Ellen Liberman


We’re the only state in the country with no school funding formula. A new push to establish one must tackle an almost impossible question: how to make it fair?

The statehouse hearing room held only adults that afternoon, but Anita McGuire-Forcier saw quite clearly that her children were pinned under political crossfire. It was March 2008, and newly installed Woonsocket Superintendent Robert Gerardi stood before a state finance sub-committee pleading for legislative mercy. The district had been cutting resources every year for a decade. The student population had been…


Local news isn’t flying in new business models for print journalism. Why care? Because the Providence Journal and its kin are all that stand between us and chaos.

Gerry Goldstein’s retirement was going to consist of three things: guitar, Spanish and tomatoes. For twenty-five years, he’d been telling South County stories to the readers of the Providence Journal. In 2001 he left his editor’s post and relocated to a small farm in Greenville, which, in a state like Rhode Island, is the modern equivalent to hitching up a…


New laws outlawing prostitution don’t change the real problem — that it’s women who end up in jail, again and again, and not the men who pimp and traffick

Barton Street was once the Route 2 of the sex trade. No woman could stroll casually down the Pawtucket thoroughfare without being stopped by a man in a car looking for a “date.” Periodically, the police would swoop through and make arrests. Two weeks later, the prostitutes and their johns would re-take the streets.It seemed to be an intractable feature…


Mother faced daughter, and social worker Carla Cuellar sat in between, at the sticky kitchen table on a Friday night. Three years ago, the sixteen-year-old had been raped. She could not bring herself to testify, so her attacker remained free, while the girl did the time. She had been in and out of a group home, was bunking school and…


State funding is drying up for kids who need intensive therapies. Without it, parents worry, what will help their kids bridge the divide to normal life?

Before she was the proud parent of two girls, Susan Baylis was the mother of a successful graphic arts design business with — at its height — $2 million in annual sales. Today, she takes satisfaction in more quotidian milestones: Julia’s reading progress and enthusiasm for drawing; Emily’s good behavior during public outings.“Your world gets really small,” she says. “Something…

The Real Creative Capital

Rhode Island needs to get behind its artists so that they (and the rest of us) can not only survive, but emerge from the downturn ready to realize our potential.

In 1935, the U.S. Treasury Department paid a New York illustrator $850 to paint a mural depicting “The Economic Activities of the Narragansett Planters” for the Wakefield post office. The Great Depression had thrown a quarter of the 
labor force out of work. The Treasury Relief Art Program (TRAP), one of several federal efforts to employ artists, paid commissions for…

The Roads Crisis

Here and across the country, we don’t have enough money to support our highway, byway and bridge habit. Raising the money will mean taking a path so far untravelled.

Retiree Leroy Youngblood’s daily circuit didn’t take him much beyond his rental properties, the grocery store and the health club, but that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for turning his Subaru hatchback into a transportation funding laboratory. In 2006, he was among 299 Oregon drivers who volunteered to participate in a pilot program to test a new tax based on vehicle…

(It’s a) Farmers’ Market

Local agriculture is thriving, bringing good food to our tables and keeping household spending in the hard-driven local economy. Here’s how farmers and consumers are both getting some green.

Eyeing, tasting, bagging, buying. A Rhode Island harvest lined the brick halls of Hope Artiste Village and a stream of shoppers swirled and eddied around each stall. Some fields are fallow in December, but others are yielding root crops and crisp lettuces. The chickens are laying and organic ground beef is selling for $5 a pound.Lucy Hitchcock was unsuccessful scouring…

RI, the One-Party State

With a scant ten Republicans at the State House, checks and balances are long gone; will accountability follow?

Into every political life comes a reckoning. June Gibbs’ moment came right after the polls closed. On Election Day, the longest-serving Republican state senator was stationed, as she had been for the last twelve elections, at her own polling place. At about nine o’clock, Gibbs stared her numbers in the eye and she knew. “I won. But not by the…

The Tax Mire

Years of silly policies have helped create a record fiscal crisis. But if state budgets reveal what matters to us, it’s time to carefully consider our priorities.

On a late October day, Rhode Islanders surrendered $25 million to a cause they held dear. The state was but a month away from an empty till, and State Treasurer Frank Caprio rallied the citizenry to stave off penury with a one-day sale of tax anticipation notes. Governments use TANs to bridge short-term gaps between their spending and tax collections….