'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.'
The American Spectator January 6, 2014
On February 4th, when the Teamsters pulled support from a bill, they never agreed to in the first place, the Mayor sat in his SUV for 16 minutes, rather than face the men and women in top hats on the steps of city hall.
The spectacular arrogance of Bill de Blasio, to think the carriage industry wouldn't fight back, with everything they had - for their very existence.
And, if it weren't for the Teamsters, carriage drivers, all media, Liam Neeson, the City Council, an overwhelming majority of New Yorker's and an unprecedented grassroots movement, he might have succeeded.
The fix, was apparently in, by March of 2013. When, chomping at the bit, an eager, de Blasio, was asked about banning the horse carriages, at the NYCLASS Mayoral Candidate Forum,' First day I'm Mayor, I will ban them'.
Now he knows how the drivers, he never talked to, felt, when their children asked, 'Daddy, why are you on TV?', 'Why is Mayor de Blasio trying to take away daddy's job?'
And what it's like to be the brunt of a relentless campaign, of malicious innuendo, meted out by the Mountebanks of misinformation, flipping the script, and PR spin, NYCLASS.
When, by the city's own admission, at the hearings, on the carriages, no horse has died while working, and there has never been a case of animal cruelty, in over 100 years.
In the two years, I've been filming my documentary on the horse carriages, and posting hundreds of videos on YouTube, I've been hit, spit on, called an 'animal abuser', 'f****** carriage whore', 'wrinkled old hag', 'crazy alcoholic', and '100 year old Annie Hall'.
I filmed, every single press conference, rally, Animal Holocaust Memorial, fashion show protest, schlepping of fake dead horses through the streets of Manhattan, and showing up at Liam Neeson's in a horse suit, the only abusive and inhumane treatment I've seen, is from the anti carriage crowd.
If you count the $26,000 in Campaign Finance Board fines, the $500,000 hate mailer that turned off the City Council, the whole election mess, $1.4 million on Anybody But Quinn attack ads and $450,000 for an electric car prototype, and the $100,000 to Campaign For One New York in March 2, 2015...
Liam Neeson was right.
It was never about the horses, it's about where they live. The inconveniently located stables, in the biggest privately owned real estate development in US history, The Hudson Yards.
They were just a smoke screen, collateral damage. Because you can't just take people's personal property and private businesses away for no reason, so one had to be manufactured
'It's not about the horses. It's about money, power, politics, radical animal rights, and real estate', carriage driver, Christina Hansen told me in 2014 when we first met, but it backfired.
And the steady, clip-clop, clip-clop, of tabloid wood, suggest his, alleged, fuzzy money moving to ban the horse carriages, just might be, patient zero, signalling, how Team de Blasio was to do business, 'day one'.
As of today, the 'seventh, pay-to-play scandal engulfing the de Blasio administration' has come to light.
'A Classic Shotgun Wedding'
An audible gasp, could be heard from a veritable, who's who, of the animal rights movement, jammed into City Council chambers, for the big day, as Rory Lancman effectively knee capped their three year, raisons d'être.
On January 22, during the 'disastrous' six-hour Transportation hearings on the carriages, for which they had two years to prepare, the council appeared weary of having to repay the Mayor's, serial obsession, tweeting #whyarewehere, with more prescient matters facing the city. The one-liners were flying faster than Don Rickles, could zing them, at a Friar's Roast.
'What you're asking us to buy, is an empty bag with a hole in it' chided Queens Councilman Barry Garodenchik.
The amended, Intro 573B, was to build a stable in the park- but first get rid of half the industry, by limiting the licenses, reducing shifts, then cutting the number of horses from 220 to 70. A wink and a nod to the animal activists.
The bill, so punitive, so arbitrary, it was nothing more than a slow, painful ban, by attrition, crafted as if to maximize the most suffering, for the imposition and embarrassment the carriage industry had caused him, by fighting back.
'We Put Him In Office'
'Mayor de Blasio made a promise to us, I was there. They said, 'Anybody But Quinn'. It was the animal rights community, that brought along the gay community, that created a campaign, that put him in office.
'Anybody But Quinn' is an animal rights slogan. I met with Christine Quinn, and she didn't realize how powerful we were...and we said - next'.
~NYCLASS Rally, July 23, 2015
According to vegan, hip hop mogul, Russell Simmons, the animal rights community, put de Blasio in office, to ban, the 'worse disaster in the history of mankind' ...after Christine Quinn, refused.
This corroborates carriage driver Christina Hansen's tapes, when she bravely, went undercover, for 4 months, infiltrating, to see what NYCLASS was up to, in their attempts to ban the horses and acquire the stable property.
Animal rights and real estate lobbyist, Steve Nislick, had met with the drivers in 2008, making his intentions known, for the stables that were rezoned for 70 floor high rises, and his plan they buy his electric car to replace the carriages. He left behind a pamphlet.
'Currently, the stables consist of 64,000 square feet of valuable real estate on lots that could accommodate up to 150,000 square feet of development. These lots could be sold for new development.'
The American Spectator January 6, 2014
'But what we want is we want this done in the next year. If this doesn't happen within the next year, we're in a total and absolute war with her. It's a war. Remember we have de Blasio on our side...'
When Quinn heard the tapes, she gave the money back...'Next'
'Stand Up To Bullies, New York'
The horses were supposed to be an easy hit, banning a thriving and robust industry, which pre-dates the Civil War, to appease the 'save-every-single-gnat', animal activists, of NYCLASS, who bankrolled his campaign.
An alphabet soup of acronyms, comprise the animal rights groups. Most of them don't get along, but can be marshaled when they need numbers, like when Christine Quinn received 2,000 calls in two days from screaming activists, or Fashion Week, or, when they shut down my Twitter account for four months.
They are a deep pocketed, cabal of lobbyists, political operatives, who inform, sincere foot soldiers, true believers, that the 'poor horses' are 'enslaved' and 'abused', and that it is their moral imperative, to 'set them free'.
They stand on street corners and yell at tourists taking carriage rides, saying they support animal abuse. Brandishing misleading posters of dead or fallen horses, that in fact aren't dead, or from another city, or 20 years ago, or got up 2 minutes later... with talking points on the back. "Fear porn", as one former animal activist calls it.
'...at the end of the day, the Teamsters can't care that much about this issue.
Not enough to lose the relationship with three or four perspective mayors.
And we're offering them a better business where they can
sell their real estate, make a ton more money.'
They were wrong on both counts.
At the 1916 Teamsters Convention, it was proclaimed, 'The horse would always be the heart of the union'. The original Teamsters, the horses, Thunder and Lightning, remain to this day.
In fact, the Teamsters were so committed to saving the horse carriages, Jimmy Hoffa Jr, personally, sent his top conflict negotiator, Bernadette McCulloch Kelly.
Bernadette is the one they bring in, when all talks break down.
Armed with her prodigious organizing skills, the full faith and mighty muscle, of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a systematic, sober and steady, campaign of education, facts, and the truth to lies, was begun, to neutralize the bullying, disinformation, and hate speech.
As carriage driver Stephen Malone told me once, 'We always had the truth on our side.'
A dedicated, and growing army of truly courageous, and devoted, Trojan warriors, tweeters, letter writers, bloggers, citizen lobbyists, joined the men and women in top hats, and for the next two years, pushed back every, anthropomorphic projection of perceived misery - with fact. Every misinformed, celebrity endorsement - with science.
But the night it started in earnest, was outside the Hippodrome, on December 4, 2013.
Bernadette, Kevin, Ariel, Eli, Tony, Paul, Conor, Adrian, Christina, Walker, Jill, and a group of carriage drivers and carriage advocates, handed out flyers telling the facts, 'as animal lovers who treat our work partners, our horses, with love and respect'.
'We share NYCLASS's scorn for those who abuse and bully others', sending a message about the standing up to bullies, to the bullies...inside the Hippodrome.
Paul and Bernadette handed out flyers inside... but were kicked out.
Inside the Mayor-elect, was being honored at the NYCLASS, Animal Heroes of NYC Awards Fundraiser, for his compassion to animals. An odd choice, in that he'd never owned a pet, and was about to become PETA Person of the Year, and kill the groundhog. Personally, I always thought Charlotte took one for the team.
'I didn't start with a full understanding of these issues', he admits. 'I had some positions that were a little more narrow minded' .
...'and I ran into John Phillips on the steps of City Hall about 400 times,
I got regular lectures from my children, especially
my daughter Chiara. So I had a nice echo chamber.'
'We're going to start with horse carriages and we're going to proceed though that agenda together, to make the changes we need in this city.
'I'm so proud to be associated with NYCLASS, I'm so
proud to be part of this movement.'
And that's how it began, how we saved the horses.
And it grew steam. Liam Neeson came to the stables, and lent his, very particular set of skills to the fight, and the Daily News started its 'Save Our Horses' campaign.
Seven consecutive Quinnipiac polls said, 64% of New York loved our horses. 200 articles and op eds, were written the first month, and in the following years, thanks to Twitter and social media, bloggers, and some good old school, gumshoe reporting, which has been inked, some me of the best investigative journalism, since Watergate.
It became one of the most historic grassroots movements in the history of our city, and a monumental victory for animal welfare and inspiration across the country and world, against the radical animal rights groups. New York will stand as an example, you can fight City Hall...and win. Some say, it's the reason for all the Mayor's troubles today.
'Agents of the City' and What the Definition of 'Pending' Is
The finest journalists in the city, perhaps the country, comprise the New York press corp. Pulitzer, Peabody and Emmy winners. And the best of the best are the political reporters in Room Nine.
One would have thought, a Mayor, with six or seven, potential, criminal investigations in the works, might be a little more contrite. Especially to a room full of press, whom he'd effectively ignored for two and a half years, and who'd been stalled or stonewalled for the better part of a year, trying to get FOIL requests.
'It is absolutely permissible, under the ethics rules, for a city official to request donations, for people who have business before the city. The distinction here that is complex and is getting lost is, 'pending transactions'.
Mara Wiley, Counsel to the Mayor
On December 8, 2014, Intro 573 to ban the horse carriages introduced to the Transportation committee, 'pending' getting the votes in the Council, would come to a vote. Having catastrophically failed, budget week of 2015, when NYCLASS's $500,000, pornographic postcard, turned off the Council supposed to woe them during budget week, it was 'pending' for another year, until he got the bright idea, a hail Mary pass, to put a stable in Central Park, without telling anybody.
So Intro 573B was introduced again. This time, NYCLASS and all the animal activists had a sudden change of heart, about the poor abused horses and backed the bill, two days before the 'pending' hearing on January 22 of this year.
A month or so, after that, an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) was awarded to Langan Engineering. No red flags here, except their CEO David Gockel appears on the NYCLASS website as an early supporter.
Such a flagrant violation of conflict of interest and First Amendment, as to merit a schooling on the Constitutionality, by non other than, Norman Siegel and Ron Kuby. It now appears almost $200,000 was paid to a 'tainted' report.
Like a bad magician, showing how he does his tricks, the appearance of impropriety in the de Blasio administration, makes you wonder, what the real deception is.
'Stay tuned', and #CarriageOn.
My documentary, two years filming on the frontlines of the story of the horse carriages, 'My Horse For A Kingdom', in post production.
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