Dec
18

Report: MTA Chairman Lhota to resign on Friday

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The never-ending revolving door atop the MTA just keeps on swinging. According to a report in The Times, with dreams of the mayoralty flashing before his eyes, MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota will step down from his post barely a year after assuming the office. As Lhota cannot run — or even talk about running — for mayor while serving as the head of a public agency, his resignation all but guarantees that he will at least publicly explore a campaign for Gracie Mansion.

With Lhota’s departure, he will have been the sixth person to leave the post since I started writing this column back in November of 2006. Lhota leaves just months before the MTA is set to raise fares and amidst praise of a fast response in light of the damage inflicted upon the system by Hurricane Sandy. Still, public perception of the MTA is not always a selling point in the city’s electoral politics, and Lhota will face a slate of high-profile, if less than inspiring, Democratic hopefuls as well.

And so the revolving door keeps moving. Someone else will have to head an agency requesting $5 billion in federal funds and in need of long-term fiscal and political stability. Who will it be next? And will they stay for longer than a year or so?



Categories : Asides, MTA Politics

110 Responses to “Report: MTA Chairman Lhota to resign on Friday”

  1. John-2 says:

    If true, Lhotta’s probably resigning at the right time, since the MTA still looks good compared to other governmental agencies (transportation or otherwise) in the region on how it handled Sandy, and things can only go downhill as the memory of the areas quickly returned to service fade and the inevitable grumbles begin about sections not back 100 percent (lower South Ferry and the Rockaways). But I still don’t know if the high-point Lhotta’s at right now in terms of good public relations is enough of a bump to get him all the way into Gracie Mansion if he does opt to run.

    The poll last month, post-Sandy wasn’t good for him in head-to-head match-ups against some of the Democratic Party hopefuls, and after going a generation without electing the official Democratic Party candidate as mayor (there will be people born in NYC in the 2013 election eligible to vote who’ve never lived a day of their lives with a party-backed Democrat running City Hall), the odds are pretty good that streak is going to end next November. The praise from how the MTA dealt with the hurricane may look big now, but it’s asking a lot to count on that to win you an election 12 months later, even if Lhotta gets a third party ballot line to go along with the Republican nomination. He’s probably better off sticking to his day job.

    • I like Lhota as MTA head, much more than I initially thought i would, but I don’t see how he wins the mayor race.

      • Alex C says:

        Rudy Giuliani. Lots of Rudy Giuliani.

        • Bolwerk says:

          Rudy Giuliani is a pig. Any time I find Bloomberg’s stupidity and intransigence frustrating, I just think back to what a sociopathic bastard Rudy was and am glad we’ve at least moved past that.

          Luckily, it seems most people outside the realm of supposedly moderate Republikans agree with me these days, at least on that.

          • Frank B says:

            What was wrong with Giuliani?

            • Bolwerk says:

              Maybe it would be easier to mention what’s right with him. Oh. Um. :|

              I mean, he tolerates gays. Sorta well. I guess.

              • Phantom says:

                Giuliani was the best mayor im the past 60 years, by miles.

                He was the bull in a china shop who drove the huge reductions in crime as he said that he would do, and that is what has driven all the resulting positive changes in our quality of life here.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  There is no way in hell one person had such an effect. Giuliani rode a demographic wave that started before him and continued after him, and took credit for it.

                  • Phantom says:

                    I was here. I heard him say what he would do about crime and when he would do it. And then I saw him do it.

                    This history will not be rewritten.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Did he do it in the whole USA? Crime was going down in most places by the mid-1990s. Why don’t you credit Clinton? He was around before Giuliani, and also took an absurd tough-on-crime stance, an arguably more absurd one.

                      History, unfortunately, is almost always at least partly made up of carefully constructed lies. The Giuliani myth is really one of the easier ones to dispense with.

                    • Nathanael says:

                      As far as most scholars can tell, the drop in crime had absolutely nothing to do with Giuliani. It happened nationally. Don’t rewrite history.

                      It may have had to do with the first generation of kids since the 1920s to grow up without lead poisoning from leaded gasoline fumes. There are a number of other theories, including the first generation of kids after the legalization of abortion.

                  • Eric F says:

                    That would explain why NYC merely tracked the upward trajectories of such other northeast cities as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Newark in the past few years.

                  • AG says:

                    Yeah – it is a demographic change.. and technological change (in crime fighting) that brought crime down. That said – NYC brought crime down further than any other major city – with Boston close. The reason? Bill Bratton. Almost every single major police dept in the nation started following NYPD tactics. That is also why Los Angeles hired him… and they saw a more significant drop also.

                    As much as I couldn’t stand Giuliani’s personality – I can’t deny the city needed his “bull-headedness”… In just the same way that Bloomberg has a very dry personality which rubs some ppl the wrong way – only a fool could deny that the economic picture of NYC was better than other major cities during the economic downturn – mainly because of his (Bloomberg’s) business and management skills.

                    • John-2 says:

                      Unfortunately, you have to be a bit of an miserable, egotistical SOB to be a successful mayor of New York. LaGuardia was. Koch was. Giuliani and Bloomberg were. Robert Wagner wasn’t seen publicly as being as arrogant as the others, but was willing to stab the Democratic Party machine in the back, kill off Tammany Hall for good and basically run against his own record (with Tammany boss Carmine De Sapio as his surrogate) to win a third term as mayor.

                      Nice guys get rolled in City Hall, because they’re too nice when push comes to shove to say ‘no’ not so much to the people who opposed them for office — that’s the easy part — but to their own special interest groups, when they come calling with some plan that only benefits themselves. Lindsay got rolled, first by Mike Quill and then by pretty much anybody else with a straw in the city’s treasury. We ended up with the MTA because John Lindsay wasn’t enough of an SOB to say ‘no’ and punted the bus and subway system problems to Nelson Rockefeller, while Dinkins got rolled because he couldn’t stand up to some of his special interests when push came to shove and it ruined his image with the public when it came to the ’93 rematch with Giuliani.

                      Whoever wins in 2013 has to have the ability to tell parts of their own coalition to pound sand when if they start making outrageous demands, but that may not be the person who ends up winning the Democratic primary (and even though Lhotta still has some of his SOB credentials intact from his time as assistant mayor to Giulaini, just because he’s thinking about running doesn’t mean he’s a shoe-in for the Republican nomination, based on how Bloomberg showed that a big bank account spent widely and effectively can overcome name recognition deficits).

                    • AG says:

                      Yes – I agree. If you look at John Lindsay… he’s probably the most calm and gentle politician there was. That’s precisely why he was also ranked as the worst mayor in modern NYC history. He was too soft on everything and got run over. Hence the city completely fell apart. But he certainly was a nice guy. Dinkins was a wonderful gentleman too… that’s not what’s needed as mayor. Rudy was the exact opposite – and while effective he was polarizing. Nobody really thought of Bloomberg as an egotist until he “stole” a third term. Prior to that he had the highest approval rating of any mayor since accurate records were kept. Bloomberg certainly has an ego (as most entrepreneurs) but without the coarse attitude of Giuliani. Koch was more of a comdian to me – LOL.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      Don’t agree that Koch was an SOB.

                    • John-2 says:

                      Koch had/has a better public persona, but he definitely had the arrogance part down — which was part of his charm as far as late 1970s New Yorkers irked at various special interest groups. Seeing Ed go into a Town Hall meeting and call some of the reps of those groups ‘dummies’ for their positions tended to anger what should have been part of his own base, but endeared him to far more New Yorkers than it alienated. That’s in part why at least the first six years of his 12 years in office definitely were successful (you can pretty much divide Ed’s time in office into his pre- and post-runs for governor; he wasn’t the same after losing to Cuomo in the ’82 primary).

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      No, it wasn’t Bill Bratton who single-handedly brought it down either. Nor was it abortion or lead paint or any of the other myriad things people attribute it to. A huge constellation of factors is involved, and one of them is probably high rates of immigration.

                      Bloomberg’s economic stewardship is a mixed bag. It’s to his credit that he didn’t make a big mess, but I do question how much that has to do with Bloomberg and how much has to do with NYC’s rather sui generis position in the U.S. economy.

                    • AG says:

                      Bolwerk – it’s not my opinion… it is a FACT that though Bill Bratton didn’t invent the “broken windows” theory – but he was the first to implement it. Likewise he didn’t write the program for COMPSTAT – but he was the one who spearheaded it. It is FACT that all other major police departments followed both of those programs. It is also FACT top brass in the NYPD was poached by others to implement it. That includes other countries (including the one my family comes from).

                      Just as I know as FACT – that for a while all the drug dealers in my neighborhood started to go to places like Washington DC and Baltimore upstate NY or even South Florida to “work”. Why? Simply because the army of NYPD cops with their “TNT” tactics (if you lived in the hood you know that stood for Tactical Narcotics Team) like jumping through windows – had them running out of town. That’s not my opinion – I saw it firsthand growing up.

                    • AG says:

                      Bolwerk – didn’t inherit a big mess??? As much as you dislike Bloomberg… any serious business person knows that it was PRECISELY his understanding of the business world and managing a large enterprise that helped guide NYC through the devastation of 9/11 when just about everyone was predicting pure doom because every business and resident would leave. It is precisely because the leaders of businesses had trust in Bloomberg that the city didn’t fall of an economic cliff and was the strongest major city during the recession/depression. This is not the 1950′s… just saying “New York” does not produce prosperity. The world is ULTRA competitive for every job and dollar of investment. Those who have the money to invest will NOT invest where they don’t feel secure with the leadership.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      AG: while those “FACTs” are very intriguing, the conclusion that you’re drawing from them is a wildly exaggerated and distorted interpretation of reality, just like Phantom’s conclusions drawn from the FACT that Rudy Giuliani ran on bringing crime down. I don’t even deny those things were effective, but how much of an effect do they have? I don’t know myself, but the most generous estimates I’ve seen are that policing tactics might explain ~25% of the drop in crime. That’s a lot, but it still leaves 75% explained by other factors.

                      Where are you getting these ideas about Bloomberg? What is this cliff the city was supposed to fall off of and why? Insofar as his policies affect the NYC economy, Bloomberg hasn’t done the types of things orthodox “serious businessmen” like to see government do. If anything, he’s done what any NYC Democrat before him supposedly would have done in raising taxes and deficits.

                    • AG says:

                      Bolwerk – how effective was the NYPD under Bratton??? again – if you’d like to take a survey of criminals I grew up around they could help. If that 25% is correct – which there is no guarantee – that is still a whole of of ppl who didn’t get murdered.

                      the fact that you question the potential effect that 9/11 could have and did have on the NYC economy makes the discussion pointless – because this forum wouldn’t suffice. As far as the recession… Historically NYC would go into recession before the rest of the nation and stay in it longer and come out later. This time was basically the exact opposite… and it happened because of leadership… not just by chance. But go to any major business group and ask them who they think was the best mayor. Much to your chagrin – most will tell you the current mayor. There is a reason he built a billion dollar enterprise before he ran for public office.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      @AG: know what an anecdote is? That you grew up around crime isn’t very useful information. ~25% is an optimistic view of the effect policing (not Bratton alone) had on dropping NYC crime rates. It’s most likely much lower than that, though the debate goes on. So, yeah, no guarantee indeed. My personal suspicion is better than zero, especially in the early Giuliani era.

                      I don’t know what “potential effect” you think 9/11 was supposed to have. You’re hinting at something, but you’re avoiding saying it, because I suspect you know it’s silly. I also fail to see the point of your generalization about recessions. The declining manufacturing city of the 1980s did worse than the rising post-industrial city of the 2000s? You don’t say! Again, changing demographics.

                      And my chagrin? I said Bloomberg is a mixed bag on economics. I meant exactly what I said. I didn’t say I preferred any of opponents’ economic policies. Meanwhile, plenty of business groups are less-than-pleased with him because he’s created a pretty aggressive regime of heavily fining especially small businesses for petty violations. And, to a large extent, I’m on their side on that one.

                    • AG says:

                      Bolwerk – well I guess all the other police chiefs who followed the NYPD throughout the country were fools and you know best. And yes – living around crime when I was growing absolutely gives me room to speak on what I know from first hand experience. You rather take the words of sociology professors who want to overstate their own findings. The corrections department did the same exact thing with Rikers Island (actually even more dramtically) and that was again copied by other corrections departments nationwide. I can assure that had very little to do with demographics – but had to do with tactics and intelligence gathering.

                      I said this space was too small to go into the potential implications that 9/11 had for the city and region…. but I’m sure there are many economic papers you can read. For the record – I wasn’t comparing NYC against itself… I was comparing it to other major cities. If you think the NYC economy – an old, expensive, formerly industrial city just re-shaped itself “just because” – then maybe you should run for mayor yourself.

                      I shouldn’t need to spoon-feed the information to you. Well go watch the Columbia Univ. announcement of the $200mil gift for their brain institute and hear what they say. Go listen to Ed Koch interview on Metrofocus this week. Go watch the presentation of the Fordham Univ. business incubator at Fordham Place. Those are ppl who are the ones who make things happen in the city… and they sure have a high opinion… and that’s just this week. Go do the research (the scholarly kind – not someone with on their soapbox with an ax to grind).

                      As far as small businesses in NYC… yeah it’s true… but it’s always been that way… that part is nothing new – no matter who has been in office. Some fines are a waste of time… but some are very much necessary.

                      Take care

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      AG: Those comments are so patently absurd I’m almost rather surprised you believe what you wrote. Who said I didn’t live around worse crime than you growing up? I don’t particularly regard our respective experiences growing up as relevant. Numbers are relevant though. The fact that policing is a small part of the picture isn’t going to change because you arrogantly tell me “Good day” and bury your head in the sand.

                      I shouldn’t need to spoon-feed the information to you.

                      You could do better than three cherry-picked examples that…well, I don’t even know what the point of them was exactly. A bitter authoritarian thug like Koch likes Bloomberg? Shocking. Bloomberg is not an angel, and he’s not a devil. Bloomberg is a mixed bag.

                      I’m sure the NBBL people are movers and shakers too, but they’re hardly fans of Bloomberg.

                      the scholarly kind – not someone with on their soapbox with an ax to grind

                      Funny that you, unlike me, haven’t cited an ounce of scholarly information in this whole exchange.

                      Your definition of an ex to grind is information that disagrees with your preconceptions. When I mentioned a scholarly consensus, you rejected it based on your dubiously reported experience.

                      [on fines:] but it’s always been that way

                      To an extent, but Bloomberg has actually made it worse, and much of the retail world, a massive part of the NYC economy, is pretty pissed at him.

                    • AG says:

                      How do I know you didn’t grow up around certain levels of crime? because anyone who was knows that police tactics (whether they liked them or not) was the most important thing. I don’t say this to brag or boast.. but guys I grew up around made news coverage in those days for their wicked deeds. Don’t let your hatred of Giuliani blind you to the facts. I don’t like him either – but I know unequivocally that he made the way for Bill Bratton and the like to alter crime in the city. And again – this is not my opinion that other major police departments followed along the same lines and got the results after. There is no question that there are many reasons for crime reduction – but law enforcement is first and foremost. When there is no order – social issues can’t be tackled (which is the root cause of crime).

                      “Bloomberg is a mixed bag”? Well you could say that about any politician. Well I’ll give you one example of what I mean. The biggest economic policy under this administration has been to diversify the economy – in terms of industries and location (not just lower and midtown manhattan).

                      http://www.osc.state.ny.us/rep....._22013.pdf

                      http://www.crainsnewyork.com/a...../121119941

                      http://www.npr.org/2012/10/22/.....w-thriving

                      It is a FACT that has been accomplished. It is a fact that there are now more jobs in NYC than at any time in it’s history. That doesn’t happen just by chance. Especially when a terrorist attack takes out the third largest business district in the nation… and the country 7 years later went into the worst economic cycle in 80 years. It’s called vision. The mayor noted that the city could no longer rely on finance to lay the golden egg. How did he know that? Well the company he founded had the pulse of the finance industry and knew all the variables that would cause the sector to contract. It was pro-active and that produced the FACT that the city fared better than the rest of the country during the recession. The NYSE just agreed to sell itself to an exchange in Georgia. It was “shocking” news in the media… but those who know the industry know that this has been “in the making” for a decade because the whole industry changed.

                      And no – I was not cherry picking – I just gave you three examples from last week. I don’t have the time to list and/or space to list more. I will give an example of a populist politician who has no clue of economic matters. John Liu just came out last week saying he would end subsidy because it only benefits the rich. That is utter and complete non-sense. The South Bronx has had more money invested into it and more building than any time since the 1930′s. It only happened (well first because of reduced crime) because of subsidy. Why? A company who is building housing or wants to open a business in many cases will not do so without subsidy. Why? Simply because the income levels they see in the South Bronx do not make it financially prudent and they basically can’t get funding for such things (and again I’m speaking from personal experience). So the place would stay a slum. So John Liu thinks simply reducing fines would have caused all those thousands of units of affordable housing built there in the past 10 years??? That is utterly ridiculous if he really believes it.
                      Then Mr. Liu said he would do away with the Economic Development Corp. because they don’t produce enough jobs. Well unbeknownst to him – the EDC is a facilitator. The EDC is on eof the main agencies that helped diversify the economy… it doesn’t actually produce jobs itself. Mr. Liu of course has no alternative because he doesn’t understand how an economy works.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      How do I know you didn’t grow up around certain levels of crime? because anyone who was knows that police tactics (whether they liked them or not) was the most important thing.

                      If that were so, then there should be some verifiable scholarship demonstrating as much. So, that is about the most ludicrously unsupportable comment I’ve seen here that didn’t come from Eric F.. There isn’t even a way to defend it. For all you know, I grew up on the same block as you. (Hell, for all I know, I did. :-\)

                      And where did I say anything about the “importance” of police tactics? I pointed out a concrete statistic, based on defensible scholarship – not I’m not saying I buy it, because I have reason to think it’s less, but it’s about as high as the number goes while still being defensible – that police tactics effected about 25% of the drop in NYC crime. If it’s true, it (1) is absolutely huge, if you know anything about social science research, and (2) says policing might literally be the most important single factor. There are just too many fishy parts and caveats for it to make complete sense to me, since the urban crime wave was largely a national (and not a continental or global, interestingly) phenomenon that mostly impacted largely a single generation in a single type of settlement. Even though I don’t buy that abortion is what stopped it, in this Levitt & Dubner were onto something. And it’s impossible to ignore that the moronic war on drugs that started in the 1970s played a large role in fostering the marketing of illicit drugs by organized criminal gangs, so that policing in a sense is at least partly to blame for the problem in the first place. So, yeah, I’m not so impressed when I see a police state partly fixing a problem it created itself – the absence of any of this nonsense at such a scale in nearly every other western country* should be duly noted, too. Even relatively conservative/authoritarian countries like Italy, which has a widely proliferated organized crime culture no less, didn’t experience it.

                      * Well, except kinda Canada is now, oddly after now embracing USA-style neoliberalism and policing tactics, even as the USA itself is retreating from them. Correlation or causation?

                      Re those links: I don’t see anything special to infer about Bloomberg from them. You’re pointing at things that happened to correlate to Bloomberg’s period in office, and treating that correlation as proof of causation. You gotta do better than that. They seem to mainly tell me the NYC economy is sinking and swinging with the national one, which is bobbing in the same global economy as Greece, China, Germany, and Brazil. I think Bloomberg’s attempts to diversify the economy deserve kudos, though he’s only shown mixed success here. His attempts to create an “innovation” economy like Silicon Valley’s are just silly, thanks in part to the deleterious regime of regulations backed by fines, which I mentioned before and you dismissed, that makes a garage tinkerer culture impossible. His attempts to bring in R&D are, of course, respectable if kinda late in coming.

                      Real estate has virtually nothing to do with Bloomberg; who the hell moves to NYC because Bloomberg is mayor? Even if Bloomberg were the economic maverick you seem to think he is, no rational investor would buy in NYC on that basis alone, knowing Bloomberg can’t possibly be around to protect the investment forever. This train of thought is, again, simply absurd. Regardless of who is mayor, there is simply economic demand for urban space again, inside and outside of NYC. NYC has the most unique real estate market in the USA, with the greatest supply contraints. Why wouldn’t it be expected to do “better,” in terms of sales, than the rest of the USA under such conditions? Hell, it’s easy to do better under those conditions with the metrics at hand.

                      If I really want to pile on, I can say real estate is a parade of Bloomberg’s greatest failures outside of policing/civil liberties. A major point of reform would be liberalizing the real estate so more traditional urban housing stock could be created and sold, but Bloomberg hasn’t dared even though he might be the only politician with a power base strong enough to do it. Instead, he focuses on soda. How about getting rid of absurd parking minimums in the inner city? Creating a zoning regime that permits some mimimum level of infill within 10 blocks of transit? Modest proposals, except for the fact that they piss off connected people.

                      Re Lui: he’s a Vacca-esque doofus, and maybe the one mayoral contender scarier than Christine Quinn, but the EDC is a blight factory that squanders money that could be going to transit. He might also be a little butthert that EDC doesn’t do exactly what he wants in Flushing.

                      I’d add: Bloomberg’s transit record is terrible, except for the fact that it’s light years better than everyone since LaGuardia. Mixed bag indeed.

                      It is a fact that there are now more jobs in NYC than at any time in it’s history. That doesn’t happen just by chance.

                      You, again, are confusing correlation and causation. It is also a fact that there are more people recorded in NYC than at any time in its history. Do you expect those people would not be players in the economy? Do you think they all said, “wellllp, no Democrat in the mayor’s office. Guess I’ll move to NYC”? NYC’s employment statistics have consistently been meh at best, relative to other places, throughout the recession. I don’t blame Bloomberg for that, of course, but by your logic maybe you should. Oh, and it’s also a fact that a lot of those new jobs are shitty service sector positions.

                      C.f., there is no “Texas miracle.” But NYC also isn’t doing helluva better than Texas.

                    • AG says:

                      Bolwerk – verifiable scholarship??? go ask to interview any police department head in any major city. never mind… i stopped reading the first part when you compared policing street crime in the US to organized crime tactics in Italy. If crime were the same everywhere my family would have never come to this country. Again – never mind.

                      So I skipped down and I stopped reading again when you told me that Real Estate and Economics of NYC have nothing to do with the leadership. Then you say the reports say the NYC economy goes with the US economy. What were you reading. It clearly shows this recession the NYC economy and real estate market outperformed the country as a whole. That especially holds significance because historically the opposite has been true of NYC. Do you forget what happened to NYC in the 70′s? I’ll again use the example of the country my family came from. It was a country that in the 60′s the government of the now economic miracle of Singapore used to travel to and learn about. Persons with capital didn’t like the philosophy of one of the new prime ministers. He then told them if they didn’t like it they should migrate. Guess what happened? Almost all the capital in the country fled – plunging the country into economic ruin (with the help of outside influences of course) – from which to this day it has never recovered. Why not? Leadership is the main one.

                      Anyway – I’m done going back and forth. You’ll hold to your opinion no matter what. I won’t break a sweat.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Bolwerk – verifiable scholarship??? go ask to interview any police department head in any major city. never mind…

                      “Interview any police officer”* to get objective information on crime is about as good as “ask any phrenologist” to get objective information about skulls. They may know something about the topic, but their biases could easily contradict reality rather than conform to it.

                      And, why the hell would all police officers agree with each other? If you think police are so stupid that they can’t form their own opinions, you’re more jaded about them than I am. Go read up on the sheer numbers of crime trends instead of letting other people think for you.

                      * Most wouldn’t remember policing in the bad old days anyway. NYC turns over its police force pretty quickly.

                      i stopped reading

                      Figures. But before burying your head in the sand, please just learn to read for comprehension.

                      the first part when you compared policing street crime in the US to organized crime tactics in Italy.

                      You can’t be this illiterate. I seem to clearly be reading that I said Italy lacks an organized drug trade that the U.S. has. Indeed, it’s right here on this page.

                      If crime were the same everywhere my family would have never come to this country. Again – never mind.

                      Okay, I won’t mind a comment that makes no sense. I guess.

                      So I skipped down and I stopped reading again when you told me that Real Estate and Economics of NYC have nothing to do with the leadership.

                      Please go back and read what I said a few times until you grok it. Try not to infer things from it that I didn’t say. I said it has little or nothing to do with Bloomberg. Is it so hard to understand that the nature of real estate and economics in NYC took decades to take shape? Leadership that took place decades ago is shaping the real estate and economics of today. Ever hear of Robert Moses?

                      Then you say the reports say the NYC economy goes with the US economy. What were you reading.

                      Data and numbers, I guess. NYC entered a recession at a similar time as the U.S. economy. It left it at a similar time too. They aren’t perfectly correlated, but…aw, well, I guess from your comments about crime, I can safely assume you don’t understand the whole correlation/causation thing?

                      Do you have a source that says differently? I can’t find one.

                      It clearly shows this recession the NYC economy and real estate market outperformed the country as a whole.

                      And, again, I ask what I asked before: why wouldn’t it and what does it have to do with Bloomberg?

                      Consider: manufacturing underperformed the USA as a whole. Is that reflexively Bloomberg’s fault?

                      That especially holds significance because historically the opposite has been true of NYC.

                      Even if that’s true, past is hardly prologue. You think the only difference between 1922, 1972, and 2012 is Bloomberg?!

                      Do you forget what happened to NYC in the 70?s?

                      Ford to City: Drop Dead

                      I’ll again use the example of the country my family came from. It was a country that in the 60?s the government of the now economic miracle of Singapore used to travel to and learn about. Persons with capital didn’t like the philosophy of one of the new prime ministers. He then told them if they didn’t like it they should migrate. Guess what happened? Almost all the capital in the country fled – plunging the country into economic ruin (with the help of outside influences of course) – from which to this day it has never recovered. Why not? Leadership is the main one.

                      Considering capital flight remains one of the major threats to the NYC economy, and hardly something Bloomberg has control over, I don’t really see what you’re trying to demonstrate. NYC doesn’t conduct its own monetary or foreign policy. (For that matter, it barely conducts its own fiscal policy, and Bloomberg hardly has dominant control over even that.)

                      Then, should I point out the odd irony of someone from Singapore thinking the solution to problems is additional doses of authoritarianism? :|

                      Anyway – I’m done going back and forth. You’ll hold to your opinion no matter what. I won’t break a sweat.

                      Well, say hi to the underground fauna for me.

                  • Someone says:

                    But he didn’t reduce crime to 1/5 its original crime rate like Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly did.

                    • Alex C says:

                      Here’s the annoying thing with the Bloomberg/Kelly NYPD. Cooking the books can make any PD look great, and the NYPD tried to have a guy who said they were doing it locked up in the crazy house. I’m not a fan of the Bloomberg/Kelly NYPD, if only because they’ve wasted millions in tax dollars being a private security company for bank headquarters, their stupid spying-on-anyone-who-looks-Arabic program that lead to no leads but plenty of “undercover” vacations, their racial profiling, and tendency to close cases without actually solving them to make the numbers look good.

          • Alex C says:

            I do believe you’re right. At the same time, I fear nostalgia will show up for some folks and sway them. I’ve learned to never give the voting population anywhere in this country the benefit of the doubt.

            • John-2 says:

              New Yorkers tend to not elect the candidate on the Republican line to the mayoralty without special circumstances — with Giuliani and LaGuardia it was because the local Dems had screwed things up completely, while at the same the party also controlled the offices in Albany as well as the White House and both houses of Congress — there was no one higher up from the other party to blame for their mess-ups, and the voters opted for change. With Bloomberg, he never wins unless 9/11 happens, because of Giuliani’s post-attack popularity and voters worries that Mark Green wasn’t the greatest guy in the world management-wise, while John Lindsay won in large part because he was a young, handsome candidate and people were hoping their new mayor would be the next John F. Kennedy, in the wake of JFK’s assassination two years earlier and Robert Kennedy’s election as Senator in 1964.

              None of those situations hold true right now. If Lhotta ran, his candidacy would be based on his management skills, which in turn would be based in large part on the MTA’s handling of the Sandy crisis (they’re not electing him because he got Madison Square Garden renovated for James Dolan). But we’re coming off 12 years of a micro-manager in City Hall and while the city has problems, we’re not talking 1933 or 1993 levels. Odds are Lhotta would have to hope whoever wins the Democratic nomination runs the worst general election campaign in NYC mayoral history in order to win.

              • Bolwerk says:

                That conventional Giuliani narrative is simple, elegant, and…wrong. Seriously, what did local Dems screw up so irreparably that you needed a strongman to fix things? Those were frustrating times, sure, but the seeds for that frustration were sewn years or decades before, and at least not entirely by Democrats. I don’t even much buy that things got better because of political changes, but if you do you have to admit that Giuliani was therefore able to reap the benefits of his politically inept but hardly stupid predecessor’s policies too.

                I guess I can say, the Giuliani myth is not as patently absurd as the Reagan myth. Sure, it’s morning in America. But, oh, wait, there’s a crack epidemic going on.

                • John-2 says:

                  The crime rate was going down by 1993 under David Dinkins, and the city wasn’t in the same sort of financial crisis as it was during the mid-1970s or during the Seabury hearings back in 1932-33. But Dinkins did suffer the effects of the peak crime rate of six murders a day in the city in 1990-91. Giuliani’s stint as Reagan’s U.S. Attorney and the public’s perception of him as tough on crime (even if perp-walking Michael Milken in front of the cameras wasn’t exactly the same as a crack-based crime wave in Jamaica) fit the narrative of ’93 — as far as 2013 goes, I don’t see Lhotta’s strong points in management skills being what the public is going to be clamoring for next year, even if it turns out he is the better candidate.

                  (If Pataki had already been up in Albany, or if the Republicans had controlled anything down in Washington in ’93, Dinkins probably would have held on. But Guliani’s image and the “No one in the other party to blame” conundrum sealed his fate — and there are also places in the U.S. where a Democrat can’t win unless the Republicans are running everything in their state capital and in D.C. and the local situation is a flustercluck. That’s just the way things are).

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    Yes, I can buy that Dinkens was the victim of forces beyond his control, but I don’t buy this “Dems did it” hew and cry – just like I don’t buy the idea that Giuliani created the demographic wave he rode. It plays conspicuously into the cult of competence that the Dunning-Kruger-impaired GOP has to project to sustain itself.

                    Certainly, by 1994, things were changing, though not enough to save many incumbents. Kind of like 2010.

                    • Eric F says:

                      Dinkins was so bad, that he actually made it impossible for a Democrat to be mayor — in NYC — for 20 years. I guess he got your vote, but somehow that wasn’t enough.

                      I met Dinkins once. Seemed like a nice guy, awful mayor though.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      If I was old enough to vote then, I doubt it. By and large, the only person who ever had my vote in a local election was me. I don’t see any point in voting for the person who was selected by machines or, worse, legislative gerrymandering.

                      I put the rest of my response in a new thread.

  2. CB says:

    No! Damnit.

  3. BrooklynBus says:

    Will there at least be a penalty clause in the next contract so this doesn’t happen again? If you are guaranteeing someone a job for a set period of time, other than for health reasons, there should be a financial penalty before leaving before the end of the contract term.

    We do not need any more MTA heads whose prime purpose is to serve their own selfish interests instead of the public’s interests which should be their number one concern.

    • Nathanael says:

      A penalty clause might have worked for Lhota.

      No penalty clause would have exceeded the extremely generous offer Jay Walder got from Hong Kong. The state simply needed to be willing to pay him more; he was in high demand and deservedly so. Instead, he was treated badly by both his idiot bosses and the idiot unions.

    • Chris says:

      No sane candidate for the job is accepting a penalty clause in a contract that has no significant upfront bonuses and likely isn’t even paying the market wage to the person in question.

      • BrooklynBus says:

        They are paying market wage for the public sector. If the candidate is guaranteed that he will not be replaced within six years, the public deserves the same guarantees that no candidate will quit the moment he has a more lucrative offer. That’s only fair. Anyone who isn’t willing to accept these terms would not be dedicated anyway and we do not need them. The term used to be three years. It was raised to six and the salary was raised because of this to provide more stability. If someone only wants to stay for three years, his salary should be less.

        • If someone only wants to stay for three years, his salary should be less.

          If the goal is to retain and/or attract talented, smart people, that doesn’t make any sense. The risk of losing someone is always going to be there, especially considering how New York politicians treat whoever the head of the MTA is. Until there are some serious reforms concerning how transit is operated and funded in New York City, the MTA head will always be at risk of leaving.

          For what it’s worth, the two heads previous to Lhota were both booted by the state. Sander was kicked to the curb by Paterson, and Walder and Cuomo didn’t get along. Walder’s $1.2 million offer from Hong Kong was incidental to the real reason behind his departure.

          • BrooklynBus says:

            Actually Sander was never MTA Chairman, but its Executive Director. I believe Walder came back just to greatly boost his pension. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started putting feelers out the day he started.

            If my memory is correct, Walder’s salary was higher than his predecessors because he was given a six year contract instead of three and they were able to do this by abolishing the position of Executive Director so the chairman could do both jobs. Correct me if I am wrong.

            It will be interesting to find out what Ferrer’s salary will be since they are reinstating the Executive Director position.

            • You’re entirely misinformed. Please read my response to your other comment on the new positions. These are for an interim basis only.

              Also, what’s the issue with Walder? He served for two years and was basically shown the door by Cuomo. He got the Hong Kong offer after it was abundantly clear he wasn’t going to get support from Albany at all, and Cuomo wanted to appoint his own guy.

              • BrooklynBus says:

                I am misinformed? Are you saying that Sander was MTA Chairman? He was not.

                I am quite aware these are interim positions, but what does that have to do with my comments?

                I do not know what response to another comment you are talking about that you want me to read.

                I stand by my comments about Walder. You can definitively say that he had every intention of completing his term before his Hong Kong offer? I do not believe that is the case. He needed three more years to boost his pension and left one year prematurely. That’s the way I see it.

                • I don’t think Walder, who has earned millions of dollars in consulting and management fees and salaries, gives one iota about his MTA pension. Do you?

                  • BrooklynBus says:

                    I do not personally know the man, so I can’t speak with any certainty, but some people are unbelievable greedy no matter how much money they have and always want more. (Watch Shark Tank on ABC to see how true this is. The people on the panel have billions and are always looking for more.)

                    Anyway, I am not the only one who believes that is the reason he returned. In fact, I did not even think of it. It was an MTA employee who informed me about the pension issue and told me he believed that is why he came back. He was earning something like 30K+ per year during his first stint in the 80s when he left. A final two years at a Chairman’s salary makes a big pension difference since it is based on your last three years. I thought about it and agreed it probably was a factor or the main reason for his return.

                    • That’s quite the conspiracy theory. Do you know how much a McKinsey partner earns? The MTA pension is a pittance compared to that.

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      I don’t see how any conspiracy theory comes into play here. And whatever a McKinsey partner earns is irrelevant. If someone wants even more money he will try to get it.

                      You seem to believe that Walder cared so much about improving the MTA, seeing it as a challenge where his skills would be a valuable asset, so he accepted the job. (He was not naive. He knew of the politics beforehand and what he was getting himself into. It came as no surprise.)

                      But if that were his primary motivation and he cared so much about the MTA, and money wasn’t an issue, he would have completed his commitment and stayed the six years. Instead, he leaves when he finds a better offer. So money is indeed an important issue for the man, unlike Bloomberg who works for $1 per year as mayor. That’s why I don’t think it is far fetched to believe that his MTA pension was important to him.

  4. Someone says:

    While we’re on that topic, maybe the city should make the MTA a private company.

    • Alex C says:

      And this would accomplish what? You realize for-profit = cut services where trains/buses aren’t completely full to cut costs. I hope you like hourly G train service. Privatization of government agencies isn’t a magic unicorn, it’s just a way to give government business to political donors. NICE in Nassau is making great strides in their operations by getting rid of bus maintenance and shoddy schedule-keeping. Result ended up being a drop in ridership. Let’s totally do that with our transit system.

      • Someone says:

        The Tokyo Metro and the Seoul Subway did much better after privatisation than before privatisation. Maybe it’s time for the MTA to do the same thing.

        • Alex C says:

          You’re making the naive assumption that most people make here in America about privatization and business in the 21st century. Fifty years ago, I would’ve given it a try. In today’s business culture in America, a privatized MTA would be run into the ground and make the LIRR look like a clean-as-a-whistle operation. It’s not worth the risk at this point. The MTA as is continues to trim its budget and look for efficiencies while providing as much service as possible, and does so while having its budget raided every year for the past decade+ and working with clowns in the state assembly. It’s doing the job well, all things considered.

          • Someone says:

            The private owners don’t necessarily have to be for-profit organisations.

            • Nathanael says:

              Oh-kay, so you’re proposing a not-for-profit with a “foundation” style board? They’ve been mostly taken over by the same damned CEOs. Don’t get me started on the attempts by management to turn not-for-profit insurance companies into for-profit insurances. Or on the monument-building waste and incompetent investment popular among university administrations. Or on the sheer graft involved in organizations like the Red Cross….

              Not an improvement.

            • Bolwerk says:

              Look, let’s be clear here: privatization, by itself, does jack shit to improve public services. When you privatize an agency’s long-standing core competency, you are almost certainly asking for higher costs right there. Even 401(c)(3)s want enough net revenue fro healthy bonuses for directors. Not least of these higher costs is higher financing costs.

              Now, it doesn’t mean that private transit can’t work, but you need to offer something better than just plain privatization. What else is in the mix?

              • Someone says:

                Oh-kay, so privatisation itself is out of the mix, I was actually hoping that the subway would not be owned by one for-profit mega corporation, but that parts of different subway lines (the L, the BMT Eastern Division, the rest of the B division, the 7, and the rest of the A division) would be owned and the trackage shared amongst different companies.

                • Alex C says:

                  Then you’re just setting up a bureaucratic nightmare. A privatized bureaucratic nightmare, but a nightmare. There’s a reason the BMT and IRT had to eventually hold hands while the IND tried to run them out of business. You don’t want competition in the subway, you want maximum service.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    Yes and no. Japanese and even the Europeans seem to have models where multiple agencies share fine. Attributing revenue across agencies is mostly just an accounting problem, and not even a very difficult one when the trips are symmetric.

                    I don’t think Someone’s position about multiple operators is wildly delusional, but it still takes a lot of thought as to how and why. It would be better, IMHO, to focus on getting our existing agencies to work together.

                    • Someone says:

                      The only reason why the subway (and the city) is so big today is because of intense competition between the three companies. They, however, did share trackage, as part of the Dual Contracts.

                      In Japan, the use of rolling stock from different companies on different trackage seems fine. Heck, they even have commuter rail run on subway lines, and it works just fine. The same goes for Seoul.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      The only reason why the subway (and the city) is so big today is because of intense competition between the three companies.

                      I think the size of the system is better described in as a consequence of the city’s growth, not the driver for it – though it did make that growth possible.

                      Either way, here in the USA, we can’t even get our public agencies to be nice to each other. Even the ones in the same state subordinate to the same umbrella organization.

        • Alon Levy says:

          The Tokyo Metro and the Seoul Subway did much better after privatisation than before privatisation.

          [Citation needed]

          • Bolwerk says:

            Miles Bader is probably the person to ask.

            Though, I can buy it. Establishing that it happened because of privatization is the hard part.

            • Alon Levy says:

              I’ve read about how JR has done better after privatization, but nothing about Tokyo Metro. Hence my comment.

              • Bolwerk says:

                I’m pretty ignorant of both, except for what I read from you and others. EU systems I can comment on better.

                But, Japanese do seem to provide public transport services through private firms quite well. But that doesn’t say anything about how America would do, and all the anecdotal evidence I see points to it wouldn’t do well at all.

                • Alex C says:

                  Those Japanese firms also have unbelievable efficiency in terms of how many people use their services. If you’re constantly running full trains, you’re making bank. They also had the advantage of a head start with OCD-level maintained infrastructure that they inherited before privatization. They have the advantage of having local Japanese multinationals that work together with them to develop rolling stock as a matter of national pride. And most importantly, their management is committed to company success, not raiding company profits for personal bonuses and stock options. Now see if we have any of those conditions possible here in the US. We don’t. Folks in Nassau sure are enjoying their new “maybe the bus shows up, maybe not” NICE! bus service with its zero-maintenance approach to its bus fleet.

      • Boris says:

        The MTA’s de facto policy is already to get rid of money-losing services, like many bus routes. Like Amtrak, it can benefit from functioning more like a corporation. (In both cases the worst money losers are mandated by federal law).

        Plus private does not have to mean for profit – one of the best transit companies, IMHO, is the private non-profit Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit. It’s run and subsidized jointly by Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Tompkins County.

        • nb says:

          Read your history books: Private transit companies only make sustainable long-term profit when they’re also in the real estate business (or unless they’re getting massive government subsidies)

        • TH says:

          The mission of the MTA is to provide these so-called money losing services. If one their services is not “profitable” it should be subsidized by income from more profitable services until it can find a way to improve profitability. Ditching the services is not an option when your purpose for existence is to provide them to the public. If we start ditching bus routes that are not profitable then we are left with a city only partially covered by bus routes, and the MTA does not fulfill its mission.

  5. Nathanael says:

    Off-topic: looks like Hoboken PATH is finally open again!

  6. 238th St says:

    Ben Kabak for next MTA chief!

  7. Bolwerk says:

    Matthew 16:26

  8. Ray says:

    I think the world of Joe Lhota (briefly worked with him). And if he decides to run for Mayor, we all wish him well. It will make the Mayoral race interesting. Should he vacate the MTA chairmanship, it’s time to return to a strategy of recruiting a transportation professional – whose ambitions will be fulfilled with this job. Perhaps Cuomo can elevate Janette Sadik-Khan !!! Previous chairs left because of political plate tectonics or our inability to support this vital state agency’s initiatives. It’s going to take a clever appointment and funding commitment to stabilize the leadership of this agency. Fingers crossed that Cuomo can impress.

    • Alex C says:

      Sadik-Khan likes bike lanes and public transport. Cuomo, like most American politicians, lives in 1950 when it comes to transportation. I’d be shocked if he nominated her.

  9. Michael says:

    Perhaps it is time to fold the MTA into NYSDOT, along with the thruway ?

  10. Sucks. Really does.

    I like the idea of Sadik-Khan, though I can’t say I’m extremely familiar with her, other than knowing she’s a ‘transit professional’. The idea of Ben picking up the tab is an interesting one (though perhaps in a couple years).

    Who do we think are realistic replacements at this juncture?

  11. nb says:

    1) Props to Joe Lhota for doing a good as job as humanly possible running the MTA during a painful recession, but why the hell did he have to leave now? It’s not like there’s a lot of love for Rudy (Lhota’s old boss) in NYC these days to carry the vote for him.

    2) Unfortunately it seems impossible to keep a responsible, high quality transportation professional to stay in the reins of the MTA these days–the challenges are mighty, the headaches are huge, and you get screamed at by everyone. If the underlying economics of the agency don’t change in Albany, no one good is going to ever want that job.

    • Eric F says:

      But I think ideally you’d like to see good managers move upward into the mayor’s office. I’m not saying Lhota is good or bad, I really don’t have an opinion, but I’d rather have a good manager in charge of a key agency move upward than a vote caster on the city council, if those were my two choices.

  12. Quinn Raymond says:

    Well, he’d probably be OK on Transit stuff but I’m not sure bike people are going to be thrilled with him.

    The day Hurricane Sandy started he tweeted:
    https://twitter.com/JoeLhota/status/262960034382741504

  13. Alon Levy says:

    Okay, can we now get a Democrat who isn’t Christine Quinn?

  14. Bolwerk says:

    @Eric F: Dinkens did nothing of the sort. Tellingly, he initiated some of the crime-fighting policies Giuliani got credit for – whether the policies themselves did anything is another debate, but that’s hard to overlook. Also, there have only been two mayors since Dinkens, and both had multiple terms. Who’s to say a Dem wouldn’t have won in an open field in 1997, 2005, and 2009? It would depend on the candidates, most probably, but even Bloomberg probably only eked in because of 9/11 – he just happened to do a job most people found satisfactory by his next election, a feeling that continued until after his third election.

    (I don’t take this partisan crap too seriously. The unpicked Dem is the presumptive winner right now, but Christine Quinn is fairly ideologically indistinguishable from Bloomberg, who himself is only scarcely to the left of Giuliani on social issues and perhaps to the right on economic issues.)

    @Nathanael: I have a little trouble buying Giuliani had no effect. More likely, the story is a constellation of factors and I don’t think they’re all understood. Certainly, the 1994/1995 strategy of arresting turnstile jumpers and the like yielded some baddies who did worse, but I never saw statistics as to how much. The problem is the modern law enforcement brass doesn’t understand when things like that stop working, so nearly 20 years later we’re expanding the strategy into stop ‘n frisk fishing and really getting little for it.

    It’s why Ray Kelly has gone from reformist to obstinate dunderhead without really changing much at all.

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  2. [...] Lhota confirmed today what we already knew but with a twist: As of December 31, and not this Friday, as originally reported, he will be stepping down from his post atop the MTA in order to assess a [...]

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