Whenever I vote, I so do expecting the candidate to be a leader, and not a follower. A leader is guided by his or her conscience, and what he or she considers morally correct. A follower often votes based on polls, prejudices in his or her community and wrong information.
In drawing up legislation to phase out horse drawn carriages, Mayor Bill de Blasio has gone by what he considers morally right. He has read the polls, listened to the opposition from his allies in labor and from other areas, and listened to his conscience. He feels that phasing out horse drawn carriages in New York is morally correct. Personally, I applaud this decision. Will this cause him some votes in 2017? Possibly. Mayor de Blasio, in the proposed legislation, has done what I suggested in an earlier column. He has acted to satisfy all impacted by the legislation: the drivers, the tourists, the public and most importantly the horses.
In my lifetime, I have seen several acts of conviction by legislators who have done what is morally correct knowing that it could cost them their positions. The latest was when four Republican members of the NYS Senate voted for marriage equality. They knew that it could cost them being re-elected. Three of them did, in fact, lose their seats in 2012 when their own party deserted them.
Several years ago, NYS Assemblyman George Michaels, a Democrat, cast the deciding vote in favor of liberalizing the abortion laws as they were at that time. He was always pro-choice, but had voted against liberalization. His Cayuga County Democratic Party wanted him to vote “No”. He said the following, when rising to cast his vote: “I realize, Mr. Speaker, that I am terminating my political career, but I cannot in good conscience sit here and allow my vote to be the one that defeats this bill. I ask that my vote be changed from ‘no’ to ‘yes.'” His tearful reversal provided the 76th vote needed for passage. The State Senate quickly added its approval, and Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller signed the bill into law. “I found myself caught up in something bigger than I am” Mr. Michaels said about his agonizing decision. “I’m just a small country lawyer.” Mr. Michaels sought a sixth term that year but piqued county leaders denied him renomination and he lost the June primary in a four-way race. I still have the letter he sent me when I donated to his campaign. The issues of a woman’s rights were definitely bigger than just him. He voted as a leader. Another notable individual is New Orleans Archbishop Joseph Francis Rommel, who actively opposed the Jim Crow and saw threats and violence against the Catholic Church by segregationists: Catholic and non-Catholic. He defeated an attempt by the Louisiana legislature to ban the integration of Catholic schools as ordered by the Archbishop.
Tanking the the Mayor for his action, Councilmembers Danny Dromm, Ydanis Rodriguez and Mark Levine addressed those present and explained the details of the legislation at the November 2nd NYCLASS rally and press conference. The legislation has now been introduced. Just prior to the press conference, Mayor de Blasio briefly appeared and was thanked profusely by many of those present. Allie Feldman, Executive Director of NYCLASS gave an emotional thank you to those favoring the phasing out of the horse drawn carriages.
The proposed legislation will give the drivers of the horse drawn carriages opportunities for Green Taxi Medallions with usual fees waived and opportunities for other jobs. There are provisions for other industries to be established for tourists visiting New York City. The protection of horses is guaranteed. The proposed legislation will have to be assigned to a NYC Council Committee once it is introduced. This is done by the NYC Council Legislative Committee. It then goes to committee and once the final legislation is written it goes to the entire NYC Council for a vote. This is expected to take roughly six months. Separate from the press conference I was able to speak to Councilman Mark Weprin a Councilmember for whom I have the greatest respect. Weprin informed me that he is NOT inalterable opposed. he wants to see an alternative to horse drawn carriages. he will. He also said “The legislation will pass overwhelmingly”. I have also heard from my good friend and progressive leader Councilmember Annabel Palma. She is now supportive of the legislation.
Each Councilmember who is presently announced as undecided or against the phasing out of horse drawn carriages now has to make a decision based on the actual legislation and their conscience. It is not for me or for anybody to judge their vote as long as he or she feels it is morally correct and based on the fact that his or her vote will not hurt any living being: human or non-human.
The Humane Society of the United States issued a statement in support of the proposed legislation and the work being done by NYCLASS:”There’s no need for horse-drawn carriages in New York City and there’s a plan to provide an alternative for tourists seeking tours of Central Park – a win-win solution that protects both jobs and the safety and welfare of horses and people in New York City. There are inherent risks to the safety of horses and humans that cannot be solved with additional regulations. We enthusiastically back Mayor de Blasio’s effort.”
Pictured are our Bronx Council members and their present positions on phasing out horse drawn carriages. Please keep
in mind that positions evolve. Each member has much to consider and many other issues.
In favor of phasing out horse drawn carriages
Undecided about phasing out horse drawn carriages
Opposed to phasing out horse drawn carriages:
In an interview with Councilman King, he expressed concerns regarding phasing out horse drawn carriages. I am confident that he and all Council members will carefully study the proposed legislation and vote their conscience for what is best for all.
You can read the proposed legislation below, or download it here.