(This blog entry has been updated.)
Many transit supporters were surprised yesterday when Councillors Brian McHattie (Ward 1) and Bob Bratina (Ward 2) voted in favour of increasing transit fares at a budget committee meeting, as both councillors are long-standing transit supporters.
Adrian Duyzer contacted McHattie to ask why (read his report here), and Bratina replied to an email I sent to council, explaining that his vote was a rebuke against fellow councillor Sam Merulla (Ward 4), who disrupted the meeting with frequent outbursts and insults directed at other councillors.
Rather than getting "into a shouting match with Merulla", Bratina expressed his disapproval by rejecting Merulla's proposal to leave fares at their current rates.
Bratina explained, "I stood against his measure as a protest against his bullying, psychotic behaviour, the like of which I have never seen in any Council or committee meeting".
Bratina insisted that he always votes based on what he believes is best for the city. He noted that yesterday's vote is non-binding and that he continues to support keeping transit affordable.
Nicole MacIntyre, the Hamilton Spectator's City Hall reporter, has more on Merulla's antics on her blog.
Update: In an email to Raise the Hammer, Councillor Merulla challenged Bratina's assertion, writing, "My outburst occured only after I knew my motion would be defeated. Not before!"
Before the final vote on the fare increase, Merulla made a motion to raise only cash fares and leave passes at their current prices. According to reports, his outburst followed the defeat of this motion and prior to the final vote.
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