Joseph J. Lhota // (born October 7, 1954) is an American public servant and a former politician. He served as the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and was also a former deputy mayor of New York City. He was the Republican nominee in an unsuccessful bid for the 2013 election for Mayor of New York City. In January 2014, he became senior vice president, vice dean, and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center. In 2017, he returned to the chairmanship of the MTA, but would not run the authority day-to-day. He resigned from that position in 2018.
|Chairman of the MTA|
June 23, 2017 – November 9, 2018
|Preceded by||Fernando Ferrer (acting)|
|Succeeded by||Fernando Ferrer (acting)|
January 9, 2012 – December 31, 2012
|Preceded by||Jay Walder|
|Succeeded by||Fernando Ferrer (acting)|
Joseph J. Lhota
October 7, 1954
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Harvard Business School
|Known for||Republican nominee for New York City Mayor 2013|
|Website||NYU Langone Medical Center Biography|
Early life and educationEdit
Joe Lhota was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of Jackie and Joseph "Joe" Lhota, a New York City police officer. His paternal grandfather was a New York City firefighter, and his maternal grandfather was a New York City taxi driver. His father’s family is Czech. His maternal grandfather was of Italian descent and his maternal grandmother was Jewish. Lhota was raised Catholic, and self-identifies as a Christian, although he is considered Jewish according to Jewish law. The family later moved to Lindenhurst. He was the first member of his family to attend college, graduating with honors from Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business with a degree in business administration in 1976. He received an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1980.
Private sector careerEdit
Upon graduating from Georgetown University, Lhota joined Arthur Andersen & Co. in Washington, D.C. and specialized in health care finance. He worked there for two years before entering the Harvard Business School. Following Harvard, Lhota returned to New York City and began a fourteen-year career as an investment banker at First Boston and Paine Webber. He specialized in public finance, serving state and local governments throughout the United States.
In 2002, Lhota became executive vice president of Cablevision, as well as president of Lightpath, a fiber-based telecommunications company that offered telephone and high speed data services to businesses throughout the New York area. In 2010, he joined The Madison Square Garden Company as executive vice president as a member of the senior management team and chief administrative officer.
In early 2014, after his mayoral run, Lhota was appointed as senior vice president, vice dean, and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center, in charge of "government outreach", emergency preparedness, and business planning.
From 2002 to 2015, Lhota served as a member of the board of directors of First Aviation Services, Inc. In 2015, FAVS became a private company. In 2014, Lhota became a board member of Cablevision Systems Corporation and was chairman of its audit committee until the company was sold in June 2016 to Altice USA.
Public service careerEdit
In 1994, Lhota joined the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, where he held several positions over Giuliani's two terms. He first served as chief of staff to the deputy mayor for finance and economic development and that year was quickly promoted to New York City finance commissioner. In 1995, he was selected as director of the New York City Mayor's Office of Management and Budget. In 1998, Giuliani appointed Lhota to deputy mayor for operations. As the head of the mayor's rat abatement task force, he was humorously known as "the Rat Czar".
Lhota served as Mayor Giuliani's liaison to the White House, United States Congress, governor of New York, New York State Legislature and New York City Council. Additionally, he was responsible for oversight of the city’s relationships with the public employee unions and development of collective bargaining agreement strategies.
Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation AuthorityEdit
On October 20, 2011, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated Lhota to serve as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest mass transit provider in the United States (servicing 8.5 million customers daily). While awaiting confirmation by the New York State Senate, Lhota began serving as interim CEO. He was unanimously confirmed on January 9, 2012.
Lhota was responsible for New York City Transit’s Fastrack program, which saw more than $16 million in productivity gains in 2012, by concentrating and targeting subway station maintenance efforts. In July 2012, Lhota announced a $30 million service enhancement package that restored transportation services that the MTA had previously eliminated in 2010, and added new transit services in underserved areas, including Williamsburg, the South Bronx and Brooklyn Navy Yard—all New York City neighborhoods that had seen significant residential and commercial development since 2005. Lhota headed efforts to make information about the MTA and its services more accessible to its customers through its website and apps. He granted pay raises to managers at the MTA.
When Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the New York metropolitan area in October 2012, Lhota shut down the MTA in advance of the storm and moved the system's trains to high ground to avoid damage from the storm surge. His other notable hurricane recovery measure was the rapid deployment of a free Rockaway Park Shuttle to service the worst damaged line in Rockaway, Queens. Lhota also directed the MTA to provide regular details and updates to the public on the recovery efforts via social media and local news channels.
In January 2017, Governor Cuomo appointed Lhota to the committee charged with conducting a nationwide search for a new Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the MTA. He resigned on November 9, 2018, effective immediately.
Lhota resigned as head of the MTA on December 31, 2012, to explore running for mayor of New York City. On January 17, 2013, he filed paperwork with the New York City Board of Elections and the New York State Board of Elections to formally launch his mayoral campaign.
Lhota won the endorsements of all three major daily New York City newspapers for the Republican primary, with The New York Times stating, "few people know better than Mr. Lhota how city government works." He won the primary on September 10, 2013 with 52.5% of the vote, defeating John Catsimatidis, who garnered 40.7%, and George T. McDonald, who captured 6.8%.
Lhota's economic plan focused on job creation primarily through municipal tax cuts. He said he wanted to lower the General Corporation Tax, phase out the Commercial Rent Tax, reform the Unincorporated Business Tax, and lower the hotel tax. He proposed to cut the hotel occupancy tax to 5% from 5.85%, and to lower property taxes.
Lhota also proposed a tax incentive program to allow private sector developers to build mixed-use housing to incorporate affordable units. He planned to improve education in New York City by doubling the number of public charter schools, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. He participated in a School Choice Rally organized by Success Academy Charter Schools to protest Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio's proposed rent requirement for the city's charter schools that were operating in public school buildings and ban on further co-location in public school buildings. He also proposed universal pre-kindergarten without raising taxes.
Return to MTAEdit
In June 2017, Lhota was nominated by Cuomo to return to Chairman of the MTA. Lhota remained NYU Langone, as he will not be the day-to-day executive of the MTA; that role was instead filled by Veronique Hakim.
Lhota's return to the MTA occurred in the middle of the subway's transit crisis. In summer 2017, the subway system was officially put in a state of emergency after a series of derailments, track fires, and overcrowding incidents. Cuomo ordered Lhota to come up with a reorganization plan for the subway within 30 days. Lhota's plan involved removing seats from subway cars, consolidating the subway's scattered operations, managing escalators and elevators, and repairing damaged and critically important signals and tracks. The MTA had been criticized for implementing relatively cosmetic improvements, rather than performing needed repairs and upgrades to signals, power, tracks, station accessibility, and infrastructure. In response, Lhota said that the MTA was improving passenger experience not only on the trains, but also in the stations.
On November 9, 2018, Lhota resigned his position as chairman of the MTA without having taken his $1-a-year salary. A Wall Street Journal article in October 2018 had speculated that Lhota was considering retiring because of potential conflicts of interest with his other roles as NYU Langone Health chief of staff, and as a lobbyist, though Lhota repudiated these claims. In July 2019, it was revealed that Lhota did resign in a letter to Cuomo due to a state ethics committee decision that he had too strong a potential conflict of interest.
While he was raised Catholic and identifies as Christian, Lhota's maternal grandmother was Jewish. When asked why he didn't capitalize on his religious heritage to garner the city's Jewish voters, he responded, "I think that would be patronizing."
Lhota defended his support for pro-choice and same-sex marriage as not only being in sync with New York City's socially liberal outlook but consistent with Jeffersonian republicanism or democracy and its intellectual premise in classical liberalism. His accommodation of fiscal conservatism and socially progressive views were criticized by some local social conservative groups while independents applauded his position as an example of third-way politics. Lhota called for expulsion of Donald Trump from the Republican Party after Trump's remarks about banning Muslims from entering the United States.
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