In this week's Phoenix, I've got a piece suggesting that the looming fight over pension reform will provide a window on one of the most pressing questions in Rhode Island politics: just how much clout does organized labor have, circa 2011?
When I began reporting the piece last week, the union campaign to blunt the impacts of the reform wasn't a high-profile affair. But the release of a video intended to mobilize the rank-and-file brought new attention to the push - and exposed some of the fissures I was discovering between labor leaders and the man they had supported in the governor's race, Lincoln Chafee.
Much of the punditry around pension reform has focused on its impact on the long-term political prospects of Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a rising star in the Democratic Party who will have to be careful not to founder on the rocks of retirement politics.
But I think the impact on Chafee's fortunes may be even more interesting. He did win election, in a four-way race, with just 36 percent of the vote and will presumably need all the help he can get - from labor and other core supporters in 2010 - in his re-election bid.
I've also got a piece, expanding on themes I;ve developed in this space in recent days, on the ProJo's big push to survive and thrive in the 21st Century - a new web site, a paywall, a Groupon-style deals web site.
These stories come wrapped in our big Fall Preview issue - an exhaustive look at coming attractions in local and national arts. Deer Tick! DiCaprio! Take a look.