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The Crossroads of the World is full of bright lights and challenges. Yesterday, Tom Harris, the President of the Times Square Alliance faced up to a couple of difficult questions at their Annual Public Meeting. First off, what can be done about the weed trucks parked on Broadway?
The good news is that Harris had an answer. “As far as the weed trucks, I refuse to accept that there’s nothing that can be done about them. Where there’s a will there’s a way,” he told the attendees. “We had a meeting with three deputy mayors a week ago, and I told them, this is an easy win. Every one of those weed trucks has more parking violations than the value of the truck.”
Harris outlined that if they were towed and asked to pay their fines “it would be cheaper for them to buy a new truck.” It’s estimated that some of the bright green weed vans have accumulated as much as $30,000 of unpaid tickets and fines. “The city stopped towing scofflaws a couple of years ago. So we said to them, this is an easy fix,” he said. Scofflaws are people who flout the law, especially by failing to comply with a law that is difficult to enforce effectively — the term is most often used in New York when vehicle owners have accumulated large debts in unpaid parking tickets. One attendee reported seeing “6,7,8 tickets on the windshield of some of the weed trucks.”
The Times Square President said: “I’m happy to tell you that someone listened. And it seems that in May, they are dusting off the cobwebs and they’re gonna find the guy who remembers how to get the sheriff involved to tow trucks. I’m being told that in May, they’re going to start to tow the scofflaws.”
As the crowd applauded the answer, Harris was careful to say: “Let’s not clap until they’re on a tow truck heading to the east river!”
He also pointed to the role that elected officials had in making this happen. “Our elected officials have spent the last couple of years telling the police what they don’t want them to do. We have to start to shift the mindset so that they can start to tell the police what they want them to do. This sort of proactive enforcement strategy is going to help and solve a lot of the problems that exist out there.” He pointed interested parties to a list of local officials on the Times Square website. Here’s how the company that runs many of the vans described their work on their home page (which is currently not working) in a 2017 report: “Weed World Candies launched in 1999 with the goal to get Marijuana and Hemp legalized and industrialized. We tour the country in a fleet of ‘loud’ vehicles promoting the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana.”
The second big question from the audience was: “Is there any way to get rid of the costumed characters in Times Square and the naked women that are painted?” Harris was frank in his reply: “I’m managing expectations. I do not see them ever, ever leaving. It’s too complex, a legal issue, but we can provide time, place and manner restrictions, and we’re going to do that.”