December 15, 2014
By Joe Maniscalco
Brooklyn, NY – Councilman Brad Lander [D-39th District], may have stood up for low-wage workers fighting for their jobs at a Brooklyn car wash this weekend, but he was unwilling to weigh in on the roughly 300 workers who could lose their jobs if the Central Park horse carriage ban passes the city council.
Councilman Lander is one of 24 council members who have yet to announce their position on the proposed horse carriage ban. The remaining council members who have already come out in support or opposition to the ban are currently evenly split.
“I haven’t taken a position on the horse carriage bill, and I am not going to today,” Councilman Lander told LaborPress on Sunday.
The Brooklyn councilman also declined to comment on animal rights activists who assert that the horse carriage industry somehow “can’t be regulated properly in a way that protects horses, or in a way that protects public safety.”
“Obviously, that is a situation where there are multiple points of view,” Councilman Lander said.
Councilman Lander was co-sponsor of a previous bill that attempted to erase the Central Park horse carriage industry a few years back. He is also a member of the influential Progressive Caucus, which City Council Speaker and horse carriage ban supporter Melissa Mark-Viverito formerly chaired.
Last week, however, fellow legislator Costas Constantinides [D-22nd District] told labor groups at a City Hall rally that supporting a horse carriage ban is no way for progressives to act.
“I’m a progressive, and putting 350 families out on the street certainly doesn’t meet my definition of what progressivism is all about,” said the councilman – who is not a member of the Progressive Caucus. “We have to stand up for workers. We have to stand up for these men and women who are just trying to put food on their tables. This is not an animal rights issue, it’s a workers’ issue.”
While Councilman Constantinides may not be a member of the Progressive Caucus, the proposed Central Park horse carriage ban is dividing those council people who are members of the group.
Councilmen Daneek Miller [D-27th District], chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, Corey Johnson [D-3rd District], chair of the Committee on Health, and Jumaane Williams [D-45th District] co-chair of the Gun Violence Task Force, and a founding member of the Progressive Caucus, have all come out against the proposed horse carriage ban.
Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile [D-43rd District] also recently joined with Councilmen Vincent Ignizio [R-51st District] and Steven Matteo [R-50th District] in opposing the proposed horse carriage ban.