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Horse Carriage Supporters Ride Momentum as Opponents Plan to Unveil Alternative

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A group seeking to ban horse-drawn carriages is unveiling an alternative on Thursday, a replica of an antique car that runs on batteries, but some question whether it will be an effective distraction against the barrage of attacks the group is under from those who want the horses to stay. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

Horse carriage opponents haven't been shy, but after electing a mayor who supports a carriage ban, they've been rather quiet.

Meanwhile, the carriage industry is riding the momentum of an increasingly powerful coalition of newspaper endorsements, celebrity pitches and polls that show most New Yorkers want the horses as is.

It's raising the question: is the virtual silence from opponents making it tough for city officials to act?

"Burying your head in the sand does not make something go away," said political consultant Risa Heller. "You have to fight, and even if you think you've won, you have to keep fighting until it actually happens."

Bills banning the carriages are already on file at the City Council. In fact, the City Council speaker is the primary sponsor of one measure that would replace them with environmentally friendly antique replica cars.

Melissa Mark-Viverito said she stands behind that bill, adding that there's no timetable for action. However, another co-sponsor, City Councilman James Vacca of the Bronx, now says he's waiting for a new bill.

"It's a complicated issue, and I think that there's members weighing in on both sides," Vacca said.

Those on the horse carriages' side include unions and Rep. Joe Crowley, chair of the Queens Democratic party.

On the other side, after a boisterous run-up to the election, the well-funded group NYCLASS said it's now finding it effective to quietly lobby.

Numerous sources added that the organization is keeping its head down to avoid undue attention. Its political adviser during the last election is under investigation for campaign finance violations.

Officials of the group declined repeated requests to speak on camera.

One longtime advocate willing to talk is Donny Moss. He said the mayor needs to be sure his plan works, considering the scrutiny.

"Now, it would be easier for us if the mayor gave us an indication of what his plan is so that we could get behind it, but he's keeping his cards close to his vest because he knows that whenever he finally announces his plan, there's going to be a lot of backlash," Moss said.

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