Saturday, April 6, 2013

EXTRA: My governor went to Mexico, and all I got was this lousy photograph

Gov. Pat Quinn effectively serves as a mailman for students of Benito Juarez Academy in Chicago, as he delivered letters from local students to their counterparts at Benito Juarez High School in Mexico City. Photographs provided by state of Illinois.

A part of me can’t help but wonder if come Monday, Gov. Pat Quinn is going to be the equivalent of a tourist who insists on showing us a batch of crude snapshots of himself taken during a recent vacation.

For Quinn is the public official who led a coalition of Illinois-based business executives to Mexico; taking a four-day tour of the southern third of the North American continent to promote the idea that there is lots of money for our local businesses to make down there.

BY THE TIME you read this, Quinn may well be back in Chicago. He was scheduled to leave Mexico City on Saturday – and in fact was to proclaim the day “WVON Day” across Illinois during ceremonies to be held tonight at the Chicago Theatre.

But he is supposed to tour the Cristina Foods Inc. distribution facility around 45th Street and Racine Avenue come Monday, and his aides admit he will use the tour to discuss the trade mission.

Are we going to be subjected to the equivalent of a lot of blurred snapshots and tales of how unique everything is in Mexico?

Quinn amongst people who don't care about Lisa Madigan
I’m not kidding about the snapshots. I couldn’t help but be amused by the photographs Quinn’s staff distributed to newsgathering organizations on Saturday – a pair of snapshots of Quinn visiting the Benito Juarez High School in Mexico City.

AS THOUGH HE had to go all that way to visit a school named for the one-time Mexican president whose leadership ensured that the nation didn’t fall into the hands of French officials who were interested in re-establishing a colonial presence in the Americas.

Of course, I realize Quinn knows about the Benito Juarez Community Academy in the Pilsen neighborhood. He went to the Mexico City school armed with letters that Chicago teenagers had written to their counterparts in the Mexico capital city.

By and large, these trade missions may help business officials make some contacts. But they also serve a role in bloating a governor’s ego – making him think that he might have some influence in foreign lands. Rather than the old joke about an Illinois governor mattering in places like Paris, Vienna and Havana.

All of which are rural towns in central and Southern Illinois.

SO I’M NOT terribly shocked, or offended, that the news world will seem to little note, nor long remember, the visit of Pat Quinn to Mexico – even if he tried bringing the image of Abraham Lincoln (whose own words I just appropriated) along with him.

For all I know, many in Illinois may not have even noticed him missing. It seems like these days, political people are more interested in talking about “Lisa Madigan” whenever the Illinois governor’s post comes up in discussion.

Although I did find it intriguing to learn while reading through the mass of materials that Quinn’s people have distributed about his trip to learn that Lake Michigan now has a “sister lake” in Mexico.

The Great Lake that is the eastern boundary of much of Chicago is now an hermana with Lake Pàtzcuaro in the state of Michoacan.

Lake Michigan's new Mexican sister. The lake and Illinois River have sister bodies of water in Brazil, China, Ireland, Israel, Poland and South Korea. Photograph by Mirari Erdoiza.
AMONG THE THINGS the two lakes have in common? They both are having to deal with problems of invasive species that threaten to ruin their ecosystems.

Perhaps we can get some Mexican advice on how to keep the Asian Carp out of Lake Michigan – or minimize their damage on the off-chance that they’re already here, but we just haven’t noticed yet!


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