Last week, Mayor De Blasio acknowledged that his bill to ban horse carriages won't be going anywhere without the support of the City Council.
In an interview with Brian Lehrer on WNYC radio, he said that while he still wants to ban the use of horse carriages in the city “the fact is the industry has a lot of support in the City Council, and among the populace.”
Actor Liam Neeson, who has supported the carriage industry, said he is glad the mayor is stepping back from his push to ban horse carriages.
“Mayor de Blasio is finally listening to the will of New Yorkers and we should commend him for that,” Neeson told the NY Daily News.
“Poll after poll shows broad opposition to the misguided horse carriage ban and our voices are finally being heard,” he said.
While De Blasio’s one time supporters are furious at the mayor for giving up on the bill, polls show that two-thirds of New Yorkers want the horses left alone, the NY Daily News reports.
Last winter, seven council members introduced a horse-banning bill at the mayor’s request, but since then, the council has let the measure sit because there is no suggestion of gathering the necessary 26 votes for passage.
De Blasio went on to tell animal rights advocates to lobby the council.
“What I’d say to every advocate is, ‘You already have my vote, go get the votes in the City Council and solidify the support in the City Council so we can make this change.’ ”
Neeson said the mayor needs to acknowledge it’s over once and for all.
“Shifting blame to the City Council is not the kind of leadership we need from City Hall,” said the Oscar-nominated star.
“The mayor needs to own up to the fact that he put this idea on the table and will now abandon the ban for good.”
“Let the carriage drivers have some peace and comfort that their jobs and families are safe and secure,” he said.
The mayor’s remarks enraged activists who donated heavily to his City Hall campaign.
“The mayor is attempting to walk away from this promise on the grounds that the bill doesn’t have support in the Council and among members of the public, but that’s because he didn’t do any work at all to generate that support,” said Donny Moss, an animal rights advocate who helped elect de Blasio.
Moss said there’s “no evidence” de Blasio tried to persuade Council members to vote for the bill.
“He didn’t even try,” said Moss.
NYCLASS, an activist group which poured $174,000 into the mayor’s race, has declined to comment on de Blasio’s remarks.
Many of the city’s horse drivers are relieved that the mayor is retreating from the ban.
“We are here to stay,” said Declan Kelly, 38, from Queens, who has been a Central Park driver for the past 20 years.
“Mayor de Blasio can’t get rid of us now,” he said.
However, some drivers are still worried.
“The last two years, we’ve been so nervous,” said 40 year old horse carriage driver Ahmet Bilici.
“This year, business was a little bit slow. People hear things, they think we shut down already,” he said.
“I have two kids, a family, this is my job. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t do this.”