Monday, August 31, 2015

Chapter 29

Chapter 29

If you ever have the opportunity to have sex with a recently released from prison female lobbyist and/or politician I highly recommend it.  And with all the recent arrests in Albany your chance may be just around the corner.  Jenny was insatiable.  I didn’t even make it out of the restaurant, as she dragged me into the ladies room, followed up with road head in the Audi and damn near sent me to the hospital after a quick visit to her condo.

I was on rubbery legs as I wobbled into my office to see Ravi still sitting in my waiting room.

I turned to Pat.  “Did he fill out the details on Richard?”

Pat smiled “He did indeed”

“And the McLaren?”

“On it’s way to paint as we speak” Pat smiled again.

“In that case make Ravi an appointment for next week and tell him to bring my McLaren with him to the appointment”

Ravi stood up “I’m right here Leathers, I can hear you”

I didn’t even glance at him as I strode into my office.

I didn’t know how things could get any better but I had a strange sense of dread.

Dread was a familiar feeling.  I’d lived with it on and off for the last 15 years.  In many ways it had become my closest friend.  It kept me on my toes. Others may have called it paranoia but as H.R. Haldeman had said “I may be paranoid but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me”.  And my dread wasn’t the type of paranoia that had me checking the Audi for hidden bombs or seeing black helicopters circling Eggy’s.  It was far more constructive.  It was more a heightened sense of intuition.  It was a way of looking at a situation and seeing the worst possible outcomes.  And in my case, then taking steps to avoid them.  It had served me remarkably well and helped me to create and build a very lucrative business and to avoid many unpleasant situations.  But at this moment I couldn’t see anything on the horizon to worry about so the dread just became a nagging annoyance that if I couldn’t shake would soon grow into a sense of depression.  Given how well everything was going, depressed was the last thing I should be.

I had two options to cheer myself up I could read Ravi’s statement about Richard or I could go buy something.

I had a pretty good idea about what was in Ravi’s statement so I decided to buy something, the only question was what to buy when you had everything you wanted.  I could always trade in the Audi on something more expensive but the options in Albany were limited and I didn’t want to travel to look at Ferraris or Maybachs.  Bmw had a new CSL model that was an homage to the mid 70’s CSL supercar but only poseurs, yuppies and orthodontists drove BMWs even the expensive ones.  Maserati had just opened a new dealership in Albany and I’d never owned a Maserati but there was a good reason for that if I wanted an unreliable Italian car the Alfa 4c was more exclusive.  With a dealership in town every 30 something hipster douchebag would be taking advantage of no money down leases and Maserati’s would become as common as Escalades around town.  Come to think of it I’m sure I saw a Maserati in the Senate parking lot with Squabble on its vanity tag.  No I’d keep the Audi it was almost a perfect car, I could always kill an hour looking thru Ebay for a used supercar but then I’d have to arrange shipping and find more space in the garage, too many hassles.  If not a car then what?  A watch? I already owned a Rolex and an Omega and a drawer full of classic timepieces.  None of then told time as well as my cell phone, which ment they were all just jewelry and I wasn’t shopping for jewelry today.  So if it wasn’t a car or a watch what could it be?  Clothing?  Nah I had enough overpriced clothing.  What I didn’t have and needed was a friend.  Could you buy a friend?  Maybe not but with enough money you could rent one.

I picked up the phone.  “Jamie, how are you?  Do you have any time for an old friend from Surprise?”

“I’m sorry Mort I’m engaged and will be unavailable all day”

“Business is good?  That’s what is great about Albany no matter how much the players change the morality stays the same”

“No Mort I am engaged to be married, I’m spending the day shopping for a wedding dress”

“Engaged , wow that’s great.  Who is the lucky fellow?”

“I doubt you know him Mort, his name is Spencer Kikedome.  He owns a social media advocacy firm based in San Francisco”

“Social media advocacy?  What in the world is that?”

“It’s the future Mort.  Have you ever heard of Uber?  Think Uber for lobbying”

“I can’t even begin to comprehend what that means”

“Which makes you the functional equivalent of the taxi industry Mort.  You don’t understand it but before you know it, it will destroy your business”

“I hope your wrong Jamie but I wish you well on your nuptials.  Will you be staying in Albany?  We could get together sometime I’d love to meet this young man Spencer”

“I don’t think so Mort, we are spending our honeymoon in the Maldives and then Spencer is going to relocate his business to Belize.  You would not believe how much money is being made with social media advocacy.  Can I give you one last piece of Amish advice Mort in case our paths never cross?”

“Sure Jamie what is it?”

“Stop being an asshole.  There is a really good person inside just let him out”

“Jamie, I’m a lobbyist in Albany being an asshole is my profession”

“I understand Mort, I just thought I’d give it one last try”

As I hung up the phone I started to get a better feeling for what was causing my dread this time.  It wasn’t a specific threat it was a dawning realization that I was an asshole and I was running out of time to be anything else.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kevin Gagan to be appointed the next executive director of JJOKE

I'm making my prediction about 6 months ahead of time but I'd be willing to bet I'm right.

I've never met Kevin but I'm going to make a big effort to do so, just as I did with LT and Biben and Mitra yada yada.  Some times it works and some times it doesn't.

Now you might rightly ask how could Gagan get this job when so many commissioners were against his appointment as Chief of Staff?  And that's a fair question it takes a lot of anger to get Marvin Jacobs and Mary Lou Rath and David Renzi to actually make an appearance in Albany.  Likewise the animus Weissman and Cavullo and Renee Roth showed towards Gagan was tangible.

But they will not be commissioners when Gagan is appointed the next JJOKE head.

Watch how many of the anti Gagan (really anti LT, really really anti Cuomo) commissioners are left by the end of the year. 

There will be a whole new crop of Jokesters over the next 6 months none of whom will have any institutional memory, all of whom will go along and get along with Dan Horwitz's pick for  executive director.  And Dan will pick Kevin because Monica Stamm is too smart to take the job.

Don't say I didn't warn everyone.

Maybe I'll apply for the position when this national search takes place.

They say they want an independent person from outside government with experience enforcing ethics.

Here I am guys and gals all we have to do is negotiate my pay package.

After all  you get what you pay for.

Oh and by the way I vote Marvin Jacobs the greatest hypocrite to come out of JJOKE since DiFiore.

Marvin insists that the next executive Director must have no ties to government to insure independence.  Does Marvin consider himself independent?  He was, remember, appointed by his college roommate and federally indicted Assemblyman Sheldon Silver.  Should that disqualify you Marvin?

Resign Marvin it will make one less Joker the governor has to get rid of to engineer Gagan's appointment.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

An exclusive interview with JJOKE's outgoing executive director and the feeble four

I was able to do what the Times Union and Casey "spellcheck" Seilor failed to do.  That's right, I got to the bottom of LT's resignation and the letter to the editor sent by Cavullo, Weissman, Jacobs and Renzi (now known as the feeble four). 

I sat LT down over canolis and espresso for an interview, no holds barred.  And since she was in exit mode and pissed off I think I got some very important information out of her.  When I was done I tracked down the feeble four at a diner down the road from the Times Union.  They were in the middle of a strategy session and busy slapping each other and themselves on the back for the Wall Street Journal story that followed their letter to the editor of the Times Union.

Here are my notes from both interviews.

Me: So LT any regrets?

LT: We don't have enough canoli and espresso for me to tell you all my regrets but lets focus on the big ones.

Me: OK what is your biggest regret?

LT: I would have to say it was my dinner with the governor.

Me: Do you really think the media fallout from one chance meeting in your family's restaurant had an effect on the way people on the commission and in the media reacted to your work at JCOPE?

LT: No no no you are missing the point I regret not wearing a hotter outfit.  I had the gov literally eating out of my hand and didn't close the deal

Me: Lets focus on your professional life not your love life, have you been feuding with the feeble four?

LT: Lets just say what isn't happening in my love life happens everyday to me at JCOPE.  The commissioners question every decision I make, micromanage every single action I take, which I wouldn't mind since it's in my nature to do as I'm told by strong people but these idiots couldn't find JCOPE with a 10 man search party.  Have you noticed how many of the commissioners actually show up at meetings?

Me:  I have it's disgraceful.

LT:  The way these commissioners approach the job is the biggest problem JCOPE faces.  They all have an inflated opinion of themselves.  Every one of them is absolutely positive they are right and the ones that are the least right are the same ones with the strongest opinions.  I wish I could stay for just one more meeting to bitch slap Commissioner Roth.

Me: Why are you leaving just two days before the next meeting?  Who is going to run the meeting?

LT: Who gives a fuck who runs the meeting.  Dan will um his way thru it.  That weasel Weissman will politely make some snarky comment about some inane technical point and then they will go into executive session to argue about who is smarter.  If I had to do one more executive session I would bitch slap Commissioner Roth.

Me: Do you think the recent letter to the editor by Weissman, Cavullo, Renzi and Jacobs has merit?

LT: First of all don't kid yourself it might have been signed by the feeble four but it was all Weissman's doing.  The other three are just along for Weissman's narcissism.  As to the substance of the letter it is in a word horseshit.  The Cuomo guy . . .

Me: What is his name?

LT: How should I know, second floor said appoint him I appoint him.  Anyway he was appointed Chief of Staff which is one of the listed positions so Weissman can kiss my ass, which by the way I've caught him checking out on more than one occasion.  Then they allege that "the interference continues".  I should just open an investigation into the allegations and put those assclowns under oath and see how brave they are.

Me: I suggested that in my blog yesterday.

LT: I know you did I love the blog and read it religiously.

Me. So why don't you do it?

LT: I can't the second floor hasn't said to do it so you know how that works.

Me: So the second floor does interfere with JCOPE's actions

LT: You say interfere I say suggest.  And by the way how do the feeble four have the audacity to allege interference and not disclose the specific actions they are referring to?  Weissman is asshole buddies with Skelos I hear they talk all the time.  Jacobs was Shelly's college roommate. And Renzi was the commissioner that got the call to switch his vote in the Libous case, at least that's what Biben told me.

Me: Are you looking forward to your new position at Tax.

LT:  I'm looking forward to auditing the JJOKE commissioners tax returns as soon as I get there.

Me: You just called JCOPE JJOKE do you want to correct the record?

LT: No I want to bitch slap Commissioner Roth.

Me: Thank you for your time and good luck as you join the ranks of former Ethics heads that came before you

LT:  Fuck them if any one of them had done their jobs I wouldn't be talking to you

I left LT and caught up with the feeble four

Me: Gentlemen would any one of you care to comment on your recent letter to the editor?

They all look at Weissman

Weissman:  We can't comment because of the secrecy that surrounds our work.

Me:  But you have made an allegation of activity that would violate the Public Officers Law that you enforce.

Jacobs: What's the Public Officers Law?

Renzi:  Did we really do that George?

Cavullo: Can I get another doughnut?

Weissman:  It's not our job to bring an action against the governor it's LT's job.

Me: Well actually it is your job if you are making the allegation.  You are all attorneys you have an affirmative obligation to report the type of activity you allege.

Jacobs:  I'm a retired attorney.

Renzi:  I'm from Watertown and my wife is smoking hot.

Cavullo: Can I get another doughnut for Christ's sake!!

Weissman:  The secrecy provisions at JCOPE prevent us from disclosing that information even to ourselves.

Me: But if you made a complaint you could disclose the complaint itself.  Any party that makes a complaint can do that just ask Trump.

Jacobs: How do you spell complaint?

Renzi:  My wife complains that I don't satisfy her.

Cavullo: You want a complaint? Where's my fucking doughnut?

Weissman:  This interview is over I have to provide Dean an update on the letter to the editor.

Jacobs:  Should I call Shelly?

Renzi:  I once got a call from Biben on Libous

Cavullo:  Shut up Renzi and bring me a doughnut bitch.

Me:  Thank you for your time that cleared a lot up.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

We interupt the novel for reaction to the latest JJOKE scandal

I know I know I'm really not interrupting anything since I haven't posted since mid June.

And for those wondering what is going to happen to your favorite characters in the novel . . . I don't have a clue.  I hate all of them and had to take a break to cleanse my soul.

I wasn't blogging about JJOKE for several reasons.  First they bore me.  Second I've been busy with another surge in my business.  I'm getting to the point where I turn down as much work as I accept.  It might be time to expand and split the consulting practice into compliance filing and ethics strategy.  Stay tuned on that one.  Third I've been giving JJOKE the silent treatment because for the most part they've been pretty good from my point of view.  They listen to advice and have been behaving themselves for the most part.  Granted there are still some weak employees left but Martin and LT seem to have a handle on them.  I'm overjoyed that Milgram is gone ditto for that clown Rob Cohen and Uncle Vinny's niece even flew the coop,  Shari Calnero is gone..  But there is one employee that retired and came back to collect her one day a week overpayment from the state taxpayers.  I let LT know how wrong I thought it was that she would allow this retired staffer to make more for one day of unneeded work  (assuming she actually works) than many staffers make for a full week of unneeded work.  But I digress.

Why am I blogging today when I should be floating in my pool figuring out how to split my business, and bring in more money?  Because 4 JJOKE commissioners wrote a letter to the editor claiming recent actions at JJOKE were illegal.  That was too good not to comment on.

Lets start with the allegation that the hiring of a former Cuomo AG staffer was illegal because the job title doesn't exist.  The claim is factually in error and intellectually dishonest.  The 4 commissioners (Cavullo, Weissman, Jacobs and Renzi - more on them later) completely omit the fact that this Cuomo apparatchik was also appointed as Chief of Staff a title that DOES exist.  End of argument.

But that's not what this letter to the editor was really about.  It was about the process to appoint the next executive director.  They don't want another Cuomo person.  Too bad but that is what you are going to get   Cuomo has the votes and the 4 commissioners don't.  Weissman and Cavullo were appointed by currently under federal indictment Dean Skelos, but Skelos's third appointee Mary Lou Rath did not sign on.  Jacobs was appointed by currently under federal indictment Shelly Silver but the other two assembly democratic appointees did not sign on. Add Renzi and you have 4 commissioners out of 14 that approve of the sentiment that the next executive director should be a non Cuomo person.  That's 10 to 4  Cuomo wins again.  Weissman Cavullo Jacobs and Renzi need a math for dummies tutorial but that's not what has me blogging.

It's their allegation that the "incessant interference continues" at JCOPE.  OK guys who is interfering?  Name names, explain your allegation, throw back the curtain and show us who the wizard of JJOKE really is.   And by the way I believe you that the incessant interference continues and it is a violation of the Public Officers Law that you enforce.  Don't write a bullshit letter to the editor and to the Times Union no less, grow a pair and insist that JCOPE investigate your allegation.

Or if you don't have the balls to do that at least have the courtesy when your appointing authority is indicted to resign, you're presence on JCOPE is unseemly and laughable.  And what's worse Cavullo and Weissman were two of the best JJOKE had.  Granted that's a low bar but I'm having dejavu all over again.  When will Teitelbaum Ginsberg Chercasky and Feerick be returning?

Oh one more thing how is it possible those top notch reporters at the Times Useless like Casey "spellcheck" Seilor missed the real story?  Come on Casey at least ask the 4 commissioners who is interfering and how.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Chapter 28

Ravi Kamatrappa was sitting in my waiting room.  He had made an appointment with Pat a week ago for 10am.  It was now 2:30 pm and I had no intention of letting Ravi in my office before the close of business.  He had told Pat that he wanted to apologize and beg my forgiveness.  He also claimed to want to come back to Leathers and Lace as a client and he promised to tell me how to put Richard in jail.  All these things interested me but I was enjoying watching Ravi squirm on my security camera far too much to let him come grovel before me just yet.

“Pat can you give Ravi a notepad and ask him to write in detail what information he has about Richard that he wants to provide me.  Tell him I need to review it before we meet”

“You’re enjoying Ravi’s discomfort aren’t you Mort?”

“You bet, fuck that disloyal cocksucker”

“Do you want me to ask him how much he would be willing to sell his McLaren for?”

“You are the best, Pat.  Tell him I’ll give him his asking price but he has to repaint it pink before I’ll sign the papers to buy it”

“You aren’t going to buy it are you Mort?”

“Nope, but think how many people will laugh at Ravi driving around in a pink McLaren.  I crack myself up.  Also call Dante and see if he can get some reporters to stop by and interview Ravi while he is sitting in the waiting room.  I’m going to slip out the back hallway and grab a bite at the Grove, I’ll be back in an hour or two”

As I walked to the Grove I felt like I had the world dicked.  Everything was working out for me and my friends and enemies alike were in trouble.  What more could a lobbyist in Albany ask for?  As I walked into the Grove I noticed Danny and Mickey Dolan having lunch with Alex Shimmel.  There was a bottle of Dom Perignon 1966 on the table and smiles on everyone’s faces.

“Well gentleman judging from the 1966 Dom it looks like you are celebrating”

“We are Leathers we are, Alex just agreed to a valuation of Dolan and Kerr at 4 million dollars.”

“That’s wonderful Danny, and Mickey I trust that you will remember who put you guys together”

“Absolutely Mort, you’re finder’s fee will be paid at the closing as we agreed”

“Let me get this straight Leathers, you agreed to a finder’s fee with Mickey and with me?  Both the buyer and seller are going to pay you a finder’s fee?”

“Yes Alex you are, and before either one of you gets upset and tries to avoid your financial obligations remember from your individual perspectives the other party paying me a finder’s fee is irrelevant to your end of the deal, but my litigating very publicly your failure to fulfill your obligations could cost each of you a substantial sum.  And Alex before you consider walking away from this deal to spite yourself consider what your South American patrons will do to you when they find out we were splitting my fee”

“We weren’t splitting your fee Mort”

“True but they wouldn’t know that and given your reputation I think they would believe it, don’t you?”

“Why aren’t we splitting your fee Mort?”

“Because you were so relieved to return from your ski vacation without a Columbian necktie that you were off your game, it happens, Get over it, get this deal closed and I’ll teach you how to start scamming your clients. Danny will teach you how to start fucking the Albany social elites and Mickey will teach you how to . . . what is it you are good at again Mickey?  Never mind just remember Alex do not let Mickey hire anyone or write a check without permission.  Do that and this merger might actually be successful.  And by the way just so there are no hard feelings I’ll pick up the cost of the Dom.  Now go celebrate and set a closing date so you can announce the deal publicly”

I walked over to Jelly who had been watching the entire exchange.

“Jelly make sure the Dom ends up on my tab.  What are you charging for it now a days $2000?”

“Mr. Leathers you are as generous as you are misinformed. The 1966 is on the wine list at $2695 but since you were so helpful in locating Mr. Behuda for my Uncles associates I will confide in you that the Dom is really a 1997 vintage that one of our associates’ bottles in counterfeit 1966 bottles, my actual cost is under $100.  Allow me to place it on your account as a 1966 for $2695 and I’ll mark it paid if you give me a couple of $100 bills.  That way we are all happy.  Mr. Dolan and Mr. Shimmel think you bought them a $2695 bottle, I double my money and you get a $2695 tax write off for $200 cash.”

Lev Behuda had not been seen since he left the Grove after a meeting with me to wrap up the purchase of his real estate interests by one of my clients.  I had to miss the meeting at the last minute as a result of a problem with the Audi and Lev walked out of the Grove upset but in one piece.  Most knowledgeable people in Lev’s line of work did not believe he would ever be seen again unless someone could put together the jigsaw puzzle that was the late Lev Behuda’s body.  While I normally avoided involvement with Jelly’s family it didn’t seem to be a big deal to satisfy their request to get Lev to have dinner with me at the Grove what was unusual was the Audi not starting as it was flawless when it came to reliability.  The Audi mechanic said he had never seen one have a battery connection broken like mine had been.  He said it was almost as if it had been cut.  A $700 repair bill later and I was only an hour late for my meeting with Lev, but Jelly told me he had already left.

“Jelly you are nothing if not thoughtful.  Can I get a table in the corner, a bowl of gazpacho and a Caesar salad?”

“Certainly Mr. Leatherbaum and I would recommend a dozen oysters as well.  They are superb today and I believe Ms. Corehouse is being released from jail today and we are expecting her shortly, would you like me to have her join you?”

“Oysters and a just released from jail Jenny Whorehouse, I like you’re thinking Jelly”
Albany could be a wonderful place to be a lobbyist if you just lacked a conscience.  And a conscience had never been a problem for Mort Leatherbaum

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chapter 27

It was quiet in Albany.  McLowey was in Iowa pursuing a runaway teenager from a convent in upstate New York.  That was the story Sam had placed in every newspaper in the free world, the truth was the teenager was actually a 16 year old nymphomaniac that McLowey had met at the local high school while he was escorting delinquent students to class.  Didn’t matter, McLowey was now the frontrunner for the nomination and as long as Sam could keep the windbreakers and photo opportunities coming in key battleground states he stood a real chance of being elected president.  DeJardin was right the voting public had the IQ of a functional illiterate.  If you could sell them Viagra and toilet paper you could sell them McLowey.

Speaker Washington was no longer the Speaker and rather than serve as an ordinary Assemblyman had resigned the office and returned to Queens Boulevard and a thriving business as a pimp/fake Rolex salesman.  He had been replaced by Jan Doe X.  Jan was perhaps the most inclusive elected official ever.  Jan was a transgender, biracial, agnostic, rabbi/priest/imam, who had been elected from a district in Chinatown but was educated at SUNY Plattsburgh in upstate New York.  His wife/husband was a leading member of the Rainbow Coalition and had been the founder of Headshot, an online retailer of fully automatic hunting rifles.  Jan had never taken a position on any controversial issue but had a unique talent that left the voters and other legislators believing that Jan supported their cause.  In short Jan was everything to everybody and perfectly suited to lead the dysfunctional self-interested legislative body that we called the New York State Assembly.

Hibert had cut a plea deal ahead of the Rico trial.  By agreeing to testify for the government he would avoid prison but had to resign his Majority Leader’s post and agree to leave the State of New York.  In response Hibert moved both his families to Utah, became a Mormon and was presently running a Mormon job placement service focused on government jobs in Utah.  By all reports he was very successful.  Squabble had quickly put together a coalition of disenfranchised senators who rallied behind Squabble’s call for more weed, less greed in politics.  He had offered any senator that voted for him as majority leader the post of majority co-leader

At last count Squabble was just two votes short of becoming the new majority leader. 

I had been busy trying to put Danny’s lobbying firm together with Alex’s crisis management company.  While they had conceptually agreed on a deal Alex had now cancelled and/or rescheduled the last 12 meetings with Danny’s boss Mickey Dolan.  Every time Alex rescheduled he reassured Mickey the deal was going to happen and Mickey would hire more lobbyists convinced the merger was just around the corner.  The end result was Mickey missed payrolls, the old staff had for the most part resigned and found more stable employment and all that was left of the once powerful lobbying firm of Dolan and Kerr was an office they were being evicted from.,16 new lobbyists that could not find employment elsewhere, a used Ford Explorer that belonged to Mickey’s son and debts that now approached the mid seven figures.  Danny was barely able to make all his alimony payments by borrowing money from most of the wealthy matrons he had bedded over the years.  In short Danny was out of time which meant I would soon be out of time to avoid the ask.

Pat walked in.

“Leathers are you going to see Daniel today?”

“Do I have a choice?  You have put him on my schedule every day for the past two weeks”

“He’s your friend and he needs your help.  Can you give him this envelope when you see him?”

I took the envelope, it felt like it was filled with cash.

“Pat why are you supporting Danny?  You can’t afford it”

“Mort, Danny is a sweet boy and I’m very fond of him it’s the least I can do for him”

“Pat, Danny is a serial womanizer and sex addict”

As Pat walked away I could have sworn I heard her say to herself . . .

“And he’s hung like an Arabian stallion and it’s your cash from the safe anyway Mort”

As I started to open my safe and count my cash reserves my cellphone rang it was Andy Karp.

“Andy how have you been?  I haven’t heard from you in weeks”

“I put in my papers to retire Mort, I’m going to run Eggy’s full time and work for the bureau as a contract consultant part time”

“Congratulations Andy I wish you much luck, the restaurant business is tougher than the law enforcement gig. There is a lot of theft in restaurants”

“I’ve already addressed that Leathers, no cops allowed in Eggy’s anymore and I installed table vending machines for the sugar, salt, pepper and creamer.  Now I’ll make a nickel more every time someone wants sugar.”

“Andy with your knowledge of crime, corruption and cops I’m sure you will do well with a diner.  Are we all square then?”

“Not by a long shot Leathers.  I’m still kind of a big shot with the bureau so you still need to keep following directions”

“But Andy, Albany has been cleaned up don’t you read Ping’s self-congratulatory press releases?”

“We will get to that in a moment Leathers, right now I want to talk about how you can help me”

“Do you want me to wear a wire?  Do you want me to feed you inside information on what the legislators are up too?  Do you want me to set up undercover stings for you?  I’ve done it before I’ll do it again.  You know as long as you can send me to jail I’ll do whatever you want, just like every other lobbyist, legislator and secretary in this town.”

“Well thank you Mort but right now I just want you to tell your friends to hold their fundraisers at Eggy’s”

“Eggy’s is not really the kind of place to do a fundraiser Andy”

“That’s where you are wrong Leathers.  No one really wants to attend the fundraiser the politician just wants the money and the lobbyist just wants the credit for contributing.  That’s where Eggy’s comes in.  We will collect the money and send it to the politician along with a list of who contributed and would have attended if Eggy’s wasn’t a shithole diner.  And we will do it for half the price most other venues will charge.  No one has to know if the fundraiser actually happened”

“That’s pretty smart Andy.  Let me work on it”

Friday, June 12, 2015

Chapter 26

In the weeks after Ping’s indictment of the entire state government as a criminal enterprise life had returned to a semblance of normality at the capital.  It looked like Governor McLowey had stumbled upon an issue that was going to increase his public opinion polls to a level that might even force the U S Attorney in Buffalo to drop his public corruption case against McLowey.  The issue was public safety and McLowey like every public official before him knew you could not go wrong being photographed in an official looking windbreaker at the scene of a public safety event.  For McLowey the public safety event was the escape of 3 prisoners from a maximum security prison in Fishkill.  McLowey toured the prison after the escape and was photographed interrogating inmates and even holding the remains of an Amazon drone the inmates had allegedly used to deliver a copy of McLowey’s most recent book “Profiles in how to escape from prison for dummies”.  The inmates were believed to have used the delivery drone as a helicopter to fly over the prison walls to freedom.

McLowey repeatedly visited communities around the prison as every sighting of the escaped trio brought news cameras and a different colored windbreaker to be worn by the increasingly popular Governor McLowey.  When McLowey, dressed in a blaze orange windbreaker finally announced the capture of the trio he completely ignored the fact that the trio had been found in the prison library, where they had been reading the prisons entire collection of McLowey books.  Books purchased with state funds by the department of corrections to boost McLowey’s book sales.

McLowey’s approval rating soared and the McLowey camp started trotting the governor out to every escape, including the most recent event where several fifth graders had been late returning to class from a kickball game at a nearby playground.  McLowey ordered the state police to deploy all their resources including the state helicopter to hunt down the wayward kickballers.  The next day front page story in the Times Union had a large picture of McLowey in a pinstriped windbreaker investigating a hole in the chain link fence surrounding the playground.  And his approval rating jumped another 10 points.

McLowey became so invested in his pursuit of escapees that he began to use his campaign funds to hire high school students to cut classes so that McLowey could personally escort them back to class.  His new chief of staff, Sam Munro, who replaced Licketysplit, came up with the brilliant idea of McLowey wearing a black windbreaker with the schools name emblazoned on the back for every photo op of McLowey marching the delinquent student back to class.  Images of McLowey looking like General McArthur striding ashore began to appear in every local newspaper across the state.

I called Sam to congratulate him on McLowey’s most recent photo showing him in the black windbreaker with the name “New Hampshire” on the back prodding what appeared to be an illegal immigrant back into a rural school.

“Sam, absolute brilliance.  You get the escapee money shot, you get the anti and pro dream act demographics with the illegal going back to school after wasting taxpayer money by cutting class but why does the windbreaker say New Hampshire?”

“That was the best part Leathers, but first let me thank you for suggesting to McLowey that I replace Lickety.  It’s more money, it’s more high profile and best of all it’s more fun”

“Don’t mention it Sam, you deserved it.   And I know you will remember who helped you when the time comes that I need a helping hand, but why “New Hampshire?”

“McLowey really thinks this whole escapee manhunt issue is going to propel him to the presidency and the best seller lists so we have to expand the issue and McLowey’s role beyond New York, I decided every time we have an escape now we will coordinate with various states to aid in the search.  With the New Hampshire primary coming up that picture of McLowey in a New Hampshire windbreaker bounced us 15 points in the most recent poll in New Hampshire”

“I’m proud of you Sam, you’ve found your true calling”

“I’ve got to tell you Leathers as long as people keep escaping McLowey has a real chance”

“What if you run out of people to call escapees?”

“Well here’s my true genius Leathers, McLowey is going to use his executive order powers to release former legislators convicted of political corruption on work release and then he is going to revoke the work release and hunt them down as escaped convicts.  People will love former legislators being hunted by bloodhounds and swat team members carrying seven shot semi-automatic rifles and I can have windbreakers made up with the title of his most recent book on the back for him to wear.  It ticks all the boxes and corrupt politicians are in never ending supply”

“I’m in awe of your talent Sam”

My cell phone rang it was Jamie.

“Mort I haven’t seen you in quite some time”

“Well I was worried Jamie that you were upset with me over the Times story about Ping and the prostitute”

“Mort in my line of work you can’t get mad about the truth and I knew who you were when we first met”

“What does that mean Jamie?  You knew who I was?”

“Let me tell you a story Mort that my grandfather told me”

“Another Amish fairytale?

“No Mort just some sound Amish wisdom.  My grandfather told me of this Amish farmer that need to replace his breeding cow, so he went to his neighbor who sold breeding cows.  The neighbor said I have two for sale.  The first one is from Climax and will breed with any bull as often as you need but she costs $2500, the second one is from Surprise and is more difficult to breed but only costs $250.  The farmer looks the cows over and thinks the Surprise cow looks better and is far less expensive so he buys the Surprise cow.  When he gets the cow back to the farm he puts her in the pasture with the bull who breeds with her once but every time after the first time the cow bucks wildly when the bull tries to mount her and will not be bred.  The farmer goes to the deacon of the church and tells him the story of the two cows.  The deacon asks if the cow the farmer bought is from Surprise.  The farmer says yes how did you know?  To which the deacon answers my wife is from Surprise”

“That’s funny Jamie but what does some prudish Amish wife have to do with us?”

“Mort you’re not the first lobbyist I’ve known, and you are all the same.  I knew you were a Surprise cow before I ever invited you in for pretzels and root beer”

“And you were ok with that?”

“Sure Mort, did you ever consider the deacon married a girl from Surprise on purpose?  Lots of girls from Climax too you know”

I was sure there was another message in that last line but for now I was just relieved that Jamie wasn’t blaming me for being identified as an Amish whore in the Times article.