Ellen Liberman

A Mighty Wind

Special interests want to do them in, but wind farms could save us big money. Let’s ponder that as gas approaches $4.50 a gallon.

The Portsmouth Abbey wind turbine is not among the tourist attractions on the Newport County Convention and Visitors Bureau website, but perhaps it should be. Instead of turning left off Cory’s Lane toward the historic Brayton estate and its famed animal topiary gardens, many now bear right into the Abbey parking lot, in search of a different sort of green…

What’s in a Name?

The “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” was founded on the principles of freedom. Now that name suggests slavery and it’s time to change it.

Slave monuments are common in the South; Rhode Island has but one. It’s an uncut chunk of quartz, leaning in the farthest corner of Prince’s Hill Cemetery. On its rough white face is a bronze plaque inscribed with the thanks of a grateful town: “In memory of the slaves and their descendants who faithfully served Barrington’s families.” The memorial was…

The Silly Season

Sunbathers red as beets, manic lawn waterers, and all those drivers determined to park in tiny downtown Providence.... Why summer is no day at the beach.

Summer, as everyone knows, is Rhode Island’s shining moment. Each year, the state attracts 16 million visitors. They don’t all come in July. But it feels as if they do. Then, there’s us. We gas up the Jet Ski, load the cooler and kids into the Explorer, and head out on the highway. Life’s a beach, right? With the legislature…

A Not So Simple Plan

Rhode Island ought to be the perfect incubator for testing universal health insurance. So what’s stopping us?

Eddy Perez is a very, very good diabetic. Every month, he visits the Blackstone Valley Community Health Center to have his blood sugar level checked. He swapped the chicharon—fried pork skins—he loved for low-cholesterol eggs and vegetables. And Perez takes his insulin religiously. His blood sugar levels are now so steadily in the normal range that he may be able…

Watching Your Waste

Once, Rhode Island led the country in recycling. Now we trail the pack, and it could cost us more than just big money.

In 1992, the town of South Kingstown went to a pay-as-you-throw system at the Rose Hill Transfer Station. There was no charge for residents to recycle old clothes, some plastics, metal and paper. The town even built a cinder-block repository for discarded books and magazines for the taking dubbed the “Rose Hill Free Library.” Garbage bag tags were about a…

Growing Pains

Not enough cabs; no place to park; and street signs, where? As more visitors discover our piece of paradise, we can’t keep up with the deluge.

On a wintry Saturday afternoon, Tom Reil, sales director for the Providence Renaissance Hotel, mans the luxe lobby and bemoans the lack of taxis. A quarter of a mile away, cabbie Damien Goris waits on West Exchange Street and bemoans the lack of fares. Their mirrored dissatisfaction reflects some of the tourism industry’s current growing pains.“I still haven’t made the…

The Big Squeeze

More than 1,600 houses are in foreclosure in Rhode Island, threatening to send our economy into a swoon. How is the state going to fix this mortgage mess?

Whitehall Street is a hodgepodge of triple-deckers and bungalows, hard by the highway, before Union Avenue climbs the hill to the grander old homes of Silver Lake. Here on the bottom rungs of the housing market, the house-proud, who set their borders with freshly painted wrought iron fences, share the street with owners of a looser grip. Number 116 Whitehall…

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…