A press conference this morning designed to preview the upcoming US Mayor's Conference devolved, predictably, into a Q&A on Mayor David Cicilline's long-running contract clash with the firefighters, whose picket threat is keeping Vice President Joe Biden and other prominent Obama administration officials away from the event.
But if the hullaballoo has turned into a bit of an embarrassment for the city on the national level, it is turning into a political coup - locally - for Mayor Cicilline.
Dogged for months by a lingering controversy over his brother's attempt to pass a bad check with the city, Cicilline is re-emerging as resolute leader - unwilling to cave to union pressure, standing up for a downtrodden city that finally had a shot at some good news with the mayor's conference.
And even as he dutifully attempted to steer this morning's press conference toward pronouncements on the "great meeting" soon to take place within the city's borders - and the economic benefit it might bring - he was full of strong one-liners on the firefighter controversy.
The union has offered to refrain from picketing if Cicilline himself stays away from conference events. Asked if he would back away from the event for which he is the host, the mayor replied, with a smile, "my parents raised me better than that."