Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Advocates for horses and consumers

It is a sad state of affairs when the city advocates for industries that blatantly rip off tourists. Thankfully, there are concerned citizens who enthusiastically welcome visitors and go out of their way to help them. Since the city supports the inhumane and potentially fraudulent horse-drawn carriage industry, it's good to know that tourists are finally getting some help in understanding the legally allowable fares for carriage rides.

How would tourists know the fares? Many drivers routinely overcharge and even collect sales tax. These ripoffs are large and small, and they add up nicely (it's a cash-only industry). There's no signpost or literature rack to state the legal fare, which is $34 for the first half-hour. Tourists rely on what they are told by the drivers, who decide each fare on a case-by-case basis.

It is within this context that the mayor just unveiled a slick new online tourist portal. Also, at a recent hearing at City Hall over two bills affecting the horse-drawn carriage industry, officials from NYC & Co. gave a ridiculously flawed assessment of revenue generated by this industry. Tony Avella, sponsor of Intro. 658, could not get a straight answer as to how their absurd reckonings were determined. The fact is that the city derives NO DIRECT REVENUE from this cash-only industry, and visitors do not plan a visit to New York City to take a carriage ride. So tourism revenue is a non-issue here.
*** Action alert *** Please watch the videos "Tourists Overcharged in NYC" or "Tourists Overcharged--SHORT," and read testimony about some of the outrageous fares charged. Then email or write to your City Council member and ask him or her to OPPOSE Intro. 653-A/2007, the industry bill that would reduce industry oversight while giving drivers a raise, and to SUPPORT Intro. 658, Tony Avella's bill that calls for a full ban. Please also email or write to Council Member David Weprin, a city comptroller candidate who supports this industry and its bill, which is rife with financial irregularities. Unless Weprin changes his ways drastically, this is not a man who should be in charge of city monies. Please tell Weprin that you OPPOSE Intro. 653-A. Learn more about it here, in a position statement from the New York City Bar Association.
Also please contact Jonathan Mintz, Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, an oversight agency that turns a blind eye to the serious problem of overcharging by the carriage industry. At the recent hearing, a DCA official DID NOT KNOW THE FARES. Shameful, because DCA is one of the primary agencies that oversees this industry. Email Mr. Mintz at: JMintz@dca.nyc.gov

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Officials from NYC & Co, which is basically another city "agency," presented some "fuzzy math" at the hearing. Hilarious when Tony Avella asked them about their manufactured numbers, and they went back and forth trying to get their story straight. "It's an aggregate figure," "it's a projection based on some nonsense or the other," etc.

Idiocy like this does not make the city look smart, nor does it help Bloomberg's image.