Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick addressed Wisconsin Democrats on Saturday night, and one sign of the importance he placed in the political message he delivered was evident in the presence of one person: Doug Rubin.
The governor's top local political strategist made the flight out to the land of nice people, dairy farms, and Old Style beer, and his handiwork was readily apparent.
Patrick largely gave what has become his book tour/political stump speech, talking about how much life has changed in his family in just one generation, and how he and his fellow Democrats shouldn't be satisfied until everyone has a good job, a good school, and a clean environment.
But the visit to Wisconsin also let the governor weigh in on the state's recent battle over collective bargaining rights and the national debate about unions in today's society.
Neither Rubin nor Patrick were oblique about their thoughts.
“As long as I am governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we will have no Wisconsin-type of law. It’s not happening on my watch," Patrick said in a last-minute addition to the beginning of his planned remarks. "I am not, I am not going to let Massachusetts be a pawn in the national Republican effort to undermine collective bargaining and the right to organize.’’
The speech itself gave Patrick a chance to test drive themes he will likely pound through the 2012 election, a period during which he will be a prime surrogate campaigner for President Obama.
“Republicans say that if you just shrink government, cut spending, crush unions, and wait, all will be well,’’ the governor told the audience at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s annual Founders Day Dinner. “Of course, they don’t actually believe a whole lot of this.’’
He added: "The same folks who are attacking the principle of public sector collective bargaining today will make an exception if your union endorses them."
Simultaneous to the beginning of the governor's speech, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO issued a statement underscoring its political support for Patrick. It was a rare act for 8 p.m. on a Saturday night.
"With a state Senate and governor consistently on the record in favor of municipal health care relief and collective bargaining, we are confident that we will ultimately pass legislation that provides for municipal health care reform and insures that collective bargaining will remain strong for the working families of Massachusetts," the statement said.
Rubin couldn't have written it any better.
One trip that would be worthwhile for Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan: to Chicago, for a ride around the Illinois Tollway.
Illinois is hardly a state without political or financial problems, but in the true Chicago tradition, the tollway just works and in a modern way.
The road is well maintained, virtually free of potholes, and, on Sunday, it was having its breakdown lanes vacuumed for foreign objects.
Travel is non-stop, thanks to dedicated open-road tolling lanes. They let drivers with the local version of a FastLane pass pay their tolls not by slowing down at a booth, but by driving at normal highway speed beneath a bar that reads their transponder.
Even those who have to stop do so at booths that are fully automated, with no toll-takers in sight. And if you make a mistake and drive through the FastLanes instead of the cash ones, you can go online for seven days and pay the missed toll.
If you're going to have a toll road, and that's the subject of fervent debate here, it's about as painless as it can be.
A reminder: In Massachusetts, the state gives away FastLane passes for free so no resident ever has to wait again in a cash lane.
Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff who will be sworn in as Chicago's leader on May 16, may spend his entire term removing the name of Mayor Richard M. Daley from signage around the city.
It's everywhere, from airports to construction sites to planters.
It's so bold, it makes the political debate about whether Massachusetts governors should be allowed to have their names on the highway signs leading into the state seem trite.
Is there anything better than a Gold Coast hot dog?
The next time you're in the city, or even passing through O'Hare or Midway airports, do yourself a favor an order a "jumbo char dog" with the works: mustard, tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, a pickle spear, and neon green relish.
Perhaps its only rival for local tourist fare is a slice of Giordano's deep-dish pizza.
If you listen to your radio the next time you drive, as I did from Chicago to Milwaukee and back, you may come away with the same conclusion: 90 percent of all music is about love, either having it, wanting it or being sick of it.
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.