Author Topic: De Blasio’s Horse-Drawn Carriage Ban: Is It Really About Campaign Cash?  (Read 278 times)

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Offline flowers

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Mayor Bill de Blasio's promise to ban New York City's iconic horse-drawn carriages could backfire, exposing what the newly-elected mayor's critics suggest is a corruption scandal masquerading as an animal-rights crusade. Defenders of the carriage industry point to a real-estate executive who is one of de Blasio's major campaign donors as the driving force behind the effort to abolish the carriages.

"It's got everything a scandal could ever want," says Eva Hughes, vice-president of the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City. Hughes spent 16 years driving carriages, her husband still drives a carriage, and she says they are fighting a "David and Goliath" battle against the mayor and his big-money backers.

The bad guy in this drama, according to the carriage drivers, is  Steve Nislick, chief executive officer of a New Jersey-based real-estate development company, Edison Properties. The company "employs legions of lobbyists to influence city decisions on real estate and zoning in its favor," journalist Michael Gross reported in 2009, pointing out that two of Edison's businesses "have multiple locations in the same Far West Midtown neighborhood as the stables where the Central Park horses are housed." An anti-carriage pamphlet Nislick circulated in 2008 made this interesting observation: “Currently, the stables consist of 64,000 square feet of valuable real estate on lots that could accomodate up to 150,000 square feet of development. These lots could be sold for new development.”

Gross asked the obvious question: "What are the odds that good neighbor Nislick, the out-of-state real estate developer, simply covets those valuable, underdeveloped New York lots -- and has teamed up with ambitious pols to use the emotions of animal rights activists as fuel for their own agendas?" Nislick founded a 501(c)4 group called New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) that spent big money to elect de Blasio mayor, as Chris Bragg of Crain's New York Business reported in October:

    Two major supporters of Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio, including his biggest campaign fundraiser, gave heavily to an outside group that targeted his primary rival City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, newly released records show.

    The group, New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS), spent nearly $124,000 on anti-Quinn phone banking and leafleting for the September primary election, which Mr. de Blasio won with more than 40% of the vote. NYCLASS also gave an above-the-legal-limit, six-figure donation to the anti-Quinn group "New York Is Not For Sale," which spent more than $1 million to defeat Ms. Quinn, and played a role in knocking the speaker from her frontrunner status early in the race. ...

    In March, Mr. de Blasio, who also has taken direct donations from NYCLASS founder Steve Nislick and close associates, promised to the ban horse carriage industry in Central Park on his first day as mayor, a top priority for NYCLASS. ...

    The newly filed records at the Campaign Finance Board also list the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as making a $50,000 contribution to NYCLASS in March. Nonprofits registered as 501(c)3 entities such as the ASPCA are barred from giving political donations because charitable contributions to a 501(c)3 are tax-deductible.

This apparent alliance between radical animal-rights activists and powerful real-estate interests may not be illegal, but the horse-and-carriage folks certainly view it as shady. Nislick is "like a villain straight out of Central Casting ... an evil genius," says Hughes. "He's got the animal-rights people doing his bidding."

As a rule...always follow the money

Offline Oceander

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Another corrupt NY democrat.  Color me surprised.  Not.

Offline Rapunzel

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I've seen where the horses are housed. Very near The Javitts... I bet they do want that property.  What I never understood was why they didn't house the horses somewhere in Central Park so they didn't have to maneuver the heavy traffic of 6th and 7th avenues going from the park back to where they are stabled.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

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