We the People: A new power couple?

Supercouples usually gets a title from the media by pairing their names like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez — “Bennifer” — and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie –“Brangelina.” This week, loose cannon Donald Trump hosted a press conference for gun lover Sarah Palin, so she could give him a public endorsement in his presidential campaign.

The Queen of the Tea Party said the Donald will “tear the veil off this idea of the system.” What that is supposed to mean is unclear. Without a doubt, Mr. Trump, if elected, will be outspoken, controversial and combative, but that does mean he will be an effective executive or that he will be able to accomplish anything? The real question is what should we call the duo? “Dopalin” would work as long as it is pronounced dope-alin.

Bernie Sanders is getting some traction in Iowa and New Hampshire which could breathe life into the hopes of the GOP candidates. As articulate and enthusiastic as Senator Sanders may be, he would be the candidate, because of his platform, that GOP candidates would prefer to face in November. The early primaries are not accurate gauges for eventual success in the national election: Senator McCain, the successful Republican candidate in 2008, finished fourth in Iowa while Rick Santorum won in Iowa in 2012 but was not a factor in the Republican primary.

Mayor de Blasio announced a plan to limit horse carriage operations in Central Park instead of banning them. It would still clear the nags out of their stables and the valuable property they occupy on Manhattan’s West Side. Animal rights advocates claim this is a complete betrayal of his campaign promise to ban horse carriage rides in New York City. Some critics claim that the proposed deal is merely to acquiesce to real estate developers who contributed to Mayor de Blasio’s campaign.

After negotiations with the union that represents horse carriage operators, Mr. de Blasio agreed to move the horses into a large empty garage in Central Park which the city would renovate for them. The number of horses used in the horse carriage industry would be limited from the current operation. The Central Park Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that raise funds and practically runs Central Park, and pedi-cab owners who operate in the park were left out of the deal.

The pedi-cab operators are convenient red herrings that the mayor announced would be banned from the southern end of Central Park. These pedi-cabs do congest city streets but if they cannot operate there where the tourists are, then thousands of pedi-cab operators who support themselves and their families here in New York are out of business. .

The mayor in effect awarded the horse carriage operators a valuable monopoly in the prime part of Central Park and promised them city property and renovation money as a sweetener. When he was asked how much the renovation will cost, the mayor said, “We don’t have a final figure” but that it will be a “good investment.”

Really? An anonymous official pegged the cost at $25 million which in “cityspeak” means at least $50 million. No mention was made as to whether the carriage operators would pay a market rent for the space after it is handed over to them. We all deserve more transparency than we have been given.  .

The City Council will have the proposal to vote on, and hopefully the impact of a large stable operating inside the park with the attendant noise and activity will be addressed by the council before the deal is approved.

A group of pedi-cab drivers marched on City Hall in the frigid cold with signs stating “don’t take our jobs” and “we can coexist.” One protester, a pedi-cab driver for 10 years, said, “They used us to make a deal with the horse carriages … no one talked to us.” Why the horse carriage operators get favored over the pedi-cab drivers is a mystery.

The protesters were joined by members of the Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages and other advocacy groups. The protesters are united in their belief that it was wrong for Mayor de Blasio to negotiate a plan behind closed doors without public input or consultation with the people most affected by the plan. Whether the mayor can give away public land and commit public funds for a for-profit industry will probably be decided in court.

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