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Exclusive: Bloomberg On Central Park Manure: What Manure?

NEW YORK (CBS 2) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the manure mess on Wednesday -- the piles and piles of droppings left by horse-drawn carriages on the streets in and around Central Park.

As CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reports exclusively, manure is a "nagging" problem, but does the city have a solution?

You might say that the mayor really stepped in it this time.

Kramer discussed the issue with him during a news conference on Wednesday.

Kramer: "Mr. Mayor, there are piles and piles of horse manure left by carriage drivers around Central Park, the streets around it."
Bloomberg: "Do you have pictures of it -- piles and piles?"
Kramer: "Yes."
Bloomberg: "Way to go. I knew you would."

What Bloomberg didn't seem to grasp or acknowledge was it was a serious question. CBS 2 found horse manure, stinky, smelly horse manure left by horse-drawn carriages in crosswalks where pedestrians and bicyclists had to navigate around it, and all through Central Park where runners call one stretch "horse (expletive) alley."

"The dust, the dirt, the smell, it makes it difficult to walk to run to do anything out here," Manhattan resident Asher Lipman said on Tuesday when Kramer first reported the story.

"It's a disgusting smell, very bad, makes the whole park smell very bad," pedicab driver Aziz Gassambe added.

Kramer wanted to know why the city doesn't take action, but first she got an English lesson.

Kramer: "Walking though it, driving through it, bicycling through it, pedicabbing through it; it's disgusting. They're furious."
Bloomberg: "'Disgusting' is an adjective. I'm not sure as a reporter you should be using adjectives."

Then Kramer got a history lesson.

"I'd just like to point out that long before you were born, or me included, the streets were covered, covered with horse manure," Bloomberg said.

Finally, there was the question many of those who live in the area or use the park are asking:

Kramer: "Mr. Mayor, why not ticket the drivers the way you ticket dog owners who don't pick up after their pets?"

Bloomberg: "I think we should. I think we should stop going after bad guys, stop worrying about crime and worry about horse manure.

"I will certainly look into it. I'll ask the police commissioner whether without any overtime our police department has the time to give out tickets."

Horse droppings are not an insignificant problem. The so-called manure catchers in the back of the horse miss a lot. Driver Ian McKeever of Shamrock Stables said that a lot falls out.

"About 80 pounds I would say," McKeever said.

Kramer then told Bloomberg the carriage drivers admit that 80 pounds hits the ground, to which the mayor said, "Well, if the drivers admit that, number one, they're stupid. Eighty pounds? And who goes out and measures the weight? I mean I want to make sure we have our facts right."

So while the mayor certainly had a lot to say about the horse manure problem, it's unclear whether he'll actually do something about it.

After the mayor's press conference, CBS 2 pursued the issue with the Health Department. A spokeswoman admitted drivers can be fined up to $1,000 for not cleaning up manure.

However, she was unable to say if any tickets had ever been given out. She said she would have to "check" to see if Health Department agents would be dispatched to police the drivers.

Do you think the mayor should take this issue more seriously? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.


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