Bill De Blasio Starts Political Payoffs
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's first priority is to get rid of the horse drawn carriages, citing PETA's complaints. But it's really about paying off a big Democrat contributor who wants the land that the horse stables sit on.
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.”