Not only did Kurt Allen step out of the elevator but also the town’s commissioners, town manager, Mayor and the head of the sewer and water department. They all were carrying files, folders and blueprints.
“Oh my, what have I gotten myself into,” I thought as we showed them to the meeting room.
The blueprints were maps they had drawn up today with the proposed location of the truck stop. The Mayor and town council obviously wanted to lock down an official agreement before anyone could stop it.
The town engineer – Charlie Backwater – had all the numbers and estimates for water and sewage flow for the project. They wanted to make me aware that there would need to be a pressure booster for the water supply and two pumping stations for the sewer.
I informed them that they did not have all the information on the proposal. I explained that the water for the site would be supplied from the Morton Field water tower. That would reduce the cost and what I wanted was to connect the Morton Field sewage and the truck stop to the plant.
Charlie countered and asked if we would be open to connecting the Morton water tower to the Qtown water system. One of the town’s wells was marginal and needed replacing at a cost of over a million dollars and two years worth of delays and permits. If the Morton water met state quality standards, Qtown would be willing to negotiate on the sewage treatment cost and pay the cost to run the fresh water pipe from Qtown to Morton.
I knew that Marcy would negotiate aggressively.
I also explained that I knew about the pumping stations and the extra cost associated with them was expected. Jake had told me that they would be needed.
I already knew that the water met the standards; it was tested quarterly because of the restaurant and the Crash Motel.
With the extra information they left and with the good faith check. They were going to start the plant upgrades immediately because of the long lead times. The town was going to begin the process with the state for the permits to place the pipe along the highway. A JBG contractor would install the pipes.
I was sure we could get it done a lot cheaper than letting the town getting it done, and then reimbursing them. Everybody likes to overcharge government and that never ending bucket of taxpayer cash.
Once the sewer pipes were in and operational, the town would accept the ownership of them and all maintenance costs for the sewage pipe and pumping stations. JBG would retain ownership of the fresh water pipes from Morton to the truck stop. It was a better deal than I had hoped.
The pumping stations would be built with the same equipment as the town already had; spare parts would be on hand in case of failures. I wanted no part of sewer repairs and keeping spare parts on hand.
The second meeting group had been from Cville; they were sitting in the lobby when the Qtown group left.
“Unless you change your sewage plans and the grant for the proposed site to the town of Cville, we are going to sue and tie your project up in court for years and also fight the zoning,” the town commissioners said.
“You will never get it built,” one of them added.
“You are the ones that eliminated yourselves from consideration and did it in the most public way on the county TV channel. The contracts have been signed. Our attorneys are prepared for anything you try to do. So go ahead – make my day – and I will make yours just as miserable! I’m sure the taxpayers will remember all of this in November,” I replied.
We spent two hours in the gym before going to the house, but not before refusing to give a statement to the media that came into the lobby, demanding that I do so about the torture allegations. I wish I had personally shoved Balthazar into the furnace against the President’s wishes. It was too late for that now.
I stopped by the EIT as we made our way through the basement headed home. Robert had a file tray for Vicky, Ching Lee and me for things that we needed to look at; critical things were handled by phone calls as soon as they were unencrypted.
The Iranian web sites were getting more active. Robert and his group were busy trying to find the ISP locations of those in the US that were posting or commenting on the sites. I read the pages and put them in my portable office to study tomorrow. There was something about them, but I could not put my finger on what it was.
I worked the smarter than smart phone all the way to Washington; by the time I arrived I had finally mastered the updated version. In the process I sent a text to Robert that I wanted him to call me closer to lunch.
I wanted to have time to reread the papers that he left me yesterday and try to figure out what made me uneasy about them.
When I stepped out of the Suburban, the media was at the fence yelling questions. I waved and walked inside.
This morning I was to testify for the last time in front of the Senate committees for the school and college security bill. The vote was on the schedule for 1400.
I spent the first hour in the Oval Office going over the latest developments from the UN and the media.
With an escort of Secret Service and FBI I made my way up the steps to the Senate, ignoring the herd of reporters trying to block my way.
I had three committees to give testimony to before noon. The first two were about the college security funding bill. The committees wanted clarification of some of the provisions and minor adjustments before the final votes. Things went smoothly and fast with those two.
The third one not so much; it was closed to the public. This was the last update I was to give to this National Security policy steering Senate committee.
I gave an overview of all the domestic terrorist attacks that resulted in mass casualties for the last eighteen months. There had been at least one attack a month until the Thanksgiving learning center raids. The US had been free of mass causality attacks for the last five months. There had been the cycle bombers but there had been no causalities with those.
I finished the overview and waited for the inevitable question and answer session, expecting the worst.
I was not disappointed. “Ambassador Jones, what to you attribute the last five month decline to?” Senator Hall asked.
“There are several factors, the first is that all the agencies are working much better as a single unit when It comes to terror related gathering of intelligence, response, investigations and sharing that information in a timely manner,” I replied.
“The second is we are taking every report of a potential attack as being a fact and devoting resources to it immediately to determine the credibility of the report. There was a time when the agencies waited for several tips or reports before devoting the resources. In today’s fast moving reality, waiting can cost lives,” I added.
“There have been reports of the task force using questionable means to get intelligence. Just how much information was gained from water boarding and other various tortures of prisoners?” Senator Kalhid asked.
“The task force is not in the business of interrogating prisoners. The arresting jurisdiction has custody. As for water boarding, past practices have pretty much proven the information gained to be unreliable and of little use by the time you go through multiple sessions to get it. That and also the fact that it is highly controversial,” I replied.
“Just what do you consider to be acceptable?” Senator Kalhid asked.
“Blasting the Simpsons into the cell 24/7 might get anyone to talk. If that did not work, 24/7 of Judge Judy surely would do the trick,” I replied to a chorus of laughter.
“Is the investigation into Senators and Representatives completed?” Senator Axle asked.
“No, those investigations are being expanded because of new Intel,” I replied.
“Just how many are being investigated? I question if the task force has the authority to investigate the hill. I believe that is to be investigated by the ethics committee,“ the Senator asked.
“I won’t give you an answer to that question and no, I won’t tell you if you are one of them,” I replied.
“Treason will be investigated by the task force, and our DOJ partners in an arena that carries the death penalty, not censure. However, I will tell you that it may be to the advantage of several dozen members of Congress to retain counsel experienced in such matters,” I replied as a hush fell over the room. One that a pin hitting the floor would have sounded like a MOAB; (Mother of all Bombs) being dropped in the street outside.
With that I left while they were still pondering my answer as well as looking at each other trying to guess the guilty parties. I had just entered Section Twelve when Robert called.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.