Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week his team is working on a bill to reduce by over 80 percent the number of horse carriage operators in Central Park and move the stables at which horses are lodged to inside the park, a shift from previous efforts that focused on banning the industry altogether.
His ascension from mayoral long shot to City Hall was aided by his pledge to ban horse carriage rides in Central Park, but almost two years into his tenure that promise remains unfulfilled. In comments last week he revealed the new approach would move the stables to inside the park, so horses would not have to contend with city traffic, and reduce the number of carriage operators from their current level of over 200 to just three dozen.
The debate is currently framed by a group of animal rights activists on one side, most notably NYClass, which contributed significantly to de Blasio’s mayoral ambitions. On the other side is the Teamsters Joint Council 16, which counts among its ranks horse carriage drivers.
The activists maintain that having large animals in a major urban center is cruel and that the horses are regularly mistreated. The Teamsters refute those charges of abuse and cast drivers as an iconic part of New York City. Polls show that the public, meanwhile, is mostly opposed to the ban while support for a ban in the city council is tepid at best.
NYClass spent about $1 million attacking de Blasio’s chief rival, former city council speaker Christine Quinn, in 2013’s democratic mayoral primary. Their support was based on de Blasio’s campaign promise to enact a ban if elected. — Continue reading »
Featured Image: Google Search Result, Photographer Not Identified. Image of Mayor DeBlasio: Getty Images.