Ellen Liberman

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….

Chief Executive Governor

Why CEOs make good political leaders—and why they don’t.

Dennis Grilli wasn’t shocked that the vote went down or that it went down hard. But Grilli, executive director of the state’s largest municipal employees union, was surprised that even those who would have benefited from it rejected the four-year contract on which Governor Don Carcieri attempted to balance the state budget.Council 94, the American Federation of State, County &…

Pie in the Sky

While T.F. Green’s neighbors wonder whether their houses will go next, political and economic forces buffet plans to expand the airport.

The northern-most tip of Greenwood is a lost world, but Irma Carolan remembers well the Capes and bungalows that once populated it. Carolan has lived at the corner of Greeley and Bedford for forty years—long enough to raise three children, bury her husband and watch T.F. Green elbow the neighbors out.Patches of summer-scorched grass have healed over the foundations of…

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…