Lhota now chief of staff at NYU Langone

Joe Lhota at a mayoral forum held last year (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Joe Lhota at a mayoral forum held last year (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

It doesn’t quite have the ring to it that “Mayor Lhota” would have, but the former Republican mayoral contender now has a new job with multiple impressive titles. As of January 6, the former head of the MTA will become chief of staff, senior vice president and vice dean at NYU Langone Medical Center.

In his new role, Joe Lhota will be responsible for “helping to further align and integrate our hospitals and the School of Medicine,” the hospital said in an internal memo. The news was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Lhota’s replacing Tony Shorris, who left NYU Langone on December 31 to serve as first deputy mayor under Mayor de Blasio.

He’ll be reporting directly to Robert I. Grossman, the hospital’s CEO, and will serve as an advisor on management and policy issues as well as an ambassador to government and other officials.

“I am excited to join the talented leadership team at NYU Langone,” Lhota said in a statement through the hospital. “A true visionary, Dr. Grossman has bold plans for the organization, and I am look forward to taking part in what lies ahead for this great organization.”

In the memo, Grossman noted Lhota’s 35 years of managerial experience from the MTA to his working for the Giuliani administration as deputy mayor for operations. Then there’s the corporate resume: Lhota also served as executive vice president of administration for the Madison Square Garden Company and held several executive positions with Cablevision.

“Joe’s unique blend of corporate management and public sector leadership, in addition to his accomplishments as an executive in complex organizations, will make him a great asset to our team and important to our ongoing success,” said Grossman.

Editorial: To-do list for Mayor de Blasio

CAPTION Bill de Blasio, pictured with his family, has been sworn in as mayor. (Photo via Mayor's Office Flickr)

Bill de Blasio, pictured with his family, has been sworn in as mayor. (Photo via Mayor’s Office Flickr)

Now that the ball has dropped in Times Square, ringing in another New Year, we are hoping that the new mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, does not drop the ball at City Hall, and remembers the promises he made to voters while campaigning.

So, without further ado, here are a few matters we think should be at the top of the mayor’s to-do list:

1) Come up with a concrete plan for the building of new affordable housing units and the preservation of the city’s existing but dwindling stock of it. While running in the primary against several other tenant-friendly Democrats, de Blasio spoke of affordable housing as a way to combat the “tale of two cities” or rather the lack of a place for the middle class in New York. He even specifically mentioned Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village as a place in need of protection, along with other communities like it from speculative developers. We hope he remembers saying this, because we certainly do as do all the tenants who elected him.

 2) Create more classroom seats — and not just by shutting down existing schools to make room for re-branded ones. The top concern of public school parents around the city—along with the fact that school system itself has become a “testocracy” — is classroom crowding. On the East Side of Manhattan, the problem has started to subside somewhat with the opening of two new schools, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. In addition, we hope this mayor will find creative solutions to helping failing or struggling schools rather than simply slating them for closure and re-branding them by sticking differently named schools, including charters, in their buildings.

3) Find a new head for NYCHA. Following the announcement that NYCHA Chair John Rhea was stepping down on Monday, it’s imperative that the city find a replacement soon. Granted, de Blasio was no doubt already on this, considering Rhea’s poor job performance over the past four years he held the position. Under his tenure, the Housing Authority sat endlessly on funds allocated by elected officials for security upgrades at numerous public housing developments. At the same time, the agency cried poverty and hatched the revenue-making scheme of putting market rate buildings on top of existing NYCHA properties’ parking lots and common areas. This includes local developments like Campos Plaza, where tenants also saw numerous delays for the implementation of their much needed surveillance camera system.

4) Quit meddling in the workings of other branches of government. While we absolutely believe the mayor is entitled to openly endorse whoever he wants for the position of City Council speaker or any other job, the fact that he has quietly contacted members of the Council to try and get them to vote for his favorite is concerning. It is important for the Council to maintain its independence from the mayor’s office, so we hope that in the future, de Blasio refrains from any actions that appear to be efforts to manipulate its operations.

5) Be transparent. No matter what decisions he ends up making, the public has a right to know what’s going on, whether it’s the real reason behind a push for a development project in a particular neighborhood or a well-intentioned project spearheaded by the city that turns out to be a failure, like the ill-fated CityTime accountability system. The public shouldn’t have to rely on subpoenaed records and FOIL requests from reporters frustrated by politicians evading questions about everyday City Hall business. So, we hope this mayor, who like any other is bound to make some mistakes, will be transparent, because if he does, they won’t seem like such a big deal when they happen.

Letters to the Editor, Jan. 3

Weekly cartoon by Jim Meadows (jimtoon.com)

Weekly cartoon by Jim Meadows (jimtoon.com)

A bit of feedback

Dear T&V,

Steven Sanders’ article, “Obama’s cure for the common cold” in the opinion section of the Dec. 5, 2013 issue was exceptionally funny and insightful.

I don’t know what’s happened to movie critic Seth Shire, who I’ve always enjoyed. However, judging by four of his movie reviews, Michael Phillips is pretty good and very funny.

I am grateful that you thought my letter to you about my visit to Stuyvesant Town was worth printing in “The Soapbox” of your the Dec. 5, 2013 issue.

I love that the Third Street Music School is on 11th Street. Thank you, NYC.

To Sabina and Maria, it finally just hit me how many articles you two write every week! Where would T&V be without you? (It would be about six pages, mostly ads and columns and a couple of letters.)

Dear Mr. Kilik, your review of “Soul Doctor” was wonderful and I’m dying to see it but I’m here in Minneapolis. But you sure made it come alive in your terrific column.

Dear Mr. Hagedorn, you’ve done it again with your article in the October 3, 2013 article, “Subway grates: Urban Artifacts.” God, I love your column.

Most sincerely,

Richard Luksin
Minneapolis, MN

P.S. I’d give anything to go on one of Alfred Pommer’s (historical walking) tours.
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Garodnick: Speaker race is not over yet

Council Speaker hopeful Dan Garodnick

Council Speaker hopeful Dan Garodnick

By Sabina Mollot

In a move that was considered somewhat unusual, in recent weeks, incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a big boost to would-be City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, by asking her colleagues to give her the vote for the position, as opposed to another frontrunner for the job, Council Member Dan Garodnick.

Recently, Mark-Viverito, who represents the Upper West Side, East Harlem and part of The Bronx, essentially declared victory, saying she had the support of 30 Council members, while Garodnick has responded to say he has no intention of dropping out. The internal Council vote will take place on January 8 and this week, Garodnick told Town & Village he believes by then he’ll have enough support among his colleagues to be the winner.

That said, he knows his opponent has the edge given de Blasio’s open support.

“We haven’t has a Democratic mayor in 20 years, so obviously his influence is felt on this election,” he said. But, he added that he thought that “any declaration of victory is premature here. This is why we have elections.”

He added that he’s gotten “a very strong coalition” of members of the Council supporting his bid for speaker, which includes the entire Bronx delegation and much of the Queens and Staten Island delegations. “I’m very honored to have their backing,” he said.

As for the then mayor-elect’s interference in selecting Christine Quinn’s replacement, Garodnick stressed the need for “checks and balances.”

“We are at an important crossroads in New York City history,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of turnover in local government. There are going to be issues in which the mayor and the City Council will part company. That’s why you need to have two distinct branches of government and we should not stray from that.”

As for why he thinks he’s the best Council member for the job, Garodnick cited his history of finding creative solutions to problems and his diplomacy skills.

In the past couple of months, Garodnick has frequently made headlines for his hesitance to support the East Midtown Rezoning plan, but he said he doesn’t believe that issue is a factor in whether or not he would get his colleagues’ support. Nor, he said, does he believe it’s an issue for other Council members that, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, his East Side district covers one of the “wealthiest swaths” of the city. “You could say that about anyone’s district that’s different from someone else’s district,” he said. He added that any speaker has to be “a five-borough speaker” and “a person of empathy.”

Mark-Viverito did not respond to requests for comment on this story, nor did a rep for de Blasio.

On Tuesday, a story in Capital New York reported that outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn has been putting pressure on colleagues to support Garodnick, or more specifically not to support Mark-Viverito.

Previously, the Daily News reported that Mark-Viverito had the support of feminist Gloria Steinem.