Lew Leone is the vice president and general manager of WNYW-FOX 5. He is taking to the airwaves with his thoughts on current affairs. It's called "Lew's View." The views expressed are not necessarily those of the station or its employees.---
In this commentary, Mr. Leone talks about Mayor de Blasio's plan to dismantle the horse-carriage industry in Manhattan.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has not backed away from his ill-advised plan to ban carriage horses from the streets of New York. Now, organized labor leaders, including the head of the powerful teachers union, have lined up against his efforts.
In support of those who stand to lose their livelihoods, carriage driver Colm McKeever appeared on Good Day New York and clarified several issues where the mayor seems to be misinformed.
I agree with Mr. McKeever: Does the mayor really think people want to ride through Central Park in an amusement park-like "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" car? Maybe if the car could fly the mayor might be onto something.
De Blasio is also misinformed about what will happen to the horses. He thinks they will all be off grazing in a field somewhere. In reality the care, feeding, and upkeep of an unemployed horse is a huge financial burden that most will not take on. The average cost with stable fee, vet bills and upkeep can easily cost you $15,000 to $20,000 a year. That means that the mayor and the animal rights groups will be sentencing a lot of these horses to slaughter.
We saw video from a huge auction in New Holland, Pa., where horses arrive every week by the truckload to be sold. A large percentage is traded to so-called kill-buyers who ship them to Canada for slaughter.
Horse rescue groups attend the auctions and try to save some of the animals however, carriage horses are so large they are built to haul not to be ridden. Therefore most people don't have a use for them. And bluntly, their extra weight is appealing to those who buy them for meat.
To make matters worse for the mayor, one of the world's leading movie stars -- Liam Neeson -- has lined up against him and is not "taken" with his position.
So why is the mayor sticking with his plan? He seems to be indebted to a group called NYCLASS, which stands for New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets. You see, they funded a huge effort to discredit onetime frontrunner Christine Quinn, and there has been speculation that this group's motivation is related to real estate interests their principles may have in the West Side stable where the horses are kept.
Conspiracy theory stuff? Who knows if this is true.
But I believe that once again the mayor may have bitten off more than he can chew. And for the sake of the people and the horses he should rethink his position.