Wednesday, May 31, 2006

An Inquiry into the Providence Public Library

Tom Sgouros over at RI Policy Reporter published a very interesting letter from a CPA who investigated the Providence Public Library's finances.

Suffice to say, things are a little murkier and not as clearcut as "We are out of money, give us more."

Read the letter from Ellen Schwartz, CPA to get the full scoop. Here's a brief sample:

Is the Library Really Broke?

From Ellen Schwartz, a Providence CPA:

I am a resident of Washington Park and a volunteer tutor with the after school homework club that used to meet at the Washington Park Branch of the Providence Public Library (PPL). When the library informed the residents that it was closing the branch because of structural damage to the building due to an unrepaired leak in the roof, I could see first hand the terrible effect it would have on the neighborhood. I am also a Certified Public Accountant so I decided to take a look at their financial statements to see why they had been too broke to fix the roof.

All non-profit organizations have to file an informational tax return called Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. All of the information in this article is from tax forms filed by the PPL, which are open to public inspection, and which are available on the Internet at

For the most recent year posted, June 30, 2004, the PPL had an excess of revenue over expenses (called profit in the business world) of over $2.6 million. For an institution with an annual budget of around $10 million, this is not an indication of financial crisis-quite the contrary. But since a single year could be misleading, I also looked at the tax returns for the two previous years. Those two years also showed "profits" of $710,000 and $459,000. But the PPL claims there is a crisis so I decided to look further.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

La Laiterie at Farmstead Opens

Farmstead of Wayland Square is one of the best places around to purchase cheese, olives, and other gourmet food stuffs around. It's always a pleasure to walk through their store and see what's new. And they've been named the best cheese shop in Rhode Island by a couple of different places, including Rhode Island Monthly.

They've opened a new restaurant next door that serves beer, wine, cheese, and food. By chance, I ended up at the first night opening last night. Had some great beer (The Ayinger Celebrator was particularly good, and came in a Celebrator glass), but unfortunately they'd run out of the burger on their menu that sounded great (organic beef with shallot jam and a special kind of bleu cheese. It's an $11 burger, but I'm betting it's a lot better than Wendy's! (I've posted their menu below)

Farmstead is at 186 Wayland Ave. Providence RI 02906
phone: 401-274-7177 fax: 401-521-4691
La Laiterie is right next door and will currently only be open for dinner at 5 pm.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

WaterFront Meeting

Design Matters: The Providence Waterfront/Old Harbor District
WHERE: RISD BEB, ROOM 106-- 231 South Main St, Providence, RI
WHEN: Monday, 5/22 5:30-9 pm

SPACE IS LIMITED Registration does not guarantee you a seat. Arrive early for best seating.

Please join the Rhode Island Chapter of the AIA for a fascinating and educational evening looking at the following:

HISTORY of the 195 Relocation and Old Harbor Project
OBJECTIVES and PLANNING PRINCIPLES of the Original Old Harbor Plan
DESCRIPTIONS of Components Being Built
VISIONS of the Area over the years

If you have questions, you should contact R. Drayton Fair by email