New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

TechPresident Website Imitation is Flattery in New York City Council Race by Miranda Neubauer

Website Imitation is Flattery in New York City Council Race



A New York City Council candidate who had made his name as a technology consultant and spearheaded an open government initiative several years ago found parts of his website copied by another City Council candidate in a different borough, as Politicker first reported.

As Politicker reported, sections of the website of Pedro Alvarez, also a Democrat, running for City Council in the South Bronx, were identical to that of Kallos, with the "Kallos Campaign" offering internships and other sections of the website celebrating Kallos' biography. The Alvarez website says it is powered with WordPress. Alvarez works as a tax preparer in the Bronx, according to Changing Bronx Politics, and says on his website that he has worked for and organized several non-profit organizations and has been engaged with several churches.

A Google Cache shows that one section highlighted an endorsement event New Roosevelt Founder Bill Samuels was holding for Kallos complete with a YouTube video and a Google Maps embed of the event's location.

Alvarez blamed the identical sections on the website's developer Empress Networks, Politicker reported. "We paid to build a brand new page and we had no idea someone had done such a thing. It’s really horrible, we’re really bothered with this," an Alvarez staffer told Politicker. "We’re working in district that’s so poor and has really little money.”

Empress told Politicker that the campaign should have edited the information on the website. “They said they wanted that site built based on that other guy’s website,” Ray Giles, the owner of Empress, told Politicker. “Basically that’s what was done, but they have to go in and change every aspect.” The New York City Campaign Finance Board indicates that the Alvarez campaign paid Empress Networks not quite $50 in January and $550 in March for website hosting and webpage services.

Ben Kallos is a Democrat running for City Council on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Roosevelt Island. Kallos, who previously served as director of policy and communication for former Public Advocate Mark Green's 2009 campaign, heads up Kallos Consulting, which has the tagline "Where Technology, Politics and Law Come Together."

He was also a cofounder of the Open Government Foundation, a New York-based non-profit started in 2009. On his website, Kallos says that the platform was the first "to post attendance, legislation and voting records going back to 1995 along with an application that showed how often your New York City or State legislator voted with the majority." He notes that the New York State Senate and the New York City Council launched similar portals with that information shortly thereafter. The information on the OGF's website has not been updated since 2009. Kallos Consulting also focused on web development for organizations including the Democratic National Committee’s Law School Democrats, the New York State Democratic Party, and New York City Government’s Community Board 8 in Manhattan, according to his website. Kallos said his website was developed with Drupal.

According to the NYCCFB, Alvarez has raised $16,988.00, and Kallos has raised $63,288.00.

According to Politicker, Kallos sees the imitation as flattery. “The fact that our campaign’s open platform focused on solutions and progressive internship program have become a model demonstrates that we are not only leading by example, but changing the dialogue,” he told the news site.


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