Liberty Prevails

I missed the email Thursday calling all friends of the Liberty to come on down and buy gift certificates, but I made it there for breakfast today. The Liberty Elm will stay open, the owner is working out a tax payment plan. They need lots of people to go there and eat eggs, so remember–free range eggs are loaded with Omega-3’s.

Best of all, my art will stay up on the walls for a while longer as the next show is not ready yet. I have my eye on September 2010 for an encore. Just haven’t done the art yet.

Look for the Liberty on TV in the Fall.

Liberty in Peril

Omigod, the Liberty Elm Diner has been given notice that they are to be shut down for delinquent sales tax! This is terrible, as the Liberty is the only place in the world that people can see my brilliant art show.

Stop the madness! I know Providence needs money, but dead businesses pay no taxes at all. The city needs to negotiate a payment plan with the Liberty and the other places that owe. Meanwhile, I’m going to drive by there tomorrow and see if they are open for breakfast. The Liberty Elm phone number is 467-0777. Let us not bear the shame of the Food Network telling the world that the happening Rhode Island diner they are featuring has been shuttered and locked up.

Providence Business News reports on the story.

Beer Summit

I think this is a great idea…

Obama will meet with Cambridge, Massachusetts, police Sgt. James Crowley and Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. at the White House this evening, each one chugging his favorite beer, in a public attempt to move past the emotional event.

Obama convened the “beer summit” after calling both men last week in an attempt to defuse the political fallout from his comment at a news conference that police had “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates at his home after responding to a call from a passer-by about a possible break-in.

He invited both men over for beer, to be served at a picnic table near his Oval Office if thunderstorms forecast for today hold off.

We have this bizarre way of thinking about race, and racism. ‘I’m not a racist!’ we say, or ‘She’s a racist!’

It’s like you either wear the scarlet ‘R’ or are certified pure. But people just don’t fit into such neat categories, especially when each social situation requires judgment calls. Sometimes we call it wrong, sometimes we are misunderstood. Sometimes in anger we pick up the brass knuckles of racism and swing, and a moment later realize how much pain we’ve caused.

We all need to talk to one another more, and listen to one another more. I hope the beer summit goes well.

And I’m not seeking to place blame, but the Cambridge police need to talk about de-escalation. There’s a lot of anger among some members of the force, demonstrated by an email one officer sent to the Boston Globe. If I got into a shouting match with a patient and then sent a rude email the door wouldn’t hit me on the way out. If you work with the public, you have a responsibility. If you carry a gun, all the more so. And no, officer, you are not allowed to whip out the pepper-spray whenever someone gets on your nerves.

This just in–a commenter on Daily Kos is upset because a politician is criticizing President Obama’s choice of beer. Why Bud Light and not Sam Adams?
Well, just to prove I’m not brainwashed by the liberal blogoborg–I wondered the same thing. I would have suggested Magic Hat, or better yet, Trinity IPA. Many improving conversations have been helped along by Trinity brews. The only Miller Time that rings my bells is the drink Josh Miller makes right here in the center of the universe, Providence, RI.

Neighborhood Cinema

Nice to see that the Park Cinema in Rolfe Square is getting ready for its second life…

CRANSTON, R.I.—The long-awaited Park Cinema project in Cranston is getting ready to open and the entertainment complex is looking to hire people for its martini lounge, theatre and comedy club.

People used to be able to walk to the movies. A nice little theater on Hope St. was demolished in the 80’s to make room for the CVS. I’d have kept the movies, given a choice, but the economics are tough. I guess in a sense we all did vote with our dollar, and the chain won. The Castle on Chalkstone Ave. is still there, but vacant and waiting for better times. On the other hand, the Columbus has gone respectable and is showing new independent films.

Good luck, Park Cinema.

Test Case

This week the Projo ran an editorial on the case of a 16 year old runaway girl who was picked up on a domestic violence complaint and found to have been working in a strip club.

This girl was rescued due to outstanding work by the Providence police, the Northeast Innocence Lost Task Force and the FBI. A Providence police officer stayed with her while she waited in the emergency room, trying to find out the real story. The girl, who was suicidal, was using a fake name and ID. The man who is her alleged trafficker has enough warrants out to keep him in prison for as long as it takes to get the facts.

The Journal editorial has one answer to the problem of exploitation– arrest prostitutes. This is essentially what two proposed bills will allow. Although stripping is not legally prostitution, and amending the employment laws to ban minors from working in a hazardous environment has precedent and should easily pass, ‘close the loophole’ is the answer.

The Journal endorses bill H 5044A which is an arrest bill with anti-trafficking language added. (follow the link to view the bill). The Senate has a competing bill that is opposed by the police because the penalties are not strong enough.

I think both bills are trying to deal with a confusion about what we are doing. Are we rescuing victims, or punishing lawbreakers?

Should we be arresting victims of crime? Is prison a safe place for troubled people? A guard at the Wyatt Detention Center plead guilty today for having sex with an inmate. How much ‘force and coercion’ is possible in that situation?

Years of political and legal advocacy for victims of domestic violence led to a practice of law enforcement that allowed a police officer to treat a boyfriend beating as a real crime worth investigating. Years of advocacy for missing and exploited children made possible the teamwork that led to the arrest of a probable trafficker. There is public support for investigating and prosecuting these kinds of crimes.

The first year of work by the Coalition Against Human Trafficking led to the passage of a bill against human trafficking--one that mandates up to 30 years in prison for crimes such as those alleged against this teenage girl.

But no sooner was this bill passed then we were told that it had no teeth and was worthless. Closing the loophole became the only answer.

I’m not a lawyer, but I hope there is a good prosecutor to go after this guy. I hope the girl has some good legal advice. And I wonder why we have a brand-new anti-trafficking law that no one seems interested in enforcing.

Just Got Home

This is how the universe works. If my in-laws were really annoying, they’d live on the first floor of my triple-decker. But they’re really cool people so they live 1,000 miles away. We just got back from Louisville, KY where we made our annual visit.

Every time I go there I wish I could stay a few months. The differences between KY and RI are not superficial, but profound. The longer I am there the more I feel that I am in the South (the North of the South, my husband says). For example, Rhode Island is not famous for the small courtesies and social graces, y’all. But honey, we love you anyway. A guy asked my husband where Rhode Island is, what’s it near?

Flying over Lake Michigan, I saw a huge triangular penninsula that was a patchwork of perfect squares, rectangles, highways as straight as Roman roads, perfectly flat. It looked like the Borg had dropped by to visit. Factory wheat farms? Some kind of farms, a few houses widely spaced, and a line of houses on the Lake shore.

Approaching New England was increasingly hilly and green. Back in Prov, the streets are narrower and people are more given to multi-family housing than in Louisville. But so much is the same. Our American culture stitches us together no matter how much our regional pride holds up our differences. So to the checkout guy in the Whole Foods, with his multiple piercings and Southern twang–wicked cool, and y’all have a nice day.