After the looks of surprise, ’’Hello Boss, we never expected to see you here,’’ Jerry Collins said.
I remembered Jerry from the hiring – training sessions; he spent a lot of time picking himself up off the mats in the early stages. I refilled my mug as did others.
‘’I have to make surprise visits now, you never know where or when I will turn up,’’ I said.
‘’Meeting still going on?’’ I added.
‘’Yeah, everything is running a little late, food is not going to be ready until 1215’’ Jerry said.
‘’Things have changed a lot since I was here last. Which meeting room are they in? I will go sit in,’’ I said.
‘’Meeting room 2, it’s the big one, ‘’ Jerry said.
I knocked on the door and went in with several Secret Service agents.
‘’Mayor Dorsey – good to see you again! Captain Peters, Captain Hamilton, Chief Johnston – good to see all of you again,’’ I said.
‘’How did you get away from Washington?” Mayor Dorsey asked.
‘’You know I have learned as a politician never to miss free meals, sometimes I have to sneak away to do it,’’ I answered.
‘’Besides, I wanted to have a generic conversation with you about how the changes with government rules were affecting Rochester,’’ I said.
‘’I also wanted to find out from Chief Johnston how cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies could be improved. I have plenty of questions for all of you after we eat if you have time,’’ I said.
‘’Vicky, how are you doing after the flight?’’ I asked.
‘’We got into some turbulence on the way, that was a little rough,’’ Vicky answered.
‘’We had a great morning session and finished everything, we were going to leave after lunch,’’ Ching Lee said.
‘’I talked with Marcy and Jenny – they should be finished up and back tonight. They say they have negotiated a good contract,’’ I said.
‘’We have a meeting with all the parties tomorrow for the final planning session on the first three of the companies Marcy was looking at, so I hope they get back before it gets too late. Things are moving fast and the stock holder’s meetings for those three are in thirty days,’’ Vicky said.
‘’Kelly, how are you doing? I haven’t been able to talk with you very much lately.”
‘’Doing good overall. Things are a little tense at home – the wife’s parents have moved in with us – their health is failing. She wanted them close by to watch over them. Just a matter of getting used to the minor issues,’’ Kelly said.
‘’Is she still working for us or has she quit to stay home?’’ I said.
‘’Working right now to give time to sort things out; then we will evaluate if she needs to be home with them all the time,” Kelly answered.
‘’Don’t forget about the family leave policy; you can request that, she can qualify to take one day at a time as needed,’’ I said.
‘’OK, I hadn’t thought about that,’’ Kelly replied.
‘’You both can use it, that would give you one hundred and twenty days that one of you could be there during the day if needed, more than what you would need if one of you worked split shifts,’’ I said.
‘’BJ, are you expecting a guest?’’ came over the intercom.
I walked to the lobby, ‘’Hello Abdul Wakil, it’s good to see you again,’’ I said in Arabic.
‘’Lunch is not ready yet, but soon. After we finish eating, I have some questions I need to ask you if you can stay around,’’ I said.
‘’Yes, I can stay,’’ Abdul said.
‘’Lunch is ready to be served in about five minutes,’’ the caterer announced.
‘’That was perfect timing,’’ I said.
It was elegant self-serve as all these kinds of meals were. I was in line behind Vicky and Ching Lee, Troy was behind me. There was a line on both sides of the food table.
The line at the food was nearly through and the tables were nearly filled when the duty man asked if we were expecting more visitors. A Secret Service agent was with the duty man and another went out to check out the visitors.
The Secret Service agent came to me and said, ’’Governor Stallworth, Lt. Governor Snodgrass and six staff are here, plus half a dozen state police for bodyguards,’’ Agent Tull said.
I stood and counted the empty seats, there were enough for the governor and his staff but not for the state police.
‘’The governor and his staff can come in and get food and sit in here. The state police will have to wait until people leave, then eat,’’ I said knowing that Stallworth would be pissed. But it is what it is.
Thirty minutes later Ching Lee, Vicky, Troy, Connie and agents Todd, Carter, Tull, Abdul and I were finished.
I asked Abdul, Connie, Troy and agents Carter and Tull to follow me to the smaller meeting room. I stopped by the governor, shook his hand and told him I had a short meeting and then I would be back.
‘’Abdul, have you contacted your family in Iran since the war ended? By now most of the phone systems have been repaired over there,’’ I said.
I had the answers to all the questions I was going to ask. Between Robert’s group, the CIA and the NSA, the surveillance of the Rochester group was being closely watched and all communications monitored and recorded.
With all the arrests of the radical members by the task force and other federal agencies, the group had become model citizens. By the agency and Robert’s groups, all indications were good.
‘’Yes, we have talked several times,’’ he said.
‘’Did you lose any family members?’’ I asked.
‘’One brother and several cousins, Father, Mother and the rest of the family lived in a village away from all the military installations. Why do you ask?’’ he said.
‘’I have a special project I would like you to help me with. Repairs to several airports are nearly complete and limited international service will soon be restored. I have access to other flights as you well know,” I said.
‘’The international hotels are soon reopening; some are already open. The public transportation systems have been operating since the end of the war,’’ I said.
‘’I would like you and your family members to take a trip to Iran to see how the reconstruction is going. I also want to be sure that all the aid, food supplies and transportation services are reaching all the people and not a selected few,’’ I said.
‘’I want you to take plenty of pictures to document what you see, then when you come back I would want a report from you,’’ I said.
‘’At my level lots of things get sugar coated so all the right people look good. I want a true and accurate report by someone that is not worried about their job or salary,’’ I said.
‘’You don’t have to let me know right now, think about it for a day or two. Just tell Kelly and he can get your answer to me. If you decide to go, it will only take a couple weeks to get everything in order,’’ I said.
We talked a few more minutes about general things before Abdul left, I needed to talk to the other people and time was moving on.
‘’Mayor Dorsey, Captain Peters, Captain Hamilton, Chief Johnston – you’re next. Governor Snodgrass, you can call your security unit in so they can get something to eat,” I said.
In the meeting room I started with the questions I wanted answers to. ‘’Mayor, how have the interactions been between the city and the Dept of Health and Human Services been going, with all the changes that have been coming into play?’ I asked.
‘’Streamlining the applications helped with that part, but there were reductions in funding in some spots. At the end we found out that
recordkeeping record-keeping simply wasn’t up to par and that was what cost us the funding,’’ he said.
‘’Next year we should do better,’’ he said.
‘’You didn’t say anything about the changes in the transportation grants. I know you got increases there. Every state and their major jurisdictions did,’’ I said.
‘’Stopping the EPA from using the transportation fund as a cash cow to fund the EPA portion for things they wanted done on road, bridge, airport and infrastructure construction instead of their own budget has made a difference,’’ I said.
The EPA was using its power of project rejection to get its way. Having to build ten miles of green walking trails somewhere else to get approval to resurface a road was extortion.
‘’Another difference was locking down the highway trust fund for highway projects only. Even though the orders were sent out two years ago, it took threats of project rejection and audits to make that happen. There were still states using green accounting for cover to slip things in,’’ I said.
I knew that the governor was listening – the state of New York was one of the worst according to the Secretary of Transportation.
We had a good talk about a lot of subjects with the Mayor and the Rochester police department about interaction between the departments and federal agencies. The day was moving on as the governor was called in to meet. Connie was taking pages of notes.
‘’I was expecting to see senior staff here by the invitation but not the President herself. I am a little disturbed by the short nondescript notice,” Governor Stallworth said.
‘’Since things have settled down, the agency has given me a little more freedom to move around as long as it is not published or broadcast, and the destinations are close. This was the first test of the new agreement,’’ I said.
‘’I like it, I can make visits to a lot of places on short notice, without caravans, convoys, road closures, no fly zones and the like. The media is not going to like it – even those with us – because they cannot broadcast any information until I’m back in Washington,’’ I said.
‘’I know there have been several disagreements with my administration and agencies in the past and I am sure there will be going forward,’’ I said. ‘’What would you like to talk about while you have some one-on-one time with me?’’ I said.
‘’The border with Canada is still under the enhanced security protocol that was put in place at the start of the Iran war. My administration believes it is time to return to the pre-war security levels,’’ Governor Stallworth said then he added “The Mexico security zone should be ended as well.’’
‘’Department of Homeland Security and Department of Immigration are still picking up several terrorists on the watch list trying to gain access to our country from Canada on a regular basis. Until those numbers stop, I see no changes coming to the security stance,” I said.
‘’As for the southern border, Mexico is so satisfied with the northern border security zone agreement that they are in discussions with JBG about the same arrangement on their border with Guatemala,’’ I said.
‘’Mexico and JBG are still arresting hundreds of cartel terrorists and they are going before real judges, not cartel-controlled judges and police,’’ I said.
‘’In the last ninety days, there has been only four bodies found that were cartel related. Arrest of the murders was made within hours. The people are no longer afraid to point out the cartel members. They know they will be arrested and stay in jail,’’ I said.
‘‘We need more federal funding for programs, our coffers are running low,’’ the Governor said.
‘’Most people when they start running out of money tighten the purse strings, your response was to spend even more for programs you could have done without. A hiring freeze and a contractor freeze should have been put in place, the pay raise for state workers should have been downsized or even postponed at least temporally,’’ I said.
‘’We are doing those things in the federal government; announcements will be made tomorrow. The Hawaii Island thing is going to put a serious strain on the budget, not just this year but for several years.’’ I said.
‘’We have over a million people to furnish temporary housing and jobs and the list goes on and on. Many have health issues and none of the doctors can give any realistic answer on how soon or if they will recover fully,’’ I said.
‘’To put it bluntly, short of a national emergency, I wouldn’t expect any additional funds coming from the federal government,’’ I said.
‘’You could always raise taxes, a little here and a little there at the federal level would equal big bucks to help deserving states,’’ Governor Stallworth said.
‘’All the states would feel they are deserving. I am strictly opposed to raising taxes that benefit a few,’’ I said.
‘’I do know that in total New York State is scheduled to receive more federal aid this year than last,’’ I said.
After the money conversation ended, we talked about more streamlining and better response between state and federal agencies. A big discussion was over the continued sanctuary status of New York and refusal to work with Department of Immigration over illegals and those that were criminals.
What I knew that he didn’t know was there was going to be legislation introduced in both houses that would reduce funding for those states that chose to be sanctuary states for whatever cause.
I was going to support the legislation. It didn’t make sense to me that crimes in one state was a free walk in another, I further believed that in all fifty states criminal laws should be uniform.
Troy handed me a note, ‘’We need to head back, you have paper to look at on your desk and calls to make.’’ It was my code to end today’s meetings.
‘’I need to go back to Washington, duty calls, I am hoping to make a lot more trips like this and hope to get back here and meet with you soon,’’ I said as my aids started packing.
A goodbye hug and kiss with Vicky and Ching Lee,’’ I will see you tonight,’’ and we were headed back to Washington.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
As always 💯
Hope you start feeling better soon…