A deep-pocketed animal rights group expects a new carriage-horse bill early next year — no thanks to the City Council speaker, who the organization blasted Saturday as an “ineffective” phony who “holds herself up as a leader who’s strong on animal welfare.”
The group, NYCLASS, “feels very good” about the chances of a new measure being unveiled as early as January, as pressure has been mounting for a compromise after Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito failed to corral enough votes for an outright ban or other reforms.
A deal wrangled by de Blasio — who famously vowed to ban the buggy rides his first week on the job— collapsed early last year after the union representing carriage drivers yanked their support.
Among its regulations, the new bill would ban carriage horses from Times Square and everywhere outside of Central Park.
“The mayor continues to believe that it’s unsafe to mix horse carriages and NYC streets,” insisted de Blasio spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie.
A source within the group — whose wealthy backers and their close associates donated about $900,000 to the mayor’s 2013 campaign and political nonprofit — took aim at the speaker for the stall, branding her as “neither strong on animal welfare, nor a leader.”
“Happy to see this speaker go,” the source added. A spokeswoman for the speaker had no comment.
The group, with the help of newly hired political consultants tied to former Mayor Bloomberg, including Tusk Strategies, has had “extensive conversations with the mayor’s office” and has met with 41 of 51 Council members in recent months, the source said.
No bill sponsor has come forward, but at least 20 Council members are said are supportive of reforms.
“I think it has an excellent chance of passage in the next Council,” said Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera.
But other members don’t want to be saddled with the issue.
“There’s no appetite for it,” one Council member said.
The new deal would keep the existing number of carriage horses at 196, and animals would only be allowed to trot into traffic to and from their four stables, which would be enlarged from about 7-by-10 to the same 12-by-10 size for the NYPD Mounted Unit .
And they’d only work five days a week, down from seven, get an hour for turnout or pasture time and wouldn’t be slaughtered after mandatory retirement at 20.
Horses now get five weeks turnout annually and can’t work after turning 26.
Carriage owners griped at the prospect of any regulations.
“It’s a punishment bill,” carriage driver Christina Hansen said. “We don’t need any reforms to our industry.”
Authored by Mike Tigas