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Path to Banning Horse Carriages in City Seen as Product of Political Developments

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The path to banning horse carriages in the city is seen as a product of recent political developments, including the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, the rezoning of the Far West Side and last year's mayoral election. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

Getting on a horse carriage ride requires a quick hail. Stopping them requires a craftier operation.

One of last's year's biggest ads targeted Christine Quinn, then the front-runner. Those behind it didn't like Quinn's support for horse carriages, but there's a hitch: the ad didn't mention banning horse carriages.

"I was absolutely delighted with the way that our organization really took off over the past year," said Allie Feldman, a political operative who runs a group that was behind it for horses' rights.

The issue charges up many people, but perhaps not enough to win mayoral elections. So under looser campaign laws, Feldman's anti-horse carriage group became something of an all-purpose anti-Quinn repository.

"We provided a platform for people who are incredibly unhappy with what was going on in the city over the past 12 years," she said.

It also aided hecklers who shadowed Quinn, with effects.

"Speaker Quinn was barraged by individuals associated with this campaign at every campaign stop, and you cannot discount the increasing effect that it had on her own view of her campaign and the way in which she handled the issues," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union.

Meanwhile, an advisor to both the group and City Council candidates is under investigation for violating campaign finance rules. He declined comment.

As for the horses, some insist that much of it is a front.

Two stables are in the shadow of the Javits Center, an area now called Hudson Yards. It's been recently rezoned and is ripe for major new development, the kind of which that would knock down old buildings and build much bigger ones.

"They're our enemy," said horse stable owner Cornelius Byrne. "Not because they're worried about what happens to the horses. They don't want us to own these properties in this very important developing neighborhood that Mayor Bloomberg calls the Gold Coast of New York."

"Their little conspiracy theory doesn't make sense at all," Feldman said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the ban is a top priority, but the City Council has yet to take it up this year, so at least for now, the horses trot on, unaware of the fuss.

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