Ellen Liberman

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…

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…