Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chapter Five: Meet-up

"Mr. Kelo, your guest is ready to see you now".

"Thank you, Justin. I will be up to the suite momentarily. Would you see that she has refreshments please."

"Of course, sir". Justin Pearce retired from the small private room, leaving his boss alone with the nervous gentleman who had arrived earlier requesting to see him.

It had been a long day for Martin Kelo and it seemed that it was not over yet. He had been in Chicago for two days now and had been in meetings almost non-stop since he had arrived by private jet at Midway Airport. Over the years he had found that he required very little sleep and midnight meetings like this were not uncommon for a driven man. He found that meeting at a late hour gave him an advantage over his business associates who might not be as clear-headed as he was. Justin, who had adapted to this schedule and worked these long hours alongside his boss, assisted by serving only decaffeinated coffee and keeping the lighting rheostats artificially low. Martin had negotiated some of his best deals after his associate was yawning opposite him at a table. As the tired gentleman with him was doing right now.

"I can see that I am keeping you up late tonight," Martin offered by means of closing the meeting and moving on to his next one. "Do you need to be getting back to your servers to run final checks?"

"I think that we have done everything that we can do at this point. Everything is automatic from here out."

"Well, let's hope so. Tomorrow is game day. The day that we bring fundamental change to your country, which has needed change for so very long."

"Yes", the Dr. said. "It has been a long struggle. I've wanted change since I was a freshman at Berkeley in the Sixties. We must stop being oppressors and give our government back to the people."

"Does the young man share your admirable devotion to the cause?"

"He does not. He is brilliant and gifted - more than any student I have ever had in my classes - but politically apathetic I am afraid, as is typical of his spoiled generation. His part of the work is done though, and I have it from here. He does not need to be involved tomorrow for this to work. He helped the people whether he knows it or not."

"I am confident that you can complete your task tomorrow. The people may never know of your contribution. They cannot know. But I know, as do my associates. Only you can do what you are doing for the people tonight, and we appreciate your skills and more importantly your actions on behalf of the people".

These words from a luminary in the movement like Martin Kelo had the desired effect of revitalizing the scientist and putting steel in his spine and fire in his eyes.

"Is there anything else that you need from me?", Martin asked.

His spine now steeled, he went one step too far. "Well, given the difficulty of the task, and the risk to my professional future that I am taking, I think that I should be getting double what I've gotten so far..."

"Dr. Evans, don't be foolish". Martin's charm dropped several degrees to the icy stare that had folded experienced businessmen before. "You have been well compensated and you should not ask for more. Not from me and not from any of my associates. You should know that you can be at risk in more ways than one."

Dr. Evans was startled and frightened, and wanted to apologize to minimize the danger that he suddenly felt. But, there was no one to apologize to as Mr. Kelo was already up and out of a side door and his assistant Mr. Pearce was there in his place ushering him out of the room and into a freight elevator to leave the hotel through the kitchen and out into a back alley into the night.

Martin used the elevator ride up to his suite to clear his mind and to transition to his meeting with his guest upstairs. It had been a whirlwind of meetings since he had arrived in Chicago, and had just one more before the event that he was here for - the United State's mid-term election - began.

Before he left Toronto for the States, Martin had seen to it that his business ventures were in good shape with a strategy developed for each division for the coming year. Martin Kelo Enterprises was a global conglomerate with several subsidiaries and front companies and boards of directors for each. Martin was the driving force for the rapid growth of the company in the last ten years, and was perhaps the only one who knew the complete organizational reach. He had started with a nest egg of inherited money and had entered the field brashly in the money markets. Hedge funds, which did quite well in the run-up to the housing-bubble crash. Venture capital investments in companies in the growing health care fields. Currency speculation - famously shorting countries that he predicted would have major fluctuations in their currency. Global companies knew no nationalist loyalty, Martin's least of all. There was a greater good to be serviced than any national need, and for Martin that good was accumulating wealth rapidly.

The money market companies that were the core of  Martin's success were now safely diversified into more tangible assets under the directorship of some able managers that ran the day to day business in his absence. Martin had been one of the very few to see the recession coming in the States, and had moved his money out of securitized mortgages and heavily into U.S. Treasury Bills. After the downturn happened in 2009, Martin had begun buying distressed companies that had laid off half of their workforce, betting that they would return to fiscal health as the demand for industrial products would inevitably come back. With the price of minerals and precious minerals depressed, Martin bought mines in Africa, and set up an office in Johannesburg. With the mining businesses in hand, he bought mining equipment manufacturing companies in the U.S. and South America, and idle shale oil mines in Canada. He choose Toronto to base his headquarters for the Kelo Americas subsidiary, where he was currently building Kelo Towers.

Those risks that Martin had taken in 2009 in buying the distressed companies, against the worried advice of some of his board members from the financial services sectors, had begun paying back in slowly burgeoning recovery of early 2010. His personal wealth was growing, pushing him well into the billionaires club. Martin began investing in a different line altogether - political activism. He formed new organizations, with new directors and new boards to influence the direction of progressive politics in Canada, in the Eastern European countries that were still finding their way after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and in the United States that was transforming itself in the wake of the election of a charismatic and forward thinking President in 2008. The political activities were his new passion, and were the reason for his visit here in Chicago.

Martin was proud of the impact that his umbrella organization Progress for A New Century had made on the American political landscape in a short timeframe. He was confident that his spending had been able to blunt the unexpected rise of the Liberty Movement that had grown up in the wake of the recession to demand a halt to out-of-control spending and the expansive growth of the federal government. Growth that Martin liked and sought to accelerate through his political front groups, which he met with yesterday.

Martin had chosen his team well. Leaders all, with a passion for social justice and skills at electioneering. Each with a necessary niche.

Kamillah Washington headed up the community organizer organization that was handling voter registration among the disenfranchised. She ran a network of paid volunteers that enrolled voters on college campuses, at unemployment offices, at rallies, and at union halls. Kamillah was arranging buses from those locations to the polls for election day tomorrow.

Kim Woodruff ran the County Clerks Project, and ambitious plan that recognized the importance of county officials in the counting and reporting of results on election day. Martin had watched the 2000 Presidential election recounts in Florida from overseas and was fascinated by the county clerks sitting in rooms counting the hanging chads and was struck by how few votes in one location could affect a nation-wide election. He became convinced that having progressive champions in those positions could make the difference in a close election, and was putting a serious amount of his money behind that proposition.

David Hallstrom supervised the think tank that produced white papers on various topics that advanced the progressive movement for distribution to journalists around the country. David also fed stories to a network of libreral bloggers that blew stories up to the mainstream aggreagator sites for immediate impact on the casual web surfers. David also headed up a separate journalistic pseudo professional organization that provided funding for hundreds of new correspondents at public radio member stations with a mission to focus on human interest stories about the downtrodden and oppressed peoples of America.

Finally, Juanita Alvarez handled direct funding of the campaigns of Congressman in the moderate to liberal ranks. She was a master of financial bundling and was funneling money through the various house caucases to the member's re-election committees. Lately, Juanita had significant success attracting donors throughout Martin's international connections through the use of untraceable prepaid debit cards by encouraging members to disable the verification systems required by the election laws. Those might or might not be challenged after the election, but were very useful to fund ad campaigns before the election.

One other, retired master sargeant Malcolm Gunn, had reported separately about the black ops activities that he was personally handling for Martin. Operations that he was about to share with his last guest.

Bing. The doors of the direct elevator openend and Martin stepped out to find himself face to face with Ms. Vivianne Luo. CEO of the South Asia exports, and his partner in tomorrow's activities.

"Martin, it's so good to see you again."

"A pleasure, Vivianne, as always."

"Did you get good reports from your team?", Vivianne asked

"I did indeed. Everything is going as planned."

"Well", Vivianne sighed, "I guess now we just our chances with the voters tomorrow."

"Who said that I was leaving it up to chance".

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