2017 could be a rough ride for Mayor de Blasio as animal rights activists saddle up for a renewed campaign to end the use of carriage horses in Central Park. 150-200 activists loudly protested outside Gracie Mansion this evening, demanding de Blasio follow through on his 2013 promise to do so and expressing bitter disappointment over his failure to do nearly three years into his first term.
Fairly modest in number, activists working toward a carriage horse ban are highly organized and energetically devoted to their cause. Their loud visible presence hounded Christine Quinn in the 2013 mayoral campaign and it looks increasingly likely that, unless Mayor de Blasio comes through on his long-promised ban, he will receive similar attention in 2017.
A long contemplated New York City ban on carriage horses returned to center stage Tuesday, following news of a proposed city council bill. A proposed bill is expected next week, with committee hearings and a vote expected over the next several months. Mayor de Blasio has been a strong advocate of such a ban, calling for an immediate ban as a mayoral candidate, although he’s not acted to implement such a ban during his 11 months in office.
Mayor de Blasio Comments:
Mayor de Blasio was asked about the expected bill three times during an unrelated press conference on Tuesday. Questions included what he plans to do to get the bill passed, a ban’s likely effect on tourism in the City and whether he intends to engage in any political “horse trading” to win passage of the bill.
Proponents of a ban on horse drawn carriages rallied on the steps of City Hall Monday. As has been widely reported, Mayor de Blasio’s action on his campaign pledge to implement a ban “immediately” upon taking office has been slower than promised. Opponents of a ban have been increasingly visible, mounting a significant public relations efforts and raising some uncertainty about the prospects of an expected City Council bill.
Monday’s rally featured five speakers; Dan Mathews of PETA, Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez and Helen Rosenthal, Michelle Alvarez of the Catskill Animal Sanctuary and TV personality Jillian Michaels. Their speeches were brief, running about 10 minutes in total, and succinctly set out their arguments supporting a ban.
Bill de Blasio has, on multiple occasions, expressed his support for banning carriage horses but as mayor has not yet taken any public action toward a ban. We look at some of his past statements and discussions with the advocacy group NYCLASS, carriage drivers and reporters.
Today NYCLASS hosted a mayoral candidate forum, with Tom Allon moderating, focused on animal rights. It was a lively forum, with both the candidates and the audience engaged and energetic.
We’ll have lots of coverage, but we’ll start you with this brief snippet of Dean and Jerry Sal Albanese and John Catsimatidis.
Update #3 – Carriage Horses:
Here is the full discussion around carriage horses. Only Bill de Blasio calls for a full immediate ban, while the others express concerns around the economic impact on the drivers. All, however, were ready, willing and able to criticize Christine Quinn for her impeding council action on this issue.
Update #2 – The Cat Man in the Lion’s Den:
John Catsimatidis, the “Cat Man” as he has dubbed himself, was the sole Republican candidate to attend the NYCLASS forum. Here are two clips of the Cat Man; his opening statement and his answer to a question on the fate of horse-drawn carriages in midtown Manhattan. We’ve selected these for two reasons: First, there are a number of funny moments, some intentional, some not. (“My kids were raised in Central Park” (not allowed in the house?) and, without evident humor or irony stating that “there’s no free rides” for the horses, make me laugh aloud.) Second, watching a first-time candidate make his way through unfamiliar policy issues and governmental processes while trying to connect with voters is worth watching, both in these brief moments and in the broader campaign.
Update #1 – Quinn in absentia:
Christine Quinn, despite not attending the forum, received significant attention. She has a fraught relationship with NYCLASS and the organized animal rights community, as shown in these excerpts.
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