Last week, I wrote a cover story for the Phoenix on the Smith Hill battle over same-sex marriage.
Partisans on both sides are focused, at the moment, on the lobbying effort in the General Assembly. But hanging over that effort is the prospect of electioneering, by advocates and opponents alike, in the 2012 races.
Some of the senators I spoke with voiced doubt that a single issue could make or break their re-election efforts.
I've got an inside peek at the same-sex marriage fight roiling the State House in today's Phoenix. And there was plenty that landed on the cutting-room floor. One thing to keep an eye on in the General Assembly: the amendment process.
Same-sex marriage opponents, in both houses, are likely to propose an amendment that would send the question to the voters.
A new poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling has 50 percent of Rhode Islanders favoring same-sex marriage and 41 percent opposed. It's a good number for advocates. And the long-term picture is even better.
Young people overwhelmingly support gay marriage, according to the poll: 62 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are in favor and just 31 percent opposed.
As expected, talk-radio station WPRO has named Andrew Gobeil, formerly of ABC6, to join the station's Tara Granahan on a new morning news show that will run from 6 a.m to 9 a.m starting Monday, March 7.
WPRO is aiming for a straight-news program here. Until now, it has tried - sometimes awkwardly - to combine morning news with the controversial opinions of host John DePetro.
The state's chief anti-gay marriage group, the National Organization for Marriage - Rhode Island, got substantial ink last month for a television ad suggesting Governor Chafee - elected with 36 percent of the vote - does not have a mandate to push through a same-sex marriage bill.
But there was a small reply - an radio ad that ran last week supporting same-sex marriage and arguing that separate isn't equal.
Members of the Providence Newspaper Guild, which represents editorial and advertising staff at the Providence Journal, approved a tough-times, three-year contract last night on a 147-50 vote.
The deal will freeze wages - except in the unlikely event of significant raises elsewhere in the company - and hike health care costs for members.
GoLocalProv, the spunky news site, has a nice scoop today on an imminent reshuffling of the line-up at talk radio station WPRO. But the rationale offered up for the switch seems off.
First, the changes: John DePetro is to be pulled out of the morning drivetime slot and dropped into a new 9 am to noon slot. That means the station's other two day-time hosts, Dan Yorke and Buddy Cianci, will be pushed back.
Spotted on the Providence Journal web site today: an ad for the New York Times - "Some Promise You the World. We Deliver."
It was a little jarring - a metro newspaper that had national ambitions, not so long ago, with an advertisement for an erstwhile competitor. But it is a tidy little symbol of where the ProJo has landed.
The alleged $10 million kickback scandal involving a Rhode Island-based Navy official and defense contractor Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow (ASFT) has focused attention on campaign contributions offered up by ASFT to members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation.
There is nothing to suggest anything untoward by members of the delegation.
The Providence Phoenix gathered a nice little clutch of awards at this weekend's New England Newspaper & Press Association's annual fete - this one covering work from mid-2009 to mid-2010.
The paper took first place in the religious reporting category for a piece on Brown University biology professor Ken Miller's quest to reconcile religion and evolutionary theory - to the consternation of the atheist crowd.
Most observers expect the same-sex marriage bill to pass the House, in the end. The state Senate, where the chamber's president M. Teresa Paiva Weed is opposed, remains the big question mark.
But observers say the fate of the bill in the Senate may depend, in part, on how it proceeds through the House. Of particular import: the size of the vote margin.
It is easy, from the outside, to underestimate the power of the personal in politics. But it matters, especially in a state as small as Rhode Island - see the debate over the state's medical marijuana bill, named after the late Representative Thomas Slater.
It will play a role - just one of many factors, to be sure - in the same-sex marriage drama unfolding at the State House in the coming weeks and months.
I've got a cover story in this week's Phoenix, due to hit the newsstands tomorrow, on the medical marijuana movement's liminal moment.
The arrival of compassion centers means medical pot is about to take a huge, transformative leap into the mainstream. And while most in the movement welcome the change - it should mean greater access to marijuana and no more skulking about for black-market weed - there is a touch of ambivalence about what will be lost: an underground, DIY culture that, in its best form, is quite generous and neighborly.
The ProJo's Kathy Gregg had the scoop, in today's paper, on Twin River's renewed push for a full-scale casino. Among the most interesting tidbits: the slot plarlor has hired a high-powered lobbying team in George Caruolo, the former House Majority Leader, and Robert Goldberg, the former Senate Minority Leader.
Twin River obviously hopes to fare better than the Narragansett Indians and Harrah's, who were outmanuevered by a savvy opposition when they sought voter approval for a full-scale casino of their own in 2006.
Ken McKay, former chief of staff for the Republican National Committee, sent a letter to GOP delegates Monday saying he's running for chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party.
The move was widely expected - the Providence Journal has reported on his interest in the post for months. Current chairman Giovanni Cicione tells the AP he is stepping down with McKay and Pat Sweeney, who expressed interest in December, in the mix.