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Joseph Lhota, Former Giuliani Aide, Nominated As New MTA Chair By Cuomo

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JOSEPH LHOTA
AP
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Governor Cuomo nominated Joseph Lhota, a former deputy mayor and budget director under Mayor Giuliani, to serve as the new MTA chairman on Thursday.

Lhota, who currently serves as the executive vice president for administration of Madison Square Garden, will replace Jay Walder, who abruptly resigned from his position in July to lead a transportation company based in Hong Kong.

Cuomo spoke of his nomination in a statement:

Joe Lhota brings one-of-a-kind managerial, government, and private-sector experience to the job and a lifelong commitment to public service that will benefit all straphangers. I look forward to working together as we continue to reform the MTA, reduce costs, and improve service.

Cuomo also referred to Lhota's past experience as budget director, where he managed a whopping $36 billion operating budget and $45 billion capital plan.

The position will prove to be a challenging one, as the MTA is currently suffering from a $10 billion budget deficit and will also take on thorny union contract negotiations beginning next year. The litany of problems troubling the country's largest transit agency also include rising population growth, aging infrastructure, and poor revenue.

Both Lhota and his wife are known for their heavy Republican influences, but some argue that his conservative stance may provide enough "credibility to deal with state Republican legislators who want to slash the payroll tax, a key source of MTA revenue." One observer also pointed out that Lhota proved to a an independent thinker and "did not drink the Giuliani Kool-Aid."

The former Mayor is currently starring in an ad campaign in support of a nuclear power plant near New York City.