Almost a month after Mayor de Blasio convened a task force and vowed to find speedy solutions to the topless, painted women and costumed characters in Times Square, the task force has not met once, NBC 4 New York has learned.
The first meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, Sept.17, less than two weeks away from the mayor’s promised Oct. 1st deadline for action.
Members of the mayor’s task force tell NBC 4 New York they’ve been scratching their heads, wondering why there had been no meeting scheduled nor instructions issued for several weeks after the task force was convened with urgency on Aug. 20.
Some task force members, requesting anonymity, told NBC 4 New York they received "urgent" phone calls on Aug. 20, hours before the mayor’s announcement about the task force, requesting participation and quotes for a press release to be issued that day -- then heard nothing for several weeks.
In addition to multiple city agencies on the task force, the mayor named members of the City Council, the community board, theater and business groups, and the Times Square Alliance.
In the absence of a city meeting, the Times Square Alliance convened its own meeting last Thursday, attended by several dozen people. Several sources who attended that meeting told NBC 4 New York that several task force members expressed concerns about whether the task force was real.
In recent days, however, members told NBC 4 New York the mayor’s office called to set up a meeting for Thursday.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer stopped short of criticizing the de Blasio administration, but suggested that the Times Square Alliance has been doing the city’s legwork on this issue.
"We’re getting late notice of the meetings, but to be honest with you, thanks to the Times Square Alliance, a lot of work has been done," she said.
Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said, "Our feeling is that as long as the Task Force is responsive to the plan put forward by the elected officials, and supported by the Times Square Alliance and the community, that’s all that matters."
Karen Hinton, the mayor's spokeswoman, said city commissioners have "been in touch" with all members of the task force, and that the meeting Thursday will discuss specific solutions.
"The task force will consider the proposed solutions and issue a set of recommendations on the best path forward," she said.
Last week, several elected officials issued some recommendations on what should be done in Times Square.