Tag Archives: Daniel Banyai

Something Happening Here

If anybody is still saying “It can’t happen here,” I’ve got breaking news for you. It’s already happening here, and it’s only going to get worse. Vermonters are living in fear or getting the F out, and we’re only an eyeblink away from a violent incident.

We could start with the post-Uvalde spate of school threats which, so far, have been caught in time or turned out to be noise. But that roulette wheel keeps a-spinnin’, and eventually it’s going to land on double zero. And even if the threateners were gormless copycats, they still create a climate of fear in our schools and our families.

The worst of the school threats happened in Canaan, where extremist parent Shane Gobeil said he would “show up and kill somebody” if his child was approached by a transgender person or a drag queen. The schools were shut down for two days, and prosecutors obtained an Extreme Risk Protection Order against Gobeil, which means he can’t possess or purchase firearms for the next six months.

And then what? Gobeil is well-known in town for being a potentially violent extremist who seems to have swallowed the most vile of the far-right fairy tales. I mean, “drag queen” is the latest conservative bugbear, so at least he’s up to date. Many Canaanites feel perpetually threatened by him. By himself, he creates a chilling atmosphere in the community.

How many Gobeils do we have in Vermont? How long until someone grabs a gun before opening his mouth?

He’s not alone. And it only takes one.

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The Veepies: Awards for Outstanding Stupidity on Public Display

People occasionally ask me how I keep coming up with ideas. My answer is, there are always far more ideas than I can actually cover. This week, there were a few that I just couldn’t get to, but they seem worthy of note in short form. So, the first-ever Veepie Awards. Possibly a continuing series, but no promises. Or threats. The envelope, please…

Most Desperate Pushback Against Negative News Coverage. The winner is the Vermont Department of Corrections, which was on the bad end of a New York Times article outlining the toll of its Covid policies. In order to prevent outbreaks (at least a couple halppened anyway), DOC locked away exposed inmates in solitary confinement, the most extreme form of incarceration.

For weeks at a time… inmates were locked in 8½-by-10-foot cells in near-total isolation. They ate meals a few feet from their toilets, had no visitors, and spent as little as 10 minutes a day outside cells.

The strategy made the Vermont prison system one of the safest for contracting Covid, which is a dispiritingly low bar. But the cost, as the Times put it, has taken “a heavy toll on many inmates’ mental health, and driven some to psychological despair.”

And at least one to suicide. But hey, no Covid deaths!

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Slate Ridge: That Was the Easy Part

Turns out you need a permit to do this kind of stuff.

The various law enforcement agencies that did nothing to help the people of West Pawlet are probably breathing a sigh of relief, now that an Environmental Court judge has ordered the Slate Ridge school terrorist training ground to close permanently for operating without the proper permits. Slate Ridge proprietor Daniel Banyai is on the hook for more than $46,000 in fines, plus the costs of dismantling all nonconforming structures.

But that sigh won’t last long. What are the chances that Banyai will meekly comply? I’d say zero. You may recall the 2007 case of Ed and Elaine Brown, two racist, anti-Semitic tax resisters who believed the whole “sovereign citizen” nonsense. After being convicted for refusing to pay their taxes for a full decade, they holed up in their Plainfield, New Hampshire compound and basically dared the feds to come and git ’em. The resulting standoff lasted 10 months.

Resolving the Banyai matter may well be a lot more complicated than that. So the folks who did nothing (Gov. Phil Scott, Attorney General T.J. Donovan, the Vermont State Police et al.) will eventually be obliged to take action.

Or they’ll just let the ruling to unenforced. Which would be the height of official cowardice.

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State Officials Play Hot Potato With Militia Training Ground

Okay, this is a disgrace.

VPR’s Peter Hirschfeld and Nina Keck have produced a whopper of a story that, among other things, outlines the state’s complete abdication of responsibility for investigating the Slate Ridge tactical shooting range and militia training facility in West Pawlet.

VTDigger first broke the story in November, detailing how many residents live in fear of Slate Ridge and its owner, Daniel Banyai. Digger also reported that concerned residents have tried repeatedly and failed to get any kind of enforcement or investigation of Slate Ridge or Banyai, despite his threatening behavior and criminal record.

The VPR story exposes quite a bit of new ground. The most egregious revelation: State authorities have played an energetic game of pass-the-buck regarding Slate Ridge, with the result that there is no investigation at all currently in progress. This, despite the fact that Banyai is openly flouting Act 250 rules. That’s pretty cut-and-dried, right? It shouldn’t be hard to get him on that.

Well, never underestimate the creativity of bureaucrats in avoiding a difficult task.

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