Thursday, April 2, 2015



Recently, I wrote a blog for about the mysterious death of a New York City  carriage horse named Tickles, which occurred on February 13, 2015.   The Daily News was the first newspaper to report that Tickles had been euthanized in his stall “after an accident left him with a fractured leg.” 

If you do not know the story or need to be refreshed, please read the piece in TheDodo called "NYC's Handling of Carriage Horse Death Raises Many Questions."  It discusses the inadequate information I received via the Freedom of Information law, all of which pointed to a shoddy Department of Health “investigation.” 

This is the letter I sent to top people at the Mayor’s office and the Department of Health.  It is dated April 1, 2015.  Will it be ignored?  Will any action be taken?  

On behalf of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, I request that the Department of Health conduct an appropriate and extensive independent investigation into the death of Tickles, which occurred on February 13, 2015.  

The information I recently received through the Freedom of Information Law from the Department of Health revealed how inadequate the handling of this death was.  We find it unacceptable.  

It is highly possible that Tickles fractured his leg before he got to his stall.  This means it could have happened to him while he was on the street working -- or at the farm.  To make the assumption that Tickles was cast in his stall -- as Dr. Farrell did -  is just that - an assumption.    

The  web site for the farm Tickles went to for furlough, shows that they offer carriage rides and other horse events.  Was Tickles forced to participate?  Was Tickles also worked at the farm?  It is possible.  As you know, the existing laws - written by the carriage trade -  never required the DoH to inspect or approve any of these furlough locations.  

The veterinarians employed or hired as consultants by the DoH all have conflicts of interest.  In this case, Dr. Farrell had previously testified on behalf of the carriage industry at City Hall.  This is wrong.  

Please let me know if the DoH intends to investigate this death in an appropriate and independent way.

This is an article I wrote for  What I do not say in this e-mail, i said in the article so please consider it as part of this communication.      

Thank you.  

Elizabeth Forel
President / Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015



Council Member Eric Ulrich was first elected to the  NY City Council in  2009.  He is the only Republican from Queens and represents Rockaway Peninsula as well as South Richmond Hill, Howard Beach, South Ozone Park and Woodhaven.  

Queens is also a fairly conservative borough and home to many carriage horse drivers.  According to his City Council page, Mr. Ulrich is only 28.  This means he was  7 years old when the  last big fight to control and regulate the out of control carriage business occurred.  This resulted in the drivers being able to work their horses in many parts of the City, with no thought to public safety.   The Mayor at that time was Rudolph Giuliani, followed by Michael Bloomberg, neither a friend to animals.  

As a Republican  Mr. Ulrich's support for a ban on horse-drawn carriages was not expected, but at least he was not trying to hurt the administration by spilling his guts to the Daily News just for attention.  Well that all changed. On Friday, February 13, the NY Daily News published this article telling how Mr. Ulrich decided to speak out. 

I sent the following e-mail to CM Ulrich's chief of staff about this article:

I make reference to the article in the Daily News on Friday, February 13th about Council Member Ulrich making the decision to oppose the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages. 

Please show this e-mail to the Council Member.  I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion - but as the old saying goes - not to their own facts.  

This is the quote attributed to the Council Member:

"I believe that every New Yorker, not only carriage drivers, should have access to a good paying job, retirement security, and the opportunity to give their kids a better shot at life. That is what the American dream is all about and that is what is [at] stake here," he said.   And this:  "cannot, in good conscience, vote for any legislation that would deny hardworking people a chance to earn a decent living."

I agree with the Council Member.  Everyone should have access to a good paying job with benefits -- just like members of the City Council do.  But the NYC carriage trade is not that, which is what the Council member is referring to in this context.  I have been working on this issue consistently since 2006 but before that since the early 1990s.  We have tried for years to shut it down because it is inhumane, unsafe and operates on a laissez faire basis.  The authorities have looked the other way.  My research is based on truth, talking to people who previously worked in the industry.  

GOOD PAYING JOBS:  There are about 250 people who have a license to drive a carriage; not 300 or 500 or even 1,000.  Of those 250, about 60-65 are the owners who own the 68 medallions.    
  • The balance of that number is:   
           - part timers or others who hold on to the license because it is inexpensive -- much cheaper than the license to drive a pedicab.  This is because the carriage trade has always had access to the City Council members and those in high echelons of government.  After all, it all began with former Mayor William O'Dwyer in the late 1940s.   
           - one woman operates her business in Cape May, NJ and no longer works in NYC
           - another owner lives in Sicily and comes to the city a few times a year to collect his money.
          - others whose names I recognize live out of town, no longer work in the industry and keep the license to pad the numbers.  
  • The only people you are protecting by not supporting the bill are the owners -- not the drivers.  Their business model is questionable and dishonest to say the least.  It is a cash only business.  You have undoubtedly heard that it generated  $19,000,000 annually.  This is the number that has been bandied about for some time.  It is a fabricated,  contrived number put out there to compare that income to what might come in  from the electric cars.  it is made up.  There is no way to prove this because it is not one big industry but many small ones that file separate tax returns.  The amount reported to the IRS is far, far  less, which means a very small number is given over to NYC income taxes.
  • The Teamsters Local purportedly representing the carriage drivers is not a real union shop.  Not everyone belongs to it. There was never a vote.  What legitimate union puts owners and workers in the same local?   It simply  does not happen.  The Teamsters' role is that of bullies/lobbyists,  to put the fear of God in Council Members implying they will work against them in the next election.  Consequently, there are no benefits -- no health care, vacation or sick days, 401K's, etc.  Nothing.  This is what you support.   
  • When you speak of retirement security - what exactly do you mean - other than the owners keeping their sweet cash only deal while the authorities - yes the City Council - look the other way while the industry pays as little tax as possible.   It is corruption.  
  • But the ones who get a really bad break here are the workers.  Most, if not all, are independent contractors - misclassified.  They get 1099s and not W2s.  They make little and have nothing to save for their "retirement" as you call it.  It is up to them to pay their own income tax and Social Security.   Those who need health care are often on medicaid.  
  • The workers should have the opportunity to get a real solid job - possibly in a real union - with benefits and the opportunity to fund a 401k for their retirement.  A robust job program, which has been offered (and will be worked out) by the deBlasio administration will really help these workers.  
  • Why couldn't you wait until the Environmental Impact Study was completed before you decided to "oppose" this bill.  Why couldn't you offer to work with the Administration to develop those "good paying jobs with retirement security" -- for everyone - not just the Entitled 68."  This would have been a great opportunity for a Republican to be part of this solution.  
  • Two of the stables are in the path of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment project - one on 37th St. and one on 38th St.   Each property is worth about $10,000,000.  The owners are waiting for the right time to sell.  It will happen - sooner rather than later since redevelopment is moving along.  If this bill fails, when the stables are sold, many workers/drivers will lose their jobs, while the owners retire in luxury.  It will be too late to provide an alternate industry for them at that point.   Many will access public assistance since they are probably not eligible for unemployment insurance. Is this OK with you?  In the meantime, you could have been helping them into a real job with benefits.  
So Councilman -- this is what you are really supporting because you have some disagreements with the deBlasio administration.  Corruption, paltry jobs, questionable union practices -- workers who are forced to go on Medicaid because their incomes are so low they cannot afford insurance.  

Did you ever question why the media is mostly on one side of this issue?  They are certainly not the experts. 

You still have the opportunity to do the right thing and be on the right side of history and support this bill; to make this a more humane city  - not just for animals, which many people care about  - but for the exploited workers.  I believe people look at those in politics with new respect when they change their mind and admit that they were wrong.  It is a sign of character.  Former Mayor Bloomberg did that when he spoke out in favor of the pedicab business when  the carriage owners were trying to ban them.   

If you want to read the truth about any of these issues, you will find it here.  We are a totally volunteer, grass roots organization, originally founded in 1994 and then focusing on the carriage horse issue in 2006.  No salaries - no conflicts of interest.  

Very truly yours,

Elizabeth Forel
President / Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages 

Saturday, December 27, 2014



There is so much misinformation out there that people who care about the carriage horse issue in NYC and support a ban do not know what to believe.  I will attempt to disabuse you of any preconceived notions you may have after being fed a diet of the Daily News and NY Post or listening to Council Members like Espinal and Crowley, both of whom have borrowed the pages from the Carriage Driver's play book.

Please accept this as a fact:   The truth is not getting out to the public.  

In this blog, I will address the stable issue only.  The carriage drivers and their supporters claim that Steve Nislick, the head of NYClass, wants this property.  He does not.  The sooner you accept this truth, the sooner you will begin to question the other lies such as the "good union jobs" or the "horses will all go to slaughter if there is a ban."

These and other  lies will be addressed in the near future.  We have no conflicts of interest, do this work for free, and only want to save the horses from a life that often ends at the auctions.  We are not part of, nor do we have any affiliation with, NYClass.   The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages  began this campaign in 2006.  We are a 501-(c) -4, incorporated in 1995 under The Coalition for NYC Animals, Inc.

  • FIRST RULE:  Always question what you hear from the main stream media - whether right wing or seemingly progressive.  They all have ulterior motives, which may not be apparent.  This includes the NY Daily News, NY Post, Wall Street Journal, Crain's NY Business, Newsweek, Fox News, NY-1 and the editorial board of the NY Times.  The Daily news, particularly, is a bastion of yellow journalism.  They have ulterior motives to bring down Mayor deBlasio because they cannot tolerate his progressive policies.  None of these media sources supported deBlasio in the Mayoral primary - although some did come around in the general election.  It was the people who gave the Mayor his landslide -- not the media.  
  • NYCLASS:  We have total confidence that Steve Nislick/NYClass has no interest in the stable properties.  It is intentional propaganda by the right wing media in NYC aided by the Cavalry Group, lobbyists for puppy mills and horse slaughter and now lobbying to keep the carriage trade in NYC.  
  • SENSELESS:  Why would Steve Nislick covet these two small parcels of property for years and years when there was so much else available (if he wanted it) since it is an urban renewal project that extends over many blocks.  Answer:  he would not and if you believe this, then you have fallen for the lies perpetuated by the right wing media and the unions that have been duped by them.  

  • THESE ARE THE STABLES:  The two stables pictured here fall in the path of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project, which has been going on for more than ten years - many more years than NY Class has been in existence.  The Byrne Brothers stable is on the left and West Side Livery is on the right.  Whether or not the carriage trade comes to an end, these stables' days are numbered.  There is nothing about either of these two properties that is special or desirable.  The area is being built up and gentrified to service everyone.  Google it and find out for yourself.  We need to stop catering to the special needs of a few entitled people - the carriage owners.  
  • $$$$$$$$:  The buildings are worth about $10,000,000 each and both owners stand to make a huge profit.  While it should go without saying, they can also decide to whom they will sell the property.  Yet there are some people who have fallen for this argument without questions.  
  • OTHER STABLES:  The other stables on W. 48th and W. 52nd are not in this redevelopment area so can keep this property for anything their hearts desire. They can continue to rent out to pedicabs or turn it into a parking garage.  
  • MORT ZUCKERMAN, multi billionaire owner of the NY Daily News and strong supporter of former Speaker Christine Quinn who was endorsed by his paper, is also the executive chairman of Boston Properties, a large real estate investment trust.  Google to see their ownership of this city and their involvement with the Hudson Yards Project.  


Friday, November 28, 2014



On Wednesday, November 26th, in Manhattan’s Criminal Court, carriage driver Saverio Colarusso pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.  Originally charged with a violation of Section 353 of the Agriculture and Markets law – misdemeanor animal cruelty - it appeared that the DA’s office simply wanted to make the case go away.  Now Colarusso will not have a record. 

This was our contribution to 

Colarusso was charged with working his horse lame over four days in  December 2013.  If it were
not for Officer Brian Koll who spotted the horse limping, Colarusso would have gotten away with this.  We often see similar situations but calling the NYPD generally does not result in any action.  Although they have been charged with enforcing animal cruelty laws and carriage horse regulations since the ASPCA gave up humane law enforcement  in January 2013, they do virtually nothing when it comes to the horses.  The Coalition has reached out to Mayor deBlasio and Commissioner Bratton but so far has been ignored on this issue.   Still waiting.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office is bad to non existent when it comes to prosecuting animal cruelty cases. In 2013, the NY Post reported that the DA’s office dropped animal abuse charges against Daniel Padilla, who was seen viciously beating his dog. 

By ignoring or diminishing charges of blatant cruelty, the justice system – in this case Vance’s office  - helps to perpetuate the cycle of violence, essentially giving tacit approval to animal abuse with a wink and a nod -- that if you hurt an animal, expect to either get the charges dropped or paint park benches.  Those who have been arrested for crimes against animals are much more likely to go on to commit violent crimes against humans.  The FBI is well aware of this. 

The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages has been to most all of the Colarusso court hearings, each taking only a minute or two at most and  dragging on over months  We were there on Wednesday to hear this disappointing verdict.  

Freddy the Fly contacted us with his point of view. 

Freddie the fly reports in about this case…

This was a scene at one Hogan Place at one of the weekly case meetings - 
Date: approximately summer 2014

Topic: the case of Saverio Colarusso, carriage driver charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, working a horse lame in December 2013.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY (top guy): [loud booming voice] S why the hell is this damn case dragging on so long? it is almost a year since the defendant was charged. Make a damn deal and get them to take it for god's sake. It's clogging up our case load.

LOWLY ASST. DA: [nervous voice] Cyrus, I have tried - the lawyer won't accept a deal. They are stringing it out and playing hard ball. They continue to refuse - what can I tell you - I can't twist their arm.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: [louder booming voice] S - god damn it - you either get them to take that deal by reducing the charge, or you will be transferred to the Bronx or Staten Island. Got it? It was only a damn horse. Get real, S. No one cares about the horse except those zombie wackos who come to court and stare at the judge. The way everyone is acting, you would think this poor slob hurt a person. 

Activist ties to hit Colarusso over the head with a skillet.(just kidding)(NYPost) 
Tell the public the horse is doing well now - that it was only a fluke. Lie. Get in front of the press, S, old boy. Handle them. And keep the defendant away from those crazy animal rights activists. They come to court every damn hearing. They follow the defendant when he leaves the court room. They hold up "animal abuser" signs. Give the defendant a safe place to stay - get the judge to help. We need to see how we can prevent them from coming. Maybe stop them at check in. Or screw up the room location or dates. Can't stand those crazies. Animals don't vote. Remember that. I didn't get into office because some damn horse or dog pulled the lever in the voting booth.

One Hogan Place - via phone - November 26, 2014
LOWLY ASST. DA: Cy, Cy - I did it, I did it. The lawyer accepted a deal. Can I stay now? Got anymore of those animal cases for me? I will immediately offer a plea bargain - no matter what. I hope you still like me.

FLY ON THE WALL: hmmm - seems to me the case was handled badly but no surprise. The DA's office should have stuck to its guns and went with the original charge and taken it to trial. They had a good solid witness - a NYC police officer. But that Vance guy is known for watering down animal cruelty charges. If they wanted to, they could have made a real case of this - charged the horse owner and stable manager; questioned the veracity of the Department of Heath vet who played down the horse's condition -- see if she had any conflicts of interest; played up the report from the original Florida vet who had to outfit Blondie with a special boot; given more credence to the defendant's past record. 

Even if they lost the case at trial, it would have sent a message that they take animal cruelty seriously. But now -- they just consider it "disorderly conduct."

Hey I better shut up before i get swatted. OK - off to my next job. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In the interest of truth, Freddie the Fly on the Wall is a made up figment of our imagination.  


Monday, November 3, 2014



Are the Teamsters out to bring down Mayor deBlasio?

The Teamsters:NYC's 21st Century Tammany Hall 

by Elizabeth Forel   
President, The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

Update:  12/17/14 -- On Monday, December 8th, the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages - Intro 573 was finally introduced into the City Council / Transportation Committee.  Click here to see the text.  Immediately, the Teamsters, who "represent" the carriage trade,  jumped into high gear and pressured Council Members to come out in opposition of the bill.  Several did - including those from the City Council, State Legislature and even Congress.  They all said the same thing. 

We oppose this bill because it would kill "good union jobs." 

Newsflash:  These are not good union jobs.  A good union job provides benefits to the dues payer -  i.e., health, vacation pay, sick days, collective bargaining.  Such benefits do not exist here because it is not a real union job.    For $60 a month, the Teamsters act as a lobby group.    It seems that the Teamsters and other union friends are throwing their weight around, bullying council members into taking this position, based on untruths.  The drivers want to protect their cash only business where they can report what they want to the IRS.  The workers/drivers are mostly independent contractors, not employees.  They do not even qualify for sick pay under the new law.  This is a good union job? 

Please contact your council member by calling their district office  if he/she has taken this position. Click here.

Illegal:  Horse-drawn carriage in Climate March

The Teamsters, as Local 553, have been representing the carriage drivers in NYC since 2008 when they saw an opportunity arise after a horse named Smoothie was killed in a spooking accident.  The drivers are not organized into a union shop, which means that there is no mandate to join; no collective bargaining, vacation, medical benefits or retirement benefits that one would expect to find in a real union.   Both the owners and workers are in the same local and most of the drivers have not joined.  The $60 dues are essentially a lobbying fee.  Nevertheless, the Teamsters have no problem calling them “good union jobs.”

One wonders why the Teamsters cannot help the drivers get authentic “good union jobs” and continue to represent them in another business.  The death knell has already sounded in this industry and whether it is through legislation per Mayor deBlasio or eventually through the Hudson Yards Redevelopment project, the end will happen.

Unions helped build the middle class, improving wages, making the workweek shorter, workplace safer and addressing the health and retirement needs of workers.   I understand it and support it.  Real union members should be outraged at this “fake union”  because it is a sham – designed to bully the City Council and the Mayor into submission with implied threats of working against them next election.
typical congestion near Central Park

The only way for the unions or the Daily News (which has waged a crusade against a ban and deBlasio)  to get support for this industry is to lie – and lie they do.    They never let facts get in the way.  Because these blatant lies have not been challenged by a media that is only too willing to follow in lock step, the truth is not getting out.

Have You Been Brainwashed by the Media?

Beware – the Media is Managing the Carriage Horse Issue.

These are some of their recurring lies —  “Teamster Speak” —   with our response:

The horse carriages contribute $19 million to the tourism industry.

The horse carriages contribute $19 million to the tourism industry.

The source of the $19 million number is Steve Nislick from NYClass.   When projecting the income expected from a new electric car tourism industry, he estimated the income from the carriage industry for comparison.  It was an unfortunate overestimated guess and these numbers could not be substantiated.  This is a cash only industry made up of 68 separate businesses, whose tax returns are private.  Nevertheless, that did not prevent Crain’s NY Business, Daily News and many others in the media from citing this puffed up number.  The bigger the number, the more viable and important the carriage industry sounds.
The Teamster flyer also claims that the drivers make between $40,000 and $100,000 per year.  But these numbers do not jibe with the $19,000,000 figure also on the flyer.
A confidential source from the carriage trade has told us the income is more like $10,000,000 annually but only about half of that gets reported to the IRS since it is a cash only business.     Using a figure of approximately 4% for NYC tax, this would mean that the industry is contributing only about $200,000 annually to the tax coffers of NYC not the $760,000 that their supporters claim.
The way this can be settled once and for all is to have all drivers – owners and employees both – submit their tax returns for public scrutiny.    But until then, they need to stop lying about how viable their industry is.

The Teamsters continue to say that the industry is regulated by four city agencies and the ASPCA.

hardly romantic

The ASPCA withdrew from enforcing animal cruelty laws and oversight of the carriage trade in January 2014.  The four city agencies are the Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene, Consumer Affairs, Transportation, and the NYPD, which ostensibly took over from the ASPCA.  We continuously complain about the lack of law enforcement, particularly on the streets.  The NYPD looks the other way as the drivers make illegal u-turns, leave their horses unattended and untethered or overload their carriages.  There is no one to stop them.  As state Senator Tony Avella said in the Times Ledger in January 2014   “The city has been doing an awful job monitoring this industry,” he said. “It’s disgraceful.”  Yes, Senator and unfortunately nothing has changed under our new mayor.  With the departure of the ASPCA, it has gotten worse.

There have been only three equine deaths due to collisions with motorized vehicles and no human fatalities.

This is quintessential “teamster speak” manipulating the facts so it is only about collisions when other causes of death are equally as important.  In fact there have been many reported deaths of horses in this industry.  In January 2006 when we started this campaign, Spotty had just died from a spooking accident. Later in September, Juliet, an old mare, was diagnosed with Exertional Rhabdomyolisis or “Tying up Syndrome” and died in her stall.  In 2007, Smoothie was killed in another spooking accident.  In 2011, Charlie collapsed and died on the street on his way to the park.   This does not account for the many horses who died behind closed doors in the stables from colic or another cause.  The only way to know this is through the Freedom of Information Law.

Since we started analyzing the known incidents, at least 13 horses have died publicly in 30 years.  This does not include horses who died in the stables.
While it is true there have been no human deaths in NYC, there have been human deaths elsewhere that involve carriage horses and it is only a matter of time before it happens here.  

The Teamsters’ position is irresponsible because they deny the nervous nature of these powerful horses who spook easily and become unwitting weapons when frightened, bolting into traffic causing havoc. It’s a Safety Issue addresses these concerns.

reminding Mayor deBlasio about his promise to ban the carriage trade

The Quinnipiac poll has shown that more than 60% of New Yorkers oppose banning horse-drawn carriages.

This poll was taken months after an unchallenged onslaught of media propaganda led by the NY Daily News, which continues to this day.  In this kind of environment where the truth is not welcome, it is not surprising that people who have been subjected to media brainwashing would react this way.

Prior to Mayor deBlasio’s election, every poll taken on this subject resulted in between 75 and 80% of respondents in favor of a ban.

There are 300 people whose jobs will be affected.  Teamster George  Miranda said. “By destroying the horse-carriage industry, the city would be killing good jobs and leaving 400 hardworking taxpayers and their families out in the cold.”

The number of people in the industry has grown like Pinocchio’s nose.  However, a June 2014 document from the Department of Consumer Affairs shows 228 horse carriage license holders.  Not all of them live or work in NYC.  Some are not even in the industry.  One had been deported to Mexico; another lives in Sicily, one owns a restaurant in Brooklyn, and yet another has a carriage business in Cape May – but they continue to hold on to their licenses.  They are relatively inexpensive – another NYC perk — only $35 for two years compared to $30 for one year for pedicabs.  Owners pay $100 for two years compared to $110 for one year for pedicabs.

We Feel Your Pain
Mayor deBlasio is the first pro union mayor in 20 years.  He inherited a mess from Mayor Bloomberg including many municipal union contracts that had not been renewed – some for five years –  representing 300,000 people.  Yet his administration is moving along and almost finished negotiating and resolving these contracts.

So why are the Teamsters beating up on Mayor deBlasio publicly, siding with the Daily News, which prints covers saying that the mayor is an ass.  Do municipal union members realize what the leadership is doing?

If the Teamsters succeed in getting Mayor deBlasio to go back on his word, it will hurt him. He will become known as a flip flopper and worse.  When he runs for reelection in 2017, this could be used against him.  He will be known as someone who does not keep his word and is essentially a puppet for the Teamsters.  Although NYC is considered to be a Democratic city our last two mayors were Republicans.  Is this what the Teamsters want?  Are they really that dense – all for a couple of hundred people that they could retrain in real union jobs?  Or is it something else?   Do they have someone in mind that they want to put up against deBlasio – someone who will be their puppet?

Follow the money …

Bottom line – do we want this city ruled by the Teamsters – the updated version of Tammany Hall – or a strong mayor who answers to his own conscience?


originally posted in the blog 
"Animal Rights:  Rethinking our Relationship with Other Species" 10/15/14