MIDTOWN — Joe Lhota siezed on the recent violent confrontation between a motorist and a group of motorcyclists on the West Side Highway as part of his attacks on mayoral foe Bill de Blasio Tuesday — calling the stop-and-frisk opponent "naïve" about proper policing.
Speaking to a group of business and community leaders, Lhota said de Blasio would have likely mishandled the aftermath of the attacks on Alexian Lien, 33, who was beaten by a group of motorcycle riders late last month in front of his wife and 2-year-old child.
“He was going to dispatch the NYPD to sit down and have coffee with the biker groups,” Lhota told several hundred guests assembled at Tuesday's breakfast meeting of the Association for a Better New York. “This is naïve and reckless. This is not how you keep our city safe."
Reps for de Blasio declined to comment.
Lhota also accused his opponent of unfairly blasting NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who de Blasio has promised to replace upon becoming mayor.
“I actually believe that candidates for mayor should not use Ray Kelly as a punching bag,” Lhota said.
Lhota continued to hammer out the differences between him de Blasio — who drew an estimated 800 guests before the same group last week — casting himself as a responsible, compassionate conservative who voters could trust to build upon the city’s successes over the past two decades without a Democratic mayor.
“My record is clear, my leadership is tested and my policies are proven,” said Lhota, who served as deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani and MTA chief under Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Lhota laid out his vision of a slimmer government that focused on improving education for the most needy, helping the unemployed and continuing to keep the city safe.
“Education is the civil-rights issue of our generation,” said Lhota, who promised to be a strong advocate for charter schools, in contrast to de Blasio.
“My opponent would turn a blind eye…to the superior performance of many charter schools,” he said, claiming de Blasio had “happily announced policies that I believe will end charter schools in this city.”
“There’s nothing more progressive today than the charter school movement throughout the United States,” Lhota added.
Lhota also pointed out that unlike de Blasio, who he claimed attended “an elite elementary school in Cambridge,” he attended a public school in the Bronx.
Pointing to a city budget that has doubled in size over the previous decade, Lhota said de Blasio was “part of the problem” that had made the city increasingly unaffordable.
“My opponent voted every single time for fee increases, for tax increases, and he turned a blind eye to what these increases have done to the working and middle class who has been making up the difference,” said Lhota.
Lhota trailed de Blasio by significant margins in the most recent polls, with the latest New York Times/Siena College poll showing a nearly 50 percentage point gap.
The general election is on Tuesday, November 5.