By: Andy Fox; WAVY.com
HRT surveillance video from last month shows a heated political exchange between a bus driver and a rider, John Holmes.
Holmes says he was wearing a t-shirt supporting President Barack Obama.
“I am not on the bus to talk politics, I’m on the bus to get a ride home,” Holmes said. “I was targeted because of the Obama shirt and the whole nine yards.”
The HRT driver has been identified as Jeffrey Schwab. The video shows Schwab confronting Holmes about union issues.
“What I am saying is my union dues… they used to be a tax deduction. Obama signed off, and they no longer are a tax deduction,” the driver is heard saying on the video.
The driver then starts what Holmes described as an angry rant against the President.
“If Obama is American, then I will eat my hard hat for breakfast,” Schwab said.
Holmes said he became agitated when the driver started questioning Obama’s legitimacy.
“[Obama's] from the Middle East. If that man taxed soul food one time in his life I wouldn’t be proud, I’d be amazed,” Schwab says.
HRT spokesperson Tom Holden says the driver’s behavior was inappropriate.
“It is not appropriate to have heated conversations while operating our vehicles,” Holden said.
At one point, Holmes stands up for Obama over Schwab’s seemingly sarcastic chant of ‘Obama, Obama, Obama.’
“I don’t need to get into that because I appreciate the first black man ever to be President. I respect that,” Holmes said to Schwab.
“If that man is black, then I’m frickin’ Chinese,” Schwab is heard saying.
After watching the surveillance video, Holden admits Schwab crossed the line of decency.
“There is nothing to say, but we apologize to the community for this kind of activity,” Holden said. “He should drive the bus and not engage in political discussions.”
Holmes suggested Schwab back off the discussion.
“I got on the bus because you offered me a ride,” Holmes said to Schwab in the video. “I swiped my card, but what you are saying right now I don’t have to discuss. You and me are two different opinions. I suggest you leave that alone.”
Holden emphasized how HRT drivers should act.
“We are courteous. We are respectful. We answer questions when asked and give [riders] reliable and accurate information on how to get around town,” Holden said.
Holden then admitted Schwab violated those standards.
10 On Your Side asked Holden if the driver should be fired, and he simply answered, “That is not my call.”
We have learned the driver was not fired. A call to Schwab was not returned.