Save NYC Carriage Horses From Radical Animal Rights Activists

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Save NYC Carriage Horses From Radical Animal Rights Activists is a project of carriage horse supporter Jill Adamski.

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"A horse drawn carriage passes through Central Park in New York city on Jan. 22, 2016. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced a plan that would reduce the number of horses drawn carriages in the city and centralize the horses in Central Park, but the plan was met with resistance from a number of different interest groups on both sides of the issue and was abandoned.

E-mails recently released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appear to show a "pay to play" culture at New York City Hall.

Among those who had Mayor Bill DeBlasio's personal e-mail address were donors from an anti-carriage horse organization who were apparently not pleased that having spent large sums to help get DeBlasio elected, were not getting their money's worth. DeBlasio's replies to their e-mails often included references to having top aides look into their inquiries.

Wendy Neu is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Hugo Neu Corporation, a "privately held company with deep experience in investing, building and managing businesses in recycling, real estate and related industries," according to its website. Steve Nislick has served as Hugo Neu's chief financial officer since 2014. He retired as CEO of Edison Properties in 2012. Nislick is the founder of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, Safe Streets (NYCLASS), a 501(c) 4 organization whose goal was to ban the New York City carriage horses and, originally, replace them with replica antique cars. Neu is a co-founder and serves on NYCLASS' board of directors. NYCLASS contributed heavily to DeBlasio's 2013 mayoral campaign, and DeBlasio vowed to ban the carriage horses on "day one" of his administration, Jan. 1, 2014.

On June 1, 2015, DeBlasio wrote to Neu, stating "Also want to make sure you start using my City Hall e-mail (cc'ed here) for all e-mails re: government topics from now on. Thanks."

On June 3, 2015, Neu wrote: "Mayor, I can appreciate how busy you both are and apologize for bothering you. However, we need to understand where we are in order to kick off our campaign. If something has changed we need to know immediately so we can respond to the press appropriately. Both Steve and I are in the office and can be reached anytime. Thank you, Wendy."

During the summer of 2015, NYCLASS was advocating for an anti-carriage horse bill to go to the City Council, but DeBlasio knew support in the council was not there.

Nislick sent an email with the subject line "carriage horses" to DeBlasio on June 24, 2015 at 7:27 a.m., stating, "Mayor, We have not heard from anyone in the administration?" Later that day, Neu writes: "Mayor, We have not heard from anyone. Wendy" At 6:26 p.m., Neu e-mails DeBlasio: "Steve and I just got off the phone with Marco. We are shocked that nothing has been done. We have no idea what to do next. Why?? Wendy. "Marco" apparently refers to Marco Carrion, the commissioner of the New York City Mayor's Office of Community Affairs.

An e-mail to DeBlasio from Nislick at 6:40 p.m. states: "Mayor, we just got off the phone with Marco who said they have not been to get [sic] any additional votes and he does not know if it is going to happen I don't get it!! To tell this now after we just spent 500k is totally ridiculous and puts us in an impossible situation. We are very very upset!! Steve."

Nislick and Neu sent other messages to DeBlasio requesting a face to face meeting. However, in November, 2015, DeBlasio admitted the City Council votes were not there and stopped pursuing the carriage horse ban.

Neu and Nislick did not stop pursuing their goal. A Feb. 11, 2016 email to DeBlasio from Nislick states, "Dear Mayor, Wendy and I would greatly appreciate having a private meeting with just you. We will meet at your convenience wherever is best for you. It is very important for both of us to see you and in particular, for Wendy to hear from you what you see as the next steps. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks so much for helping the horses!! We both greatly appreciate it. Steve"

New York City carriage industry spokesperson Christina Hansen said, "These e-mails reveal that NYCLASS's Steve Nislick and Wendy Neu believed that their political donations and spending entitled them to exclusive access to the Mayor. Further, they indicate that NYCLASS's spending was intended as a 'quid pro quo' - they expected carriage ban legislation to be passed because they desired it. We always suspected this, but to see it in black and white on the page is shocking. It's outrageous that anti-horse millionaires had access to the Mayor's personal e-mail and cell phone contact, while working folks in the carriage industry could never even get the Mayor to visit a stable. Even though NYCLASS ultimately did not get what they paid for, the mere fact that they viewed political donations as buying a carriage ban should disqualify them from any further involvement in this issue."

Article: www.nj.com/horsenews/2017/08/e-mails_show_donors_expected_n.html
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July 28 2017: "After many years of uncertainty and threats over the future of their business, those who make a living through the Central Park horse and carriage industry can finally breathe a sigh of relief, as the main “animal rights” lobby group which vowed to put the trade out of existence has admitted that it is unable to do so.
The heavily Irish horse and carriage trade, one of the most beloved tourist attractions in Manhattan with a rich history going back to the late 1800s, had been under a misguided but effective assault since before the last mayoral election four years ago, with then candidate Bill de Blasio leading the charge.
The anti-horse carriage group NYCLASS, with money up the wazoo thanks to its backers in the real estate industry, was largely responsible for torpedoing the candidacy of former mayoral front runner Christine Quinn, who was an ardent supporter of keeping the horses as part of New York City’s landscape.
NYCLASS, adamant that the highly regulated horse industry was abusing the animals – a preposterous notion – hitched its wagon to de Blasio, funding his campaign and extracting promises that on Day One, should he be elected, the industry and all of its employees would be put out to pasture.
And they tried…boy did they try. There were a couple of major efforts undertaken by the de Blasio administration and NYCLASS to rid Central Park of the horses, one of which sought to replace the animals with electric-powered cars. Another failed initiative which was thankfully shot down as it neared approval – a highly embarrassing political defeat for de Blasio -- would have drastically reduced the fleet of horses and relocated their stables to a city-owned building in Central Park.
NYCLASS and de Blasio had the money, but the horse and carriage industry had currency even more important: public opinion. Poll after poll indicated that New Yorkers by and large have no objections to the horses operating as usual in and around Central Park. Having A list supporters such as Liam Neeson also greatly helped the under siege industry get its message out there.
It’s been obvious for a while that de Blasio has moved on from anything to do with the word horse – he says he still supports eliminating the horse and carriage trade, but that it’s up to supporters to persuasively lobby members of the City Council – and now, thankfully, NYCLASS has raised a white flag.
In an interview with the New York Daily News last week, the group’s backers admitted that the horses are in New York to stay.
“We achieved nothing, except perhaps created some bad will which we have to address, so obviously our strategy had to change,” said Wendy Neu, one of the group’s main backers.
NYCLASS will now seek other tweaks in the industry, such as confining the horse rides solely to Central Park, and having them use bike lanes as they travel to and from their stables on the far West Side of the city. NYCLASS also says it will no longer object to those stables -- some of which are Irish-owned -- which is good to know because many developers have eyed the coveted land for other uses.
So all in all, a great result for the horse and carriage industry which refused to sit idly by while a bunch of elitists took aim. The drivers and support staff can be extremely proud of the way they stood up and defended themselves.
It’s doubtful that the mayor will revisit the issue in his nearly certain second term, which would be begin on January 1. Who knows, maybe he’ll even pop down to one of the stables for the first time ever and see for himself how beautifully the horses are cared for, and how ridiculous his crusade was in the first place."
Article: www.irishcentral.com/news/irishvoice/nyc-horse-carriage-showed-strength-as-elite-took-aim

July 28 2017: ""NYClass, the animal welfare organization dedicated to stopping carriage horses in New York, has thrown in the towel and given up their plans to stop carriage horses. The organization realized that it does not have the political, or social, power to outlaw the horses.
“We achieved nothing, except perhaps created some bad will which we have to address, so obviously our strategy had to change,” said Wendy Neu, of NYClass. Neu, and her partner Steve Nislick, both admit they will no longer be seeking to outlaw carriage horses on New York City streets, but will continue workings towards making it safer for the horses."
Article: newsofthehorse.com/2017/nyclass-gives-up-fight-against-carriage-horses/
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"The afternoon of Aug. 6, 2015, Wendy Neu — co-founder of a group pushing City Hall to ban carriage horses — sent an impassioned message to the personal email of a politician she believed was her ally: Mayor de Blasio. Neu and others with New Yorkers for Clean Livable & Safe Streets (NYCLASS) had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the mayor’s 2013 campaign and his nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York. Now the donor was letting the mayor know that she expected something in return for all she and her group had done. "We need to reconvene with you and have a productive meeting about what the future will be for the horses,” she wrote in emails obtained by the Daily News. “Mayor, you were there for us all along and we were there for you."
Two months earlier NYCLASS co-founder Stephen Nislick had emailed de Blasio personally to complain that he wasn't getting a bang for the bucks he was spending and City Hall's anemic effort to push the City Council to enact a carriage ban. "To tell this now after we just spent 500K is totally ridiculous and puts us in an impossible situation," he wrote in the June 24 email. "We are very very upset!"
In November 2015 de Blasio threw in the towel, announcing he was no longer pushing the horse carriage ban because he didn't have the City Council votes.
The emails show Neu and Nislick, like other big donors, had remarkable access to the city’s highest office holder. They’d been given his personal email and were in frequent communication with him — a perk few ordinary New Yorkers could enjoy. Often the mayor responded quickly and always he made sure a top aide was quickly assigned to help out.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim announced in March — after a year-long probe — that he’d found that de Blasio had intervened on behalf of several donors seeking favors from City Hall. But Kim declined to bring charges, noting “recent changes in the law” and “the particular difficulty in proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is not evidence of personal profit.”
Attorney Norman Siegel, a longtime civil liberties advocate, noted the Supreme Court last year made prosecuting public corruption cases more difficult when it threw out charges against Virginia’s former governor.
The court ruled that actions the governor took on behalf of a businessman who’d plied him and his wife with gifts did not prove corruption.
Nevertheless, Siegel dubbed the pattern of de Blasio helping out big donors portrayed in the emails as “sickening.”“It's a quid pro quo,” Siegel said. “You have to pay to get a favor when you need it. It's part of the reasoning why people in New York and around the country see corruption in government.”
With NYCLASS, the mayor personally emailed Neu a first-name-basis response, "Thanks for your message, Wendy. I believe we have the same goal and that we will achieve it, even if not in one jump. But let's definitely meet to think together."
He ordered his scheduler to "set up the mtg for this coming week or next,” and copied another top City Hall aide, Elana Leopold, who’d worked on his 2013 campaign handling donors.
In that campaign, Neu and NYCLASS had steered hundreds of thousands of dollars to a group attacking former Speaker Christine Quinn, then de Blasio's top rival for City Hall.
Two de Blasio backers — including his cousin — used NYCLASS to steer $225,000 in donations to an anti-Quinn group without disclosing de Blasio's fingerprints. Because the checks went through NYCLASS, they remained secret until after the primary.
Neu and Nislick also coughed up $150,000 to Campaign for One New York.
On Sunday de Blasio’s press secretary, Eric Phillips, again dubbed the emails with donors “boring” and said “I don’t know what she meant” when Neu wrote “we were there for you.”
Christina Hansen, a spokeswoman for the New York carriage horse industry, saw the emails as proof that NYCLASS’ money tipped the scales against the drivers.
“We always thought that was going on but to see it in black and white?” she said. “They had his personal email address. It's disappointing that millionaires and political donors get access to politicians that working people can't get.”
Asked what Neu meant, a spokesman made no reference to all the money raised for de Blasio, stating, “NYCLASS endorsed the mayor in 2013 and strongly encouraged our thousands of supporters to vote and work hard for the mayor.”
Recent revelations have made it clear that several deep-pocket donors expected something from City Hall for their money.
Developer Jona Rechnitz held a fund-raiser for the mayor in 2013, wrote a $50,000 check to CONY and a $102,300 check to help de Blasio’s failed attempt in 2014 to switch the state Senate to the Democrats.
Emails released Friday show Rechnitz frequently communicated with the mayor via personal email and de Blasio often quickly responded.
In 2014, city inspectors hit Rechnitz with multiple violations for running an illegal hotel and warned that the units lacked fire alarms, sprinklers and a second egress.
Rechnitz faced more than $40,000 in fines and a potential vacate order if the city declared the building a threat to public safety.
A week after Rechnitz wrote his huge check to the mayor’s Senate cause, a top de Blasio aide reached out to set up a meeting about the citations.
Rechnitz paid the fine and the city declined to issue a vacate order. A City Hall spokesman said, “Inspectors at the time didn't feel the conditions necessitated a vacate.”
Rechnitz was later arrested by the FBI, pleaded guilty to corruption charges and cooperated with the feds in the probe of de Blasio.
Donor Jeremy Reichberg, who co-sponsored a fund-raiser with Rechnitz, complained about $650,000 of what he felt were water bill overcharges. A top de Blasio aide quickly intervened.
The bill was cut to $125,000 after the city decided the building’s meter was defective. Reichberg was subsequently arrested on charges of bribing top NYPD brass for favors. He’s denied wrongdoing and faces trial.
Restaurateur Harendra Singh raised $24,000 for de Blasio in 2013 and gifted him two free fund-raisers at his restaurant, Water’s Edge, in Long Island City.
The restaurant sits on city land and by 2014 Singh had failed to pay more than $700,000 in back rent and penalties. He turned to City Hall for relief.
Ricardo Morales, a top deputy in the agency negotiating with Singh for payment, says the mayor’s office improperly intervened on Singh’s behalf, pressuring him to resolve the issues over what was owed.
In their first meeting to discuss payment, Morales says Singh immediately let him know he was a big donor to the mayor. When he complained to his boss that the mayor’s office was breaking conflict of interest rules, he was removed from dealing with Singh.
Soon after the mayor met with prosecutors, Morales was fired. He’s notified the city that he intends to sue for wrongful termination."
Article: www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/animal-rights-bigs-pressured-de-blasio-helping-campaign-article...

"...Jay Eisenhofer’s law firm was recently paid $570,332 in legal fees and $189,207 in expenses after obtaining a $3.7 million settlement for the city against the oil company Petrobras. The payments to the firm, Grant & Eisenhofer, came out of the settlement money, according to the city Law Department. Eisenhofer raised $82,250 for de Blasio during his 2013 mayoral run, campaign finance records show. He also made the maximum donation — $4,950 — to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign and his 2009 campaign for public advocate.
The legal eagle also donated $50,000 to the anti-horse carriage group NYCLASS on May 21, 2013.
Ten days later NYCLASS cut a check for $50,000 to the political action committee New York City Is Not for Sale, which ran attack ads against de Blasio’s then mayoral opponent, Christine Quinn. The Daily News reported in 2014 that the FBI investigated those financial transactions and other curious money exchanges involving NYCLASS and the anti-Quinn PAC. Manhattan federal prosecutors subsequently opened a probe into de Blasio, his fund-raising and similar financial transactions.
Earlier this year, acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim announced that the investigation had ended without any criminal charges. However, he said that de Blasio and his associates solicited donations from people seeking favors from the city and the mayor later contacted agencies on their behalf."
Article: www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/law-firm-de-blasio-donor-paid-570g-represent-city-article-1.338...
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Two great letters to the editor appeared in the NY Daily News today! You may want to respond to some of the other letters regarding NYC horse carriages in the link below: Remember you can send your own letter in to voicers@nydailynews.com -Just include your name, full address, and phone number for verification purposes. (Only your name and city will be published if selected.)

LTE's 7/21/2017: www.nydailynews.com/opinion/july-21-carriage-horses-health-care-hip-hop-article-1.3342039
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The radical animal rights organization, NYCLASS, founded by real estate tycoon Steve Nislick spent years calling for a ban on NYC carriage horses. They claimed the horses were “abused” because they believed the act of pulling a carriage, wearing a bit, living in our city alongside us, and working for the entertainment of others was “cruel.” They called the drivers and owners of their beloved horses “animal abusers” and other harsh names. They belittled actual animal abuse that exists in the world by doing this. They have made ignorant comments about the horses they have passed by such as assuming a horse is in pain when they are simply resting as all horses do when they are at ease, with a hind leg cocked, hoping that some poor sap with limited knowledge of horses will fall for it. They spread misleading and flat out false information about the industry in ads, TV commercials, internet videos, memes, FaceBook posts, Tweets, postcards, posters, and flyers. They exploited horses who had passed away due to natural causes, trying to link their deaths to the unrelated fact that they pulled carriages and worked within NYC by plastering their images onto posters with slogans. They spent millions of dollars to get Bill DeBlasio elected under his deal with Steve Nislick to ban the industry, and faced campaign finance fines.

In the end, the truth won. NYC council members and the general public learned that the horses in the industry were some of the best cared for in the country after visiting their stables, speaking to their veterinarians and drivers, and observing them work. Bills against the industry had no support to be voted on in city council. The already highly regulated industry keeps them in check and it’s overseen by people who know horses such as the NYPD Mounted Unit and the equine veterinarians from the NY Health Dept. Their stalls are a minimum of 60 sq feet giving them large, comfortable box stalls that are mucked multiple times a day by 24/7 stablemen. They have limits on where, the hours, and the periods of time which they may work (work includes going/coming from the stable to/from the park, waiting on the hackline for their next ride, resting, eating, and so on for 9 hours per 24 hour period with a minimum of 15 minutes of rest per every 2 hours of work.) They have restrictions on the temperatures they may operate in (below 90 and above 18 degrees Fahrenheit.) They receive a minimum of two veterinary exams each year. They receive a minimum of five weeks on pastures every year (though most go for longer.) Equine veterinarians who examined the horses praised their health and daily routine. The horses have been found to be well-fed, fit, and well-groomed. They are of breeds designed to pull plows or carriages with ease. They include but are not limited to draft mixes of Percherons, Morgans, Standardbreds, and Belgians. Traffic accidents among them are extremely rare. They’re privately owned and cared for by equestrians which undergo training and testing before receiving their horse drawn carriage driving licenses. They’re seen as partners by their drivers and have a retirement program in MA through Blue Star Equiculture, though when it’s time, some retire to private property on pastures often on Long Island, PA, upstate, or in New Jersey.

NYCLASS wasn’t getting anywhere calling for a “ban” on the industry, so they’ve changed the phrasing of what they seek, but most can still see the wolf in a sheep’s clothing. Now NYCLASS is asking for stalls larger than their regulatory minimum. Horse experts have found no issue with their current stall space that allow them to turn around and lay down for their REM sleep. Where would the space be found within their current stables for stall extensions? Is this not a clear attempt at cutting down the number of stalls impacting amount of horses in the industry? Fewer horses mean fewer days off for the horses currently working and fewer shifts for drivers generating income for their families and upkeep of their horses. Does NYCLASS not understand the amount of space a horse requires for comfort? NYCLASS asks that no NYC carriage horse goes to slaughter, when already no NYC carriage horse owner knowingly sends their horse to slaughter. How would NYCLASS accomplish monitoring who a horse is sold to down the line and who would ensure that horse's health and care for the rest of their life, providing for a horse financially that brings in no income? NYCLASS has asked that the industry stop using Standardbred horses, a horse that was built to pull a carriage and has done so for many years, simply because they appear smaller than other breeds of horses they have seen. NYCLASS is asking that the horses be kept out of Times Square, when they’re currently only allowed to operate there late at night, which the drivers and horses that choose to do with ease, and traffic related accidents are extremely rare. NYCLASS has also not taken a formal position against the NYPD horses that operate there daily, which is clearly hypocritical. NYCLASS only cares about their own demands, and suggested bicyclists of NYC give up their bike lanes to carriage horses, when there is no evidence of issues with the horses traveling to/from the stables in the far right lane as they typically do. We can all easily share the road as it is now. NYCLASS is also ignoring all our knowledgeable farriers and calling for different shoes for our horses. Every horse has custom shoes that work best for that horse, but NYCLASS would like a uniform shoe, which they claim will protect the horses hooves from the asphalt when it heats up. NYCLASS has such little knowledge about horses that they don’t realize horses hooves are made of keratin which is the same protein our fingernails are made of and they don’t feel hot temperatures through them.

So do we trust the experts when it comes to the health and safety of our horses, or do we look to this outside organization who has proven to have very little equine knowledge? Again we only have to look to the prime real estate the NYC horse carriage stables sit upon to understand why a real estate developer would create this organization to disrupt and ultimately ban the industry. After years of shouting at passing carriages and waving posters, NYCLASS has decided to try a new angle now. Only this time it isn’t fooling anyone. Perhaps had they started with this PR tactic someone would’ve lent them an ear, but at this stage of the game, their ultimate goals have become clear to everyone. They say they’re no longer asking for a ban on the industry, but rather to have new regulations put in place. They still claim they believe the industry is inherently cruel, so why would they accept the industry operating simply under new regulations? They’re targeting new city council members entering the election, seeking to elect those who aren’t friendly towards our horses. They’re asking for “compromises” which would only cause attempts at compromising the industry. They’re looking for ways to end the industry with “a death by a thousand cuts.” If they were given an inch, they would only move the goal posts as they’ve done so often in the past. By nickel and diming the regulations of the industry they would ultimately put them out of business. As they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” They are not stakeholders in the NYC horse carriage industry and don’t deserve a seat at the table. Their demands are not owed a “compromise” because they are not familiar with horses ‘nor have the horses best interests in mind with their suggestions. They promote “animal rights” which are extremist views, have nothing to do with “animal welfare.” They are spending millions of dollars on their new campaign, on top of the millions they have already spent without helping a single horse after all these years. Regardless of all the people, other animals, and issues in the world, there are thousands of horses without a job for an income, starving, abused, homeless without human care, and sent to slaughter. NYC carriage horses are not in need of “saving” and their money and efforts have been wasted on them.

Photo Credit: Christina Hansen
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Christina Hansen is a New York City carriage driver and a spokesperson for the carriage industry. She is a proud member of Teamsters Local 553.

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