Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

 

Ben Kallos

Ben Kallos

  • de blasio mccray arrive to vote

    Mayor de Blasio & First Lady McCray arrive to vote (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    City Council Member Joe Borelli, one of three Republicans in the 51-seat City Council, on Tuesday called for a hearing on voter fraud and said that he supports a statewide voter identification law to combat potential fraud. Borelli’s calls came after the release of a secretly-recorded video that showed a Democratic

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  • Shorris Rivington

    First Deputy Mayor Shorris testifies (photo: William Alatriste)


    Over the course of a Thursday oversight hearing lasting more than six hours, top officials from the de Blasio administration attempted to explain to the City Council all the missteps that led to a Lower East Side AIDS hospice being sold to a luxury condominium developer with virtually no public benefit.

    Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee, said early in the hearing, “Something went very wrong here and we must address issues

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  • Kallos

    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: John McCarten for the City Council)


    At least three City Council members have made requests to the Council’s bill drafting unit to formulate legislation that would regulate political participation by and with “social welfare” nonprofit organizations. These are political advocacy, or lobbying, groups, which have been the subject of intense scrutiny in New York City of late due to the Campaign

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  • MMV hearing flag mic

    above: Melissa Mark-Viverito; below: Ben Kallos (photos by William Alatriste)


    New York City’s campaign finance system, particularly its public matching funds program, is considered a national model, and it stays that way by being regularly updated and modernized. The Campaign Finance Board issues reports following each election analyzing ways to plug holes in the system and bolster the already-robust provisions of the relevant law.

    But, the next city election cycle, in 2017, may come and go without any

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  • MMV deed restriction presser

    Chin, Mark-Viverito, Brewer (l-r) at Wednesday's presser (photo: William Alatriste)


    Armed with the findings of a newly-released investigation that faults City Hall for a “lack of accountability,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Member Margaret Chin called for reform to the city’s deed restriction removal process at a press conference on Wednesday outside City Hall.

    In a show of strength and seriousness, Brewer and Chin were joined by Public Advocate Letitia James,

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  • de Blasio voting 2016

    Mayor de Blasio votes (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Many eyes will be on the New York City Board of Elections come Tuesday as New Yorkers head to the polls for the second time this year, casting their votes in congressional primaries. The first election, April’s presidential primaries, was so problematic it prompted multiple city and state authorities to launch investigations into

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  • 27083071523 4affcb6e87 z
    City Council chambers (Sofie Hecht for Gotham Gazette)


    Hundreds of times a year, City Council members vote on pieces of legislation, including the city’s budget, land use matters, and a wide variety of bills and resolutions. Members almost always vote “yes” or “no.” But sometimes, Council members choose to abstain, actively deciding not to declare they are for or against what is in front of them, and in the 51-seat City Council, abstentions are used by members to widely varying degrees.

    In the New York State Assembly,

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  • powherny rally 3 

    photo: @PowherNY


    During a recent panel conversation at The New School, only two people in a crowd of about 50 raised their hands when the audience was asked if they were confident there is no gender pay gap in their workplace. The panel, called “Getting Even,” was organized by the Center for New York City Affairs to discuss the causes of the pay gap between men and women and the steps New York City can take to close it.

    “When men go into traditionally female occupations, they get paid more. So gender is the only differentiator

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  • DCAS testimony May 13

    DCAS testimony (photo: William Alatriste)


    With four agencies testifying over the course of several hours, a Friday executive budget hearing held by the City Council’s governmental operations committee, along with the finance committee, had a lot of ground to cover on important issues like election administration and law department function. Two of the agencies testifying have even been sources of controversy in recent months and the hearing was an opportunity for Council members to air their concerns and get some answers. At many points during the hearing, however,

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  • bill de blasio voting april 2016

    Voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    When the presidential primaries hit New York last month, they landed with a frenzy and, in New York City, something of a thud. Not only did the Democratic and Republican contests include candidate competition around the city and state, but the city Board of Elections added an entirely other bit of far less welcome drama.

    Over 100,000 missing Brooklyn Democratic voters from the rolls and widespread complaints of mismanagement - ...

  • kallos computer

    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    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 ...

  • bdb voting

    Mayor de Blasio voting (via The Mayor's Office @BilldeBlasio)


    On Tuesday, April 19, thousands of New Yorkers cried foul about how the city was running the state’s most consequential presidential primary elections in decades. Polling sites opened late. Ballot scanners failed. About 125,000 Democratic voters were purged from the Brooklyn rolls while others found their party affiliation had inexplicably changed. While many pointed to what is seen as typical city Board of Elections dysfunction, complaints from across the city prompted a strong official response.

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  • kallos matteo foreground

    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    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

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  • 311-cust-serv 


    The City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations held an oversight hearing on Wednesday to evaluate the structure and content of two annual city reports that measure everything from the wait times on 311 calls and the conditions of city parks to the number of unsheltered homeless people and traffic crashes in the city each year. These key performance indicators help the City Council and the public keep city agencies and offices accountable. Those agencies, in turn, rely on these reports to improve their policies and functioning.

    The administration

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  • New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    We're about two weeks from New York's April 19 presidential primary vote. The three remaining Republican candidates and two remaining Democrats have been campaigning in New York, which is more in play than it has been in several cycles. Hillary Clinton is set to hold events in New York City and Albany Monday, including a rally with Gov. Cuomo and a meeting with state Assembly Democrats, and while the candidates are

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  • van bramer alone hearing

    Council Member Van Bramer starts a hearing (photo: @JimmyVanBramer)


    On March 1, at perhaps the most important City Council hearing of the year, just three of the finance committee’s eleven members were present when the session began. The Council’s first hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $82 billion fiscal year 2017 preliminary budget began nine minutes after its scheduled time, at 10:09 a.m., more prompt than typical Council hearings. The City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, arrived three minutes later, just after the finance chair, Council Member

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  • kallos talking

    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    When the city's new fiscal year begins in July, the Board of Elections will be readying to administer two elections before the close of the 2016 calendar year: September primaries and the November general, which will include the presidential contest. This, after running elections in April and June.

    To fulfill its duties and ensure smooth electoral processes, the BOE will need to hire and train thousands of poll workers, hold state-mandated voter registration drives and, given unforeseen circumstances,

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  • daneek miller presser

    Council Member Miller (photo by John McCarten)


    The City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor saw heated debate at a Friday hearing on a proposed law to protect grocery and retail store workers from job volatility. The bill, known as the Grocery Worker Retention Act, aims to regulate personnel decision-making during store ownership transitions.

    Introduced by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, chair of the labor committee, the act (...

  • bdb cms muni id alatriste

    Mayor de Blasio, a former Council member, with several current CMs (William Alatriste)


    Ask any New York City Council member and they'll tell you— there is no set formula that will send an aspiring candidate to City Hall.

    "If you want to be a lawyer, the path is the same: get a bachelor's degree, take the LSATs, go to law school, take the bar exam, and voila, you're a lawyer," Ritchie Torres, the 51-member Council's youngest rep, told Gotham Gazette. "Whereas in politics, there is no single path."

    Torres'

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  • lunch for learning electeds

    CMs Dromm, Kallos, & King, Public Advocate James, & advocates (photo: @Lunch4Learning)


    “All I know is that when I would tell him that I’m hungry, he would say that he doesn’t have money to buy me something to eat,” says 17-year-old Althea of growing up with her father. She describes getting food at her house as a “gamble,” adding, “Sometimes the school lunch was the only meal I would eat for the entire day.”

    For many young people in New York City, like Althea, the

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  • kallos

    Council Member Ben Kallos (photo: William Alatriste)


    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.

  • BOE Michael Ryan

    BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan (photo: @BOENYC)


    On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to unveil his Fiscal Year 2016 Executive Budget, which is likely to be nearly identical to the final budget passed by the mayor and the City Council before the June 30 deadline. Much of the new version of the mayor's spending plan will be similar to his $77 billion preliminary budget, which he presented in February and was vetted throughout March by the Council. But, the de Blasio administration has already acknowledged several

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  • dromm kallos

    CMs Dromm, middle, and Kallos, right, have intro'd reform bills (photo: William Alatriste)


    At a hearing of the City Council's Committee on Governmental Operations Thursday, issues of community board function will be taken up through bills to introduce term limits for board members and to add professional urban planners to board staff.

    The term-limit bill, introduced

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  • council tech plan alatriste

    Council members unveil Council 2.0 (photo: William Alatriste)


    NEW YORK - City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and several council colleagues released today a civic technology plan aimed at making the legislative body more transparent while facilitating direct engagement with constituents.

    The "public technology plan," dubbed Council 2.0, is being touted as a new "roadmap to digital inclusion and open

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    kallos presser

    Council Members Kallos (middle), Cumbo (left), & Cornegy (photo: @BenKallos)


    NEW YORK - City Council Members Ben Kallos, Laurie Cumbo, and Robert Cornegy today introduced a bill and five-point plan to help working parents re-enter the workforce after temporary disruptions in employment.

    The proposed legislation, of which Kallos is the lead sponsor and he introduced at the

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