Central Labor Council Can’t Talk Bill de Blasio Out of Banning Horse Carriages

Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Getty)
Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Getty)

Many of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top labor allies want the new mayor to reconsider banning horse-drawn carriages from city streets, but Mr. de Blasio insisted today he was not changing his mind. 

The mayor said that a letter from the Central Labor Council, a de Blasio-friendly umbrella group representing more than 1.3 million workers, would not persuade him to reconsider a ban. The letter called the carriage industry “iconic and thriving.”

“No, I haven’t reconsidered. I respect those organizations, they’re friends, they’re people I respect. But they know where I stand,” Mr. de Blasio told the Observer at an unrelated City Hall press conference this afternoon. “I’ve told them many, many times where I stand. We’re going to work with that industry on the transition, we’re going to take every effort to make sure folks working in that industry have a few options but I know where I stand.”

During the mayoral race, the fate of the horse carriage industry became a surprisingly heated issue, dividing the candidates and drawing outsized media attention. Calling the practice inhumane, animal rights activists even launched a large independent expenditure effort against one of Mr. de Blasio’s main rivals, then-Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Mr. de Blasio vowed at the time that banning horse-drawn carriages from city streets would be one of his first acts when elected, and his administration continues to move forward, despite opposition from labor allies and even actor Liam Neeson.

The City Council, headed by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who also opposes the horse-drawn carriages, will likely need to vote on a bill to ban the horse carriages in conjunction with other efforts taken by the city. Tony Shorris, Mr. de Blasio’s first deputy mayor, said yesterday that there would be bureaucratic hurdles to overcome before horses are gone from the streets.

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