Drugs and Crime

Weinberger and Scott on drug abuse, homeless solutions: same approach, but more of it

By Guy Page

Mayor Miro Weinberger’s plan to open another winter warming shelter for Burlington’s exploding homeless population has gotten a cold reception from the Burlington business community.

Homelessness is reportedly up 175%, with overdoses (fatal and non-fatal) this year totaling more than 350. Burlington police say that figure could reach 500 by year’s end, by far the most of any calendar year. 

In the last two weeks, the Queen City’s festering homelessness and drug abuse problem has become a major statewide political issue. The same day Weinberger announced he would not seek a fifth term as mayor and broadly hinted at a run for statewide office – likely governor – Seven Days weekly newspaper publisher and Burlington resident Paula Routly bluntly acknowledged the city’s deteriorating quality of life. She asked: what, if anything, can be done to fix it?

Since then, both Weinberger and gubernatorial incumbent Phil Scott and Weinberger have since (in effect) responded: ‘‘What we’re already doing, but more of it.’ 

When asked by VDC to answer Routly’s question at a press conference Wednesday, Scott said the state must “amplify” existing programs with more money and more staff – both in short supply, he noted. Vermont’s substance abuse prevention, treatment, recovery and law enforcement programs were working until “fentanyl changed the game,” but he insists that “it’s the right approach.”

For his part, Weinberger yesterday announced plans for more homeless sheltering: specifically, a new state-funded, winter-only warming shelter in the former VFW near the intersection of Main St. and South Winooski Avenue – just a stone’s throw from the Chittenden County Courthouse, where a $100,000 parking lot fence will be built to keep out drug users. 

Weinberger’s plan has already met resistance from the Burlington Business Association, whose executive director said rampant drug use occurs at warming shelter locations. 

The mayor will go public Tuesday with further plans to make progress on the intertwined issues.

“I will host a virtual briefing on numerous initiatives related to homelessness this coming Tuesday, October 10. Despite the City’s dramatically expanded shelter capacity and staff commitment, this challenge has continued to grow this summer – especially after the state’s decision to precipitously end the emergency hotel program in June without a plan for winding the program down,” Weinberger said in an Oct. 5 statement. “The City’s efforts to address homelessness have continued to expand.” 

“At the City Council meeting on Tuesday night, the Burlington Police Department, Burlington Fire Department and I will be providing an update on the City’s drug trafficking enforcement efforts as well as our continued efforts to expand and improve drug treatment opportunities,” he said. 

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Categories: Drugs and Crime, Housing

12 replies »

  1. Will the new warming shelter screen guests for drugs and alcohol?

    They are also rewarding drug users for returning old syringes. They will receive a new syringe and a free snack, coffee or some lucky winners receive an iPhone. I read that in the Seven Days.

    It’s so obvious that this crisis continues to be supported. If they wanted to truly stop the drug crisis, we’d have a ZERO tolerance policy for illegal drug use or possession, theft and sleeping/hanging out on private or state owned property. What would happen if a suburban white Dad got caught with possession fentanyl?

    They’re running our city to the ground, so they can further their 15 minute city plans – complete with zero emissions, multi-family housing on every block, shared bikes (and toasters, blenders and grills) and the illusion of sustainability.

  2. Canada-y is now giving away free drugs to users. Wonder if Miro and his cronies will follow suit. My bet is yes…..

    • That would honestly be the best solution.
      All of America should follow suit. It was big pharma that started this after all.
      The drugs would be clean.
      The cartels would shrivel up and die
      Central Americans can return home to focus on legitimate trade sources without threat
      We can secure our border and enforce immigration law as written
      No bloodshed by low level black and Latino gang distributors
      No wasted money incarcerating for possession (prosecute for actual crimes against others)

      I dont see the issue with legalizing ALL drugs. What could possibly be any worse than what we are currently doing?

      • “Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made.

        He said to the woman, “ Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden?”

        Jean. You are a snake. A serpent.

  3. Great ….. Miro the brain dead destroyed Burlington in a decade now he wants to destroy the entire state …..

  4. Giro!

    This poor guy lives just down the street from me. In the last 10 years while Mayor, I’ve seen him in the neighborhood exactly two times.

    Not exactly ‘a man of the people’.

    I envision him and his comrades huddling around a large table… envisioning how to make the world “right”.

    But everything they touch turns to “sh*t”.

    Civil War? Yes. Cultural Revolution? Yes.

    Postmodernism is the Intellectual Movement that is subsuming us.

    It’s in our schools. It’s in our government agencies. It’s in corporate America.

    And it’s never discussed.

  5. Wineburger, LOL. Sure let’s make Vermont like burlington…How much worse do voters want to make Vermont now??

  6. The clown car idles at the park n’ ride while the clowns apply their masks, rehearse and memorize their scripts, perform a ritual of two for their Master’s coinage, and the most nausiating, pukefest selection season is underway. Buckle up.

  7. Tom Licata, is there anything specific I listed off that you would like to debate? Or we just doing biblical reference name calling? Time for change. Y’all have presented no other ideas to date.

    • “No other ideas” you write.

      But what of those “Biblical references” that you also wrote of?

      Is the Bible – God’s word – not chuck full of ideas?

      You may not like those ideas presented in the Bible, but they are there, none the less.

      Is your “Religion of Humanity” any more provable than Christianity?