De Blasio's carriage horse ban stalls - Fox 2 News Headlines

De Blasio's carriage horse ban stalls

Posted: Updated:

By JONATHAN LEMIRE

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio is pulling back the reins on his plans to quickly get rid of New York City's horse-drawn carriage industry, stung by a recent outpouring of support for the colorful coaches that have clip-clopped their way through Central Park for more than 150 years.

A campaign pledge to take on the horses during his first week as mayor was eclipsed by other issues. And as he nears his fourth month in office, he has encountered enough resistance from the usually compliant City Council to slow his plans again, now saying an industry he calls cruel and inhumane will be gone by year's end.

What changed?

For one, a media blitz led by actor Liam Neeson has portrayed the horse-drawn carriage industry as an iconic, romantic part of New York that provides about 400 jobs, many to Irish immigrants. In a series of editorials and TV interviews, he has said the operators treat their 200 working horses like their own children.

"I can appreciate a happy and well-cared-for horse when I see one," Neeson wrote in an op-ed piece in The New York Times. "It has been my experience, always, that horses, much like humans, are at their happiest and healthiest when working."

Related:  Inside a NYC horse stable

The next blow came when a series of city unions -- who usually are de Blasio's staunchest allies -- broke with the mayor, urging him to reconsider his decision in order to save not only the industry's hundreds of jobs but a profitable source of tourism.

A recent poll revealed that nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers were in favor of keeping the horses at least in Central Park and were lukewarm on de Blasio's plan to put the horse drivers to work instead giving rides in old-timey electric cars.

Last week, the city's newspapers piled on. A story in the Times on the unveiling of the $150,000 prototype electric car described it as "the industrial spawn of a rickshaw and Thomas the Tank Engine," while an editorial bluntly urged de Blasio to "let the horses and carriages alone."

New York's Daily News launched a front-page campaign called "Save our Horses" that filled its pages with pro-carriage stories and an online petition that has recorded more than 11,000 signatures.

And The New Yorker devoted its cover this week to a cartoon depicting a carriage driver pulling the horse, giving the local tempest a national stage. (Like so many ambiguous New Yorker cartoons, it wasn't clear if it was taking sides on the issue, though the artist later said he opposes the carriages.)

For now, de Blasio and the animal rights activists who donated a combined $1.3 million to his mayoral campaign and the campaigns of anti-carriage city council candidates are standing firm in the belief that the nation's most bustling city is no place for horses. People for Ethical Treatment of Animals launched an anti-horse carriage campaign with celebrities of its own, including Alec Baldwin, Pink and Lea Michele.

The group also organized a protest last week outside Neeson's Manhattan apartment building.

Still, de Blasio has grown increasingly irritated by the number of questions he's faced about horses while trying to push other parts of his agenda.

"I've said it many times over the last year so let me try one more time: I believe it's inhumane," he said last week. "Horses working on the streets of New York City ... it's not right. We should change it."

Read more on this topic

  • Manhattan NewsManhattan NewsMore>>

  • Mayor, family move into Gracie Mansion

    Mayor, family move into Gracie Mansion

    Monday, July 28 2014 7:51 AM EDT2014-07-28 11:51:30 GMT
    It's home, sweet new home for Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family. The mayor, his wife and two children spent their first night in Gracie Mansion on Sunday. The De Blasios returned from a vacation in Italy Sunday afternoon.
    It's home, sweet new home for Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family. The mayor, his wife and two children spent their first night in Gracie Mansion on Sunday. The De Blasios returned from a vacation in Italy Sunday afternoon. De Blasio had spent some time debating whether to move out of his family's home in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, but the family ultimately decided to make the shift.
  • 'Spider-man' slugs cop in Times Square

    'Spider-man' slugs cop in Times Square

    Monday, July 28 2014 7:01 AM EDT2014-07-28 11:01:40 GMT
    A man dressed as Spider-Man was arraigned on charges he punched a police officer who told him to stop harassing tourists in Time Square. Junior Bishop, 25, faces charges of assault, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Police say the officer interceded after Bishop demanded at least $5 from a woman he posed for a picture with, instead of the $1 she offered.
    A man dressed as Spider-Man was arraigned on charges he punched a police officer who told him to stop harassing tourists in Time Square. Junior Bishop, 25, faces charges of assault, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Police say the officer interceded after Bishop demanded at least $5 from a woman he posed for a picture with, instead of the $1 she offered.
  • 5th annual MMA World Expo at Javits Center

    5th annual MMA World Expo at Javits Center

    Saturday, July 26 2014 11:30 PM EDT2014-07-27 03:30:06 GMT
    Mixed Martial Arts enthusiasts gathered in the Big Apple for the 5th annual MMA World Expo. Only amateurs were allowed to compete at the event because New York continues to grapple with whether to make the sport legal in the state.
    Mixed Martial Arts enthusiasts gathered in the Big Apple for the 5th annual MMA World Expo. Only amateurs were allowed to compete at the event because New York continues to grapple with whether to make the sport legal in the state.
Powered by WorldNow

WJBK-TV | Fox 2
16550 West Nine Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075

Main Station: (248) 557-2000
Newsroom: (248) 552-5103

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices