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.

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