Joe Lhota isn’t worried about the weather.
In fact, the Republican mayoral contender said his experience in the Giuliani administration would help him better manage some of the worst natural disasters that have hit New York City in recent years, citing post-blizzard plowing needs and Hurricane Sandy’s crippling floodwaters in particular.
“Look, as Deputy Mayor for Operations, I had numerous assignments,” Mr. Lhota said in a WNYC interview this morning, touting his “priority number one” work to close the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island.
Yesterday afternoon, Joe Lhota, who recently emerged as a leading contender for the Republican nomination in the mayor’s race, sat down with Politicker and discussed his campaign’s future and challenges moving forward, as well as a number of hot-button policy issues. Throughout the interview, Mr. Lhota emphasized his experience while stressing he was not planning to be a clone of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose administration he served in, and that he is not defined by his year running the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a job that raised his profile in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Mr. Lhota, who formally announced his candidacy this morning, said he first seriously thought about making a bid for the city’s highest elected office last year.
“In all honesty, when I thought about running for mayor, it could go back years ago. I don’t think you could be a deputy mayor without thinking [about it] some day. I was even acting mayor a couple times. I started giving serious consideration to this in the middle of 2012,” he answered, sipping coffee. “Post-Sandy, it crystallized for me, because I saw an avenue to win; I saw an avenue to get the nomination … I looked at the candidates running for mayor and I said, ‘You know what? I have the leadership skills necessary to get the job done.’ The city doesn’t need management, it needs leadership.”
Earlier today at Grand Central Terminal, George McDonald, the Republican CEO and Founder of the DOE Fund, kicked off his campaign for Mayor of New York City. The DOE Fund’s mission, which is to provide employment to the homeless and formerly incarcerated, was on full display at the event, where he was introduced and surrounded by graduates of his nonprofit’s program.
“Time is not what it seems in Grand Central Terminal. It’s said that trains leave promptly on schedule, one minute after the posted time on the big board, a kind of grace period for busy commuters. And in what seems like a minute, our city has been transformed,” Mr. McDonald expounded. “25 years ago New York was a different city, it was dirty, dingy, unsafe, and many believed unmanageable. It was widely thought that our best days were behind us. During those days, I came to Grand Central every night, 700 nights in a row to feed the homeless.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who previously declined to slam House Speaker John Boehner over Congress’ stalled Hurricane Sandy aid, took his argument to the next level this morning and suggested federal lawmakers are partially to blame for the delay in the vote on the package because they insert “things that are totally extraneous” into bills such as this. Although Mr. Bloomberg didn’t specify the extraneous problem items, the legislation has been criticized by Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan for being “packed with funding for unrelated items, such as commercial fisheries in American Samoa and roof repair of museums in Washington, D.C.”
“There’s this ‘Christmas Tree effect’ where legislators put in their favorite bills and tack them onto something. The [Obama] administration does that, that’s why you have an omnibus bill–to force everybody to vote for things that would never stand up in the light of day if they were individual,” Mr. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show with John Gambling. “I’m sympathetic. Yelling and screaming at [Mr. Boehner] is just not my style. It may be effective, it may not be. Everybody’s got to make their own decisions. I think the legislative leaders who criticize and those in the Legislature should stop and think, they do exactly the same thing in terms of ladling on things that are totally extraneous but it’s the only way they get them through.”
Governor Chris Christie is angry.
In addition to a statement blasted out earlier today, New Jersey’s outspoken governor held a press conference this afternoon where he said Speaker John Boehner’s sudden decision to halt a vote on the Hurricane Sandy relief package exemplifies “why the American people hate Congress.”
“Thirty-one days for Andrew victims. Seventeen days for victims of Gustav and Ike. Ten days for victims of Katrina,” Mr. Christie said, ticking off how long it took for Congress to pass relief after other natural disasters. “For the victims of Sandy in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, there’s been sixty-six days and the wait continues. There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House Majority and their speaker, John Boehner….Last night, politics was placed before our oath to serve our citizens. For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch.”
Unsurprisingly, the governors of the two states most ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, New Yorker’s Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey’s Chris Christie, are not pleased with the Republican leadership in House of Representatives after they decided to not take up relief legislation last night. To emphasize their displeasure, the two released a joint statement criticizing the chamber for the move.
“With all that New York and New Jersey and our millions of residents and small businesses have suffered and endured, this continued inaction and indifference by the House of Representatives is inexcusable,” they said.
In the wake of the House of Representatives’ failed vote on Hurricane Sandy relief, Congressman Pete King has gone rogue.
“These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they’re out raising millions of dollars,” Mr. King said on Fox News this morning. “They’re in New York all the time filling their pockets with money from New Yorkers. I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds. Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”
the littlest borough
M.T.A. Chairman Joe Lhota made quite the splash earlier this week when he announced he will retire at the end of the year in order to contemplate a mayoral bid as a Republican. At the same time he made the announcement, however, Mr. Lhota’s agency approved a round of fare hikes, including an increase on the unpopular Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll, which has some GOP politicos wondering if his political brand took a blow in a critical Republican constituency.
“I can already see the knives coming out about a $15 dollar toll on the Verrazano,” Republican consultant Gerry O’Brien told Politicker. “The M.T.A. is always one of the political entities under attack from politicians.”
However, Bob Scamardella, Staten Island’s Republican county chairman who has spoken approvingly about Mr. Lhota’s candidacy in the past, argued Mr. Lhota’s broader profile will be at stake, not just one issue.
The head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Joe Lhota, looks like he’s serious about his rumored campaign for mayor in 2013.
According to multiple New York Times sources “with direct knowledge of his plans,” Mr. Lhota, a Republican who worked as a deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration, “is expected to resign on Friday and announce his candidacy for New York City mayor.”
Earlier this morning, Speaker John Boehner and the U.S. House Republican leadership held a press conference to announce a new proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy and avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” or the steep set of spending cuts and tax increases that will arrive by the end of the year if a deficit deal is not reached. Specifically, Mr. Boehner’s plan would extend the current tax rates on everyone making less than $1 million a year, a sharp jump from President Barack Obama’s own counteroffer yesterday, which conceded a $400,000 ceiling. Mr. Obama had previously stood firm on allowing the tax cuts to expire for everyone making more than $250,000, a number that GOP lawmakers apparently found unacceptable.
“Our hope continues to be to reach an agreement with the president on a balanced approach that averts the fiscal cliff. What we’ve offered meets the definition of balance, but the President is not there yet,” Mr. Boehner began. “What the White House offered yesterday was essentially $1.3 million in new revenues, for only $850 billion in net spending reductions. That’s not balanced in my opinion. So, at the same time that we’re going to talk to the President, we’re going to also move ‘plan B.’”