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OpinionColumnistsMike Vogel

Who’s winning money on the horses in NYC?

A horse-drawn carriage exits Central Park on Monday,

A horse-drawn carriage exits Central Park on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. Photo Credit: Louis Lanzano

The City Council is expected to vote on two bills on Friday, one to move their salaries up 30 percent and the other to move the carriage horses into Central Park. Which do you think is the better bet?

“I hope very much that there has been no horse trading between the two bills,” Dick Dadey, earnest executive director of the watchdog Citizens Union, told The New York Times.

Yes, and I hope my 100-to-1 shot comes in this Friday at Aqueduct.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan includes reducing the number of carriage horses from 180 to 95 and stabling them in Central Park. The mayor suddenly became the horse whisperer in 2011, coincidently right after receiving substantial campaign donations from anti-carriage horse group NYCLASS, headed by former property developer Steve Nislick.

The new plan calls for a ban on pedicabs below 86th Street, where most of the tourists roam. Am I being too cynical suggesting that this industry got shafted because when it comes to campaign contributions, it didn’t pony up enough?

When de Blasio’s team presented the carriage horse bill, it offered no statistics reflecting the dangers of horses on the street or how much it would cost to build the stables.

The only thing certain is, if the bill passes, the valuable land the stables now occupy on the West Side will be up for grabs. As with virtually every important issue in NYC, this is all about real estate.

When carriage horses are moved, or a popular restaurant in your neighborhood closes, or NYC gas stations vanish, the issue is always the same: valuable NYC acreage. And if we lose a neighborhood treasure or necessity because of the machinations of real estate developers, sorry, tough luck.

Waiting for your elected representatives to remedy the situation? You must be new in town. When confronted with why he contributed to both Republicans and Democrats, presidential candidate and real estate developer Donald Trump made no bones about it. He gave them money to buy influence.

So what do you think? Is the mayor’s proposal really about the welfare of the horses? To quote a famous movie line, follow the money.

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at


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