I felt so much better when I deposited Margaret and Jonathan at the airport. I had tasked Jonathan with going onto Priceline and getting some good deals on tickets to New Orleans. Margaret had already called her sister and made arrangements, including renting a car for a week. Jonathan had done a great job getting the tickets and had a ball using my credit card. There’s nothing like giving your teenaged son your credit care to use.
Now came the part that had me chagrined. Where was I to start? Did I have any right to do what I wanted to do? I thought hard and long and felt that I needed some advice. A long while ago, I had run some alternative education programs for kids who were not doing well in school. One of the advisors to the program was the chief of police in one of the small towns in western Pennsylvania, Bob Mendes. Bob had helped me out with many things during my ten year stint in western PA. I still had his phone number somewhere and had called him on a number of issues relating to police procedures and priorities. He had been a lobbyist for the police association of Pennsylvania after his retirement.
I got Bob on the first ring. He sounded the same as he had those many years ago when I was working with him on the alternative education programs. He asked about my family and I asked about his. His children were a bit older than mine, and they were doing well. Bob had some heart problems a few years back and was now, according to him, doing well. We compared heart problems and then realized that this was a symptom of growing older.
I laid out the problem. He was astonished that no one seemed to have called the local police or the state troopers. I told him that I was not intimately involved, so there could be a kidnapping and everyone is keeping silent. He thought about that for a while. “That may have been the case,” he said, “However that precludes the phone calls that you got. Someone is trying to keep everything silent. There is some political horseshit going on. I’ll bet that the leadership in the senate knows more about this than you think.”
His words sparked some memories. A few years ago, Sam Ellis supported another senator for President Pro Tempore of the senate. The current pro-tem was not a friend of Sam’s. Is it possible that there was some sort of disagreement about a bill or an action, in which Sam was on the “wrong” side and would not give in.You must understand that Sam was held in high esteem by both parties in the senate and the house? Could it be that leadership in the senate really does know what happened and is keeping mum, not even notifying the police? They would be off the hook by saying that it isn’t until someone is gone 48 hours that he/she is declared missing.
I then knew who to begin with. Steve McElroy had been the chief staff member of the Republicans in the senate. No one really made a move without clearing it with Steve. He was so powerful that he was called, “The 51st Senator.” Steve had always been kind to me and had offered me some great advice when we were in the process of suing the state because of inequitable funding. He was a somber and sometimes silent man. However, he was always friendly to me. We had gone out to lunch innumerable times. Those were pretty heady days for me. He would calm me down and then discuss what I might do to help with lobbying for equitable funding. He was rarely wrong.
Since he had retired the year before, I could not reach him at his office. I would have to find his number or email. It took me all of five minutes to call him. I dialed his cell number. He answered with this, I believe I know why you are calling.”