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COTA taps retired AEP exec. as new president / CEO

The Central Ohio Transit Authority has named a well-known Columbus businessman as its new president.

COTA's board introduced William Lhota Friday afternoon. The board hopes Lhota will "right the ship" after an ethics scandal.

64-year-old William Lhota comes out of retirement to run central Ohio's public bus company at a critical time.

Former president Ron Barnes quit after he hired a former board member Ernie Sullivan for a $100,000 a year part-time job.

COTA also faces a second straight year of operating defecits.

Lhoda is the former president of energy delivery for AEP. He served as chairman of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. He also served on several boards including, Children's Hospital, Ohio Dominican Univeristy, Opera Columbus and The Columbus Museum of Art.

COTA board chairman william porter says he recruited Lhota to take the job because Porter says COTA needs a tough, experienced high level business manager.

Lhota says he sees the job as a great opportunity to help the community.

Lhoda says there are two areas where he will not compromise; one is the safety of workers and riders, the other is ethics.

Lhota has agreed to run COTA until the end of 2005. He'll earn $125,000 a year - %31,000 less than barnes earned.

Lhota starts Monday morning with a 6:00 ride on a COTA bus.