A horse is a horse — except in the mayoral race. Should Central Park horse-carriage drivers be able to keep plying their trade? It should be a non-issue — yet many candidates have staked out clear positions.
Consider it a “tell”: A candidate who opposes the carriage horses is inadvertently showing that he doesnt care about small business, is easily spooked by powerful interests, cant be bothered to learn the facts before taking a position — or all three.
Of the Dems, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio says: “Its time to ban horse carriages,” replacing them with electrified vintage cars. Ex-Comptroller Bill Thompson supports a “one-year study” of the cars ahead of “phasing out” the horses. Comptroller John Liu supports a pilot vintage-car program.
Republican Joe Lhota wants to “replace [the horses] with battery-operated motorized carriages.”
The anti-horse crowd is a potent force. Real-estate developers, parkside dwellers, people who want to make money off electric cars and animal-rights advocates have organized themselves through New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets, or NY-Class.
And NY-Class plays hardball.
This election, fewer than half a dozen officers and supporters have given more than $90,000 to mayoral and City Council candidates. Steve Nislick of Edison Properties has made the maximum $4,950 donation to de Blasio and to ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Theyre savvy about ground-level stuff, too. NY-Class held its own mayoral forum this spring, getting most Dems and GOP contender John Catsimatidis to show.
The anti-horse platform has four planks — all nonsense or scary or both.
One: “inhumanity” to horses. “At the end of the day, the horses return to their tiny stalls” on the West Side, NY-Class says, with no space “to lie down or to move about.”
Nope. At a 2010 City Council hearing, the ASPCA couldnt provide a shred of evidence of mistreatment. Despite the citys unannounced inspections of stables that house the citys 202 carriage horses, the ASPCAs best example of a violation was “a haystack too high.”
A tour of a stable with 72 horses showed horses munching in their ample stalls or . . . lying down. The horses amble over to be patted.
As for working conditions, one industry veterinarian told the hearing, “Theyre draft horses. They were bred for this job.” The horses get five weeks country vacation, and they cant go out in 90-degree heat or work more than nine hours a day.
Two: “quality-of-life issues.” Horses poop. Any candidate who comes out against the horses for this reason should logically have to say hed shut down hot-dog carts (smoke and grease), Starbucks (plastic domes that clog litter baskets), street fairs and parades, too.
Three: “The industrys lack of economic development and revenue-enhancing abilities.”
Demolishing the horses houses “would free up around 150,000 square feet of prime real estate,” bringing in “$2 million in tax revenue,” NY-Classs then-director said in 2010.
The stables are private property. “Freeing” someone elses land by outlawing an industry is dangerous.
A couple of City Council folk were annoyed, too, that the industry is so well-behaved that it doesnt bring in much revenue in fines.
Four: traffic congestion and safety for humans.
No carriage driver or passenger (or pedestrian) has been killed in modern history (two horses have died in crashes in seven years, one because a drummer startled her into a pole).
Why dont car-versus-horse crashes kill people? Because cars and trucks go slow near Central Park. (In Amish country, people die every year in buggy crashes because of high speeds in rural areas.)
And why do cars and trucks go slow there? The horses are in the way. Take away the horses, and traffic will go faster — and kill people.
Plus, the “vintage cars” that would replace the carriages would be powerful vehicles — endangering pedestrians and cyclists.
Most alarming is the anti-horse folks dismissal of peoples careers.
More than 300 families depend on the carriage trade. Driving a hired car through Central Park would be a less specialized skill (a cabby who goes around in a circle).
Which candidate is brave enough to stare down the anti-horse crowd?
Only one: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who boycotted the debate and even refunded campaign cash from Nislick.
(Catsimatidis wants to house the horses in the park, a concession that earned him no points at the debate. Weiner didnt respond to a request for comment.)
Quinn has suffered for her stance. NY-Class supporters have bought ads slamming her on unrelated issues. And they call her an “animal hater.”
On this test of doing the right thing even though it means lost money and votes, only Quinn has passed.
Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/when_the_candidates_say_neigh_JaN8RCT0m1YnLMBTDUsZNO