Denice Delarosa: Head of Cali Department of Food Security
Lucinda Yang-Gomez: Works for Denice and is head of agriculture in the southern half of the Central Valley.
Chad and Mardi Izzo: Farmers who live in the Sierra Nevada foothills just east of East Orosi, California
Kenny Lane: Trucker-philosopher modeled after Eric Hoffer and Wirecutter. Wirecutter's name used with his permission.
Hua Yang, Miguel, Bonita: Members of Izzo's work crew.
Bona-Brown: Prime Minister of Cali
Lois Gale-Lienhart-Diaz: An over-zealous bureaucrat who met her demise in the installment published in Calexit: The Anthology
All events and characters are solely imaginary...except for Kenny Lane.
The Thursday night golf league was slowly beating its way around the back nine. Contrary to custom, the two senior officials were sharing a golf cart leaving the two more junior players to share the other.
“Lucinda,” Denice Delarosa told her subordinate, “I went out on a limb for you and pulled your bacon out of the fire. It is time for you to toe-the-line and march to the party line.” Denice was profane, competent and more ferociously territorial than any other department head in Cali.
“What are you talking about?” Lucinda Yang-Gomez, Director, Central Valley for California Department of Food Security (aka, Agriculture) asked.
“First of all, you sending a memo to the Executive Director of the Department of Education was a no-no. You know the rules. You can send memos to Directors but I send memos to Executive Directors.”
“Second,” said Denice, “that memo unleashed a total shit-storm. The loose cannon in Education that precipitated that memo ‘got disappeared’. Some people think she slipped into Mexico. Others think that we had her killed.
“Did we?” Lucinda asked.
“Not to my knowledge, that is, not unless you made it happen.” Denice said. “But it is wise for you to remember that accidents happen to loose cannons.”
Lucinda looked over at her boss who was driving. “Can you speak a little more plainly. You are going to have to throw a few more bread crumbs on the ground if you expect me to follow your line of thought.”
Denice sighed. Sometimes your employees with the most potential were the most aggravating.
“Look, Lucinda,” Denice started out, “you are smart. Very, very smart. And you probably think that is why you hold your current position. But you would be wrong. You are holding your position because powerful people..: Denice raised her hand to silence Lucinda’s retort ”…people far more powerful than me think you are reliable.”
“They are beginning to have their doubts and that puts me in an awkward position.” Denice finished.
The foursome played the next hole.
Getting back into the cart, “What would you have me do, boss?” Lucinda asked. “People are starving! If we can’t put the train back on the tracks, millions of people are going to starve over the next couple of years.”
Denice said, “That is not what Bona-Brown’s Health Department is telling him. Last week they told him that California has never been so healthy. They said that the percentage of Californians with BMI numbers between 16 and 22 has never been higher.”
“Yeah, I wonder how many people in the Health Department have Body Mass Indexes less than 20” Lucinda mused.
“What pisses me off is that people are starving and it is needless.” Lucinda continued.
Denice shot Lucinda a sideways glance as she piloted the cart between some young junipers. “Why do you think it is needless?” Denice asked.
“You are kidding, right?” Lucinda asked. “We loan farmers money and as a condition of the loan we demand that they only farm half their land. We require that they keep the other half in hay. We could grow TWICE as much food if we relaxed that requirement and let them use fertilizer.”
“You don’t see the big picture.” Denice replied. “California makes a lot of money trading ‘carbon credits’ for the organic material that is sequestered in the soil. Another thing is that having two years of hay in the rotation breaks the disease cycle.”
“You have me backed into a corner.” Lucinda said. “I can grow enough food for twenty-five, maybe thirty million people but not the fifty-five million…and growing…that we have now. My hands are tied. I can do it but I need fertilizer and synthetic pesticides and GMO seeds.”
“And that is the core of your problem.” Denice said. “You insist on thinking like a scientist when you are a political appointee.”
“The political reality is that Bona-Brown believes the crap the Biodynamics people tell him.” Denice continued. “He believes that farmers can grow more food in two years using Biodynamics than they used to grow in four years using chemicals. To you and me and to any other thinking person, that is witchcraft and voodoo, but that is what he believes.”
“Bona-Brown also believes that farmers who cannot achieve their quotas are reactionary and need to be rooted out. He also believes that administrators who take the side of the farmers are also resisting progress and need to be removed. This is not a matter of science. This is a matter of the political realities.”
“The other thing you need to be cognizant of is that you know too much to be released to the wild. I cannot protect you forever. You need to rein in your doubts and you need to shut up or else you will be silenced like that Gale-Lienhart-Diaz from Education. Do you understand?”
Dellarosa could tell by the mulish set of Lucinda’s mouth that she had not yet been convinced. Denice was not worried. Lucinda was smart. She would figure out what side she needed to be on.
To: Frank Spirochete
Executive Director, Risk Management
From: Ralph Eli
Bona-Brown Security Operations
Date: September 11, 2026 9:30 pm
Dellarosa delivered message to Yang-Diaz. Deviated from approved script.
Dellarosa’s loyalty in question. Questions judgement of B-B. Transcripts (attached).