Dec. 9, 2014 By Michael Florio
Astoria’s Councilman Costa Constantinides opposes the Mayor’s bill that would ban horse-drawn carriages, calling it “unconscionable” to put over 300 people out of work.
Mayor Bill de Blasio put forward a bill earlier this month that horse-drawn carriages would be banned citywide beginning in June 2016. The bill would provide the horse-drawn carriage drivers with the opportunity to obtain a green taxi license.
“The City of New York has never entirely banned an industry from existing,” Constantinides said. “Even with the bill’s provisions to provide the carriage drivers with green taxi licenses, there is no guarantee that would result in adequate job opportunities.”
The Taxi Workers Alliance, which has 18,000 members, rallied against the bill, stating that they are upset that these carriage drivers would receive a green taxi license, since there is a long wait to obtain one.
Several other unions oppose the bill such as the United Food and Commercial Workers, 32BJ SEIU and the United Auto Workers and Laborers Local 79.
Constantinides does not see a reason for de Blasio’s proposed ban.
“This industry is already well-regulated. There has never been an animal cruelty conviction–ever,” he said. ”The industry is the lifeblood and an iconic part of Central Park and its surrounding area.”
New York City citizens seem to agree, as a Quinnipiac University poll released in June revealed that 66 percent of residents think the carriages should not be banned, compared to only 26 percent that think a ban should be put in effect. Eight percent did not vote have an opinion either way.
Constantinides is not alone in his opposition. The latest survey released by the Daily News shows 11 council members oppose the bill, while 13 support it. The publication said that 25 council members remain undecided and two have not responded to its calls.
“As a progressive, I will stand with the workers, their families, and their horses,” Constantinides said. “Like many of my Council colleagues, I will vote against this bill and I hope other colleagues will join us in calling for the preservation of these middle-class jobs.”
Other Western Queens council members have a different take on the bill.
Councilman Daniel Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, was a co-sponsor of the bill, while Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in Sunnyside remains undecided.