemented by the New York City Board of Elections, a quasi-state agency that routinely refuses to abide by local mandates.

    The June primaries saw a record number of absentee ballots cast by voters, facilitated by an executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo that mandated that local boards of

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  • pantry si project

    Food being prepared during the coronavirus crisis (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos of Manhattan, both Democrats, announced new legislation last week that would mandate nutrition standards for the “grab & go” and home delivered meals provided by the city, which have become essential sources of food for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers during the coronavirus crisis.

    As unemployment in the city has skyrocketed from 4% to past 14%, children are not attending schools

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  • mbdb flcm co

    Major questions about voting during coronavirus hang in the balance (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    As the American people hunker down under a patchwork of evolving emergency orders and health directives, our communities are grappling with extraordinary circumstances disrupting and reorienting our lives and the economy. To flatten the curve of community spread during the increasingly deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo has placed New York on PAUSE; Health officials have issued stay-at-home and social distancing directives; schools, playgrounds, and non-essential

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  • bill online voter

    State Senator Myrie, middle, is pushing his online voter registration bill (photo: @SenatorMyrie)


    Last year, the New York City Board of Elections hobbled a City Council effort to create an online voter registration portal for city residents, claiming it conflicted with state law. But the state Legislature may take steps to correct that situation this year by clarifying the law and allowing an online portal that would act as a test case for a statewide system slated to launch next year.

    The New York City Council passed ...

  • corey jphnson participate

    Council Speaker Johnson at a food pantry (photo: John McCarten/CityCouncil)


    The City Council is expected to pass a package of food policy legislation on Tuesday, central components of an agenda laid out by Speaker Corey Johnson last August to strengthen relevant governance and food policy planning, while combating inequality and waste in the food supply chain.

    One bill, sponsored by Council Member Vanessa Gibson, would require the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy to develop a ten-year plan to address food access and build a sustainable

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  • comptroller dinapoli event

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    New York City government spends roughly $20 billion per year on goods and services through contracts with non-governmental vendors, including thousands of opportunities for companies of all types and sizes to work with the city. But the contracting process has long been arduous for vendors to navigate and difficult for watchdogs to closely monitor. Officials say that is now changing as a multi-step effort has unfolded over the past few years to modernize the technical infrastructure and databases that

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  • cm farah louis

    Council Member Farah Louis (photo: New York City Council)


    The New York City Council is considering legislation that would create a new office to assist non-profit organizations in navigating regulations and applying for city contracts and funding.

    Council Member Farah Louis, a recently elected Brooklyn Democrat, has proposed legislation that would mandate that the mayor institute an Office of Not-For-Profit Services. The bill is set to be examined by the Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations at a ...

  • sep mon rotunda

    De Blasio, Council members, AARP members & others rally (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Just days after he ended his presidential campaign that was focused on issues affecting working people, Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied with AARP volunteers and City Council Members at City Hall on Monday to push for a proposal that could help millions of New York workers save for their futures.

    The Retirement Security for All proposal, which de Blasio first raised three years ago and then again in his State of the City speech this year, would establish a retirement

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  • corey johnson delivers

    Speaker Johnson at food policy speech (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The City Council is set to consider a number of bills related to food policy at a hearing Wednesday, including a proposal to codify an Office of Food Policy, a month after Council Speaker Corey Johnson unveiled an expansive food equity plan with the creation of the office at its center.

    The Council’s Committees on General Welfare, Economic Development, and Education will meet at City

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  • retirement saving event

    Feb. 2016 (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office)


    In his State of the City speech in January, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised that the city would create a system of retirement security for millions of New Yorkers who work in the private sector and may not have access to employer-provided savings plans. It was a revival of an effort the mayor had first pushed in 2016 but that bumped up against the change in presidential

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  • council holds oversight

    (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    The New York City Council regularly passes bills mandating that city agencies create reports on their work, ostensibly as part of the Council’s oversight responsibilities. From city jail populations to hate crimes statistics to use of force by police officers, the Council has passed bills requiring a report be delivered to it.

    The Council passes so many reporting bills that last year, it passed ...

  • speaker m mv cm helen westside

    (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    The recently-passed New York City budget greenlights billions of dollars to some of the most vital programs across the five boroughs. These dollars will help to fund homeless shelters, emergency food pantries, senior services, mental health services, and early childcare for the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

    The City of New York contracts with over 1,000 community-based organizations (CBOs) to provide these essential human services at a cost of $6 billion annually. But thanks to the City’s broken

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  • declaring council examines

    Climate emergency rally (photo: @BenKallos)


    The likely future of devastation caused by climate change is one of several reasons activist Becca Trabin said New York City needs to declare a climate emergency.

    “You look out at this beautiful cityscape. You don’t just see these tall buildings that are standing here today, you see what this space will look like if we continue on our current trajectory,” Trabin said. “I see devastation all around, I see death. And I see that there is still time to avert that trajectory.”

    Trabin was

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  • Johnson Kallos City Council

    Council Members Kallos, left, & Rodriguez, right, with Speaker Johnson (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The City Council passed a much-anticipated, controversial campaign finance bill Thursday, raising the cap on how much public funding a campaign can receive and altering other dynamics of the city’s matching system. The bill -- the source of significant consternation over the past several days, particularly among likely 2021 mayoral candidates - passed by a vote of 41-6, with one abstention, and three absences.

    The legislation, which Mayor

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  • committee gov op

    Council Members Yeger, left, and Cabrera, right (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    Significantly more public funding of political campaigns appears on the way given legislation that the City Council Committee on Governmental Operations passed on Tuesday.

    The bill, sponsored by Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat, aims to prevent corruption and increase engagement with local communities by adjusting the public matching funds system to allow candidates to raise only relatively small donations and receive enough public money to reach the spending limit in

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  • Ben Kallos City Council

    Council Member Kallos (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    A City Council committee is expected on Tuesday to pass a bill aimed at reducing the influence of large donors on New York City candidates and elections by creating the possibility for candidates to essentially raise all smaller donations and earn enough public matching funds to fully reach the spending limit imposed by the city’s campaign finance program. But the bill, which has recently been amended in a significant way, is stirring controversy as it heads to a vote, with accusations against

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  • jum williams monique

    Monique Chandler-Waterman & Jumaane Williams (photo: @MoniqueForNYC)


    The political arm of the New York City Council’s Progressive Caucus is endorsing Monique Chandler-Waterman in next week’s special election for the Council’s District 45 seat. The district was previously represented by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, whose own special election victory led to the vacancy being filled through a vote this coming Tuesday, May 14.

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  • Kallos City Council

    Council Member Kallos (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    The City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations heard testimony on Monday on a bill to expand the public matching funds available to candidates under the city’s campaign finance program.

    The campaign finance system incentivizes individuals to seek small dollar donations when running for office, matching those contributions with public funds. Under a recent city charter amendment approved by voters, a citywide candidate can receive public funds at an 8-to-1 ratio for the

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  • Ben Kallos campaign finance

    Council Member Kallos (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    New York City Council Member Ben Kallos is moving forward with a bill to increase the amount of public funds a candidate running for elected office can receive from the city’s campaign finance program, in order to further reduce the influence of big money donors in local political campaigns.

    New York City’s voluntary campaign finance program matches small dollar donations in order to afford candidates without deep pockets or wealthy donors a more level playing

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  •  poolnytdebate 001

    The first public advocate debate (photo: Holly Pickett for The New York Times (pool))


    Small-dollar donors were behind 63 percent of the first wave of campaign contributions to candidates who ran in the February special election for public advocate, up from 26.3 percent in 2013 when there was an open race for the seat, according to an analysis by New York City Council Member Ben Kallos. The Manhattan Council member sponsored the law to implement in the public advocate special election the new campaign finance rules overwhelmingly approved by voters in a

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  • city council sp co jo

    Speaker Johnson (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)


    The New York City Council’s Democratic conference held on Thursday what officials said was its first ever public vote to appoint three new commissioners to the New York City Board of Elections.

    The BOE is a quasi-city agency, funded in the city budget but governed by state law. It has ten commissioners -- two from every borough, with one each recommended by the Democratic and Republican parties and appointed by the City Council for four-year terms. The board’s executive director is chosen by the

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  • council mem just brannan irish

    Council Member Justin Brannan (photo: John McCarten\City Council)


    Sally Kabel was diagnosed with infant leukemia at ten months old, the treatment for which led to seizures, three broken bones, and a weak immune system. She developed epilepsy, and after her third bout of pneumonia she required continuous oxygen support. None of this stopped her from going to school more than complications with her school bus, according to her mother, Nicole Kabel.

    After missing the first day at Manhattan Star Academy on the Upper West SIde

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  • Corey Johnson Tish James

    Corey Johnson, Laurie Cumbo, Tish James (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    A charter-mandated city commission meant to help New Yorkers access information about their government sputtered to a stop in 2016 owing to a lack of funding, barely three years after being revived by former Public Advocate Letitia James. Now, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is also acting public advocate for the next several weeks, is taking up James’ unfinished business and attempting to raise the commission from its grave.

    The Commission on

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