NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday announced a new attempt to corral the popular horse carriage industry.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, de Blasio failed to keep a campaign promise to banish the horse carriages from city streets on his first day in office. Kramer reported with the new plan, the controversy appears no closer to a solution.
This time, de Blasio offered a compromise – in the form of reducing the 220 carriage horses by two thirds, and building a stable for them inside Central Park to keep them out of traffic.
“We continue to work for legislation that represents a humane and equitable solution that moves the horses off our streets, safeguards the animals and protects the livelihoods of the men and women who provide carriage rides,” said mayoral spokesman Wiley Norvell.
But horse carriage drivers see it as a ploy to appease some of the mayor’s biggest supporters, who have given more than $600,000 to de Blasio and various political action committees.
In addition to expressing concern for animals, the horse carriage critics are also said to be interested in the valuable West Side real estate where the horses are now stabled.
“It’s about money, politics, power – and you know, real estate, where the stables they are; you know, the radical animal rights people,” said driver Luis Kemmer.
The horse carriage drivers said they are a big tourist attraction and provide jobs for hundreds of people – jobs that would be lost if the mayor got his way.
“I’ve been in the business for 11 years. My dad’s been in the business for 40 years. And it’s very upsetting that this guy’s actually trying to follow with everything when there’s actually no reason for it,” said driver Frank Riccobono. “We’re all hard-working people, and the horses have a great life here.”
People on the street Wednesday also did not like the idea of getting rid of the carriages.
“Oh no, no, definitely don’t get rid of them. They’ve been here for centuries,” said Joer Smith of Jacksonville. “Change your mind, mayor. Keep the people happy.”
“I love them,” a woman added. “I’ve done it every time I’ve been to New York.”
It was hard to tell Wednesday whether the proposal from the mayor has legs – or hooves, as it were, Kramer reported.
Any change would have to be approved by the City Council, where several members have expressed reservations about the loss of jobs.