By Michael Bielawski
Several residents during the public speaking portion of the Nov. 6 Burlington City Council meeting expressed frustration that the city isn’t getting more proactive in dealing with rising crime rates or a general deteriorating faith in government.
Another resident commented on the poor moral standards in leadership including at the national level, and another says downtown businesses are really being impacted by the public safety crisis.
In all several residents voiced concerns on various social and safety issues and more.
Kelly Devine says downtown city workers need more support
Kelly Devine thanked the city for a recent $100,000 investment in downtown area business. Devine has been executive director for the Burlington Business Association since 2007.
“People are reporting that foot traffic is down and their sales are dropping over the period from the same time last year,” she said. “And specifically they talk about public safety concerns as it relates to their employees and people being afraid to walk to and from their car, people quitting jobs over not feeling safe.”
She continued that she would like to see at least half of the money dedicated to protecting downtown employees.
“I would say my one piece of feedback is that it wasn’t clear in the memo about the safety program for downtown workers. I know that it’s a top priority for us and for those with businesses downtown and those who want to visit and come to downtown.”
Stephen Whittaker wants more response from the Council
Resident Stephen Whittaker was upset about a lack of response from the board to his numerous inquiries about safety matters.
“I am bringing public safety issues before you and you are not putting them on the agenda,” he said to the board. “I made three calls to you in October and you did not respond to one of them.”
He talked about how conditions at the harbor marina are hurting the homeless.
“Keeping people out of the bathrooms, not policing the plaza, not emptying the trash, leaving the needles and the rubbers, etc.,” he said. “… You are aggravating the emergency of the unhoused by shutting down all the outdoor bathrooms for the season and removing the trash cans where the joggers and the dog walkers put their pet waste. You are aggravating the despair of the unhoused, the hopelessness, and the addiction.”
He also suggested that the city has been too slow to respond to accusations of open-meeting law violations.
Todd Lacroix says poor Democrat leadership is making Trump popular again
Todd Lacroix expressed that the current leadership is morally bankrupt.
“Why do we have children who have lost their minds? Because we have leaders and parents who don’t care and are morally and spiritually bankrupt. Why do people not care? Because they’ve been taught to not care.”
He then commented on the questionable mental status of President Biden.
“Here we are a country very, very, very divided. And we right now have a scenario of what appears to be a senile person in charge, doesn’t even know where he is half the time, and everybody is acting like it’s OK.”
He also noted that Trump is leading Biden in the latest national polls and that the current liberal leadership is taking their positions in power for granted.
“People seem to want Trump back, that Biden and the Democrat’s leadership right now is so disastrous that Trump is doing better in the polls. Why is that you ask? You never ask yourself your culpability in causing these circumstances. No, you just crack down on people for talking about it.”
David Maher says to get tougher on low-level drug offenders
Maher suggested that the current policies for dealing with low-level drug dealers and users are too soft and it’s inhibiting their opportunities to get help.
“I’ve heard the police, politicians, and ordinary citizens say we shouldn’t arrest low-level drug dealers and drug users because we want to show kindness and harm reduction, he said.
“Yet time and time again
I’ve heard from people that they only got off drugs and turned their lives around after an encounter with the police. I heard it in this auditorium three weeks ago and I’ve heard it in the news and I’ve heard it firsthand from friends and colleagues.”
He said rehab should be an alternative to prison in some scenarios. He offered a proposal to use a currently underutilized property as a potential rehab center.
“Now you may say that we currently don’t have enough beds available in rehab facilities but I have an idea. The Lyndon State University campus is highly underutilized and has everything needed to create a world-class drug rehabilitation facility. It has dorms, a cafeteria, classrooms, athletic facilities, and so on.”
The author is a reporter for the Vermont Daily Chronicle and the Burlington Daily News