Ellen Liberman

Creative Accounting

Sure, the state budget is a grown-up mess, but that’s no reason kids shouldn’t clean it up.

Last summer, Dennys George did his bit to balance the state budget. The seventeen-year-old spent two days in a super maximum security unit at the Adult Correctional Institution, arrested on a drug charge. For forty-eight hours, he ate, slept, relieved himself, waited and worried about prison rape in his cell, caught in a fiscal dragnet. Last spring, Governor Carcieri and…

War and Peaceniks

The Iraq war is as controversial as the Vietnam conflict, but this time antiwar demonstrators are a lonely bunch.

About 100 people tried to make peace on a warm September afternoon, with no more material than Tibetan prayer flags fluttering to the tattoo from a North African dumbek. Rhode Island’s International Day of Peace commemoration was mostly a quiet affair. Tucked into the shade cast by the Davey Lopes Recreation Center in Providence, organizers proffered free hugs and free…

Safe House

Reporter

In August, Gary Lamountain was a maintenance man living in a Cumberland apartment building. He was three months out of prison and still on probation for a rape conviction. He had registered with the Cumberland police as a sex offender the day he left the ACI and was in treatment—all of the things he was supposed to so. Then, police…

A Matter of Time

Reporter

In community service circles, the starfish story is a popular parable that counsels faith, even when the odds are stacked against you. It has a few variations, but it essentially goes like this: A man happens upon a little girl tossing beached starfish into the ocean before they die in the morning sun. The man considers the thousands of starfish…

Going Coastal

Living by the ocean is an irresistible dream for most of us, but the government is determined to protect waterfront homeowners from themselves.

Daniel Wheelan remembers the time Edna came to town. She was a wild one that set his grandfather’s ’48 Dodge a-rockin’ as they hunkered inside to track her on the car radio. But the house his great, great uncle built in Narragansett stood up to her, dry and tight, and to Carol, and to the Hurricane of 1938, too. With…

Clip Job

The state budget’s in shambles and seems doomed to remain so. Here are ten ways to fix it.

In 2005, following a press conference with popcorn and a couple of Hollywood celebrities, the General Assembly enacted a 25 percent transferable tax credit for film and television producers with no caps on spending for any production with a budget of more than $300,000. It was among the most generous tax incentives in the nation, and thirty months later, the…

High Priority

High PriorityWhen it comes to the war on drugs, legislators have learned that money talks with a very loud voice.Addicts liken recovery to a wave, where the force of will meets a fleeting opportunity. David Olszewski’s moment arrived on April 9, 2004. He had been a musician and an opiates addict since age fourteen. For a while, the two blended,…

Labor Pains

The first time Juan Garcia crossed the U.S. border he was on foot, through the Rio Grande, across the Texas desert. He lost his food and water and was caught by the border patrol. The second time, Garcia crossed over in the trunk of a Buick with $150 in his pocket. He lost start-up capital after his traveling companion left…

School Daze

The night was cold and the meeting had entered its third hour, but the parents of Hope High School would not be denied their say. The city is proposing to spend $972 million to rebuild, refurbish or retire thirty-nine school facilities, and whatever oxygen was left after a two-hour PowerPoint presentation on the plan was taken up by the fear…

Charging into Battle

Every morning, Rob McMahon arrives at his North Kingstown office, doffs his jacket and dons his lead overcoat. McMahon is an eleven-year veteran of the Department of Children, Youth and Families, and the lead overcoat is his term for the futility that has come to define his job in the Family Services Unit. Each month, McMahon’s first priority is to…