If there's one thing reporters covering the Patrick administration have come to expect, it's the Friday-afternoon news dump.
As the State House echoes with emptiness, as the public turns its attention from a week of work to a weekend of play, the administration has made a practice of stepping into the vacuum and filling it with unsavory news that can lose some of its pungency before Monday rolls around.
In a one-month span last fall, the topics ran the gamut, from tax collections that came in below expectations to the resignations of two Cabinet members, as well as the release of a well-past-deadline report analyzing the generous compensation at public-private agencies in the state.
So it was atypical to get the good news Friday afternoon albeit released by the federal government that Massachusetts had received $8 million from the Obama administration to help improve its lowest-performing schools.
It's another payment toward Governor Deval Patrick's aggressive effort to close the so-called achievement gap, the distance between the educational gains posted by students of different races, genders, and socioeconomic classes. The initiative dovetails with one promoted by President Obama.
"When a school performs in the bottom 5 percent of the state and isn't showing signs of progress or has a graduation rate below 60 percent over a number of years, something dramatic needs to be done," US Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement announcing the state's successful application. "Turning around our lowest-achieving schools is difficult for everyone but it is critical that we show the courage to do the right thing by kids."
If Massachusetts hasn't benefited from the close relationship between Patrick and Obama, it sure hasn't suffered because of it.
But the grant announcement wasn't the only news to surface on Friday. Patrick's publisher also announced the schedule for his upcoming book tour.
It's the last thing the governor wants to talk about after criticism about national and international travels, even if the bulk of his travels to date have been on state business. (Patrick has been gone all or part of 25 of the 87 days so far this year.)
The promotional tour kicks off on Monday, April 11, with a visit to NBC's "Today" show. He's in New York on April 12, too, to appear on Comedy Central's "Daily Show, Lawrence O'Donnell's program on MSNBC, as well as CNN's "In the Arena."
On Wednesday and Thursday, he'll be in Washington for appearances on PBS and National Public Radio.
He'll be back in Massachusetts Thursday evening for appearances at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston and the First Parish Church Meetinghouse in Cambridge.
The following week, he'll do events in Chicago on Tuesday and Wednesday before coming back to Boston on Thursday for a book-signing at the Prudential Center. The following two days, Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23, he has appearances in South Hadley and Great Barrington, near his vacation home in Richmond.
The next week, Patrick will travel to Los Angeles for an April 29 appearance on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."
A spokesman emphasized that while the tour will extend over 18 days, Patrick will be in state from April 21 until he leaves for California on April 29. Also, some of the tour events will require only a half-day out of state.
The tour announcement coincided with new details about the new federal political action committee Patrick will use to underwrite even more travel this year and next.
The so-called Together PAC will allow him to raise federal money so he can address Democrats across the country and campaign on behalf of Obama as he seeks re-election. In a two-fer, Patrick will raise money for the PAC at events held in some of the same cities where he has book signings.
The PAC will be headquarters in the same Summer Street offices occupied on Friday by the Massachusetts Democratic Party. The new address is much closer to the Statehouse than the former party headquarters in Charlestown, and just a short trip for the governor whenever he wants to dial for dollars.
Patrick's website has now been overtaken with promotions for his book and the PAC, and it also includes a preview of the speech he will likely give during the next year.
It was taped March 4 in Denver, when the governor addressed Colorado Democrats before heading overseas on his trade mission to Israel and the United Kingdom.
Anyone who listens to the speech after listening to Patrick in recent years will hear some familiar stories, including his thought-provoking description of the dramatic transformation in his family in just one generation.
During that span, Patrick went from sleeping on the floor every third night, in a relative's home, to having a daughter who always slept in her own bed, in her own room and house. And when a teacher once asked her to write a paper about the four seasons, Katherine Patrick penned a riff about her experiences staying in the luxury hotel chain.
The governor also recounted how he didn't "cut-and-run" from the Corner Office when times got tough, as he suggested some of his Republican predecessors had, and didn't look for "a scapegoat" when it came time to make tough budget decisions amid the Great Recession.
More broadly, he said: "National Republicans have abandoned any sense of balance or responsibility for our common future to win at all costs, and when you call them out, they turn to bullying and belittling. We need to be better than that."
He closed with the repeated refrain that the party should not be satisfied until society is better in an array of measures.
For the folks back home, the riff harkened back to April 2010, when Patrick first used it in the speech kicking off his own re-election campaign. But now the governor is speaking to a different audience.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.