The final time there was a crowded race for mayor of New York City, a curious concern gained sudden prominence: Just about each main candidate promised to put off Central Park’s horse-drawn carriages, citing issues over the horses’ security.
A notable exception was Christine Quinn, then the speaker of the New York City Council. Because of her stance, an animal rights group helped fund an “Anybody But Quinn” marketing campaign that was credited with serving to to topple her candidacy in 2013, paving the best way for Bill de Blasio to turn into mayor.
Eight years later, with horse-drawn carriages nonetheless rumbling by way of Central Park, that very same animal rights group is making a return look within the 2021 mayoral race.
The two founders of the group, New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets, or NYCLASS, introduced on Monday their help for a brand new tremendous PAC that can run tv and digital adverts attacking Andrew Yang, one of many Democratic front-runners within the contest.
The adverts weren’t the one curious improvement within the race: The workplace of the New York City comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, whose marketing campaign for mayor seems to be dropping steam, launched an audit on Monday concentrating on the emergency meals program established by a rival candidate, Kathryn Garcia, who has been rising within the polls. The audit raised issues that he was utilizing taxpayer dollars for political functions.
The audit and the anti-Yang adverts have been the newest illustrations of how the June 22 major, which is prone to decide the following mayor of this closely Democratic metropolis, stays in flux. Mr. Yang’s numbers have been falling, Ms. Garcia has gained floor, and Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, is now considered within the lead, in accordance with an Ipsos ballot commissioned by Spectrum News NY1 that was launched on Monday.
The digital adverts attacking Mr. Yang characteristic images of apparently ailing carriage horses mendacity on the road, and Mr. Yang’s “no” response on a questionnaire asking if he would help efforts “to strengthen welfare protections and increase the standards of care for New York City’s carriage horses.”
The adverts attacking Mr. Yang characteristic images of apparently ailing carriage horses mendacity on the road.Credit…Andrew Seng for The New York Times
The tv advert makes no point out of animal rights, focusing as an alternative on Mr. Yang’s qualifications.
“What do we actually know about Andrew Yang?” the narrator asks within the commercial, earlier than launching into an unflattering biography of the previous presidential candidate, describing him as “a prep school millionaire whose business career mostly failed.”
The group is spending about $200,000 for one week of adverts, however is keen to spend about $1 million, in accordance with its spokesman, James Freedland.
The group’s leaders, Steve Nislick, a former actual property govt, and Wendy Neu, who runs a recycling and actual property firm, declined interview requests. Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Ms. Neu’s sister and a movie producer who helps fund the tremendous PAC, additionally declined to remark.
In a press release, Mr. Nislick mentioned that there was “no question that respect for animal rights goes hand in hand with respect for human rights.”
“It’s clear that Andrew Yang is the wrong choice for mayor on both fronts,” he continued. “From supporting the abusive carriage horse industry to opposing tax increases on the wealthiest New Yorkers, Yang is simply unable and unwilling to stand up to the powerful forces that perpetuate cruelty in order to make a profit.”
Chris Coffey, one in all Mr. Yang’s marketing campaign managers, spent years working as a lobbyist for NYCLASS and mentioned he was bowled over by the group leaders’ resolution to focus on Mr. Yang. Mr. Coffey accused the group of working behind the scenes with Mr. Adams.
“This is the clearest evidence yet that Eric Adams is cutting deals with the same people who put Bill de Blasio in office,” Mr. Coffey mentioned. “It’s time for a change from these sketchy unethical deals of the past.”
A spokesman for Mr. Adams scoffed at Mr. Coffey’s suggestion that the borough president was concerned within the advert marketing campaign.
“Absurd and sad,” mentioned Evan Thies, the spokesman. “Apparently there are plenty of other people who don’t think Andrew Yang should be mayor.”
A spokesman for Eric Adams, middle, scoffed on the suggestion that the borough president was concerned within the advert marketing campaign.Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times
The group’s founders donated generously to Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral marketing campaign, however additionally they fought with him over his failure to truly ban the business, as he had promised. Instead, Mr. de Blasio has moved the horse-carriage line from 59th Street into Central Park, and signed laws limiting horse-carriage operations on notably scorching days.
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During his common Monday morning media briefing, Mr. de Blasio mentioned he hadn’t met or spoken with Ms. Neu or Mr. Nislick in “months and months, for sure.”
In the years after the 2013 election, the New York City Campaign Finance Boards fined NYCLASS for making unlawful marketing campaign contributions, and the problem of horse carriages receded into the background.
This yr, 4 of the highest eight mayoral candidates responded to NYCLASS’s candidate questionnaire. Only two of them expressed outright help for finally banning the business: Maya Wiley, Mr. de Blasio’s former counsel, and Dianne Morales, the previous nonprofit govt. Mr. Adams chosen “no” in response to the query about banning the business, however then elaborated that he was “open to further discussion about prohibiting the operation of horse-drawn carriages.”
Ms. Quinn, the goal of the group’s 2013 advert marketing campaign, expressed disapproval of the group leaders’ new efforts.
“What’s the horror movie where you can’t kill the monster and he keeps coming back?” Ms. Quinn mentioned when reached by telephone.
Meanwhile, Mr. Stringer’s launch of an audit concentrating on Ms. Garcia’s emergency meals program prompted criticism that he was misusing the comptroller’s workplace for political achieve.
After the pandemic threw a million New Yorkers out of labor, and it grew to become obvious that New York City was going through a starvation disaster of historic proportions, Mr. de Blasio tasked Ms. Garcia, then the sanitation commissioner, with creating an emergency meals program. At its peak, it distributed 1.5 million meals a day.
On Monday, Mr. Stringer’s workplace faulted town for failing to adequately vet the background of a contractor whose proprietor had been convicted of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service.
Scott M. Stringer, town comptroller, launched an audit concentrating on an emergency meals program established by a rival candidate, Kathryn Garcia.Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times
A spokeswoman for Mr. Stringer mentioned the audit started final July, nicely earlier than Ms. Garcia launched her marketing campaign, and that the workplace evaluates whether or not an audit deserves a information launch based mostly on the importance of the findings and suggestions.
“The comptroller’s office has been diligently working to examine what went well and what didn’t during the response to the pandemic, and how to improve agencies’ emergency procurement procedures to quickly secure goods and services while mitigating the risks of squandering taxpayer dollars and contracting with unqualified or criminal vendors,” mentioned Hazel Crampton-Hays, the comptroller’s press secretary.
But Annika Reno, a spokeswoman for the Garcia marketing campaign, was unconvinced.
“It’s hardly a surprise that after Scott has spent his entire career in political office, that he would then use his office and taxpayer dollars to further his political career,” Ms. Reno mentioned. “This is why New Yorkers don’t want another career politician as mayor, they want a public servant who gets things done.”