Governor Lincoln Chafee has never been known for his political acumen. But today's handling of the "holiday tree" lighting was clever.
Chafee, of course, attracted national attention last year - much of it unflattering - when the local media latched onto the administration's decision to call the State House Christmas tree a "holiday tree."
The recent wave of buyouts and layoffs at the Providence Journal makes it clear that the paper is in something like a crisis: its advertising revenue and circulation plummeting at alarming rates, and no evidence of a significant shake-up in the offing on Fountain Street.
I take on that crisis in a cover story in this week's Phoenix
Environmental activist Bill McKibben was the driving force behind the remarkable campaign that forced President Obama to delay approval of the Keystone pipeline, which would funnel oil pulled from the tar sands of Canada down to the Gulf Coast.
But McKibben, in an appearance at the Netroots Nation conference in Providence this summer, said the Keystone case was unique, in some ways: President Obama, alone, had the power to delay construction, dampening the influence of the powerful fossil fuels lobby.
Back in May, I wrote a piece titled "Game Change" about the remarkable fight against SOPA and PIPA, a pair of bills designed to choke off online piracy of movies, music, and pharmaceuticals.
Critics called the bills ham-handed measures that threatened the open architecture of the Internet. But their efforts seemed destined to fall short in the face of opposition from powerful lobbies like Hollywood and Big Pharma.
The Providence Journal's latest round of buyouts and layoffs has prompted some soul searching among the paper's rank-and-file - and a push to reform one of Rhode Island's most important institutions.
A couple of months ago, when word of the impending job cuts first surfaced, a group of employees sent a letter to publisher Howard Sutton and acting executive editor Karen Bordeleau offering to help the paper find a way forward.
Last month, I wrote a cover story for the Phoenix suggesting it might be time for Rhode Island's gay marriage advocates to consider putting the question on the ballot.
Supporters had long resisted the idea - and for understandable reasons. Prior to the November election, same-sex nuptials advocates around the country were 0 for 32 at the ballot box.
Romney's 47 percent comment. President Obama's deadly performance in the first debate. Hundreds of millions spent on ads. And none of it mattered. That's the conclusion of University of Rhode Island political science professor Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz in a new piece in Pacific Standard magazine.
We all know that most voters decide who to vote for well before the campaigns begin.
If you made it to the "D" section in Tuesday's Providence Journal, you saw a big, yellow-tinged photo of singer Sarah Lupo beneath the headline "Sassy, Bluesy Sarah." Inside, a piece that beautifully captured the mood of her recent show at The Met - a sort of reunion of Rhode Island's aging rockers.
[I]t was a good night.
In my post-mortem on the Cicilline-Doherty race in last week's Phoenix, I noted that while turnout in the First Congressional District race was lower than it was in the last presidential year (2008), the drop-off was not as steep in a handful of key Democratic bastions - Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls.
That could explain, in part, why Congressman Cicilline racked up a far larger margin of victory - 12 points - than the polls predicted.
Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson, co-authors of the acclaimed The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, made an appearance at Brown University this spring.
Skocpol argued, at the time, that the media - which considered the Tea Party so 2010 - was underestimating its continued influence. The Tea Party, she argued, had forced the Republican presidential primary - including ostensible moderate Mitt Romney - to the right.
With just three weeks to go before election day, Republican Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty scored a neat little coup: winning a joint a statement of support from former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton Erskine Bowles.
Simpson and Bowles, of course, co-chaired a commission appointed by President Obama that aimed to craft a bi-partisan solution to the nation's debt problem, combining cuts and new tax revenue.
Not for Nothing was on an airplane today. And the big news, while I was unplugged, was the Providence Journal laying off 23 workers, or about 5 percent of its workforce. This comes on top of the 11 employees who took buyouts in September. The good news for readers: no reporters or editors are losing their jobs in this latest round of cuts.
I spoke with Republican Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty's always gracious campaign manager Ian Prior this morning for my post-mortem on the GOPer's loss to Congressman David Cicilline (that post-mortem will appear in this week's issue of the Phoenix).
He said a few interesting things that didn't make it into my piece.
A WPRI-TV poll released October 30 had Congressman David Cicilline clinging to a one-point lead over his Republican challenger as the campaign entered its home stretch. And it was hardly the only survey suggesting a tight race.
The television station conducted a poll a month earlier that gave Cicilline a 6-point lead. A Brown University poll released shortly thereafter found the same gap.
With openly gay Speaker of the House Gordon Fox winning his unexpectedly tight race, gay marriage supporters are breathing a sigh of relief.
Fox has pledged to bring same-sex nuptials up for a vote in late January, should he win re-election. Assuminng that happens - and assuming he gets the measure through his chamber - the spotlight will be on the state Senate.