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.
A group of New York politicians is lobbying Comcast to provide free broadband to all city public housing residents and expand other low-cost Internet offerings as a condition for the cable operator’s proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable.
Led by New York City’s public advocate, Letitia James, and City Councilman Ben Kallos, the group of state and local politicians is calling on Comcast to help bridge the so-called digital divide between people who have access to broadband connections and those who do not. About a third of New York City families do not have broadband, according to the Knight Foundation.
“With every second we wait, the digital divide is widening,” Mr. Kallos said. “What we have with the Internet is literally a portal to the world’s knowledge. One third of our city can’t get on the Internet and can’t learn whatever, whenever they want.”
Ben Kallos, one of the Council's most active and outspoken members on issues involving data and technology, thinks that open-government advocates have a special opportunity at the moment.
"When you have a new administration and a new mayor, [any revelation] from the data is somebody else's dirty laundry," he said. "Whatever you find, it's somebody's else problem, not the current mayor's."
On Monday, the Council technology committee, under chair James Vacca, will hold anoversight hearing on New York City's open data portal, with civic technology advocates expected to push for improvements to data quality and accessibility, which has also been a priority of Kallos.
A group of city and state elected officials urged the state’s Public Service Commission, in a letter, to require that Comcast commit to universal broadband in New York City before it approves the cable giant’s $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable (TWC).
The merger is currently undergoing review by federal agencies, but the state commission is also authorized to block changes in the ownership of cable companies if they don’t meet public interest standards.
The letter demands that Comcast provide free broadband Internet access in the city’s public housing complexes, community centers, and homeless and domestic violence shelters as well as free Wi-Fi in public parks.
“The single unemployed mother spending money she doesn’t have on broadband just so she can apply for jobs, the elderly who must sit outside, in a library, or in a park in the cold of winter just to communicate with loved ones,” said City Council member Ben Kallos, a signatory of the letter. “Every New Yorker must have the opportunity to access the world-knowledge on the Internet.”
Digital Divide Would be Greatly Diminished by James/Kallos Proposal for Free and Low-Cost Internet for Millions of New Yorkers
New York, NY– Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Ben Kallos and elected officials today called on the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to guarantee universal broadband and consumer protections in the prospective Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger, which the PSC will approve or reject on November 13. The coalition of 22 state and local elected officials argued that for such a merger to be in the public interest, it would require key public benefits.
The merger of the two cable giants would provide Comcast with Time Warner Cable’s 2.5 million customers in New York State and 40 percent of Internet subscribers across the nation. The FCC has delayed a decision on the merger, but states such as New York State and California are conducting their own review processes.
The New York coalition demanded specific guaranteed public benefits for the Public Service Commission to consider the merger, including, but not limited to:
- Universal broadband to bridge the digital divide, providing free wi-fi programs to NYCHA, senior, youth and community centers, and expanding affordable broadband services to all who qualify for means-based federal, state and city subsidies;
- Improvements in infrastructure, transparency, and customer service to keep New York competitive and ensure residents have effective and reliable cable by reducing wait times, vastly improving service and reducing consumer complaints;
- Increased transparency around interconnect transmission data to ensure compliance with Net Neutrality standards and a commitment to an Open Internet.
The standards were outlined in a letter sent to the Public Service Commission today, with a broad coalition including State Senator Kevin Parker, State Senator Jose Peralta, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Karim Camara, Assembly Member Walter Mosley, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Council Member Donovan Richards, Council Member Brad Lander, Council Member Stephen Levin, Council Member Deborah Rose, Council Member Paul Vallone, Council Member Mark Levine, Council Member Margaret Chin, Council Member Danny Dromm, Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Council Member James Van Bramer, Council Member Carlos Menchaca and Council Member Alan Maisel.
New Yorkers would finally be able to register to vote with a click of a mouse under a bill to be introduced in the City Council.
Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) will introduce legislation to allow would-be voters to register online.
Currently, the Board of Elections requires paper registration forms to be mailed in the old fashioned way.
“We hope to have a city where everyone who is eligible can vote easily,” Kallos said. “We make it really hard to register, really hard to vote, and we can make it a lot easier.”
City Councilman Ben Kallos has come a long way from his days at The Bronx High School of Science, though not so far from its rooftop greenhouse, where he tilled the soil as a teenager. The council member has been at the forefront of pushing New York City’s food agenda to new heights, from providing 1.1 million children with free lunches and dinners to making fresh fruits and vegetables available at NYCHA housing developments to cooking for his constituents at the Greenmarkets.
We caught up with Councilman Kallos to talk new initiatives, old favorite restaurants and where New York stands in terms of progressive food policy in America (hint: relatively speaking, we’re doing pretty well).
Intro 508 to allow New York City residents to register online was introduced today by Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations and Progressive Caucus Members Co-Chairs Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards, as well as Council Members Danny Dromm, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Stephen Levin, Brad Lander, Ydanis Rodriguez, Debi Rose, and Carlos Menchaca. The bill requires the Board of Elections to provide a secure website for registration. Twenty four States offer online voter registration in some form, many with a fully paperless process that can be submitted directly online. New York City consistently struggles with voter participation and turnout.
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.
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 Technological Capabilities, Spanning All Aspects of City Services, Will Make City Government More Accessible and Accountable
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the Connected City Initiative, a series of technology programs to transform the ways in which New Yorkers can interact with – and expect the delivery of services from – City government. Building upon successful projects that have made New York City a pioneer in using technology to improve public services, the Mayor outlined a series of initiatives to make City government more accessible and accountable. They include providing a new iPhone application for New Yorkers to report issues and send photos to 311 with specific location details using GPS technology – an idea championed by Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Council Member Gale Brewer; increasing the number of New Yorkers with access to Electronic Health Records; and eliminating many of the bureaucratic barriers to starting a small business. Additional aims include increasing the use of social networking to improve government efficiency; making the City more sustainable by consolidating data centers citywide and promoting the use of electronic mailings; and increasing broadband adoption among low-income New Yorkers. The Mayor made the announcement at the IBM SmarterCities Forum in Manhattan.
“Every day, new technological innovations help make information flow faster, systems work better and our lives a little easier,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “But often, when it comes to adopting new technology, governments lag behind the private sector and even the casual consumer because they are unwilling or unable to try something new and change the way things have always been done. That’s small-minded thinking. In serving the public, government should constantly be looking for new and better ways to provide information and services. The creation of 311 was a major advancement in that effort, but we never stop looking for ways to improve. The programs of the Connected City Initiative represent the latest steps we’re taking to employ technology to serve New Yorkers better.