Denice was sweating.
She had driven up to Sacramento and was presenting to Bona-Brown and his ever-present sidekick, Spirochete. It was not going well.
She had gone in with a ten page Powerpoint. She spent less than a minute on each slide. The news, as far as she could see, was happy, happy, happy.
Tax receipts were up 75% and climbing over the previous year. Adjusted for inflation that was an increase of almost 30%.
Productivity was climbing. Shops were producing more goods and services per man-hour than they had been the previous year.
The number of “walkers” picked up by the roving hearses had fallen off of a cliff.
The busses were even starting to run on time.
Denice’s concluding page was that all of those trends started in about mid-September when vast amounts of “excess to contract” agricultural products started pouring into SD-LA.
The injection of food-stuffs caused the price of black market food to collapse and the money that had been swallowed up by the under-the-table economy was now showing up in the taxable economy.
Denice graciously noted that most of these trends started while Barbilla was running SD-LA.
Her presentation was met with a cold, stony silence.
“What you have forgotten” Spirochete intoned “is that any resource that is consumed outside of the plan is a waste. We cannot afford waste.”
Denice countered, “I don’t see how reducing deaths due to starvation is a waste.”
Spirochete interjected, “The Department of Health published figures that Cali now has a greater percentage of people with healthy Body Mass Indexes then ever before. They also state that the percentages improve every month.”
“Well, that would be another thing.” Denice stated. “I contacted Professors at UCLA, UCSD, UC-Irvine and they all said medical statistics still supported a BMI range of 18.5-to-25 is the healthy range. They also noted that the lower bound for Cali’s official targets went from 18.5-to-16.5 and now there is no lower range. Officially, a skeleton is considered to have a ‘healthy’ BMI.”
Spirochete’s face was red. “Ms Delarosa, we are not here to quibble over the judgment of the Cali medical establishment. You clearly found some “experts” who are outliers and naively believed them. That issue is not open for debate.”
Spirochete continued, “You have a job to do and you are failing. You failed when the agricultural sector produced, in your own words, ‘vast amounts of “excess to contract” agricultural products’. You failed by not stopping the transport of those contraband goods into SD-LA. You failed by coming up here and bragging about your failures, expecting a pat on the head like some brown-nosing teacher’s pet.”
“You are not following processes. You are running around like a fucking cowboy. You fired four loyal civil servants that we had to find positions for here in Sacramento.” Spirochete said.
“This next thing is kind of micro, but it is about the numbers you quoted in your presentation. Those numbers are not official data. It takes a minimum of six months to ‘purify’ the numbers, to tabulate the numbers, verify their quality and to reconcile them with the plan. Six months at a minimum…tax data takes a minimum of a year because you have no idea how much of that tax-stream is going to be redirected back to the source as tax breaks and incentives.”
“That is why you have to stop trying to manage in real-time and become process oriented. Your outcomes are fantasies and scientific managers don’t manage to fantasies.” Spirochete concluded.
Denice was livid; livid but under control. She had not been dressed down like this since boot camp.
“We know,” Bona-Brown started “that the Cartel is in breach of their concession terms because they distributed most of the contraband. To that end, we are going to terminate that relationship and grant the concession contract to one of their competitors.”
Spirochete started to object to the term “Cartel” but Bona-Brown dismissed him with a wave. “Outside this room we use their ‘corporate’ name, but inside this room we can call them what they are, the Cartel.”
“Your job” Bona-Brown continued “is to go back to SD-LA, to follow processes and to inform the Cartel that they are losing their concession. It is time to put on your big-girl panties and earn your pay. Is that clear?”
Denice had one of those “Alice in Wonderland” outside-of-body observations: They are mad. Totally and certifiably loony-tunes.
She nodded her head. “Yes, I understand.” she said, willing the meeting be over so she could make her escape.
Spirochete concluded “Inform the Cartel about their persona non-grata status within the week because we will be rolling out a request-for-quote at the start of next month and we don’t want it to be a total surprise to them.”
After Denice left Spirochete said to Bona-Brown, “I bet you a thousand Callors that she is dead in less than four weeks.”
Bona-Brown said, “I will take that bet. It seems like the ugly ones are the hardest ones to kill.”