Denice walked into the back room of the small Mexican restaurant at exactly 7:30 that night. There was a slightly built, middle-aged man seated at the table facing the door. Denice crossed the room, put her bag on one of the chairs and seated herself directly across from the man.
“First of all,” Denice started, “I want to thank you for agreeing to see me. You have no idea how hard it is for a new girl to get a decent date in this town.” Having said that, she pulled a bottle of wine from the bag. The bag was now totally empty. Denice left everything else, including her phone and handgun, in the truck.
Her thinking was that this was either the safest neighborhood in the world for her or that no neighborhood was ever going to be safe with her.
“An advantage of working in Agriculture is that you can always find a good bottle of wine. Friends, ya know?” Denice continued.
The man stood up and shook her hand. “My name is Jose. What do you want to talk about today?”
Denice cocked her head. “I don’t recognize the accent. What part of Mexico are you from?” she asked.
The man smiled. “I am from Bolivia. At a certain level it is easier to have somebody without regional ties making deals and passing judgements.”
Denice nodded her agreement to the wisdom of that statement.
“First of all, we need to have this conversation in code.” Denice started. “I don’t want to give the appearance of accusing you of anything because that would not be productive.”
“On a more practical level, if I plainly stated that I possessed certain kinds of information I am than obligated to act on that information. Finally, Liz is an awesome aid and I don’t want to lose her…so there are some questions I am not going to ask and there are certain kinds of information that I don’t want you to volunteer. Is that acceptable to you?” Denice said.
Jose nodded his head that this was agreeable to him.
“My impression is that you are, ummm, associated with an organization that merchandizes goods throughout SD-LA. Furthermore, this organization has a charter, a concession contract, to provide ‘community policing’ services for SD-LA. Is that essentially true?” Denice asked.
Jose said, “This organization is more of the nature of a loose confederation but the way you described it is not wrong.”
“My superiors in Sacramento have determined that your confederation violated the terms of agreement, something to do with selling hundreds of tons of maize. They determined that your confederation is in breach of contract and will pull your concession and put it back out to bid.” Denice carefully said.
“Who are your superiors?” Jose asked. He was a cool one. Most people act gut punched when they learn their organization is on the brink of loosing billions of Callors of business a month.
“I report directly to Bona-Brown.” Denice responded.
“So this is a ‘done-deal’” Jose asked.
“That is where it gets interesting.” Denice said. “The devil is in the details.”
“What do you mean?” Jose responded.
“You understand that I cannot coach you on how to evade the wishes of the Democratically elected government of Cali. I can, however, tell you a little bit about myself.” Denice said.
Jose was clearly mystified by this turn of the conversation.
“I studied the meat industry when I was studying for my doctorate in Agricultural Economics at Purdue. The meat industry was considered a high risk industry. Due to the concentration of the industry and the size of the packing plants it is conceivable that one million contaminated hotdogs, for instance, could be produced and shipped before anybody realized there was an issue.”
“For the sake of argument, let’s say there are four major companies producing 80% hotdogs in the US. What was not appreciated is that the other 20% were produced by boutique producers who were silently owned by the major players.”
“When Progorky packing company of Omaha was bankrupted by the Listeria contamination, what do you think happened next? The contamination was traced back to the two packing plants with intractable labor problems. One of the boutique producers in Omaha was, amazingly, able to borrow vast amounts of money to buy the efficient plants not associated with the scandal. Not only that, but they brought over almost all of the Progorky executives. The only ones who got the ax were the ones who were a pain-in-the-ass to work with. They were made the scapegoats of the contamination incident.”
“The only thing that changed was that Progorky changed its name and shed parts of the business that had proven to be a liability. I understand that the executives who moved to the new company were very handsomely rewarded via the stock option program…not to mention that many of them already held stock in the company.” Denice concluded.