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Horse carriage drivers need to upgrade

Anyone facing layoffs or job closings would be concerned for their future livelihood, but the situation with the carriage trade is different. The drivers are not only concerned but they want it their way or no way at all.

The inhumane and unsafe conditions had come to the attention of the public years ago, but nothing could be done because of their political connections. It was only a matter of time for the political climate to change and all the previous protections would no longer be there. Now things are different, but the drivers are not willing to accept the reality.

The drivers and their PR firm have schemed to put out exaggerations about their business to make it seem like it existed longer, more people would be affected, the horses are considered family, they have real union jobs and our campaign is all about a stable land grab.

That is false. The present trade started in the 1940s, only 160 people would be affected, the Teamster local affiliation is not a union shop and the accusation of the real estate developer who wants the stables sounds like code for anti-Semitism.

As for the pro-industry bill that passed in 2009, one of the most obscene rules was to require a five-week furlough for the horses — ignoring the fact that horses need daily turnout to pasture, which they cannot get. The city Health Department did not require a list of farms nor inspections. It has been reported that when many horses return from furlough, they look worse than when they left.

State Sen. Tony Avella’s (D-Bayside) suggestion to convert the carriages to motorized units is excellent and inexpensive. It already exists and can be seen at andrescarrigetours.com.

The drivers do not have to lose their jobs — they just have to move into the 21st century.

Elizabeth Forel

President

Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

Manhattan

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