DOWNTOWN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn’t making a stink about smelly piles of manure from carriage horses around Central Park.
Quizzed by a reporter Wednesday about whether the city should start ticketing carriage drivers who fail to clean up after their horses, the mayor shot back.
“I think we should. I think we should stop going after bad guys, stop worrying about crime and worry about horse manure,” Bloomberg said sarcastically at a press conference near City Hall.
Harking back to the golden age, the mayor explained that the current state of city streets pales in comparison to olden times, when horse manure was everywhere.
“Long before you were born, or me included, the streets were covered, covered with horse manure,” he said.
“As a matter of fact, my mother used to tell me in the summer the air was so polluted that you couldn’t see across the street because the horse manure dried up and the metal wheels of the carriages that were being pulled, ground it up and it went up in the air.
"And we survived all of that,” he said.
The mayor’s reminiscing came in response to questions from CBS reporter Marcia Kramer, who often gets in good-humored spats with the mayor.
The mayor was equally flippant when asked whether he'd be more concerned if the manure was piling up near his home.
“I don’t think if it were next to my house it would be on the top of my radar screen,” he said, but promised to ask Police Commissioner Kelly to look into whether the department has enough manpower to give out tickets without logging overtime.
Still, he said every time he sees a carriage going through Central Park, its driver has placed a bag behind the horse “which collects virtually all the waste.”
“Not true!” Kramer chimed in, noting that every day carriage horses produce 680 pounds of droppings, some of which don't make it into the bag.
City rules require that every horse-drawn carriage be equipped with a "manure catching device" attached to the carriage, not the horse. Failure to comply can result in a fine ranging from $200 to $1,000, a Health Department spokeswoman said.