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OpinionColumnistsMike Vogel

Developers and the mayor: not just horses’ tales

Mayor Bill de Blasio allocated $10 million to

Mayor Bill de Blasio allocated $10 million to fund two animal shelters in the Queens and the Bronx on April 26, 2016. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

The most blessed among us do not crave money, but devote their lives to charity and caring for all living things. Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi, NY real estate developers?

While I take a back seat to no one when it comes to my love of animals (unless I’m in the back seat with a slobbering St. Bernard), I always wondered why Bill de Blasio never seemed to give a hoot about carriage horses before he ran for mayor. But after real estate developer and anti-carriage horse zealot Steve Nislick’s NYCLASS group made sizable donations to his mayoral campaign, de Blasio saw the light, and the welfare of the carriage horses became his No. 1 priority. Hallelujah!

And let’s not forget Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management, who thought it would be fun for all if streetcars ran right by the new condos he is developing on the site of the old Domino Sugars factory in Williamsburg. He donated $100,000 to the Campaign for One New York fund, an “independent” group that supported de Blasio priorities.

Soon after, the mayor discovered he loved streetcars as much as he hated the carriage horse trade. At his State of the City speech in February, he enthusiastically supported a plan for a streetcar financed through area property taxes.

The bundling of checks from such individuals has proven a way for the mayor to raise huge sums of cash. Yes, the donations are legal — if the contributors aren’t promised anything in return for their generosity. That’s how I know these developers are doing this out of pure charity, fervently believing in the Bible’s directive that, “One who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:24-25).

And boy, are they being watered. National real estate developer Toll Brothers donated $50,000 to de Blasio’s fund, coincidentally right around the time it started developing Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park, a 101-unit condo. Local activists oppose the project, saying it will block views. Spoilsports!

Meanwhile, NYCLASS has been subpoenaed, and the Campaign for One New York, which the mayor swears was on the up and up, has been shuttered.

What a shame.

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at


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