Gov. Pat Quinn summoned Chicago's press corps to the first day of the new academic year at Henry Wadsworth Longfellow School in Oak Park on Tuesday morning to hear him explain his veto of the gambling expansion plan.
Before his news conference next to the school playground, however, reporters had to wait while Quinn visited with the elementary school students. The governor told the students about the 19th century poet their school was named after and about his visit to Paul Revere's home in Boston during a Democratic National Convention years ago (Longfellow's body of work included "Paul Revere's Ride").
Although Quinn did not explicitly talk politics with kids, he did cite a line from a Longfellow poem -- "It takes less time to do a thing right than it does to explain why you did it wrong" -- that was no doubt intended as a message to critics of his gambling veto.
The news conference outside the school was less than poetry in motion.
As students crowded around the spot where the microphone stand was planted, an aide to Quinn announced that their best chance to get to see themselves on the evening news depended on staying very quiet.
But Quinn press secretary Brooke Anderson then arrived on the scene and overruled him, announcing, "You guys can go ahead and go play!"
The students seemed confused and lingered for a moment until their teacher yelled: "Go play! They want you to go ahead and go play!"
Many of the kids did just that, but others climbed atop playground equipment to get a better view.