The Slate Ridge Befuddlement

Bubbas gonna bubba.

The official response to the Slate Ridge “training facility” in West Pawlet has been… well, take your pick. Pitiful? Sure. Laughably inadequate? Yep. Chickenshit? Call it like you see it.

State officials have been “monitoring” the situation for over a year, but didn’t actually say anything in public until VTDigger published its report last week. And now they’re stumbling all over themselves, offering justifications for a year-plus of inaction.

Meanwhile, the people of West Pawlet live in fear. As I wrote on Twitter, now they know how Kiah Morris feels.

Here’s the gist of it, as far as I’m concerned. The system has failed the people of West Pawlet just as it failed Morris. In saying so, I’m assuming that the purpose of having laws and enforcement agencies is to keep people safe, allowing them to live their lives in peace and security.

On the other side of the coin, constitutional rights do not extend to instilling fear in your neighbors. A community is a collection of free individuals — but there must be a sense of polity, of common purpose, of some level of respect for the well-being of your neighbors as well as yourself. The denizens of Slate Ridge are violating the social contract that binds us all together.

And if there’s no law that can be applied to this case, then maybe we need some new laws.

For starters, I’d suggest banning firearms ownership for those who have lost firearms permits or been accused of felony firearms offenses in other states. That would cover Slate Ridge owner Dennis Banyai, who has compiled a notable record of disruptive and threatening behavior.

The dishearteningly passive response by the state police, prosecutors, Attorney General TJ Donovan and the Scott administration is a case study in responsibility avoidance. The worst has been Scott, because he’s the top guy and because of his pallid blame-shifting at last Friday’s press conference.

“What would you suppose we should do?” he asked reporters, metaphorically washing his hands. Later, he asked them to find and report evidence of crimes committed at Slate Ridge. In other words, he asked reporters to do the job of responsible officials who are disinclined to do it themselves.

Talk about passing the buck.

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said his agency has been aware of the Slate Ridge situation for over a year. He has held two briefings for lawmakers. The first was in August, approximately a year after first contact. The second occurred the day after the Digger report came out, so once again passive and reactive.

Let’s roll that back for a minute. They were aware of this potentially deadly situation through almost an entire legislative session, and did not involve lawmakers? Didn’t suggest that maybe we needed legislation to close a West Pawlet-sized loophole in our laws.

Maybe their inaction seems appropriate from their position of safety in Montpelier. The people of West Pawlet don’t have that luxury. I think they’d like to see a little more determination and creativity on the part of their leadership. I think that’s a fair and reasonable expectation. So far, the state has failed them.


24 thoughts on “The Slate Ridge Befuddlement

  1. walter moses

    My God! The sky is falling. They are here, we are all gonna die! Bunch of guys highly advertised shooting guns, posting pictures of bins of ammo. Subversive and covert organization?
    Nah. But we can pass laws to stop them, just like Chicago, or NYC. Perhaps “stop and frisk.” We know how that turned out.
    Gotta love progs. Defund the police or help me, HELP ME!

  2. Vermonter

    Shut up, you whiny bitch. Who’s went and talked to the people at Slate Ridge to get their perspective? The things you write are tantamount to slander and if you think creating more laws to restrict gun ownership will go well for you, you’re cracked in the brain.

  3. Bob Smith

    Why doesn’t one of you too notch investigative journalists from VPO or Digger go get the other side of this story…I suppose it’s just easier to report the half that follows agenda guidelines…

  4. Trevor Halperin

    What a joke this wanna be hit piece is. I don’t like them so they MUST have done something illegal! Find it! Do my bidding government! Wait, you mean they didn’t do anything illegal? You want ME to provide proof they did, because I said they did, even though I have no proof?!?! Balderdash! Have they killed anyone? Nope. Are they going to? Nope. Fearmongering to get the state to strongarm people to your will is all this this. Nothing more.

      1. Geddy Garcetti

        What an insufferable piece of shit you are. Good thing your nonsense is confined to your little blog, in that no one will hire you because your bullshit damages their brand. There is no right to be free from fear. Show me that in the Constitution or shut the fuck up.

      2. Sarah Toscano

        They are doing none of those things. You sir are a pimple on the ass of actual journalism.
        Why dont you retract this piece of garbage and call ERIC Banyai and get the real story?
        Or anyone not named Hulett in that town.

      3. Justin

        Where’s the proof of this? It’s all hearsay from people that don’t like what they don’t know. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

  5. walter h moses

    “So terrorizing and intimidating an entire community is…just okay?”
    Get real, John. How many complainers? Who is afraid? Not names, numbers would be nice. The response from all the “officials” gives the impression that they aren’t alarmed or in panic. ALL the people in West Pawlet? I don’t believe it.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Oh,get real yourself. They are afraid, rightfully so. You expect them to come forward publicly when they have a threatening out-of-control nut for a neighbor? Seriously, VTDigger had to post its story without a byline to protect its reporters. Banyai and his cohort have repeatedly crossed the line between freedom and civic responsibility.

  6. Dave

    “Bubbas gonna bubba” nice. Its all good though, you can denigrate those people because they currently aren’t a protected class. You seem a little hateful. Is that a vpo thing?

    No, you cannot deprive someone of their freedom or property until they actually break a law. (Even if you don’t like them)

    Free tip: Law enforcement monitors suspicious activity. When suspicious becomes illegal, they then can intervene/arrest.

    If someone at Slate Ridge WAS doing something illegal, they know they are being watched now due to the collective boneheads of the skirt-clutching press of our state. Good job!

    And thanks to “thevpo” for adding a little hate to the conversation and further raising the alarm to potential lawbreakers.

  7. Heidi Clark

    Wait a sec. Weren’t you the guy who got fired from another newspaper because you “couldn’t meet their standards of accuracy”? So why should we believe any of the drivel you write? Seems to me standards of accuracy would be extremely important for a reporter. You must have attended the Mike Barnicle school of journalism.

  8. Geddy Garcetti

    Your opinion anout ANYTHING involving guns or liberty is irrelevant. You have proven yet again that you are a bully and a stupid, stupid man.

  9. Lee Russ
    “A group of Pawlet neighbors said they’re tired of being labeled as anti-gun liberals in a dispute with a property owner running an unpermitted shooting range and firearm training facility and they blame the town’s leaders for allowing the situation to get this far out of control.
    “Instead, the neighbors said, they’re conservative gun owners themselves whose hobbies include hunting and competitive shooting, but their neighbor, Daniel Banyai has tried to paint them as opponents of gun rights.

    “But there are also the threats they’ve had to endure as Banyai has posted their information on the Internet in retaliation for their efforts to fight Slate Ridge through the town’s zoning procedures and courts.

    “Despite repeated efforts to get Banyai to answer questions or provide his side of the story, he refused after lengthy off-the-record chats.”

  10. walter h moses 11

    With the virus outbreak in Washington County, due to local stupidity, I’d rather be in West Pawlet than Montpelier. Seems a lot safer to me.

  11. Jeffrey Kaufman MD

    “They were aware of this potentially deadly situation through almost an entire legislative session, and did not involve lawmakers?”

    What, specifically, are you considering a potentially deadly situation which you would have law enforcement act on? You seem to suggest Mr. Banyai should have his G-D right to self defense and deterrence with arms removed based on the operation of someone else’s mind, not on any violation of VT State nor federal law. Have you considered that you, as operator of the vehicle you drive, present a potentially deadly situation? Should your rights thus be infringed? Should new legislation be enacted in case someone might consider you a threat or danger to others, even if you are not actually violating any current law but some feel threatened that you one day might?

    Further, by what stretch of the imagination and credibility do you compare Mr. Banyai/Slate Ridge with Kiah Morris? Seems quite a reach. Are you imputing some occult racially based misadventure? Or are you just pandering?

  12. Danny Banny’s Mom

    Daniel Banyai is a punk bitch poseur who flunked out of the army, and now wants to do military cosplay. He abs his little band of domestic terrorists should nut up and take their games to Afghanistan or Sudan. But they won’t. They’ll just continue to terrorize a small town and act like they’re the ones being stalked and intimidated. Sad!

    1. DB

      There have been far too may places shut down because of all that gun noise.
      Let’s work on letting everyone enjoy what they like. EVERYONE. By allowing gun owners
      to legally suppress the noise, we ALL can live happily ever after.
      No one is really afraid of this guy, they just don’t want to to be disturbed and that is the real issue.


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