December 3, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—That’s what Councilmember Daniel Dromm said in the accompanying video after a press conference organized by an animal rights group one day after it was reported that the de Blasio administration is drafting a bill that wouldn’t renew horse carriage licenses when they come due in May 2016. Photo courtesy of Councilmember Rodriguez's office.
New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) is the group that has been campaigning vigorously, especially since last year’s mayoral campaign, to ban horse carriages from navigating the city’s streets. So vigorous that it spent $1 million on a campaign that ultimately helped the then mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio to beat out his main Democratic rivals in the Democratic primary last year.
Councilman Dromm, a former United Federation of Teachers union member, said in the accompanying video that the most difficult part for him when weighing over whether or not to introduce the bill that has the potential of laying off about 300 horse carriage drivers represented by Teamsters Local 553 was his concern of the bill’s impact on the drivers.
“To a certain extent my biggest concern was what is going to happen to the drivers. That’s why I’m hopeful that the drivers will want to take advantage of what I think is a valuable alternative to the licenses they currently have and take the opportunity to become green cab drivers or the other types of training that this legislation will provide,” said Dromm.
When we reported from Central Park South on Monday morning, some horse carriage drivers said there is no alternative to steering horse carriages to make a living. We asked the councilmember about that.
“Some of the drivers have said that is something they would want to consider. I’ve met with them in my office and so I’m hopeful that we can work with those drivers. If they [aren’t interested in] the green cab license, there is a provision in the bill that would allow them to get other types of training so that they can get other forms of employment.”
Some reports have indicated that there may not be enough votes in the City Council to pass the bill. But Dromm said he believes there will be enough votes when the bill comes up for a vote in the next few months.
“It’s a process, we have to go through the process. We’ll see in the end, but ultimately I feel that we will have the number of votes necessary to pass this legislation.”
After news broke that the City Council would be introducing the bill, the New York City Central Labor Council’s president, Vincent Alvarez, issued a statement criticizing the Council’s actions.
"The New York City Central Labor Council will continue to stand with the hardworking men and women of the New York City horse carriage industry as they fight to protect and sustain the livelihoods of 300 working families. It is unconscionable that a bill is being introduced to eradicate an iconic industry that not only works hand in hand with our city's tourism and hospitality industries, but also has the overwhelming support of the general public and the labor movement.”