Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Staff Meeting

One by one, the casually dressed staffers, four men and a woman, climbed the narrow spiral staircase at the rear of the houseboat and joined Daniel and Patricia on deck. Their hosts greeted them cordially and offered chilled California wine or iced sun tea. Hard liquor was never served in the Bellardis' home or aboard their houseboat, nor did the couple approve of staff members who indulged. Substance abuse at the highest levels of government in California had precipitated the legalization of marijuana and accelerated the moral disintegration of the big cities, Bellardi often argued with his inner circle. "We in North California will not only separate ourselves from such practices, we will distance ourselves from them, and it all begins with us." Staffers joked among themselves that Bellardi's campaign was probably the driest campaign in the history of American politics. Most of them, sharing the Bellardis' views, were proud of that claim.

Daniel tolerated little small talk at his staff gatherings. No matter what anyone said about his lead in the polls, he was not taking the campaign for granted. Shortly after the entree was served, conversation at the large round table under the canvas canopy turned to business with Daniel's familiar words, "Robert, get me up to speed."

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