Vote Against Merulla, not Transit: Bratina

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 28, 2007

(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.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By The Ugly Hamiltonian (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2007 at 14:34:07

Does Merulla have to shave his head before anybody catches on?

Yeah, think Britney Spears.

Three words for Sam:
R-E-H-A-B, go now!

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By Mike Parcy (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2007 at 15:13:08

I think Sam Merulla did just as he is known to do. THrow caution to the wind and put his neck out for residents of lower to poverty class income, which dominates this city. We bash councillors for grand standing and being media "whores", yet we gripe and moan when they sit still and go with the grain and not stand up for us.

Instead of focusing on Merulla, maybe someone ought to go out to a bus stop and find out how many people are interested in Brian McHattie's five million missing dollar budget. The front line people wont give a rats tail about it.

I think some people just like to complain to hear themselves complain

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2007 at 18:02:16

ummmm, am i misunderstanding something here? did bratina vote to increase bus fare just to spite merulla? that's f*%&$d!

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By Sam Merulla (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2007 at 20:40:26

Dear Ugly Hamiltonian:

Many thanks for expressing your concern surrounding my mental health. Having had been employed in the mental health field for a number of years, I can assure you the stigma attached to mental health is a real challenge in our community contributing to individuals having to suffer in silence or not seeking help due to the minimizing of mental health issues through ignorant mocks that ignorant people like you make. You are a disgrace! Come out come out from your closet of shameful and uncompassionate mentality and comments.In the future attach your name to your comments anything short of that is cowardly. .

I can be reached anytime at 905 777 7491 if you would like to come out of your hole and speak to me personally.

Thank You

Councillor Sam Merulla, Ward 4,

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By Whatever (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2007 at 23:39:11

Your still an idiot.

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By A Robot (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2007 at 00:25:48

I second that... wait, who needs parliamentary process when lunacy and threats are so fashionable.


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By Mike Parcy (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2007 at 08:33:06

Further to my earlier post, how responsible is it to vote in favour of a motion and instill fear and panic in the low or fixed income transit users just to spite a fellow councillor. Every motion Bob Bratina has voted on should be examined to see who he wasn't getting along with that week. This shows blatant disregard for his constituents' concerns and proves he is out only to serve his own personal agenda.

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By mark (registered) | Posted March 29, 2007 at 15:05:32

Umm, Sam, the Britney reference seems to have been lost on you. The Ugly Hamiltonian wasn't inferring mental illness. Britney's recent escapades and rehab visit are related to her recent alleged indulgence in and alcholol/drug abuse. The comparison is that her erratric behaviour and yours are similar, inferring that you must have been on drugs to behave the way you did. In the figurative sense, of course, not literally. No-one (without die-hard evidence) would ever even think of accusing you of taking drugs, anabolic or otherwise. You only act like you do. Stop acting that way, and people will think better of you.

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By JH (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2007 at 16:39:02

Just to add a note of clarification:

Drug abuse and alcoholism are considered addictions, part of the spectrum of mental health issues. Says my medical school training. So when we inveigh the antics of a failing female pop star with clear addiction problems, we must admit, we are playing dirty with our metaphors.

Secondly: is deliberative democracy about inciting the spite and ire of our opponents? Geez, Bratina, you're my counsellor. I thought that you were supposed to represent your constituents, as should Merulla. Unless, of course, we've all agreed that votes by our elected politicians are to be used as political weapons to air their own personal vendettas; maybe I have this notion of "democracy" all wrong....

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