By MARCIA KRAMER
NEW YORK (WCBS) — With the clock ticking down on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, he is once again trying to get rid of carriage horses in Central Park.
This time, de Blasio is developing eleventh hour legislation to replace the popular tourist attraction with electric show cars, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Friday.
When de Blasio ran for mayor in 2013, he vowed to get rid of the carriage horses “on day one.” He’s been in office for 2,877 days now (with 43 to go). As he contemplates running for governor, he’s trying to make good on that old campaign promise.
Call it the sound of failure. The distinctive clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages in Central Park – a loud and vibrant reminder that after nearly eight years in office, de Blasio has failed to make good on one of the central promises that helped him win the job of mayor. He told the animal rights activists, who donated heavily to his campaign, he would retire the horses and replace them with electric carriages.
Now, with a possible run for governor on the table, he’s taking one more shot at the brass ring: developing legislation he’ll try to get the City Council to rubber stamp before the end of the year.
“This is something the Mayor has always wanted to do, and we are working with the City Council to see if we can find a solution,” Danielle Filson, the mayor’s spokesperson, told CBS2.
The move is touching off another war of words.
“We have been waiting for this a long time. For many years now, we’ve been documenting the constant neglect, abuse, cruelty, crashes in traffic, collapses, horses being worked to death,” said Edita Birnkrant of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets.
Birnkrant said there is still time for the mayor to keep his promise to retire the horses.
“This is ridiculous. I mean, why won’t he leave working people alone? The evidence for years has shown that our horses are well cared for. There is no need to ban us. The only reason he’s trying to do this is to try to fulfill promises he made to campaign donors because he wants to run for governor,” said Christina Hansen, a carriage driver.
Hanson said it’s shameful, in the middle of the city’s recovery, for the mayor to try to destroy an important part of the city’s tourism industry.
Tony Utano, head of Transport Local 100, which represents the carriage drivers, said, “He doesn’t care about horses. He doesn’t care about the blue-collar carriage drivers and stable workers. This has always been about campaign money and everyone knows it.”
“I don’t think that that would be a good choice. I think you’re taking away the magic that is New York and, you see the horses, they’re happy,” said Whitney Murphy, a tourist from Lakeland, Florida.
“I think it’s terrible. I think this is part of New York. I would have been disappointed had this not been here,” said Kathy Prusinski, a tourist from Dyer, Indiana.
It’s unclear whether the mayor has time to pull this off. A City Council spokesperson said they have not received a proposal yet, and there must be public hearings before a bill can be taken up.
The City Council’s final meeting of the year is Dec. 16.
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