Bringing it on
By Adam Wisnieski
Maybe it’s not one big happy Bronx family on the MTA Board after all.
Last week, MTA board member Charles Moerdler, who wears many hats including that of Community Board 8 Land Use chair, got into a fight with MTA chair Joseph Lhota during a board meeting.
Mr. Moerdler objected to an idea being floated to reduce the number of board meetings from 11 to eight per year, while adding two special meetings for the public to address the board chair and MTA’s presidents.
Mr. Lhota went for the jugular.
“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, referring to a New York Post story published earlier this year where Mr. Moerdler was accused of misusing a police-issued placard to park in front of the Cornell Club in Manhattan.
“Mr. Chairman, character assassination does not do you credit,” Mr. Moerdler replied.
Then it got ugly.
“I will not challenge you,” Mr. Moerdler said.
“I wish you would,” Mr. Lhota said. “Be a man, be a man.”
“I’m happy to do it. In your words, I will bring it on!” Mr. Moerdler hollered. “Because it is clear to me that this is improper.”
“I think my Bronx upbringing came out today. I’ve tried to keep it in check for 57 years, and for that, I apologize,” Mr. Lhota said to reporters afterwards.
Immediately after the fight, Councilman Oliver Koppell wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking that Mr. Lhota be removed from the board for his actions.
“Mr. Lhota’s comments are totally out of line, offensive and a violation of his obligations as a highly placed and responsible public servant,” Mr. Koppell wrote.
It is unlikely Mr. Lhota will be kicked off the MTA Board for this alone, but this isn’t the first time he’s copped an attitude with another official.
In February, Mr. Lhota was quoted in The New York Times calling Manhattan state Sen. Bill Perkins a do-nothing politician.
KeywordsAdam Wisnieski, politics, political arena, charles moerdler, andrew cuomo, pedro espada, jeffrey dinowitz, eric schneiderman