Wednesday, April 16, 2014


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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: Horse Trading in City Hall

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Could Mayor de Blasio be pulling the reins on a major campaign pledge?

After vowing to do away with horse-drawn carriages in the city in his first week in office, the clock is slowly ticking with the mayor last week saying only that he'd like to institute a ban later this year.

Meanwhile, supporters are rallying with actor Liam Neeson leading their charge -- and even a New York Times editorial taking their side.
Part of the delay on the ban is that – as the News' Jen Fermino points out – there may not be enough support for it in the City Council. The industry employs about 200 people who will likely be out of work unless the mayor's fuzzy proposal to replace the horses with antique-style cars takes hold.

Supporters of the horse carriages also point out that de Blasio greatly benefitted by animal-rights activists giving large donations to an anti-Chris Quinn ad campaign in the middle of the mayoral race. Like the mayor's opposition to much of the Bloomberg administration's taxi initiatives, the critics say, de Blasio's beliefs are following the money.

Just as he ended his insistence on his millionaire's tax in Albany to pay for his education initiatives, there's certainly a face-saving reversal on this issue for the mayor. He can claim that he couldn't win support for a total ban in the Council and that he's simply going to restrict the horses to Central Park. Or he could actually visit a stable where the horses live – like our Josh Robin did -- and see for himself how they're doing. Insist on a new package of inspections for the stables (even though they're already regularly inspected) and claim you've made a deal with the industry.

The mayor's insistence that horse-drawn carriages are inhumane flies in the face of hundreds of years of horses being used for a wide variety of aspects of life – including by the NYPD. Putting the issue to rest should be easier than finding space for tens of thousands of children to go to pre-k.

Bob Hardt

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