Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lhota And The Elephants

The NY Times reminds us this morning of the infamous Brooklyn Museum Virgin Mary/elephant dung painting and Joe Lhota's role in the Giuliani administration's controversial plan to punish the museum for having the show.

While not as damaging to Lhota as the NY Times piece on Christine Quinn earlier this week was to Quinn, today's article leaves the reader with the impression that Lhota is as reactionary and vindictive now as he was then:

He still appears to be wrestling with the lessons of “Sensation,” as the museum exhibition was called. Mr. Lhota, a seasoned municipal deal maker, prefers to describe the ultimatums that the city issued, including the eviction threat, as routine strategies in a negotiation, not as a flash point in the battles over free speech that raged throughout Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s tenure.

Should Mr. Lhota become the Republican nominee for mayor, his Democratic opponent would most likely pounce on his role in the museum controversy, linking him to an administration that, in pursuit of a better-behaved New York, ran afoul of the First Amendment by seeking to block a rally for young black men in Harlem, cutting financing for an AIDS housing group that mocked City Hall and firing a police officer who criticized the department. 

For many involved in the Brooklyn Museum debate, bitterness toward Mr. Lhota still lingers.
“He did it once; he could certainly do it again,” said Jack A. Josephson, a museum board member at the time. 

“If you are a museum person today, you’d have to keep this in the back of your mind. They all should be worried that they might do something that would offend a Mayor Lhota.”

Some people think Lhota has a shot at becoming mayor.

I think his years in the Giuliani administration, his inextricable links to the Guiliani "ferret moments" like the Brooklyn Museum episode, make him a hard sell in a general election.

Yeah, I'm sure there will be white voters in parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island who remember the Giuliani years fondly and will happily cast a vote for Lhota.

And yes, many of the city's power brokers would support him.

But I have a hard time seeing how that puts him over the top if the Democratic candidate who runs against him uses the "Rudy Test" on him throughout the campaign.

Do you want the Rudy years back?

If so, vote for Lhota - he'll bring back such favorites as defunding arts institutions in retaliation for shows he doesn't like or shoving reporters and call them ethnic slurs at press conferences.

And just in case you think Lhota can say he's grown up since the Rudy Years, let's not forget this episode from his time at the MTA:

On Thursday, Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, turned his attention to another adversary: a member of his own board, whom he accused of lying and challenged twice to “be a man” during an unusually heated exchange at the authority’s monthly meeting.

The board member, Charles G. Moerdler, 77, who served as New York City’s housing and buildings commissioner in the 1960s, responded by saying he would “bring it on,” although his response was rather muted compared with Mr. Lhota’s remarks.

The group was discussing a proposal to reduce the number of board meetings to 8 a year from 11, and add 2 “forum” meetings specifically for the public to address the chairman and the authority’s presidents. The board meetings include public comment periods.

Mr. Moerdler opposed the plan, saying, “We need at this time to increase, not decrease, timely disclosure.”

It did not take long for Mr. Lhota, 57, to pounce. He said he wished Mr. Moerdler would reconsider his position, “since your flawed thinking and the erroneous things that you’ve just said are actually scurrilous.”

Mr. Lhota, who has trumpeted the authority’s transparency, said agency information would be available more frequently under the proposal.

He said Mr. Moerdler’s “blubbering” was “just a waste of time and a waste of effort.”

Mr. Lhota then appeared to allude to a May article in The Daily News in which Mr. Moerdler was accused of using a police-issued placard to park illegally outside the Cornell Club.

“To make statements in public like this, similar to the statement that you made when you only parked in that parking spot for a few minutes when it was documented by camera that it was over four hours — enough of lying to this board,” Mr. Lhota said, at turns pounding his finger on the table.

Mr. Moerdler seemed taken aback. “Mr. Chairman,” he said, “character assassination does not do you credit.”

But he said he “will not challenge” Mr. Lhota, to which the chairman responded, “I wish you would.”

“Be a man,” he said, as the two began speaking over each other. “Be a man.”

“Oh, I’d be happy to do it,” Mr. Moerdler said. “In your words, I will bring it on.”

“Let’s go,” Mr. Lhota said.

Mr. Moerdler said he stood by his opposition to the plan. “With respect, and I say with respect, I find your comments disturbing,” he said. “I will leave it at that.”

“Respect is not mutual,” Mr. Lhota said.

Clearly, Lhota is a bully and a jerk, using character assassination and ad hominem attacks against the MTA board member simply because he didn't like the proposal the man made.

It's a shame the Times didn't do the same kind of temperament piece on Lhota that they did on Quinn.

It is quite clear that Lhota's temperament is no more suited for running NYC, the NYPD or the NYCDOE any more than Quinn's is.

Just ask the reporter he shoved or the MTA board member he challenged.

1 comment:

  1. You're right that Lhota is a bully and a jerk.

    From today's April 26 New York Times article, "With Fellow Cigar Enthusiasts, Lhota Raises Money in Smoky Haze":

    Elio Forcina, a lawyer who organized the event, introduced Mr. Lhota to an owner of the Habana Hut, adding that the proprietor, as a high school student, had once stuffed Andrew M. Cuomo, a classmate and the future governor, into a hallway locker.

    The owner vigorously shook his head. “It was my brother! Not me!”

    “Your brother put Andrew Cuomo in a locker? Wow, wow. That’s great,” Mr. Lhota said, reaching for a cigar cutter.

    Aside from looking a lot like Boss Tweed, the rotund, bearded, cigar-chomping Lhota apparently approves of bullying in schools.

    I guess if he is elected Mayor, we'll have PRO-bullying programs in the public schools.