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