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MTA chairman calls board member a liar

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota
TimesLedger Newspapers

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota got into a shouting match Thursday with a board member who announced he would vote against Lhota’s plan to cut back on the number of board meetings.

Board member Charles Moerdler told Lhota his plan was going in the wrong direction.

“We need to increase, not decrease timely disclosure,” said Moerdler, 77, of the Bronx, an attorney and survivor of the Holocaust.

Lhota, 57, told Moerdler he wished that he would reconsider “since your thinking and the erroneous things you’ve just said are actually scurrilous.”

The board was weighing the chairman’s proposal to cut back the number of meetings and adding two public sessions in keeping with his pledge to make the agency transparent.

“The blubbering that you’re talking about is just a waste of time and a waste of effort,” Lhota said to the 77-year-old Moerdler. “Enough of your lying to this board.”

Moderdler, who headed the city Buildings Department several decades ago, said: “Mr. Chairman, character assassination does not do you credit.”

Lhota was known for being combative when he served as deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani.

“Be a man,” Lhhota said as the two engaged in verbal combat. ”Be a man.”

Undaunted, Moderdler responded by saying: “Bring it on.”

“With respect, I find your comments disturbing,” Moerdler said.

“Respect is not mutual,” Lhota shot back.

As if to question Moerdler’s overall credibility, Lhota mentioned an incident in which he said Moerdler denied illegally parking with a police parking card on the windshield outside the Cornell Club in Manhattan but was foiled by a traffic department camera.

Lhota’s plan, which then was approved 10-1, involves reducing MTA board meetings from 11 to eight annually with the addition of two “forums” at which the public could ask questions of the chairman, board members and presidents of such transit units as subways and buses, commuter railroads and other transit units.

Lhota assured the meeting that disclosure would actually increase under his plan.

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