Sunday, February 22, 2009


Many of us want to see an end to the horse and buggy trade in NYC for numerous, pragmatic reasons, which run the gamut from inhumane to safety considerations. These 19th century slow moving conveyances do not belong in a 21st century congested city.

But now, in order to save this self dubbed "iconic" trade, the NYC Tourist Board has appointed a new Tourist Ambassador to NYC ... and it is someone of whom the city can be proud. NYC's new Ambassador was chosen for this position out of a long list of very worthy candidates. He outshone the rest because of his outgoing and dynamic personality and his proven willingness to make threatening, intimidating and bullying telephone calls to companies that dare to put out an advertising campaign that might negatively affect his industry. Mr. Tourist Ambassador feels no compunction about calling people fascists if they protest the use of horse-drawn carriages. However, let's be very clear about what constitutes "fascism." It apparently is not when you bully restaurants from having fundraisers (as happened to my friends at the Coalition to Ban HDCs). And it is not when you try to close down a mild mannered photography show about carriage horses. There callers threatened to call the Cardinal and to have protests unless that show was shut down. And it certainly is not when you threaten journalists to kill a story. But, hey ... all's fair in love and war... right?

A man of many talents, Mr. Tourist Ambassador recently produced and directed this short video, which can be seen on Youtube called "Animal Rights Protest at Central Park On Valentines Day. Escorted by armed aspca officers." It is Academy Award material.

Notice how Mr. TA charmingly interacts with people on the street; his acclaimed skill in multitasking ... he is, after all, standing up while filming the protesters, which is not an easy feat ... not paying attention to the street. Notice how he is on a first name basis with some of the activists -- see just how really charming he is. The City did the right thing in selecting him to be the Tourist Ambassador.

However, since our multitasker was not paying attention to the road, he ran his carriage into a traffic cone, which identified a pot hole. But not to worry. He received no ticket, no citation. After all he has diplomatic privileges. And the ASPCA officer claimed to be looking the other way. Funny - seems like the Department of Consumer Affairs, Department of Health, Parks, NYPD and most Council Members look the other way also.

Notice also his quaint and clever use of nick names for activists in general - his favorite is "Petards." This child like behavior is what makes him so charming and the perfect tourist ambassador. It is like writing your name backward - Junior high school stuff.

The drivers use the name "PETA" as generic for animal activists. But the play on the word "retards" is actually cruel and insulting to those who really have physical and mental developmental problems. But Mr. Tourist Ambassador is still in Junior High school mode so does not comprehend this kind of advanced thinking.

This very classy presentation on why tourists should take a carriage ride should be submitted to Frommer's. Oh, yes I forgot - Frommer's lists carriage rides under "NYC Experiences to Avoid." From Frommer's: "Pity those poor beasts of burden. They get dragged out in the heat (although not extreme heat) and cold (although not extreme cold) with a buggy attached to them just to give passengers the feel of an old-world, romantic buggy ride through Central Park. But the horses look so forlorn, as if it's the last thing they want to do."

JD Jackson of Texas wrote about the video "Since I saw the same ASPCA guy several times but with different people around him, I'm assuming the driver only filmed when he went by the spot where ya'll were protesting. That means not once or twice, but MANY times the driver subjected his different riders to his rant. Good. That ought to cut down on repeat customers. So much for a "charming" carriage ride."

Who is this masked man??
This driver had a starring role in a video showing him attacking Peta employees. See it on You Tube.

Can you name him?

Friday, February 13, 2009


TOURISTS & NEW YORKERS: Read this before you take a carriage ride.

The carriage industry is pleading poverty and asking for a rate increase. The existing law allows them to charge $34 for 1/2 hour and $10 for each additional 15 minutes. They "claim" to not have had a raise in 20 years. Believe that and I have a bridge to sell you.

The truth is the industry has conveniently given themselves a hefty raise. I mean why wait for the City Council to act ... right? No one cares anyway and the industry continues to get away with highway robbery. They are out of control. The law enforcers and overseers are either not able or willing to do the job. These industry folk might as well be wearing masks and carrying sawed offs.

The Department of Consumer Affairs, charged with protecting consumers, looks the other way as do most of the Council Members. And it is not like they do not know. Council Member David Weprin, who actually wants to be our next comptroller, knows and by his inaction and support of Intro 653-A, gives his tacit approval to fraud.

What a city! And you sure you want to come here?
Hold on to your wallet when you do because no one in authority will help.

OK - SO HERE ARE THE FACTS: It is one thing that many drivers overcharge on the street. That is bad enough. See this Youtube video that documents the overcharging. Some drivers actually charge sales tax when it is not even required. Anything to cheat the tourist and get more money. And BTW - it is a cash only business on the street so they do not have to report all they earn.

But the real kicker is how much they charge on their company web sites. Try Gotham Carriages - You will see that they are currently charging $98 for 40 minutes and $78 for 30 minutes. Outrageous. And look at this web site - New York Tours. $104.95 for 40 minutes. And another ride is listed for $173.95 for 40 minutes. Totally Outrageous. It should only be about $44 (that is $34 for 1/2 hour with $10 each additional 15 minutes.) There are no exceptions and no loopholes. So what gives!

Now it is possible by the time you look into these sites, they will be down. Not to fear ... we made copies and we have made our complaints. It remains to be seen how well connected this industry is and how deep the corruption is ... whether any action will be taken at all.

New Yorkers and Tourists beware! We hope you do not take a ride on Valentine's Day or any other day. However, if you are being charged more than the $34 for 1/2 hour and $10 for each additional 15 minutes - BY LAW!!!!! - then you are being overcharged. And you should not accept this fraud.

Contact Mayor Michael Bloomberg by clicking on his web site. See the box "Contact the Mayor." Or you may dial 311 to make a complaint by phone.

And visit the web site of The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages for more information. If you are a tourist, look at this link in particular for information on what to see.

For information concerning the facts about the industry, read the testimony that was given at the recent Council hearing on January 30th.

Good luck!