This is an on-going series analyzing New York City’s mayoral race. To read the introduction, click here. To read on Independent candidate Adolfo Carrion Jr, click here.

Joseph Lhota

Joseph Lhota – Republican candidate

We move on to Joseph Lhota, the former Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from January 9th, 2012 to December 31st. He is the Republican candidate in this election and has experience in numerous offices under major names like Rudy Giuliani.

Lhota echoes a sentiment of being a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, which is a theme all three major candidates build upon.

A few Republican (clueless if I might add) individuals I know of have found de Blasio to be so revolting that Lhota would be the instant candidate for their needs. However, Lhota, currently at 23 percent according to Siena, has failed to do anything of a push against de Blasio’s strategies. In fact, he is the epitome of the New York Republican Party — delusional.

Interestingly, Lhota has appeal based on fear of de Blasio’s policies, rather than of what he is doing. It is a grave mistake Lhota is making and indicative of a campaign fully knowing it has nothing up its sleeves to counter-act de Blasio’s genius run.

In fact, it is comical Joseph Lhota stated de Blasio “is using his family because he has no policies,” despite using his family in the New York Post since “he has no policies.”

To be fair to Lhota, he does have policies, but here is one:

For years, New York has relied heavily on the finance and related industries for job growth. While financial services produce vast wealth and tax revenues, they can also subject the city economy and government to painful contractions when markets fall.  To give New Yorkers access to well-paid jobs and more of them we must welcome and attract new business from a variety of industries.

For an individual who celebrates his time on Wall Street, it brings numerous concerns as to what his agenda might be. If New York will gain jobs, at what point will such jobs go to Wall Street? Are we to expect public works projects by an individual who was an investment banker?

Moreover, an attack-ad by Lhota was, as The Nation’s Leslie Savan points out, filled with mistakes and errors that, once again, represent delusional politics at play.

His support of stop-and-frisk is connected to the fear-based politics, which he believes would work to his favor if elected. He writes in his “Policy Book” his answer regarding stop-and-frisk:

The Supreme Court of the United States held in the landmark case of Terry v. Ohio that police have the ability to stop people upon reasonable suspicion. This technique is used by police departments around the country. Terry stops are an important tool in the prevention of crime, especially gun violence. Police, however, should be free to go into high crime neighborhoods and prevent crimes, including quality of life crimes.

He tries his very best not to say low-income people should be frequently checked and frisked by police, but ends up implying that through statements like these.

He echoed the time when New York was filled with crime and compared it to a de Blasio administration if elected. “We are one bad mayor away from unsafe streets, failing schools and fiscal chaos” he remarks in a new campaign video.

It is as if Lhota did not stop and look at what “fiscal chaos” in this country is already.

He is famous for working in public administrations under Republican Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani is famous for being called “America’s Mayor” after the Sept. 11th attacks.

The reality is he was at the right place at the right time as journalist Rebecca Solnit writes in Paradise Built in Hell:

The spiteful, self-serving, scandal-ridden figure was gone, and in his place was brave, empathetic, inexhaustible, and omnipresent. But the old Giuliani came back soon enough to try to advance his own career on his performance and dismiss or suppress inconvenient facts about that day and his decisions before and after. He often lauded his own preparedness in creating an Emergency Operations Center, though that center was located in 7 World Trade Center and was quickly evacuated on September 11th. The space was leased from a landlord who afterward became a major campaign donor to the mayor. Years earlier, his own advisers had his plan to locate the center at what even then they called Ground Zero.

His time in the MTA has been praised and even used by newspapers to indicate his experience if elected as a mayor. In their endorsement of Lhota, Newsday wrote:

Last year he expertly guided the MTA through the massive destruction from Sandy.

One major problem many in the media — even beyond in politicians and the public — is how forgettable they are on serious issues. For instance, MTA workers have not been working with a contract since the beginning of Lhota’s tenure as MTA chair and have recently brought up discussions again for pay raises and a contract.

Through an audit, the MTA have discussed $1.9 billion in “unanticipated funds,” which is difficult to comprehend. This comes at a time when more fare increases are set to continue from their current price of $2.50 a ride, when it should be, based on inflation, $1.85. As State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli remarked:

“We’re suggesting to consider reexamining the scheduled increases in fares in tolls,” DiNapoli said. “When you look at how those increases have been implemented, it has exceeded the rate of inflation. We certainly know how hard-pressed riders are that use the MTA facilities, so with an improved outlook, perhaps it’s time to reconsider those fare and toll increases that are scheduled.”

Let us not forget the numerous warning signs of Hurricane Sandy brought to the MTA’s attention that were ignored. Joseph Lhota, during his tenure, was quoted as saying Sandy was “worse than the worst case scenario.”

Columbia University scientist Klaus Jacob and his team warned such an event would happen with a detailed report. What resulted, as he remarked, was nothing:

We worked with the Port Authority, the MTA and all the other transportation agencies. They all were informed about the results. We had hoped that the various engineering departments that were privy to those reports would forward that information to their boards of directors, and the boards of directors would say, wow, we better do something about it. That never happened.

Overall, if Lhota wishes to use his experience in the MTA, it should better be about making it better as he has slightly discussed in recent debates with support of increasing the budget. However, none of the above have been discussed by Lhota, which signifies he is not serious in using his experience in the MTA for change. In fact, he avoids discussing his tenure as MTA chair as the New York Times notes:

But he seldom trumpets his tenure managing the authority, which, although indispensable to New York City, is also unloved. Asked at a recent debate to list his relevant experience for the job of mayor, he cited stints on Wall Street and as a deputy mayor to Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Lhota is not to be trusted and a poor judge of character after recommending a politician who indirectly allowed him to gain a post in Rudy Giuliani’s administration. Ray Harding wished to get an apartment for rent and so the recommendation letter was valuable. But a decade later, he was found to accept bribes up to $800,000.

What astounds me the most is the New York Times is their sympathies with Lhota’s style of governing. Strangely, in their endorsement of Bill de Blasio for mayor, they dedicated a whole paragraph to Lhota and his experience for the public:

Mr. Lhota is an experienced, capable public servant who served the city well as a budget director and deputy mayor, and as head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It has been disheartening to see the usually levelheaded Mr. Lhota basing his campaign on fear, apparently having concluded that he won’t win on managerial competence.

Other papers, such as the Queens Tribune and the Queens Chronicle, do not feature such talk in their endorsement nor do they even mention Joseph Lhota’s name. Moreover, it would be expected from right-wing publications such as the New York Daily News or amNY.

Take, for instance, the amNY endorsement of Lhota:

Bronx-born Joe Lhota by contrast is a classic, plain-speaking New Yorker with deep roots in the working class of this city and an abiding faith in the strong machinery of upward mobility that has helped us reinvent ourselves time and again…Lhota plainly has the administrative chops to run a city as complex and as crucial as New York City.

Aside from a hilarious editorial clearly with an anti-leftist perspective, it speaks volume for the Times to speak further upon Lhota as an experienced individual. It is almost as if they clamor for establishment rhetoric they are accustomed with.

The ridiculous statements for Lhota and comparions to “Abe Lincoln” (who was a known communist, but so-called journalists in New York don’t fact check) for instance are just awful to read and indicate why Lhota is winning.

The sectarianism surrounding Lhota doesn’t end within the tiny fringe of media, but also within his own party.

The New York Times had a story a few weeks ago the detailed the growing division within the Republican Party in the United States. After the government shutdown, a showdown was expected in the future between two different wings — the Tea Party and the establishment. The realization of this battle was highlighted within a paragraph in the piece:

In dozens of interviews, elected officials, strategists and donors from both wings of the party were unusually blunt in drawing the intraparty battle lines, suggesting that the time for an open feud over the Republican future had arrived.

Lhota certainly understands this as, in April, he spoke to Tea Party individuals over a few issues, such as gun control. Lhota may say it was a “verbally violent” affair, but the tape says otherwise. In fact, evidence of his appearance at a Tea Party event was brought up by a Tea Party individual who supported Joseph Lhota.

Strangely, the full video shows Lhota in agreement with the individuals in question and further elaborates teacher unions were “un-American,” rhetoric suited for the Tea Party.

The problems don’t end for the Republican candidate as the Republican Party in New York is in disarray since, compared to the Democrats, they are not unified to counter-act de Blasio’s strengths. One candidate who lost in the primaries, billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, did not immediately endorse Lhota as mayor in any way, shape or form. Politicker noted this as a stumble:

While the losing Democrats have enthusiastically rallied around their mayoral candidate, Bill de Blasio, Mr. Catsimatidis has been missing in action, failing to formally endorse Mr. Lhota via statement or formal rally.

While he did mention to the Daily News he would be voting for him and stated his supporters should vote for him as well, he stopped short of an official endorsement:

Asked if that means he’s officially endorsing Lhota or would campaign for him, Catsimatidis responded, “I don’t know what it means, but I agree with him more than I disagree with him.”

It raises a significant problem considering Catsimatidis held a Republican stronghold — Staten Island — and Lhota lacks votes as his support barely registers as a threat to the Democrats.

Desperation, meanwhile, is the name of the game for Lhota and his team against de Blasio as they are pushed against a wall without any plan on how to get out. For instance, in contrast to de Blasio’s team, his team has used social media to attack de Blasio through words such as “#blahblahblahdeBlasio” as if politics wasn’t childish enough.

But when Lhota’s team posts a status like this:

“[Bill de Blasio] won’t address policies that led to rampant poverty. Income distribution is the most unequal in the planet in Nicaragua.”

You might want to stop attacking de Blasio’s politics and recognize you’re advocating against the system of capitalism as well.

It may be more interesting to note Lhota allowed a court case where a pro-Lhota PAC group successfully won the privilege of increasing the numerical amount of donations to political campaigns. It would damage campaign finance in future elections by making it more for the rich in society, rather than curtailing power in money.

It’s indicative of a candidate allowing billionaire David Koch to pour loads of cash (thanks to the court decision) into the election to support him and shows where he stands if the question of rich versus poor comes up in the future if elected.

Overall, Lhota’s struggle with getting his name among voters, organizing a party that is split and a campaign with little direction indicates his failures in this campaign. His stand for a capitalist system destined for failure also contributes to his lack of relevance among New Yorkers. It will be interesting to see where an individual like Lhota moves from here.

Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York under Creative Commons license

Revision: 

Thanks to a reader, I changed a part of analysis from this…:

Whoever writes for his campaign site should be fired as those two sentences make no sense. How could financial services (i.e. FIRE sector) require more assistance when they can cause “painful contractions”? Should we lay down as they cause even more pain?

Lhota does not mention on the page what he would do if it ever happened. It is as if he had a thought and suddenly moved on without coming back to the original thought.

…to a corrected part above. I must note Lhota is still suspicious regardless of the change regarding the point as explained above.