Lhota Meets With Local Republicans
Mayoral candidate Joe Lhota met with the Rockaway Republican Club on Wednesday evening at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club. Lhota has been a regular visitor to Rockaway in recent months and took this opportunity to share ideas he’ll try to implement as mayor while also pointing out what he sees as shortcomings of the Bloomberg administration.
Lhota knocked the job the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) did after Sandy and said it was a result of Bloomberg’s management style that did not have the agency in place to lead. He also pointed to a bloated budget and city workforce that have occurred under Bloomberg’s watch. He said some of the mayor’s education initiatives have been worthwhile but said 81 percent of students entering CUNY community colleges require remedial courses which is a direct reflection on City schools not doing their jobs.
It is his intention to lead an engaged administration. Lhota said he wants more community participation and would hold monthly town hall meetings should he become mayor. He said if there was community input, Rockaway wouldn’t have “bathrooms in the sky that don’t fit in. They look like double wide trailers.”
Lhota praised the mayor for extending ferry service through January and told the crowd that he had tweeted earlier in the day: As mayor I will continue this service.
When asked if he had specifics about building affordable housing he said that any builder that requests to “build higher or build wider” would be required to add or include 20 percent of affordable housing in order to get building approval.
He said he had a number of ideas for job creation. One example would be to remove a roadblock built into the city tax system that weighs heavily on start-ups and entrepreneurs and forces them to set up in New Jersey and Connecticut instead. As for his time as Chairman of the MTA, Lhota said the biggest challenge came from Albany (New York State). New York City transit does not receive subsidies equal to that of other cities and is at the mercy of decision makers with no ties to the city. Lhota said he was proud of installing electronic signs that indicate when trains will be arriving in stations and spearheading the innovation that allows GPS to be used on mobile devices which allows commuters to know where the next bus is on a route.
Finally, he said he was the one who pushed for a sea wall to protect the A Line tracks from another storm (rather than just rebuilding the tracks as some had suggested).
Lhota said he would look to replace most department commissioners and expected current Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to step down although he would look to retain Kelly as an advisor in the search for a new PD commissioner. Lhota is running in the Republican primary on September 10th. His opponents are John Catsimatidis and George McDonald.