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Animal rights group pushes Queens Council members on horse carriage ban

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The animal rights group New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets rolled out new tactics last week for its ad mailer campaign targeting City Council members who are undecided on a bill that would ban horse carriages in Manhattan by mid-2016. The NYCLASS campaign charged the drivers with openly expressing bigoted attitudes.

The mailers continued a January ad campaign depicting graphic images of injured horses, this time claiming that horse carriage drivers freely use homophobic, sexist and racist language around their customers and the general public, making reference to a video published by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals of a driver in a hate-provoked rant.

Several of Queens’ Council members were turned off by the tactics against the horse carriage industry. Many of the drivers live in the communities of Bayside and Sunnyside.

Among those in public opposition to the bill have been Council members Daneek Miller (I-St. Albans), Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), each of whom joined a pro-horse carriage rally last winter.

“NYCLASS’ tactics are so misleading and offensive, their supporters are galloping away,” Lancman said in a statement. “Horse-drawn carriages and their drivers are a dignified, honorable part of the fabric of New York. NYCLASS could learn a thing or two from them.”

NYCLASS did not respond to request for comment.

Miller did not wish to comment on the ad fliers, but said the industry still has his support.

“As chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, I’m particularly committed to the preservation of these jobs, and to the men and women that hold them,” he said.

Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Sunnyside) is one of the primary sponsors of the bill, who introduced it at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s behest after he ran on a campaign promise to ban horse carriages in the city during his mayoral election.

“I urge my colleagues in the City Council to vote on the merits of the legislation to end a cruel and inhumane industry rather than on the contents of one ad,” Dromm said in a statement. “The fact remains that horses do not belong on crowded Manhattan streets breathing in toxic car exhaust fumes and risking being hit by motor vehicles. Most New Yorkers I know agree that animals must not be treated so inhumanely.”

Wiley Norvell, an aide in de Blasio’s office, said, “We believe the legislation represents a humane and equitable solution that moves the horses off our streets, safeguards the animals, and protects the livelihoods of the men and women who provide carriage rides.”

City legislators who have been undecided on the issue include Councilmen Peter Koo (D-Flushing), Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), each of whom received the most recent NYCLASS fliers.

An aide to Richards said the offensive language in the fliers had the councilman concerned, but that he would remain undecided until a formal City Council hearing on the legislation.

“I am still undecided, but these ads are a dirty tactic that wrongly target an entire industry for the apparent inappropriate behavior of a few,” Koo said in a statement.

A representative from Van Bramer’s office said the flurry of NYCLASS fliers would not affect his vote on the fate of the carriage industry and that he would continue to listen to his constituents to inform his decision this fall.

“I will continue to study the issue of horse carriages in New York City,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “NYCLASS can spend money on mailings in my district, but I take exception to the content of some of those mailers and can tell you they do not sway me in their favor.”

Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) told the TimesLedger Newspapers in February that he was calling for a compromise favoring tighter restrictions on the horse carriage industry without the need for an all out ban. He said de Blasio was pushing for all or nothing.

Vallone did not respond to a request for comment on the recent ad tactics, but one of his aides said the councilman would also remain undecided on the issue until a hearing this fall.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Updated 4:06 pm, July 10, 2015
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Reader feedback

Ruth from Brooklyn says:
I am alarmed that Mr. Dromm has admitted that the streets are too toxic for horses. By that count they must therefore be too toxic for humans too, and if that is the case, then something should be done about it. That would mean getting rid of some cars, not horses, wouldn't it?
July 10, 2015, 4:47 pm
Duane from Queens says:
The horse carriage trade needs to end. It shows NYC in a very bad light and it is too bad that the Queens Council members refuse to face that. It is a tiny business used for entertainment, for joyrides.

The horse carriages are not necessary, not used for transportation and often cannot get out of the way of emergency vehicles, cars and buses resulting in serious injuries and deaths. The horses have no choice as they are tied to the carriage that they are forced to pull. This is a safety issue more than anything and it is the Council's responsibility to look out for the safety of all New Yorkers not just the questionably entitled carriage drivers.

I invite the Queens council members to visit the hack line armed with the rules of the road and see how many are flouted. There is no one there to do law enforcement.

I agree that this ad campaign should not have been and was in bad taste . But if anyone in the Council makes their decision based on that, then they are being disingenuous and were just looking for an excuse. The CMs also need to really understand the issue and horses (and not from a carriage driver or anyone with conflict of interest ties to this business) visit a sanctuary and see how horses are supposed to live - and it is not being tied up for 9 hours straight pulling a carriage. Until they do that, they will continue to respond with knee jerk reactions and they will continuing to bring shame to the Council.

How many of those Council Members look to the Queens Democratic Party and the Working Family Party for support? Both are on the side of the carriage drivers.
July 11, 2015, 6:12 am
Ruth Moore from Brooklyn says:
While varying opinions are to be respected, there are many inaccuracies to challenge here! The carriage horses have an excellent safety record compared to other forms of transportation. They have never "resulted in any serious injuries or deaths" by being in conflict with emergency vehicles. They can move out of the way if necessary like everyone else. Horses are not "forced" to do the job. They are selected on the basis of those who are willing and suitable. There are many ways a horse will tell you he doesn't want to do something. Finally, real horse people are concerned that sanctuaries are at saturation point pulling horses from the foreign slaughter pipeline and too many are going under. The last thing they need is to become the dumping ground for horses that are already homed and well cared for.
July 11, 2015, 6:40 am
KeepYourEyeOntheBall from Queens says:
Let's get real. This issue isn't about flyers or photos or language. It is about the necessity of putting to end an outdated, unnecessary, and inhumane carriage trade. Remember this high heat and humidity of earlier this week? The horses were working in it, and the law doesn't take into account the heat index (humidity isn't factored in). remember all those serious accidents? No? you can find most of them online (most, because accidents don't have to be reported). Do these "concerned" council members have any genuine concern for public safety? Are they OK with the fact that a child fell out of a carriage and was RUN OVER BY THE WHEEL in November 2009? Are you council members aware that in another accident case, a passenger has filed a $1 million lawsuit for medical bills and lost productivity?
Do you really think it's OK that carriage drivers ARE NOT REQUIRED BY LAW TO REPORT ACCIDENTS?
And to carry minuscule amounts of insurance?
IS IT OK THAT ILLEGAL FARES FOR CARRIAGE RIDES ARE ALL OVER THE INTERNET? Hot dog vendor rips people off, and the world goes wild. Carriage drivers illegally rip people off regularly (see for yourself, online) and the DCA thinks it's wonderful.
What a ridiculous sham.
All those months and months of articles in the Daily News, and you were silent. Now, you are outraged because of a flyer you received in the mail? Something doesn't sound right.
Also, please shut up about preserving "good union jobs." That is a complete fallacy, and I think you know it. So you look pretty silly to say it.
Carriage drivers receive NO BENEFITS. NO HEALTH INSURANCE, NO PAID SICK LEAVE, NO DAYS OFF, NO VACATION.
It is the OWNERS who are fighting the ban, for obvious reasons.
You council members look pathetic when you talk about "good union jobs." You look about as corrupt as you could possibly be. Are you worried about the Teamsters? Truthfully, you're worried about your next job/appointment/gig.
one day, when this is over, you'll be exposed for the hacks that you are, and it won't be pretty.
Meanwhile, the issue really is about the horses, and also about the people who are put in harm's way every day that this exploitive and inhumane trade is allowed to continue.
For a city that thrives on tourism, this is a pretty disrespectful way to treat tourists.
July 11, 2015, 8:05 am
Duane from Queens says:
Sorry "Ruth from Brooklyn" - Your comments are not well thought out and I suggest you do your research. You obviously have no horse experience while i grew up with and still have two horses. There have been deadly accidents in other cities and it is only a matter of time before it happens here. Horses are prey animals. Their nature is fearful and unpredictable and it must be respected.

Are you willing to take responsibility if there is a deadly accident?

Besides, this is a totally unnecessary business. Not needed.
July 11, 2015, 3:05 pm
Marcia-Lynn from Staten Island says:
Interesting Comments from person from "keep your eye on the ball."

Well all I can say is that I think all Council Members should take both an IQ test and an Ethics test. That would eliminate most of them.

Thank God for term limits.

BTW - wasn't it funny the way member Debi Rose decided to oppose the ban after she received too many phone calls from people asking her to vote for the ban. Wait. What? Me thinks she does not understand what being a Councilwoman means and has it all wrong. She, unfortunately, is my representative. I will be sure to work against her at her next election.
July 11, 2015, 3:18 pm
Marcia-Lynn from Staten Island says:
me again:

Paul Vallone cannot seem to get it straight. He was for the ban, then against, now wants something else:

"Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) told the TimesLedger Newspapers in February that he was calling for a compromise favoring tighter restrictions on the horse carriage industry without the need for an all out ban. He said de Blasio was pushing for all or nothing."

Mr. Vallone's cousin is carriage driver medallion owner Giovanni Rosario Vallone who lives in Sicily. He works with West Side Livery. Paul Vallone should recuse himself from any vote because of this conflict of interest.
July 11, 2015, 3:30 pm
B Stamos-Klaas from Bronx says:
Marci-Lynn: funny.
"IQ. How do you spell that?"

These Council members are not very bright, are they.

Ban carriages now. Nearly 2 years in office, and the mayor acts like he never heard of the issue.
July 11, 2015, 4:38 pm
T. H. Barone from Manhattan says:
And then there's Elizabeth Crowley, with her own family ties to the industry.
Do us a favor and recuse yourself, along with Vallone.
July 11, 2015, 4:42 pm
MissingBloomberg from Queens says:
Debi Rose. What a piece of work.
July 11, 2015, 4:46 pm

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