But listen closely to the mayor, and it's clear that his passion lies elsewhere - in education.
I spoke with him for my new cover story on the push to turn around Providence's failing schools.
Last week, I sat down with Providence Superintendent Sue Lusi to talk
reform and she unfurled a surprisingly radical vision for where the
city schools need to go.
America's traditional, centralized urban
districts are simply not working, she said. Look no further than
Providence, where 23 of the district's 37 schools have been identified
as in need of transformation.
The Hub, a Providence after school program for high schoolers, is getting some national attention for its innovative use of digital badges.
The badges - think online versions of Boy Scout badges - are used to recognize a skill developed outside the school day, often in the afterschool programs offered up by The Hub: participants are learning to design Android apps and build hot air balloons, among other things.
The White House filed a brief yesterday urging the Supreme Court to strike down California's ban on same-sex marriage.
But did the administration also ask the high court to nullify Rhode Island's civil unions law? It certainly looks that way.
The brief argues that California's voter-approved ban is unconstitutional, in part, because it denies gays and lesbians the right to marry while leaving intact many of the substantive benefits of marriage they enjoy through the state's domestic partnership law.
Here's an argument you'll often hear from opponents of same-sex marriage: it's a sideshow, a distraction from the real work of fixing Rhode Island's economy, a concern of a relatively small group of gays, lesbians, and their progressive allies.
But a new Brown University poll provides a challenge to that line of argument.
After his failed Congressional bid in 2010, former Rhode Island state representative David Segal teamed up with tech progidy Aaron Swartz to form liberal advocacy group Demand Progress.
Soon thereafter, a federal grand jury indicted Swartz for breaking into a computer wiring closet at MIT and downloading millions of academic articles he planned to distribute for free on the web.
In the Spring of 2009, I wrote a profile of RISD President John Maeda a year into his tenure. It was the story of a digital media rock star trying out a new brand of leadership - one that would eschew the traditional emphasis on constructing a gleaming building or department for a focus on connectivity and vision and stoking entrepreneurship.
The Cable Car Cinema and Cafe, Providence's venerable art house, is in a pickle.
The big studios, sadly, are phasing out 35 millimeter prints. And by the end of this year, it will be tough for theaters that haven't made the conversion to digital projection to keep on keeping on.
The 35-year-old Cable Car hasn't yet made the shift.
Rhode Island's all-Democratic Congressinal delegation has attracted a bit of attention for a fundraiser it's hosting in Washington Monday for Governor Lincoln Chafee. National political prognosticator Larry Sabato mentions it today in a post on governors races across the country.
But sources tell me it's best not to read too much into the event.
Talk radio host Buddy Cianci, on the air for the first time since WPRO cut loose his long-time sidekick Ron St. Pierre, thanked St. Pierre, said he did not know his friend would be sacked, and attributed the move to budget trimming.
Cianci, who took off Thursday and Friday as part of an extended President's Day weekend trip to Florida, says he picked up a voicemail after landing in Florida at about 7 pm Thursday, telling him to call the station.
Advertising and circulation revenue continues to decline for the Providence Journal's Dallas-based parent company, A.H. Belo, according to a fourth-quarter earnings report released this week.
Advertising revenue was down nearly 10 percent from a year ago. Of the company's three major papers - the Providence Journal, the Dallas Morning News and the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California - the ProJo had the steepest decline, according to the regulatory filing.
RISD President John Maeda has been the chief evangelist, for the past couple of years, for an idea known as "STEM to STEAM."
STEM, for the uninitiated, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. And it is shorthand, in education reform and public policy circles, for an argument that the country needs to build its capacity in these areas if it's to keep its edge in the global economy.
With the 10th anniversary of the Station nightclub fire approaching, the Phoenix invited four Rhode Islanders who have written books about the tragedy to participate in a roundtable discussion.
And on a chilly Monday night, they all came to our offices: Gina Russo, a Station survivor who wrote From the Ashes: Surviving the Station Nightclub Fire, A personal story of tragedy and Triumph, her co-author Paul Lonardo, Marilyn Bellemore, who wrote about the Station pre-fire in The Night the Music Ended, and John Barylick, a lawyer who represented Station victims and wrote the definitive account, Killer Show: The Station Nightclub Fire, America's Deadliest Rock Concert
A new poll commissioned by the National Organization for Marriage finds Rhode Islanders want voters - not legislators - to decide the fate of same-sex marriage by a 74-20 margin.
NOM, of course, opposes gay nuptials. And same-sex marriage supporters will undoubtedly quibble with the way the organization phrased the questions in the survey.
The Providence Journal's 10-day series on The Station nightclub fire - in the run-up to the 10th anniversary - continues today with a fine piece by Tracy Breton on the Derderian brothers, who owned the club.
The story follows a strong and beautifully written overview of the fire by G. Wayne Miller, Tom Mooney, and Karen Lee Ziner that appeared on Sunday.