Chapter 7

Outside the State Capitol, men and women in business suits walked purposefully, juggling cell phones and environmentally correct travel mugs filled with fair trade coffee. A group of elementary school children gathered around a tour guide on the front steps. From a window high up in the building, Ned Begman looked out briefly before turning his attention to the television screen. Begman had worked for two years as the Governor’s Aide, though the two had known each other in monied but moderate political circles for over a decade. Behind his back he was referred to as “Bagman” for his willingness to swoop in and clean up messy situations.

Governor Eidenberger stomped in and took off his suit jacket and tie, tossing both onto his polished mahogany desk. He cracked his thick neck to the left and right and grabbed his putter from the stand in the corner. Begman had already set up the putting cup and stacked golf balls on the desk.

“What’s up next, Ned?” Governor Eidenberger asked as he set the golf balls by the door and took a few practice swings.

“Meeting with the union reps for prison guards in ten minutes, then a presentation by the legislative analyst’s office about the senate bills,” said Begman. He turned on the volume to the television set and said “Check this out.”

A local news broadcast was in progress, with a brunette anchorwoman reading from the teleprompter. “Thanks, Tony. And in local political news, a Placerville High School teenager, Jeremy Anton, is collecting signatures on a petition for Placerville to secede from the union. Jeremy says he’s doing this to protest the rules restricting driving for anyone under age twenty. In a bit of history, over 150 years ago, the small mining town of Rough and Ready voted to secede from the union  in order to protest a tax on mining and alcohol. Three months later, the town voted itself back in, some say because bartenders in nearby towns wouldn’t serve beer to “foreigners.” Good luck, Jeremy!” she said brightly.

The governor grinned and resumed his putting. “This kid is funny. Seceding from your own country! Where I come from, they hang you if you talk like that. This is why I love the USA. You can talk crazy and still make it home for dinner.”

“We should get some numbers on public sentiment about the driving thing,” said Begman as he scrolled through his Blackberry. “Here it is. Our last poll showed 57% in favor of the restricted driving laws.”

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