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Happy Monday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and while Jennifer Lawrence’s looked fun, I enjoyed my dinner at Gregg’s. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.
If you haven’t read Amanda Milkovits’ Sunday story about Sheila Bentley, the ex-wife of former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci, you should stop whatever you’re doing and click here.
This never-before-told story is exactly the kind of important reporting the Globe wanted to do when it launched in Rhode Island in June.
So how did Amanda pull it together? Below is a quick Q&A about the work that went into this project.
Q: This story didn’t start as a Sheila tell-all. What was the original idea and when did you know you had a totally different story on your hands?
Amanda: Since the “The Prince of Providence” at Trinity Rep. is so hot right now, [I wanted to talk] to Sheila and Rebecca Gibel, the actress who plays her. The two women had developed a rapport, and it sounded like they might have some good stories to share.
Sheila had never granted an interview before, so just the fact that she agreed to meet with me and a photographer was a tremendous step. I had questions about the play, about what it was like to watch someone interpret your life for audiences, and of course, many questions about her life with Buddy Cianci.
When she finally met us at the theater, she seemed hesitant. As the Globe’s amazing photographer John Tlumacki started snapping pictures, Sheila winced at the sound of his camera.
Then, and I’m not sure how it happened, we all relaxed. Sheila started cracking jokes. She’s very funny. We walked onto the stage, which is hand-painted to resemble the interior of City Hall, just to take some photographs. Sheila sat in the “mayor’s chair.” It was like a seat of power. She was center stage. The interview was suddenly on. And for the next hour or so, she opened up and told stories that gave us all goosebumps.
It was like being at a very exclusive one-woman show.
Q: Everyone has a Buddy story, but Sheila is one of the few people who has never told hers. Why do you think she was ready to tell it now?
Amanda: Sheila is pretty blunt about that. Buddy is dead. So are many of the people connected to him who she believes, with reason, could hurt her for talking. The fear is real. There are still things she won’t talk about.
Since the article came out, Sheila said she’s been flooded with calls from friends, all supportive and very proud of her. It wasn’t until now, I think, that she realized how powerful her story is.
Q: We’ve only been working together for six months, but I’m always so impressed with how you handle interviews on stories like this and the David Barboza series. How do you get people to talk to you?
Amanda: It’s really not about me. It’s timing -- people seem to be ready to talk when I find them, almost as if they’ve been waiting for someone to ask them how they feel.
For the Barboza series, the men who allege they are victims of childhood sexual abuse are now in their 50s and coming to terms with what happened in their past. The #MeToo movement has helped many victims speak up, because they see that other people are being heard and believed. Nearly all of the men I spoke to in the Barboza case said that had some influence on their decisions to come forward.
For Sheila, the man she was most afraid of is dead. If she doesn’t speak up, no one will ever know what it was like for her to be so close, such a witness, to life with Cianci. This is also a chance for her to set the record straight about what it was really like to be married to him.
NEED TO KNOW
Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you’ve got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.
We’ve launched a new Q&A feature to highlight Rhode Island’s most innovative business leaders. Ed Fitzpatrick’s first interview is with David Osborne , the CEO of Virgin Pulse. Have an idea for someone Ed should talk to? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The political operative who was indicted Friday on charges of money laundering and making a prohibited campaign contribution to benefit House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s 2016 campaign has worked for both parties (and an independent) over the last two decades. Here’s my look at Jeff Britt .
Lauren Daley talked to artist Shepard Fairey, who is set to begin creating his 100th large-scale mural in Providence.
What’s next for Providence schools? I talked with Scott MacKay and John Bender of The Public’s Radio about some of the key issues to watch.
Winner: We broke another record for responses to the question of the week. For best basketball player, Ernie DiGregorio edged out Marvin Barnes by four votes to take the crown.
WHAT’S ON TAP TODAY
Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.
Speaking of Shepard Fairey, he’s giving a public lecture at AS220 at 7 p.m.
Happening at the Trinity Rep. tonight and tomorrow night: “America Too: It’s Our Health,” a series of short theatrical stories focused on health and wellness in the community.
The Tiverton Town Council is scheduled to elect a new president and vice president tonight following the recall of Councilors Robert Coulter and Justin Katz.
The board of directors for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority meets this afternoon to discuss the proposal to redesign Kennedy Plaza and a new fare structure.
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