Like lovers who’ve been burned too many times, we were a tad wary when dynamic new MTA commissioner Joseph Lhota came on board at the start of 2012. Joe’s quick acceptance of the inevitability of another fare hike and public screaming matches with other board members left us wondering about his judgement.
But then Hurricane Sandy came along, Lhota’s first real crisis, and Joe came through with shining colors, getting the subways and buses up and running in short order.
While still wary, we now held a glimmer of hope: Hey, maybe this guy actually cares, means what he says and will (finally) do right by us!
On December 19, less than a year after taking the reins, Lhota gave 12 days notice and bailed on the job. Family emergency? Scandal?
Nope. Joe’s decided to “explore” a run for mayor!
“This is a life-defining decision for me,” said Lhota. What did he have to say to once again abandoned subway riders? “It’s not you, it’s me,” he chuckled.
Ok, he didn’t really say that last one. But he may as well have. It is him–another crass opportunist who came on board promising to straighten out the horrible MTA bureaucracy, performed well during the Hurricane but left us the same basic MTA mess that was here when he arrived, with its budget contingent on federal aid that is still unsecured.
Lhota’s solution? Vote to again jack up the subway fare to $2.50, as well as to substantially boost the cost of MetroCards and bridge tolls. While Lhota ducked out before it was rubber-stamped by the full board, it will most likely go into effect March 1st. See you, suckers!
Why does this feel so familiar? Wasn’t it only recently that we kissed another opportunist commissioner goodbye?
Jay Walder was two years into a fat, six-year contract paying $300,000 per annum. Walder solemnly promised he was in it for the long haul, even demanding a payment of $750,000 if he were asked to leave early, demanding a commitment to him from the city.
Yep, another double standard double-dealer. As recounted in this space exactly one year ago today, Walder parleyed his two year stint at the MTA into a $2 million a year position as CEO of a Hong Kong rail and real estate firm. But Jay, what about your solemn promise? Jay? Jay??
Now Lhota has the chutzpah to think that because of the MTA’s unexpectedly brisk response to Hurricane Sandy (mostly due to unsung MTA employees working 14 hour days to get the system back up) New Yorkers can’t wait to pull the lever for our dashing hero, as Lhota’s real estate and other corporate cronies eagerly urge him to throw his hat into the ring.
Sorry Joe, but we’ve been played too many times before. We’ve learned the hard way that to the Joe Lhotas of the world, it’s not about public service, but self service.