with Horse and Hound

NYC Horse Carriage Deal Goes Bust

In New York City, as Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” In the case of Mayor de Blasio’s animal rights-funded war against the horse-drawn carriages, that homegrown proverb was never truer.

With a deal in hand between the mayor’s office and the Teamsters union representing the carriage drivers—requiring only the City Council’s approval, which, in the opinion of even the wavering council members, was a given—the horse the mayor was riding balked at the wire. And the deal collapsed.

Council members who had never warmed to Blasio’s quest, nevertheless wanted the entire affair to be over and off their plates. Most were reluctantly prepared to sign on when the Teamsters union suddenly pulled their support. And that was the ballgame.

De Blasio’s humiliation is a defeat entirely of his own making. During his election campaign he seized on a narrow issue with little widespread traction, but one that brought him campaign funds from animal rights organizations along with their pledge to smear his chief opponent in the race, Christine Quinn. The plan worked: de Blasio promised to remove the horse carriages from the streets on his first day in office; he deposited the campaign contributions; Quinn was smeared; he was elected, but now more than two years later, he hasn’t delivered.

The deal he expected to finally deliver the fruits of his quest turned out to be a Pandora’s box. Once opened, it released a slew of newly-affected stakeholders who had never even been party to the original issue…like taxpayers who would have to ante up twenty-five million dollars for new stables in Central Park and pedicab drivers who would be barred from carrying passengers in the park.

“New York City politics is in danger of becoming just as much as a laughingstock as the presidential race,” Councilman Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat, said.

“It’s a great day for the horse and carriages,” Ian McKeever, a carriage driver and spokesman for the industry, said. “I’m from Dublin, so I’m having a pint.”

For more details on the undoing of de Blasio’s plan for the carriage horses, see the February 4, 2016 New York Times article by J. David Goodman and Michael M. Grynbaum.

Posted February 5, 2016