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Horse carriage deal collapses day before City Council vote

Horse carriage deal collapses day before City Council vote
Mayor Bill de Blasio has revamped his vendetta against the horse carriage industry by vowing to reduce the number of drivers conducting business in Manhattan.
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Bill Parry

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to reign in the city’s horse carriage industry fell apart Thursday as the Teamsters Union, which represents the drivers, withdrew its support.

The City Council had sufficient votes to pass the legislation, according to the administration, , but reversed course Thursday, one day before it was set to vote on the deal that would have cut the number of carriage horses from 220 to 95.

The Council tabled the vote because the legislation was predicated on the agreement with the union, according to city officials.

“The Teamsters’ first priority is always our members and their livelihoods,” George Miranda, the president of Teamsters Joint Council 16, said. “With the legislation now finalized, our members are not confident that it provides a viable future for their industry. We cannot support the horse carriage bill currently before the City Council.”

The legislation’s collapse is a blow to the mayor, who pledged during his 2013 campaign to eliminate the horse carriages from city streets.

“We negotiated in good faith with the City Council and the Teamsters to reach this agreement,” de Blasio said. “The terms of the agreement have not changed during these past weeks, but today the Teamsters decided to back away from their fair compromise they had previously endorsed. While we are disappointed this bill will no longer be considered Friday, the people of this city know what I believe, and we will work toward a new path on this issue.”

So it’s back to the drawing board on the mayor’s plan that would have spent $25 million converting a maintenance building inside the park into a new stable, eliminate competition by restricting pedicab operations to the north of Central Park, and eliminate 40 to 50 horse carriage driver jobs.

“We are very happy the Council decided against voting for this legislation,” Stephen Malone, an industry spokesman and carriage driver, said. “We’ll continue to move forward for the betterment of our industry and preserve and protect the iconic industry that it has become.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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