With Gina Raimondo's likely run for governor, the role of women in Rhode Island politics will soon come into focus.
The state has a poor record of electing women to high office. Rhode Island and Maine are the only two New England states yet to see a woman in the governor's office. And the Ocean State is the only one in the region that has failed to elect a woman either governor or US Senator.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and three other Democrats - US Senator Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Representative Henry Waxman (California), and Representative Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) - recently unveiled a proposal for a new carbon tax meant to curb climate change.
Here's the thing, though. They haven't worked out all the details.
The recent kerfuffle over the release of Ken Block's Medicaid fraud report is just the latest reminder of Rhode Island's long struggle with government transparency.
Independent, non-profit, television-on-the-Internet journalist Jim Hummel is pitching a new idea to the Knight Foundation, which is offering up $5 million through its Knight News Challenge for breakthrough open government initiatives.
The school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut spurred hope for sensible gun regulation, yes, but also for a more nuanced discussion of America's gun culture.
Neither wish has been realized.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced this week that he's pulling an assault weapons ban out of a broader gun regulation package for fear that it might sink the whole enterprise; there is considerable doubt about whether Congress will even pass a universal background check measure broadly popular with the public.
I've been a little obsessed with this question since the Red Sox made an unprecedented deal last August, shipping four players - including $100 million men Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez - to the Los Angeles Dodgers for some spare parts and prospects.
The team won almost universal praise for the deal: in one fell swoop it dumped $260 million from its payroll, putting an end - more or less - to a miserable season and freeing up loads of cash to build the team of the future.
In recent months, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed has emerged as perhaps the state's leading voice for economic revival.
In January, she announced the release of the "Moving the Needle" report, which focused on ways to improve the state's poor showing in business climate rankings. And last week, she unveiled a package of 25 legislative proposals built on the report's recommendations.
Senator Nick Kettle (R-Coventry), whom I'd previously rated a "lean yes" on same-sex marriage, has gone on the record as a "yes."
Kettle, who hails from a conservative district, tells me he's received phone calls from "thousands" of constituents, including many Catholics who support gay nuptials.
And yet, Kettle is co-sponsoring legislation that would put the question before voters - legislation staunchly opposed by fellow same-sex marriage advocates, who say the majority shouldn't vote on the rights of a minority.
Our sister paper, The Phoenix in Boston, is closing. But the Providence Phoenix and the company's other paper, the Portland Phoenix, will remain open.
Stephen Mindich, who owns the company, just announced the heartbreaking news about the Boston paper - for decades, one of the nation's most prominent alternative weeklies - in a companywide meeting.
Last May, I wrote a cover story for the Phoenix about newish RISD Museum Director John Smith and his grand challenge: to add some shine to the museum, an underappreciated and underperforming gem.
Smith, an energetic character with a populist touch, laid out an interesting vision for the place. But things move slowly in Museum Land; exhibits are planned months and even years in advance.
The Providence Plan, claiming inspiration from some guy named Ted Nesi, has developed a map re-sizing Rhode Island cities and towns based on their population. I'm feeling woozy.
Word came, today, that Mayor Angel Taveras won a $5 million prize from Bloomberg Philanthropies for a clever approach to improving childhood literacy. I wrote about the idea back in November. Here's the piece:
all know, on some level, that impoverished kids face long odds. But
quantification has a way of casting a problem like this in stark relief.
This is "Sunshine Week," an annual event meant to focus attention on the importance of transparency in government. In Rhode Island, the sun has not yet peeked out from behind the clouds.
The week's biggest story, to date, is Governor Chafee's refusal to make public a report on Medicaid waste and fraud. Chafee, who promised transparency during the gubernatorial campaign, argues that going public would jeopardize a state investigation born of the report.
A new report from the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU finds flawed Internet filtering software and unaccountable public school administrators are effectively censoring student access to the web.
Among the material that's been blocked in Rhode Island schools: the Smithsonian web site, a video clip of the Nutcracker ballet, and a You Tube video on Social Security.
We'll be hearing more about "Story in the Public Square," a partnership between Salve Regina University's Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy and the Providence Journal, in the run-up to the initiative's April 12 conference.
But just a word about it here. The effort, spearheaded by the ProJo's G.
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.