MORE BLOGS: Bite Club (Food & Drink) | Live Culture (Arts) | Stuck in Vermont (Videos)

Off Message: Vermont News and Politics


November 22, 2013

Records Show Burlington Cops Used Little Force Prior to Shooting

The two Burlington police officers involved in the shooting death of a mentally ill man wielding a shovel earlier this month had not fired or even pointed a weapon at a suspect in the years before the shooting, according to department records.

Officers Ethan Thibault and Brent Navari used force in the line of duty a combined 14 times since 2010, according to Burlington Police Department records. The officers' use of force reports were obtained by Seven Days under a public records request submitted to the police department. 

Continue reading "Records Show Burlington Cops Used Little Force Prior to Shooting" »

November 20, 2013

This Week's Issue: Union Drives, Big-Money Developers and a Long Time in the Clink

112013-coverAnother week, another Wednesday, another Seven Days. Here's this week's lineup of news and politics stories:

Pick up this issue in print, online or on the iOS app.

November 18, 2013

COTS Plans Services and Housing Near Street with History of Fighting Development

Spectacular views of Lake Champlain, a short stroll to Church Street and little in the way of traffic or noise combine to make Lakeview Terrace one of Burlington's most desirable residential streets. But it can also be one rough neighborhood — for developers.

The Committee on Temporary Shelter could soon find that out. COTS has scheduled a briefing for local residents on Thursday evening about its plans to open a daytime services facility for homeless Vermonters and to build up to 16 low-income housing units at a site steps from the southern end of Lakeview Terrace.

Neighbors will be holding their own meeting Wednesday evening to discuss the project and to prepare questions for COTS director Rita Markley. If past experience is a reliable guide, she can expect to encounter a certain skepticism — and possibly protracted opposition.

Continue reading "COTS Plans Services and Housing Near Street with History of Fighting Development" »

Burlington Cops Return to Duty Following Shooting

Updated at 2:59 p.m.

Two Burlington police officers who were placed on administrative leave following the fatal shooting of a shovel-wielding man earlier this month are returning to duty tomorrow, Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling said, as preliminary investigations have showed they did not violate any rules or laws.

While the Vermont State Police and the Burlington Police Department are still reviewing the shooting death of Wayne Brunette in the New North End on November 6, early indications are that Cpl. Ethan Thibault and Cpl. Brent Navari acted appropriately, Schirling said. 

'They don't see any red flags," the chief said in an interview.

The officers are at a training today and will return to regular duty tomorrow, Schirling said.

Brunette was shot four times, the Vermont State Police announced this afternoon, and died of wounds to his torso.  

Thibault fired all four shots, Vermont State Police said. The rounds recovered from Brunette, 49, who had a history of mental illness, will be sent to the Vermont Forensic Lab for ballistic analysis.

Navari did not fire.

The Vermont Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Brunette’s death a homicide — a medical definition, not a legal one. The formal autopsy report will be incorporated into the ongoing Vermont State Police investigation, which will be submitted to Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell and Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan for review.

November 13, 2013

Burlington Telling Drivers: There's Plenty of Parking Spaces Downtown

 Can't find a parking space in downtown Burlington?

You probably haven't looked in the right places.

About 35 percent of the nearly 8500 public and private parking spots in the Queen City are empty even at peak times, attendees at a "parking summit" were told on Wednesday.

BlogWith improved signage, technological innovations and enhanced public-private partnerships, it should be possible to hook up many more motorists with available parking slots, city officials said at the meeting.

Kelly Devine, director of the Burlington Business Association, noted that one downtown garage with room for 100 cars is almost entirely unused after business hours. That facility is located underneath the Main Street Landing building on the waterfront and is accessible by turning right off King Street just before reaching the bike path, Devine explained.

Burlington aims to introduce some major changes in its parking system in the coming years, Devine said in an interview following the event held at the Hilton Hotel on Battery Street.

Continue reading "Burlington Telling Drivers: There's Plenty of Parking Spaces Downtown" »

November 12, 2013

Vermont Gun-Safety Advocates Focus on State's Suicide Rate

Gun sense 001

Vermont's high rate of suicide with firearms was the dominant theme of a well-attended and well-mannered forum held Monday night in Burlington City Hall.

Organized by advocates of gun-safety measures in a state with few firearms regulations, the event took place 50 yards from the site of a fatal shooting almost exactly two years ago. Josh Pfenning, 35, died on November 10, 2011, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound while camped in City Hall Park during the Occupy Burlington protests.

The way in which Pfenning died is not unusual in Vermont. With the exception of Pennsylvania, Vermont has the Northeast's highest per-capita rate of gun-related deaths, most of which take the form of suicide, said Eliot Nelson, a pediatrician at Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Vermonters are far more likely to kill themselves than one another, noted Sean Ackerman, a Fletcher Allen resident in child psychiatry. The state suicide rate stands at 16 deaths per 100,000 residents and the homicide rate is 1.6 per 100,000, he said, adding that more than half of suicides are carried out with firearms.

Continue reading "Vermont Gun-Safety Advocates Focus on State's Suicide Rate" »

November 07, 2013

Burlington Police Fatally Shoot Shovel-Wielding Man

IMG_2431A Burlington police officer fatally shot a 49-year-old man in the New North End yesterday evening after his mother called police to report that he had been acting irrationally, authorities said.

Wayne Brunette, a longtime Burlington resident, was killed two minutes after two police officers arrived at the home he shared with his parents on Randy Lane, in a quiet neighborhood tucked behind the Lyman Hunt Middle School, police said.

Brunette approached the officers in a “threatening manner,” while holding a “long-handled pointed spade shovel," Vermont State Police Major Glenn Hall said at a late morning press conference inside the Burlington police station.

Corporal Ethan Thibault, a 12-year-veteran, fired his .40 caliber Glock, killing Brunette. It was the first time Burlington police have fired their weapons at someone since 1997.

Corporal Brent Navari, a 10-year-veteran, did not fire. Neither officer was injured. Brunette was pronounced dead at the Fletcher Allen Health Care emergency department.

Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling (pictured) said that, while the investigation is in its infancy, authorities currently believe Thibault followed the applicable rules and laws in firing at Brunette.

Continue reading "Burlington Police Fatally Shoot Shovel-Wielding Man" »

November 06, 2013

This Week's Issue: Little Italy, Big Prisons and a Band Called Phish

Cover-110613Happy November, everyone. If you're cooped up inside bemoaning the chill in the air and the absence of sunlight, hey, more time for reading Seven Days. And more time for a couch tour, if you're a Phish-head — our own Paul Heintz took a break from politics this week to look back at the Vermont band's 30 years on the jam circuit. Once you're finished with that long read, here are this week's newsy stories:

Read it all in print, online or on the iOS app.

November 05, 2013

Waterfront Development Inches Ahead as City Council Gets Briefed on Nine Plans

Cedo 001

An expanded marina, a Cherry Street "promenade" and a Moran Plant transformed into an aquatics center or, alternately, a space for food, galleries and "makers" were among nine infrastructure-improvement proposals outlined at a Burlington City Council session on Monday. 

It was another step in a waterfront development process that began early this year and will culminate in a vote on Town Meeting Day in March. A five-member Public Investment Team of planners, architects and developers winnowed 50 proposals submitted to the city last April to the current crop of nine, which Burlington residents can review at a series of five open houses starting next week. 

Continue reading "Waterfront Development Inches Ahead as City Council Gets Briefed on Nine Plans" »

October 30, 2013

This Week's Issue: Hunting Trouble, Prison Sex and an M.I.A. Delegation

Cover103013While you're putting together your Halloween getup tonight — bonus candy for anyone in a homemade F-35 costume — give this week's news and politics stories in Seven Days a read. Here's what you'll find.

Pick up this week's issue in print, online or on the app. Finally, go Sox.

Subscribe to the Daily 7

Fill out my online form.
All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684