Lead Abatement: It’s a Good Thing and Whitehouse Knows It

From the Whitehouse Press office:

 Providence Receives $3.9M in Federal Funding for Lead Safety

Providence, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced that Providence’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has received $3.9 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to protect city residents from the hazards of lead-based paint in their homes.

The funding will be used as part of DPD’s Lead Safe Providence Program, which coordinates existing city services to mitigate lead hazards in Providence’s low-income communities. The funding will support the building or renovation of 250 safe, healthy, and sustainable housing units in the city.

“Lead poisoning is a preventable tragedy that dramatically impacts a child’s ability to learn and has a significant cost for schools and our society. Without this federal funding, fewer parents would be able to protect their children from lead hazards that may be present in their homes. Too many children and families right here in Rhode Island remain at risk. We must be proactive and continue to invest in the health and development of our children,” said Senator Jack Reed, who was awarded the 2014 National Child Health Champion Award by the National Center for Healthy Housing and the Rhode Island Childhood Lead Action Project. Earlier this year, Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, successfully restored $15 million in federal funding for the CDC’s Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

“Rhode Islanders continue to deal with the toxic legacy of lead paint. In 2013, over 1,000 Rhode Island children under the age of six, including more than 400 in Providence, were diagnosed with lead poisoning,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who, while serving as Rhode Island Attorney General, took legal action against lead paint companies over the risk they presented to the public. “I applaud Mayor Taveras on his efforts to respond to the health risks from lead paint, and I am grateful to see federal funds helping to keep Rhode Island families healthy and safe in their homes.”

“Lead hazards have been on the decline since Rhode Island passed crucial lead-paint legislation, but there is still much work to be done to bring our state into compliance. Lead paint poses a significant health risk to Rhode Islanders, and children in particular, and this funding will go a long way to making homes across our state safer for everyone,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.

“Children deserve a healthy home free from the serious danger of lead poisoning and these federal funds will help protect children and families from the hazards of lead paint,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “I will continue working with my colleagues, Mayor Taveras and other local officials to ensure our communities have the resources they need to remove lead paint from homes and improve the health and well-being of Rhode Island families.”

“With the support of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s lead abatement program over the past 15 years, our city has addressed the hazards of household lead paint in 1500 units for Providence children and their families,” said Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. “These additional funds allow us to continue the work to improve the well-being, educational potential and life prospects of all residents. I’m grateful to the congressional delegation for their efforts on our behalf.”

The funding comes in the form of two grants from HUD programs designed to help cities reduce risks from lead-based paint and other housing-related environmental hazards. Providence has received $3.5 million from HUD’s Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration program, which assists cities with the highest incidence of lead-based paint to implement programs to protect residents. The City has also received $400,000 in supplemental funding from HUD’s Healthy Homes program, which helps cities to coordinate their response to housing-related hazards.

John Green on Marriage Equality

Today, let us be mindful of the many things we often take for granted. I’m asking all of you here, for whom this applies–to just consider for a moment– your material comforts, your health care, education– all the rights, privileges and protections under the laws you enjoy by simple virtue of the fact that you live in a great state–within an even greater country. I would ask that you give thanks for being married to someone you love and for having that union and family legally sanctioned everywhere by the powers that be. If all this applies to you, the only question I have is–“Wouldn’t you wish that everyone be equally blessed?”

My answer is yes–because there isn’t anything good and fine in my life that I wouldn’t want everybody to have. So I am here today, happy to lend support in favor of marriage equality. I came of age down South in the sixties. And for better and for worse, that experience imprinted me with an indelible awareness of boundaries. Racism, like all forms of bigotry, has a way of doing that–to its victims and benefactors alike, by purposely creating an unequal and unjust caste system of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. I share with gay people– firsthand experience –of what it means and how it feels– to be on the outside looking in.

One thing I believe that sets America favorably apart in the eyes of the world–is the spirit of our laws, which over time not only champions the individual and recognizes our diversity, but does not overlook and wisely safeguards the legal and civil rights of minorities too. One’s sexual orientation, like the color of one’s skin, is not something over which any of us has a choice. I don’t believe it’s fair or reasonable to exclude anyone on this basis. I am also disheartened whenever I see otherwise bright, well meaning people– misusing religion and science to justify bigotry and the denial of rights to others–which is, after all, the real issue here.

I have 5 sisters and 3 brothers. Many summers ago when I was a boy, we were out playing when our Dad unexpectedly showed up. He asked, “Who wants ice cream?” Of course we all said we did. So Dad was off to the store. Upon his return, we eagerly crowded about him as he led us inside to the kitchen table. As he reached into the bag, he told us there were only 2 half-gallons left in the whole store. We were dumbfounded when we realized Dad had only brought back 1 carton. Reading our faces, he simply smiled and told us that, “On a hot day like this, I figured somebody else might want some too.” I remember feeling a little chagrined, then I smiled, thinking to myself about somebody out there we didn’t even know, who like us, was benefitting from Dad’s thoughtful gesture and from the importance he placed on sharing. And isn’t that what inclusion is all about?

It’s always the right time– to stop behaving as if compassion, fairness, and equality are finite natural resources, to be doled out bit by bit and then– only to those of a select status. Our state’s motto is HOPE. I choose to believe– that this expectation is meant to apply equally to every soul living within its boundaries.

Vote Now!

Having had a night to sleep on it, I’ve decided that Rhode Island needs an authentic political voice. We have too much yapping from big national parties, (no offense, Dems and Repubs), Green is okay, but right now I’ve got the blues, the Moderate party doesn’t excite passion and the Tea Party– pushing a Chinese drink that only Bostonian elites sip in thin porcelain cups, is too Foxy for me.

So which will it be? Frozen Lemonade to make the best of the lemons the economy has thrown at Rhode Island, or Coffee Milk to get us caffeinated but yet calm and sweet?

Vote Today– and don’t hesitate to suggest a candidate. I’d do it, but I’d never survive the glare of national publicity. Any volunteers?

Why Us?

The New York Daily News reports on a really disgusting extreme and cutting-edge food concept from KFC.

This is the ‘Double Down’ sandwich that is for serious fast-food eaters only, or maybe low-carb dieters. It has two fried chicken fillets instead of bread.

The thing is, it’s going nationwide after being tried out in Rhode Island and Nebraska. Why us? Why Nebraska? Are we the two most average states in the union? Or the two strangest?

The sandwich was test-marketed in the KFC on the corner of Cypress and North Main, and it must have been a success.

I don’t expect to see Kentucky Steamed Broccoli anytime soon. Being a friend of Ben and Jerrys myself I really can’t throw stones.

Captain Kirk Abandons Ship

Say it ain’t so! That majestic ship–the Columbus Theater–(the Enterprise is doing just fine), will have to sail on with its dedicated crew. The Captain hopped a life boat. Or pod. Whatever.

Too bad Captain Kirk can’t do something relativistic with the transporter and be in two places at once. William Shatner committed to an appearance at the Columbus, in Providence on Broadway and then canceled at the last minute.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — William Shatner is not coming to the Columbus Theater Thursday to introduce his film, William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet, and to accept the first Nathanael Greene Humanitarian Award from the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

“We even knew what flight he was going to be on,” said [George Marshall, founder and executive director of the 13-year-old film festival]. “He had even asked to have chilled red wine and ice water in his hotel refrigerator. We had a reception planned at the Aurora Club,” which is near the Columbus and where Shatner was going to stay for an hour or so between the presentation of his humanitarian award on stage and the screening of his film.

Jeeze. Maybe his movie is worth seeing. There’s no law of physics that says a great movie has to be made by nice people. (See my rant about Roman Polanski.).

But Mr. Shatner–I’m giving you fair warning. We are the smallest state. We update our will if we cross the border to Massachusetts. When our children move out, they move downstairs. But we are not to be disrespected. NYC had nothing on us for organization. We got Federal Hill. And our cops don’t take no lip either. We arrested Mick Jagger.

Maybe you think you are cooler than all of the Stones, whether Rolling or ambling along forgetfully, but you have some amends to make, and some bridges to repair (don’t drive one of your production trailers over 95 North in Pawtucket). Anyway–you make me mad.

The Columbus has worked hard to rehabilitate her reputation from Fallen Lady to respectable Art Cinema. And our independent film community isn’t rich. You dealt them a setback. How about a donation, a reparation, so that they don’t have to eat Spam for the next year. No offense to Spam, but if you’re eating it in a tent under Rt 195 it just don’t hit the spot.

If you do right, Mr. Shatner, the Del’s is on me.

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.