Horse Carriage Drivers Point to Newly Released Documents As Proof that Proposed Ban Was More About the Land

Horse carriage drivers are pointing to newly released documents as proof that a proposed carriage ban was always much more about the land than the horses' welfare. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

Business was so-so Friday, but carriage drivers didn't seem too down.

For starters, they had jobs. Mayor Bill de Blasio's push to put them out failed in February.

They were also feeling vindicated about their theory why carriages were on the chopping block.

"It's all about real estate," said James McDaid, a horse carriage driver. "It had nothing to do with the horses, Josh. It never ever was."

McDaid owns a stake in a horse stable on the West Side. It and others were noted in documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Law, which in June 2015 requested documents about banning carriages.

Another chart noted building department classification. More directly, a presentation from anti-carriage group NYCLASS noted how the city could reap more in taxes by turning the stable into new development.

NYCLASS says it merely didn't want stable owners or drivers to lose money. And on the radio Friday, de Blasio said it's always been about animals, not buildings.

"And to make simple lines and say, 'It must be for this motivation, it must be for that motivation,' that's not a fair assumption," de Blasio said. "You know, a lot of times, people actually believe something, and that's why it's in their platform."

Drivers note that one of the founders of NYCLASS is a major real estate developer who has donated to de Blasio, his nonprofit organization "Campaign for One New York," and he helped bankfoll a group that helped defeat Christine Quinn in the 2013 Democratic primary.

In June of 2015, NY1 also requested the calendar of Emma Wolfe, the mayor's director of governmental affairs. To date, that request has not been fulfilled.

"A delay of ten months plus is unreasonable and inconsistent with law," said Robert Freeman of the Committee on Open Government.

Freeman is a longtime freedom of information official. Noting the slowness of other requests, he says it's surprising, given as public advocate, de Blasio championed transparency.

"And my expectation, my hope, was that the effect given to the Freedom of Information Law would significantly improve under de Blasio as mayor. Plain and simple, that has not happened," Freeman said.

Wolfe, meanwhile, has since been subpoened as part of the probe.

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