- By Norman Fine
In 2013, mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio promised if elected to remove all horse-drawn carriages from the streets of New York “on Day-One” of his administration. As mayor, he has not yet been able to make good on that promise, despite having benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by an animal rights lobby group to a political action committee formed by the group to politically destroy his strongest campaign rival, former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The PAC did their business under the name, “Anybody But Quinn.” Despite the fact that Quinn was leading in the polls at the time, her refusal to back the animal rights agenda of banning the carriage horses devastated her campaign. The animal rights lobbying group that financed the PAC was later fined for violating campaign finance rules.
Fast-forward two years and de Blasio is still trying, but has reduced his ambitions. His latest attempt, recently announced as a compromise proposal, is to ban horse carriages from the city’s streets and confine them to Central Park only. The mayor’s plan would eliminate two-thirds of the horses and move the remaing third—seventy to eighty horses—to new stabling within Central Park.
That brings us to the other faction that wants the horse carriages to disappear—hungry real estate developers. Seeing money to be made in developing the current horse stabling premises right there in the heart of the city, real estate developers also contributed large donations to de Blasio’s mayoral campaign under the guise of animal rights. It would appear that the mayor’s new compromise proposal would fully satisfy that group by freeing up the real estate for development.
The carriage drivers? They say, No way. That will destroy our industry.
The Police Commissioner
Meanwhile, on another city front, nationally-respected NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton sees value in horses on the streets, according to CBS News.
With the city still on high alert as a result of recent terrorist activities in Europe, the NYPD ramped up security for the huge annual Thanksgiving Day Parade by deploying police on horseback as a prominent adjuct to the overall effort. While many security measures are meant to blend in on the streets, officers on horseback—also known as “ten-foot cops”—are highly visible and are able to quickly and clearly communicate with crowds in an emergency.
Ironically, as the Mayor’s office tries to remove horses from the city’s streets, New York remains one of the few cities in the country where police horses continue on active duty. In fact, the NYPD just recently unveiled a new thirty-million dollar state-of-the-art facility for their elite mounted squad on the west side where a short trot will bring them to busy sites like Times Square, Penn Station, and Central Park. According to Deputy Inspector Barry Gelbman, “[Horses are] one of the greatest tools we have."
Posted November 27, 2015