I ate lunch with a group of Senators including Harrison, Whitby and Fordes in the Congressional cafeteria. I had known them since our first contracts with the State Department and the CIA.
We had serious conversations and then some lively ones that were joined by others who pulled up chairs to join in. It was the most jovial time I had seen from this bunch in the six months I had been here.
The time broke things up as all hearings slated for the afternoon session started at 1400. I made my way over to the House chambers to testify and be on hand for the final vote on first round of funding for the college security program. The vote was scheduled for today.
I presented the facts, observations and guidelines we had used in making the recommendations. The question and answer session was brutal and lasted for two hours. It was after 1700 when the vote hit the floor. It passed by a majority but not a veto proof one.
Tomorrow I was to testify before the Senate one last time before they voted on their version of the measure. Both versions were close but would still have to go before a committee to iron out the differences, if the Senate were to pass it.
All those people who tallied numbers for a living said the vote would be extremely close; their bet was the Senate bill most likely not passing.
I left to go home in the third Suburban tonight. On the Bay Bridge I received a text from Robert, “See me ASAP”; I wondered what all that was about?
Unfortunately I soon found out; I looked at the big screen in the command center while Robert flipped through new intercepted emails from the Middle East. It was a communications chain that included Iran, remnants of the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hezbollah and dozens of other splinter groups.
This email group and link to two dark web sites were new. The web sites went online today and there was a flurry of emails to various terror groups worldwide announcing it. The groups had to apply for the passwords and had to have connections to ISIS, Hezbollah or the Islamic brotherhood.
Many of those email addresses were new, some were not; the ones that were not had come from the four computers we had taken in South Africa. Robert worked his way in though by using some of the contacts from the Prince’s computer.
One web site was to be a dark web news site for the terrorists, the other was to be a terrorist forum with links to their email server located in – of all places – the IRG headquarters in Tehran.
The forum was to be loaded with the latest tools for terrorists, tactics, how to explosives, coordination and planning. They were also going to post videos of their conquests and successes. Other things were to be weapons sales and auction site for used weapons and sex slaves.
The first post on the news site was an announcement that the five million dollar bounty on me and the one million dollar on the task force members had been canceled due to the death of the bounty sponsor.
The second post was the announcement that a ten million dollar bounty had been placed on me and Ben Smith and two million dollars on each of the other task force members and my five mates. The bounty was on deposit in an account and guaranteed by the Bank of Iran. It was the same account used for the blood money to pay the parents of suicide bombers on Gaza for successful attacks.
They knew Ben was going to replace me and when; in three days, early on Friday of next week. Ben was to be sworn in Thursday evening before I left. Even I had not been told that yet. I guess the White House was ready to cut ties with me. They still had a spy inside the White House inner circles; Patel was not the only one. Just when think you have made progress there are 10 steps back. The players get higher and the stakes get bigger.
I sent a text to Ben, “Has your phone had a security scan in the last few days?”
“No; why?” he responded.
“I will tell you tomorrow; use your backup for critical communications until it is scanned,” I replied.
Robert handed me my JBG phone back after being scanned. I turned off my State Department phone and pulled the battery then located the backup and turned it on. I sent the same text to Frank and Eric.
The FBI scanned all these White House phones. I wondered if Patel had placed a snooping program on selected phones in the process.
Without knowing who the stooge could be, I directed Robert to shut down all communications with the all the federal agencies and print off what he had found. I would give it to Ben, Frank, Eric and the President personally.
With the girls now included, that meant more of JBG resources were going to be needed to protect them. Luckily there were three with Ching Lee at the East Water Cay. We had left them there when we made the decision that Ching Lee was going back.
I called Andy, broader planning was needed. Jenny, Vicky and Marcy were safe at the office; the tunnel cured that problem. Lorrie would need an escort unless she decided to work from the main office.
We had one place to go tonight and that was the County Commissioners meeting in the courthouse.
We had a quick supper because we wanted to arrive early in case there was issue with us being armed and having bodyguards.
There would be sheriff’s deputies there and also would be additional JBG security there for us, whether they liked it or not.
The plans and blueprints for Marcy’s truck dealership and Lorrie’s truck stop had been completed yesterday and applications for the permits submitted this morning along with the fees paid.
Applications for new commercial building permits were read at the Commissioners meetings each week. The reason for that was that there would be a series of public hearings and a comment period before commercial applications could be approved. The Commissioners meetings were broadcast on the local county cable channel.
We had another ace that we were going to play tonight, to inject change in the normal process. I liked shaking up the county process. The engineering and design group at Bob’s Construction had a new toy; a 3D printer that made plastic models of projects.
The 3D model of the girl’s project was the first to be presented in this way. So far they had just used it for client proposals. This was also the first time a project model would be shown before the hearings at a Commissioners meeting. Bob’s group was on the way with the model.
I called Commissioner Duke Justice and asked permission as soon as I found out everything was ready for this afternoon.
“Do it, the meetings are so cookie cutter they are boring. You can shake things up and get away with it,” he replied.
A couple of rookies were operating the ID station, the x-ray and body scanner. I started through first; all the buzzers and beepers went crazy. I handed my Federal ID to the operator. He handed it to the other rookie, then called a sergeant who was in the hall.
“Good evening Sergeant Albertson; do you mind if we sit in the meeting tonight?” I asked.
Sergeant Albertson was a regular at both the gym and Morton restaurant.
“Ma-am, yah-all are welcome any time. I think you want to sit together and in a corner where your bodyguards can watch over you. Just follow me,” he replied.
Before we were seated Bob’s engineers arrived with the model of the project and Duke arrived at the same time. They set the table in the front and assembled all the pieces. Much of it snapped together, Duke and I looked on as the pieces were snapped together to complete the display. I was impressed; it was the first time I had seen 3D printed parts.
The meeting dragged on for two hours before they began reading the commercial permits. The permit for the truck stop and dealership was the last one to be read by the clerk.
The permit set off nothing short of pandemonium; they had to gavel the room quiet. Truck stops – for some reason – were frowned on in this county. There had been two when I was a young girl; one on the US 50 east bound just past the split and the other on 301N. Both were busy.
The one on US50 east had a mysterious fire just after the road was widened. The widening created congestion and accidents. The county and the state both fought the permits to rebuild it. The owners fared badly and after several court proceedings, filed for bankruptcy.
The one on 301N fared better for a while through several ownership changes. It was given the death blow by another road expansion a few years ago. The expansion and overpass should have helped, but for some reason it did not; it reduced the available parking, killed any hope for future expansion.
The county refused to allow them to install new signage that could be seen above the highway; with the new overpass a much higher sign was needed and was above the height limit for signs. Times change; this time the lawyers were better and other court cases eased the way. The state made large secret settlements to stay out of court. What was left was still operating and for sale. But that property was too small now for what we wanted.
After the gaveling, “BJ I think you have something you want to share about the proposed project at this time?” Duke asked.
“Lorrie or Marcy, do you want to do the honors?” I asked.
They looked at each other and both stood. Vicky connected her laptop to the screens and flipped through the drawings that the engineers had supplied while Lorrie gave her presentation.
“What we are proposing is a state of the art truck stop on the north end of the property adjunct to the 214 overpass with twenty five diesel pumps and ten gasoline pumps. The design includes parking for 200 trucks and there will be overnight parking for RV travelers including a dump station, fresh water and propane refill.”
“The retail section will be 70000 square feet including two 24/7 fast food restaurants and a grill. The shopping area will have a larger than customary quick market. The general retail area will have products for everything that travelers and truckers need to keep trucks safe and rolling.”
“There will be showers, bathrooms and a laundry for drivers. Freight brokers will be on site to direct empty trucks to where the freight is waiting,” Lorrie added.
“JBG is a licensed dealer for International, Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks in Georgia. That arrangement will be moved to a new building on the west end of the property. It will be a full sales and service dealership for those brands with the latest in hi-tech diagnostic equipment and state of the art repair shop. It will also provide services needed in partnership with the truck stop,” Marcy said.
The cover was pulled off the model. The print media and TV must have taken hundreds of pictures. All the commissioners gathered at the table along with all the county activists groups and the heated questions began.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
Congratulations you did it to us again – as the Excitement grew, you sprang the perfect moment for a Cliffhanger! the only thing we can do now is hold on tight for the next chapter…thanks jack 😏😫😭