Lhota, sounding like Bloomberg, touts a data-driven approach to city government

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Lhota in Long Island. (Dana Rubinstein)
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Joe Lhota used to run the M.T.A. and back in the day, he worked as a deputy mayor to Rudy Giuliani, but this morning on The Brian Lehrer Show, he argued that the experience that best qualified him to be mayor was his time in the private sector.  

"As I looked at all of the other candidates that were running for mayor, I thought that my background and my experience in the Giuliani administration, at the M.T.A., and most importantly in the private sector, really fit what the city needs going forward," he said.

Before he joined the M.T.A., Lhota worked for Cablevision, and he worked in municipal finance before joining the Giuliani administration. He described his subsequent work under Giuliani as having been informed, therefore, by "metrics and numbers."

He could just as easily have been describing Michael Bloomberg's guiding philosphy as mayor. And that wasn't the only Bloombergian echo in the interview.

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Yesterday, Bloomberg warned that the city's gains in the tourism and tech sectors, and its crime-reduction successes, are in fact reversible.

Today, Lhota said, "Actually crime and public safety and quality of life issues are very fragile. I think the budget is extremely fragile. ...The budget is going to be priority number one for the next mayor."

He argued that the Democratic mayoral candidates are too close to organized labor, and by way of example, referred to the school bus strike, on which he's consistently sided with Bloomberg, and which was finally ended after the Democratic candidates sent a letter to the union promising to revisit their contracts next year.

The Democrats, Lhota said, are "going to be too cozy with the labor unions."

"I think last week in a letter that was put out on the school bus strike, they actually laid it out in very plain English," he said. "'Come back to work. When we become mayor, we'll settle it. We'll give you what you want.' Essentially, that's what they said. And quite honestly, that is the thing I feared the most and they actually put it in writing. So, at this point in time, yes, we do have a lot to worry about."

"Running City Council is one thing, running the public advocate's office is another thing--being the city Comptroller. But it's not about leadership, it's not about management, and it's clearly not about making decisions," he said.