Monday morning the big house was empty and felt empty. I was happy to get the mug of coffee and have the breakfast delivered to the Oval Office. It was already humming. I had left a note on my desk telling Troy what I wanted to do.
Today’s calendar was open with the exception of a few small items and I could take care of them on the flight to and from California. The Secret Service was upset – they did not have time to get the Beast out there.
It would be far better PR if I was shown riding in a Humvee for the TV cameras. I had ordered invitations sent by emails and cell phone texts to the ten Senators, ten Representatives and six department heads to be at the Capitol entrance at 0800 to catch the bus to Andrews to accompany me for an inspection of Camp Parks. The Air Force was already prepping Air Force One for the flight.
My staff were packing briefcases with the things we were going to discuss on the way. The White House news reporters from the news room were drawing numbers to see which four of them and a camera man were going, since they liked the lottery system so much. Melinda and Hanna were already told to be on the bus.
The other people going were the communications officers and the two individuals carrying the football and codes. They followed me everywhere.
General Wainwright was notified of our arrival time and to furnish transportation for approximately forty individuals. He was also to ask the other generals to join us.
Marine One carried me to Andrews; my staff were in the other helicopter. I was there before the bus arrived, sitting at my desk reading, with a mug of coffee.
Troy and I discussed the weekend and the media results. Everything in Washington revolved around media in one way or another. I really couldn’t care one way or the other, but I listened. He was excited about the numbers for the fundraiser and the sneak appearance on the Sunday news show.
Then we got down to business. First were the updates from Camp Parks. With the rioting over, those numbers were zero. The homeless pickups were down to a few hundred. We would get the actual numbers in the meetings there.
Then we discussed the Middle East with the generals, there were an unusual number of terrorist attacks. Some places there were more, some places there were less.
I intended to apply more pressure on the Russians and Chinese to work with us to eliminate the terrorist cells in Africa. The attacks were growing there.
I got an update on the progress by the Navy. Another carrier was scheduled for end of maintenance sea trials the end of this week and another by the end of next week.
The Air Force update was good news! Twenty one B21 bombers had been re-certified for flight again. They were out of service more than they were in service. That only left twenty more out of service.
The Air Force General and the manufacturer’s representatives kept saying these were just growing pains with new systems. I had heard that before from the Navy.
The first twenty were five years old and so far the Air Force hadn’t flown them across any oceans yet. I wondered – no confidence?
President Thomas had ordered the B52 to stay in service until there were ninety days of ninety five percent availability before any B52s were to be moved to storage. I continued that order, to the dismay of the generals.
The B52s were like the A10s – old and unwanted – as new wizard planes were talked about but were still the go-to planes day after day. Tough, reliable, hard as nails and easy to fly old school.
It was customary that all the media were each given 10 minutes with the President in the flying Oval Office. Who was I to break tradition? By the time I was finished, we were landing on the Camp Park runway.
The media was the first off the plane so they could record the arrival for tonight’s news. The generals met us with a salute for the cameras.
First up was a tour of the camp setup including the special tent that had been restricted to homeless families and women with children.
Luckily there were two dozen homeless picked up this morning. I suggested and the Congressional delegation agreed that they would each take one and follow them through the process. While that was going on I met with the generals and listened to how things were going on behind the scenes.
Connie was taking notes as the official decision was made to pull down the troop level in two days. I needed to make the decision in twenty four hours if they were going to Oregon. By the time we were finished, the Congressional people were back.
We loaded up in Humvees and headed into San Francisco to check out the damage and the general condition of the streets. With a state police escort we were carried through the main street of the sixty blocks that had riot damage. Then we went down the streets where many of the homeless were picked up off the streets.
The generals had clean-up going around the clock – even pressure washed twice after the trash was cleaned up – you could still smell the stench but the trash was gone, the crap and needles as well. I stopped the group and let all the Congress people get out and enjoy the aroma.
The next street they were taking us to – by my orders – was one that had not been touched yet and was really bad, according to the General.
We stopped and got out for another media event. I wanted the country to see firsthand the real reason my actions were necessary. It was also the reason I had pulled on rubber boots over my shoes. The media quickly got their fill with the piles of needles and piles of poop crawling with maggots – so many maggots, you could see the pile move.
Some of the Congressional people lost what food they had in their stomachs, some were dry heaving. The stench was as bad any place I had ever been, including third world countries.
Back at Camp Parks we held the customary news conference after the group went through the process of cleaning and disinfecting their shoes. I let the Congressional people speak first, giving descriptions of the process at the camp and what they had seen down town. Then I spoke to clarify various points.
I informed them that there would be a troop pull down at this site and reassignment. It was a fact that reassignment had started yesterday.
It was 1500 Pacific when we departed Camp Parks for Washington. I had the media group sequestered to the media area and went to meet with the Congressional group. The time to talk was now while the smell and the disgust was still fresh on their minds.
”I don’t know if you agree with what I did or not, but there is no doubt it was necessary. Let’s talk about a solution that you can rush through Congress.”
”One idea that I had was to put a billion dollars in a separate account at HHS to be used to build low income housing. Appoint an administrator at the federal level to keep local politics out of it.”
”We have all seen them – two and three bedroom apartments with cost based on the ability to pay, within reason. In this case the homeless we have picked up will have first options. Many of these people had jobs but the escalating taxes and fees simply killed them.”
”All the rent fees go back into the fund to keep building new apartments. The only thing that could be a problem is all the restrictions that are in effect, but I think the martial law can by pass them for now while the legal process can remove them.”
”We have to keep moving forward! I need your help with emergency legislation. I am asking you to fast track the funding request, one billion for the building and the military is going to need extra funding to defray the cost of all this,” I said.
”Starting tomorrow those that had jobs are going to have their cell phones returned so they can contact their employers to see if a job is still exist. Employment specialists are going to connect their skills with jobs. The process to help them help themselves is beginning,” I said.
By the time we landed in Washington there was a hand-written bill for emergency legislation that would be entered in both houses tomorrow.
Now to deal with Oregon. Army trucks would arrive there tomorrow. I was hoping they would spook the politicians into action. The FBI and DHS would start looking at the politicians tomorrow.
While we were in the air, one of the California Senators asked for an emergency federal injunction against the National Emergency declaration and the Martial Law order. The federal judge dismissed both injunction requests.
I was expecting a legal battle; that was the first hurdle. I expected the next would come from the California state employees unions. Under martial law union contracts were null and void. All that would come to a head when bids were sent out to build the housing.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.