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A bus driving Orange councillor said he'd "like to scatter a few" cyclists and then, oh boy...

May 24, 2022

Stock image.

By Peter Holmes

Councillor Tony Mileto says he felt obliged to stand up to councillor Kevin Duffy at last Tuesday night’s occasionally tense Orange City Council meeting because nobody in “higher authority” did.

Duffy - a local bus driver - was commenting during the meeting on a road improvement matter that had been raised by councillor Jack Evans.

“My biggest problem with driving down there every day is the people on those two-wheel things running around, you know,” Duffy said.

Councillor Kevin Duffy (left, standing) responds to councillor Tony Mileto.

“We’d like to scatter a few of them, they seem to be in the way most of the time.”

It wasn’t clear who the “we” Duffy was referring to were.

And so Scattergate was born.

“I took a couple of minutes to gather my thoughts,” Mileto told The Orange News Examiner on Tuesday afternoon when asked about the delay in saying something.

“I assumed that somebody else would have addressed the issue; I wasn’t chairing the meeting, so I assumed the issue would've been raised by somebody else in higher authority at the time.

“When that didn’t occur, I felt so strongly about the matter that I thought it needed addressing at that time and I chose to do so.”

Although Duffy’s comments were immediately met with someone in the chamber making an "ooh" noise and someone else clearing their throat in a way that could be construed as suggesting Duffy might like to stop talking, nobody actually said anything.

After Mileto accused Duffy of saying he wanted to run people over, Duffy rose to feet and began pointing at Mileto: "I didn't say run them down, I said scatter ... so get your facts right".

Duffy said he had complained to council CEO David Waddell in the past about cyclists riding three and four abreast.

Mayor Jason Hamling told The Orange News Examiner on Tuesday afternoon that he didn't hear all of Duffy's comments during the meeting.

"I'll tell you what happened," Hamling said.

"It was the last thing [Duffy] said before he sat down. Remember I've only been there six months, I'm still learning how to chair the meetings.

"I was concentrating on chairing the meeting and I didn't quite hear what came out of his mouth. I heard 'scatter', but that's all I heard. I was trying to keep the meeting in order and keep the meeting flowing.

"Obviously I don't agree with what he said."

Mileto felt Duffy's comments were inappropriate on a number of levels, one being the presence on council and at the meeting of Dr Steve Peterson, who became quadriplegic in 2018 after a cycling accident.

Councillor Peterson has said he was not offended by the comments.

But Mileto said members of local cycling clubs and other residents were not happy.

“The feedback I've received from numerous members of the public was that the comments were inciteful and directed personally at them [as cyclists],” Mileto said.

Mileto said that his background in policing meant he’d attended “numerous accidents where people on bicycles have been struck by vehicles - I’ve seen the damage it can cause".

“It doesn’t matter which way you look at it," Mileto said. "In my opinion the comment was inappropriate and could cause offence to anybody who rides a bicycle or knows someone who had been injured on a bicycle.”

Duffy has faced heavy criticism from local cyclists and others on social media forums.

Asked if the matter was now over or would be pursued at next Tuesday night's council meeting, mayor Hamling said: "That's up to councillor Duffy. Councillor Duffy is a pretty experienced councillor and so it's up to him. I'm sure he'll make the right decision on what he thinks he needs to do."

The Orange News Examiner has sought comment from Kevin Duffy and Orange City Council CEO David Waddell.


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