Ellen Liberman

An Ocean State of Trash

Can we protect Rhode Island's greatest natural resource from marine debris?

The earth’s lifeblood is under assault from marine debris — a broad term encompassing anything in the water that shouldn’t be, from a cigarette butt to a fiberglass cigarette boat.

Rhode Island Needs More Housing

The state lacks affordable options for needy residents.

The odds weren’t Powerball-crazy and the prize wouldn’t make her rich, but V. Raffini was very lucky last August to be one of fifty — out of more than 1,000 people who applied — to snag an affordable rental at the Sankofa Apartments. “It was by the grace of God that I got on the list at the right time,”…

Being Republican in RI

How is the state's GOP faring after the national win?

The Saturday after Election Day, the South County Republican Breakfast convenes at the Wood River Inn and the mood is buoyant. Donald Trump had failed to capture the popular vote by two-and-a-half million ballots, but he won an Electoral College landslide. Even in this bluest of states, Trump earned 39 percent of the vote, winning fifteen inland towns. The syrup…

Are We Prepared for the Winter of 2017?

The 2015 and 2016 seasons widened the extreme weather spectrum in Rhode Island.

Off Jefferson Boulevard, under the east and westbound lanes of Route 37, lies a small mountain of salt, the size of a four-bedroom Colonial with a garage. About forty feet high, eighty feet wide and thirty feet long, weighing in at 20,000 tons and costing $1.26 million, the pile is a response to the Great Salt Panic of  ’15, when…

Rhode Islanders on Probation

How are our legislators addressing the state's out-of-control probation rate?

Jah-Lonie Creighton graduated from Pawtucket’s Tolman High School in 2004 with a desire to continue his education. But he was the sole support of his two younger brothers, so he worked a low-wage retail job and hustled on the side, selling drugs and merchandise. In 2007, he was sentenced to nine months for skimming the cash registers at Walmart. After…

Rhode Island Is Still Going Hungry

How is the state working to address the problem?

If ever a community was food insecure, it was Plimoth Plantation. They settled on the shores of Cape Cod Bay with a goal of religious and economic liberty, but few survival skills. And, but for the intervention of a friendly Wampanoag Indian, Squanto, who taught them how to plant corn and squash — so goes our national myth — they…

Full House in Tiverton

Voters will decide in November if a new casino should be built in the town.

On June 21, Twin River Management Group kicked off its campaign to bring casino gambling to Tiverton with a rally and a message mailed out to more than 200,000 Rhode Islanders: Vote Yes on Question One. The sunny yellow stripe across the four-fold brochure’s cover promised to grow Rhode Island’s economy. The photos of smiling workers — a chef, a…

Crossing School District Lines

How often do kids attend schools in other areas?

Last September, Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena, a fierce guardian of the public dollar, declared war on boundary hoppers. “We had a lot of people sneaking into the school district by giving false addresses,” says Polisena. “It costs $17,000 to educate one non-special education student in Johnston. They are stealing from the taxpayers.” He attempted to bar a Kentucky family living…

Saving the New England Cottontail

Conservationists from six states are working to increase their population.

In a small, low-slung building off the entrance of the Roger Williams Park Zoo, eleven presumably pregnant New England cottontails awaited a new generation — along with conservationists in six states. Each plastic-bottomed cage, stacked on tiered metal carts, bore an identification number for the female and the estimated due dates. By late May, only one had given birth. She…