HORSES, LAWS, & DOLLARS

The fight over Central Park’s iconic horse drawn carriages continues following Mayor de Blasio’s enforcement of a big change in the way New Yorkers and tourists can access these rides. We have the details.

Aired on March 21, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> MAYOR BILL DEBLASIO'S LATEST EFFORTS TO REIN IN THE HORSE CARRIAGE INDUSTRY RECENTLY GOT A BIG BOOST.

ON MARCH 1, THE CITY BEGAN ENFORCING A NEW RULE, BANNING HORSE CARRIAGES FROM WAITING FOR PASSENGERS O CENTRAL PARK.

59th STREET.

WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN DOING -- INSTEAD, DRIVERS HAVE BEEN TOLD TO MOVE THEIR PICKUP SPOTS, ALSO KNOWN AS HACK LINES, TO THREE LOCATIONS INSIDE THE PARK.

SOMETHING THEY SAY WILL HURT THEIR BUSINESS.

THE MOVE IS JUST THE MOST RECENT SALVO IN THE BATTLE BETWEEN MAYOR BILL DEBLASIO AND THE HORSE CARRIAGE INDUSTRY AND IT BEGAN IN THE FIRST ELECTION CAMPAIGN WHEN HE PROMISED TO GET RID OF HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGES ON THE FIRST DAY IN OFFICE.

THE CITY COUNCIL PREVENTED HIM FROM KEEPING THAT PROMISE BUT CARRIAGE DRIVERS SAY THAT THIS AND OTHER PROPOSED REGULATIONS PROVE THAT THE MAYOR REMAINS COMMITTED TO DESTROYING THEIR INDUSTRY.

CHRISTINA HANSON HAS BEEN A CENTRAL PARK CARRIAGE DRIVER FOR SEVEN YEARS, AND SHE JOINS U TH PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON.

THREE PLACES IN THE PARK THAT THE HACK LINE HAS BEEN MOVED TO.

IT IS NOT THAT FAR FROM 59th STREET.

IS IT REALLY THAT ONEROUS FOR YOU AND YOUR FELLOW DRIVERS?

EVEN IF IT SEEMS LIKE A SHORT DISTANCE, IT CHANGES EVERYTHING ABOUT OUR BUSINESS, THE WAY IT IS REGULATED AND SET UP AND DONE THINGS HAS BEEN PREDICATED ON BEING ON 59th STREET WHERE PEOPLE CAN SEE US, WHERE WE CAN MOVE FROM ONE STAND TO ANOTHER, WHERE WE CAN COMFORTABLY DROP OFF AND PICK UP PEOPLE, WHERE THERE IS A CURB AND NICE SAUK FOR PEOPLE, AND THE HORSES AND WHERE THEY'RE PUTTING US NOW, DOWNHILL, NOT A PROPER SIDEWALK AND THERE IS NOT WHERE PEOPLE STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF ROADE

BUT IT IS NICE IN NEW YORK CITY BUT PEOPLE APPROACH IT FROM CENTRAL PARK SOUTH OUTSIDE THE PARK.

THE ARGUMENT THAT THE MAYOR AND HIS REPORTERS ARE MAKING IS IT IS SIMPLY INHUMANE TO KEEP THE HORSES ON 59th STREET WITH ALL OF THE CONGESTION, ALL OF THE NOISE, ALL OF THE HUB-BUB, ALL OF THE FUMES OF 21st CENTURY NEW YORK CITY TRAFFIC.

DO THEY HAVE A POINT?

NO, THEY DON'T.

I DIDN'T THINK YOU WOULD THINK THAT.

AND THE AIR IS CLEAN NER NEW YORK CITY THAN IT HAS BEEN IN THE 1960s AND TRAFFIC IS SAFER THAN THEY STARTED KEEPING RECORDS IN 1910 AND WE ARE THE SAFEST VEHICLES IN THE TOWN OF MANHATTAN.

AS FOR HORSES, THEY ARE CREATURES OF HABIT.

THEY DON'T SEE ANY PROBLEM WITH THAT.

THAT'S WHERE THEY GET FED.

THAT'S WHERE THEY GET PETTED AND GET THEIR CARROTS AND HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS AND IT IS THE HOME AWAY FROM HOME AND TAKE THE ENTIRE HERD AND MOVE THEM, THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND THE POLITICS AND SCIENTIFIC TESTS SHOW THAT IT IS VERY LOW STRESS LEVELS, VERY LOW CORTISOL LEVELS WHEN STANDING ON 59th STREET.

YOU ARE MAKING THE ARGUMENT, YOU AND YOUR FELLOW DRIVERS, IT IS MORE DAMAGING FOR THE HORSE'S HEALTH TO BE WHERE THEY ARE NOW.

EXPLAIN THAT AGAIN.

FIRST OF ALL, THE HORSES ARE USED TO BEING ON 59th STREET AND THEY WILL BE STRESSED IN THE NEW AREA AND THEY ARE PUTTING NUS A PARK WHERE IT IS NOT DESIGNED FOR HORSES TO STAND AND DOWNHILL, THEY CAN'T STAND OUT WITHOUT USING A LOT OF EFFORT.

THEY ARE ENGAGING THEIR MUSCLES THE WHOLE TIME.

WHERE THEY ARE ON A LEVEL SURFACE, THEY CAN GO TO SLEEP STANDING UP AND DOZE LIGHTLY.

SO THE CITY IS ASKING US TO BE IN A PLACE WHERE THE HORSES CAN'T ACTUALLY REST AND MORE DIFFICULT TO ACCESS WATER TROUGHS AND WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH PARKING PLACES, WHICH WE DON'T, WE CAN'T STOP AND WAIT ANYPLACE ELSE, WE HAVE TO KEEP MOVING AND DRIVE FROM ONE STAND TO THE OTHER AND IT TAKES 15 TO 20 MINUTES AND A LOT MORE WORK FOR OUR HORSES.

YOU AND OTHERS SUCH AS LIAM NEESON A BIG SUPPORTER OF YOURS FROM DAY ONE ARE SAYING THAT THIS MOVE FROM THE MAYOR IS THE FIRST GUT OF A THOUSAND CUTS THAT HE WANTS TO INFLICT ON YOU BECAUSE HE STILL WANTS TO KILL THE INDUSTRY.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER CUTS THAT YOU SEE COMING DOWN THE PATH.

THEY HAVE TALKED ABOUT DOING THINGS THAT MIGHT SOUND GOOD TO SOMEBODY AT FIRST GLASS, THEY WANT TO INTRODUCE A HEAT INDEX BILL, YOU KNOW, THAT LOWERING OF THE TEMPERATURE FROM 90 DEGREES, ABSOLUTELY TEMPERATURE TO 90 DEGREES WITH THE HEAT INDEX.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

THE HEAT INDEX INCLUDES THINGS LIKE HUMIDITY, BUT WE ALREADY HAVE THE LOWEST STOP WORK TEMPERATURE IN THE COUNTRY AT 90, THE HORSES STOP WORK.

WE MISSED 33 DAYS OF WORK THIS SUMMER.

BECAUSE IT REACHED 90 DEGREES.

YES.

AND THAT SYSTEM HAS BEEN IN PLACE FOR OVER 30 YEARS.

WE NEVER HAD A PROBLEM WITH A HORSE DUE TO HEAT.

IT HAS PROTECTED OUR HORSE PERFECTLY AND THE SOLE PURPOSE OF THAT AND THE ANIMAL RIGHTS PEOPLE HAVE SAID IT IS TO PREVENT THE HORSES FROM WORKING, YOU PREVENT THE HORSES FROM WORKING, YOU CAN'T PAY THE BILLS AND TAKE CARE OF THE ANIMALS AND CAN'T PAY TO STABLE THEM.

THE REASON THAT MAYOR DEBLASIO WAS NOT ABLE TO KILL YOUR INDUSTRY ON DAY ONE IS BECAUSE THE CITY COUNCIL STOPPED THEM.

IS THE CITY COUNCIL AS FRIENDLY TO YOU NOW AS IT WAS FIVE YEARS AGO?

THEY CERTAINLY ARE.

I MEAN THE TRICKY THING IS THE ANIMAL RIGHTS PEOPLE, A, ARE TRYING TO PRESENT THINGS, THAT THIS IS NOT JUST FURTHER REGULATION, TO HELP THE HORSES, THEY'RE NOT HELPING ANY HORSES HERE, AND THE MAYOR WITH THE HACK LINE CHANGE, ACTUALLY CIRCUMVENTED ANY OVERSIGHT BY THE CITY COUNCIL BY GOING DIRECTLY THROUGH THE D.O.T.

THROUGH HIS AGENCIES HE CONTROLS, THROUGH HIS COMMISSIONERS AND OTHER FOLKS TO ORDER THEM TO DO THAT SO IN A WAY HE IS ABUSING HIS POWER AND CIRCUMVENTING THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS THROUGH THE CITY COUNCIL.

SO HE'S SHOWN HE DOESN'T CARE WHAT THE NORMAL PROCESS IS HERE.

THE D.O.T. REFUSED TO MEET WITH US.

UNDER ORDERS.

THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION.

YES.

IN MAKING THE HACK LINE CHANGE.

WE CAN'T PARK THE HORSES DOWNHILL.

WHAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT THAT THERE SHOULDN'T BE A HORSE CARRIAGE INDUSTRY, THAT IN FACT IT IS INHUMANE AND NOT ROMANTIC AND NOT BEAUTIFUL AND IT IS INHUMANE TO THE ANIMALS, POUNDING THE PAVEMENT, BAD FOR THEIR HEALTH.

ALWAYS HACKLED LIKE PRISONERS THAT THEIR STALLS ARE TOO SMALL, THAT IT IS TOO HOT IN THE SUMMER, HAVE WE GONE BEYOND THAT?

THESE ARE ARGUMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN PUT FORTH BY THE ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST FORCE 20 YEARS AND YOU CAN GO BACK AND READ THE NEWSPAPER ARTICLES THAT SAY THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND AS WE SHOWED WHEN THE MAYOR WENT TO BANUS, NONE OF IT IS TRUE.

THE VENERABLE ASPCA WANTS TO BAN IT --

THE ASPCA IS NOT VENABLE.

THEY GOT INTO CONTROVERSY OVER CARRIAGE HORSES WHERE THEY WERE TARGETING OUR INDUSTRY, FOR POLITICAL REASONS.

AND THEY'RE THE CO-FOUNDERS OF NEW YORK CLASS.

WHICH IS WHAT?

NEW YORKERS FOR CLEAN, BILLABLE AND SAFE STREET, THAT'S THE LOBBYING GROUP THAT PAID ALL OF THE MONEY TO GET THE MAYOR ELECTIONED THAT HAS HAD UNPARALLELED ACCESS TO THE MAYOR'S OFFICE AND NOT VENABLE GROUP AT ALL.

AND THEY'RE AN ANIMAL RIGHTS ORGANIZATION.

THEY'RE NOT INTERESTED IN ANIMAL WELFARE.

WE'RE INTERESTED IN ANIMAL WELFARE.

THE CITY COUNCIL IS INTERESTED IN ANIMAL WELFARE.

AND THAT'S WHY WE HAVE RULES AND REGULATIONS ABOUT VACATIONS AND VETERINARY CHECKS AND THAT'S ALL FOR THE HEALTH AND WELFARE OF THE HORSES.

I HAVE TO ASK YOU, YOU SUED THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION.

YOU LOST IN COURT.

WHAT'S YOUR NEXT STEP?

WE STILL HAVE AN APPEAL.

WE ALSO HOPE THAT IN, HOPEFULLY DISCUSSING THINGS, WITH THE CITY COUNCIL, OR WITH OTHER AGENCIES, LIKE THE PARKS DEPARTMENT, THE CONSERVANCY, THAT WE CAN WORK SOMETHING OUT, TO MAKE THIS WORKABLE.

THE WAY IT IS NOW ISN'T WORKABLE.

BUT 59th STREET, CENTRAL PARK, WE KNOW IT BETTER THAN ANYBODY ELSE IN THE PLANET.

THERE ARE WAYS THAT YOU CAN MAKE THAT STREET BETTER FOR THE HORSE, BETTER FOR THE PEDESTRIAN, BETTER FOR THE BYSTANDERS, EVERYBODY, AND THIS PLAN DOESN'T DO THAT, IT ACTUALLY MAKES IT LESS SAFE.

THE LAST QUESTION, ARE THE CARRIAGES GOING TO BE IN NEW YORK CITY IN FIVE YEARS, AND ARE THEY GOING TO BE ON 59th STREET.

YES.

WE ARE NOT GOING TO GO ANYWHERE.

WE'VE BEEN THERE FOR 160 YEARS.

WE'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE ANY TIME SOON.

WE'RE A NEW YORK CITY ICON.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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