(2018-11-04) The Interview
Heather interviews the mayor, Caroline McCoy, about the various crisis in the town.

Saturday night news on KCC1-TV, Calaveras premier local station, has a scoop! An interview with the mayor; Ms Caroline McCoy. Since it is such an illustrious guest, Heather will be doing the interview herself. She wanted to do it live since that always makes politicians squirm, but they ended up with a compromise of pre-recorded…but no list of questions beforehand. The general subject though, will be the increase in crime in this sleepy little town.

Heather, station owner and weekend news anchor, is dressed to the nines, sitting in a chair and flicking through questions while her make-up is finished. Caroline will be sitting in the chair opposite her, a small sidetable between them for their drinks. "I think the whole town will appreciate your time, mayor" she smiles professionally. "A lot of people out there are frightened."

Mayor McCoy is at the local station in her average get-up: a plain beige blouse and skirt pinned with a stars-and-stripes badge that has her surname printed in bold, gaudy letters. Her hair is dyed well enough for few gray roots to show up on camera — she hopes. There's lipstick enough and those classic politician's pearls to make her blandness look more outstanding; anything for those poll numbers to stay up, one supposes.

Reaching for a glass of water, she meticulously fingers its rim with an acrylic nail before a gulp quells a light cough. "Please, miss…" She upturns her lips, looking for a name that is not there in her mind before craning her neck to an assistant who waves a clipboard in front of her. Turning back: "It's an honor to serve my town."

Heather arches an eyebrow as it looks like Caroline needed to be reminded that it was an honor to serve the town. Her curious look turns into a smile as she waves the make-up man away. "Shall we begin? I'll record a quick intro after the interview. I don't want to take up too much of your time. Shall we get straight into the questions then? Remember this is being prerecorded, so if you need to change an answer or think on it for a while, that's not an issue."

A pained smile shines through the mayor's clenched teeth: "Oh, that's hardly a problem. I don't need to edit anything out, although my assistant might have a few suggestions," she sips: "Only adding the only boring figures that might be necessary," she assures without confidence: only now looking up back into Heather's eyes. "Please, begin when you're ready," Caroline assures her, placing down the glass of water for now.

"I look forward to hearing from your assistant then" Heather deadpans in reply before adjusting the papers on her lap. "Mayor McCoy, thank you for coming to talk to us tonight. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the city of Calaveras is struck by fear. Murders. Bombings. Rumors of Cartel infiltration. And no end in sight to the horrors. Are our police properly resourced? Are they able to do their jobs?"

Plastering on a broader and unchanging smile before the camera, Caroline reaches for a drink before responding. "Thank you for your question. I'm proud to support the way our police force has responded to this momentary spike in our crime rates: I'm proud to give my patriotic thanks to our park ranger who stopped an attack at this very station, as well as our investigative police who've prevented school shootings," she takes another sip, before leaving the glass on the table, her wrinkled hands clasped about her waist. "I think we should all respect our police and what they're doing in these trying times."

"I don't think there is any question that we are proud of what our police force is doing…but it doesn't seem enough" Heather deadpans in reply. "The FBI is now in Calaveras. Is this a reflection of the CPD's resources and capabilities? Can't our brave men and women take down these criminals themselves, or has the rot got so bad, and their resources so slim, that they cannot hope to withstand the wave of corruption polluting our town?"

"If their resources are truly so bad," the mayor begins to quip, "I fail to see how they've succeeded at preventing many terrorist acts and identified the suspects. The FBI is simply here as a helping hand due to the nature of the crimes and it's not a reflection on our budgeting issues themselves," she licks her bright lips a bit, and then frowns.

"As for the preventative causes, perhaps you're too young to remember that I as one of Calaveras's top lawyers kept many drug lords in jail during my legal career, and as mayor I'm proud for this to still be true. If anything, I think this reflects badly on my predecessor's reliance on welfare handouts fueling crime on the streets, whereas my tax cut plans, I think you'll find, have got more and more people off the streets and into work," she explains, tugging ever-so-slightly at her blouse.

"Your tax cuts have certainly helped a number of people" Heather agrees, "With high incomes. Though I am sure we can look at the statistics later. It's the beginning of tourist season, as you are no doubt aware. Why should people come here to vacation when there are plenty of other cities where there is not a cult murdering families? And as you pointed out, a school shooting was allegedly averted recently. These are not things that would normally make people think we are a great resort town."

"If you'd like to look at employment figures, you can look at my website, www.mccoyformayorcalveras.org, to see for yourself," Caroline nods, pressing one thumb against another before she continues. "I think my point was that the shooting was averted: we do not have to have the grieving parents that so many other towns do, thanks to our police force. And as for tourism, our high-flying customers are still booking golfing holidays, I am aware, and indeed the murders have actually sparked interest in our little town, so who knows, this could all pay off for our economy."

"I am sure that the Department of Labor website will be able to back up your figures." Heather forces a smile at the mayor's advertising, but it's probably the only reason she could get this interview - promotion for the election. "I'm sorry, Mayor McCoy, but did you just equate the deaths of multiple family members to free advertising? And that this is a good thing? A baby is still missing. How many tourists are you hoping that will get us?"

"Oh, please… Harmony? Harriet? Well, you always hear about haunted hotels and such, but I hardly mean it's a good thing that's happened to us. I'm offering all my prayers," Caroline takes another swig of water, frowning lightly at it. "And I'm sure our police will find this child in near no time."

"Heather" the blonde replies, a sly smile on her face at the mayor getting her name wrong…on purpose. "I am sure they will find the baby too" she nods, "And then you could exhibit it at one of the resorts. Don't worry, Mayor McCoy, we'll edit that comment out." She makes some notes on the question page before moving onto the next. "We're currently experiencing the first snow of the season. Another major snowstorm recently is a recent influx of cocaine, possibly in conjunction with an increased cartel presence. Other than commending the fine officers of the CPD, anything else you plan to do about this issue?"

"Of course." Another plastered grin spreads upon Caroline's face, stifling another cough before taking a hand to the back of her head, and fixing some hairs out of place before continuing. "Aside from the police as you say, I'm making sure the legislative and judicial branches in the city will have a zero-tolerance policy to the use of… such drugs. Users will certainly get several years and sellers will almost certainly end up in strong, maximum-security facilities," she boasts, thinking that that might be at least better than her last disastrous response…

Heather nods solemnly along to the standard response. It's not her job to pass judgement, just get the truth out of her subjects so people can make up their own mind. Some will cheer the mayor for that answer. Others will see how rote and rehearsed it is. Another scribbled note on her question page before she slides it under the pile on her lap to get to the next question. "How long have you been mayor of Calaveras? Your family, the McCoys, seem have been prominent in local politics for as long as I can remember. You married into the family? Any aspirations for state senate?"

Laugh lines are prominent on the mayors' face, and indeed there seems to be a rare flash of the mayor's amusement. "I think near all of your viewers will know who my family is, but it's always a charm to talk about them," and yet there's some sardonic bite in Caroline's voice holding her back. "I've been mayor for oh, nearly a couple of years now, how time flies, and my husband before me was mayor as most all of you will remember. I'm proud to come from a family that's represented the American Dream, the McCoys coming out west to make a life for themselves and being one of the most trusted families in our community. We were ranchers, but serving the people is more our business now."

She blinks, getting her history responses together: "I was born in a small town in Connecticut to a simple family. My father was a simple clerk, my mother a housewife. But I graduated Valedictorian, studied law in California State, met my _wonderful_ husband and became a trusted member of Calaveras' community in no time at all. A little lesson for the kids that you can make it with a little hard work," and tries to wink into the camera.

"As for state ambitions, nothing for this election cycle. For the future, no comment, but Calaveras will always be in my heart." That fake smile shines again, and a crooked tooth glares in the studio light.

"I am sure that everyone in Calaveras appreciates all your family has done for them over the years. I'm sure that even the native Americans who lost their land to those first ranchers, and even their lives, have forgiven you by now after all the good you have done" replies Heather in an equally as forced smile as the interviewee.

"We've already heard you're tough on crime and the tax cuts that are helping the people in this town to flourish, but are there any social programs you'd like to tell us about?" Heather asks lightly. "How is the legalization of marijuana working out? We have at least two stores who now supply it legally. Any connection to the increase in crime?"

"Well, I'm sure they're happy making money off gambling these days, which is more that can be said for the honest lives of the people here in Calaveras," Caroline's face is strained even more than Heather's now as she moves on to the next question.

"My family's really always been against drug legalization, and to be honest that's what I'd rather pin this spike in crime on." Her eyes widen as she's perhaps discovering a new culprit to pin the blame on during the interview. "You know, if people can get onto marijuana, well, it's a gateway drug, and the crack cocaine drug lords shovel in the stuff in hopes the state'll make that legal, along with heroin and Lord knows what else," she titters. "Now, I'm a woman who supports business, and the state's rights, but if legalization were ever to be contested, you'll know I'm on the side that a good chunk of my hardworking base in this city is on."

"You might like to pin the increase in crime on marijuana users, and the Calaveras business people who runs those stores, but there is no statistics to back you up. It's something you would /like/ to happen, so you've made it true in your own mind and are now trying to convince others of it. Others who would like to believe it because it makes sense in their limited experience and it easier to blame a sub-group of people than deal with the real problems. You've learned from the best, Mayor McCoy." Heather takes a deep breath and clears her throat. "Sorry about that. You haven't mentioned any social programs."

"I'd first like to rebut some of your points first," and rather than seeming spineless and awkward her eyes flare a bit as she puts her foot down: "I've never blamed businesses and customers, but rather the decision of my opponents in state legislature and the crime lords that are jumping on the inconsistencies in our state policy to push harder drugs on innocent marijuana users," she states.

"As for social programs, we have cut food stamps to a lower bracket to incentivize work among our lower income families and make sure that there's more resources for the families that are truly destitute, as I've stated," she bares her teeth. "I have also implemented tax cuts for businesses and corporate families, so they can afford to provide jobs for our unemployed citizens, which in my mind is the best form of social program. However, we're still just as dedicated to keeping Medicaid in place for our senior citizens and funding our emergency services and schools."

Interviewee fire is always good for an interview. Heather is more than happy to let Caroline have her, calm though seething under the surface, rant. She nods along, smiling throughout, and making notes. "Let's hope that those tax cuts /do/ get returned to the community as jobs rather than adding another Ferrari to a private garage. Thank you for being so open and forthright about your policies and desires for our town. I hope that you will talk with us here at KCC1-TV more in the future. Maybe even a monthly update where we can chat like this? Is there anything else you would like to add, Mayor McCoy?"

"Well, it's been a pleasure." Another sip stifles her desire to rebut this time. "Of course, regular interviews would be a delight, and perhaps occasional if there are any goings-on in the town that I need to report about, hopefully with a better topic than today's sad interviews, of course. I'd like to end with another prayer for the victims of our town's murders and to announce that I will be trying to schedule regular town hall meetings where our citizens can ask me questions direct rather than lovely interviewees like yourself," she finishes, glad that the somewhat disastrous interview is coming to an end at last.

"I'm sure everyone will be eager to attend those town halls" Heather nods before looking to the camera. "Here's your chance to participate in our great democracy. Even more importantly, remember to vote. Make your voice heard in the only way that politicians will listen. You have been watching 'Talk Time' with me, Heather McCormack. Our guest tonight has been the mayor of Calaveras, Caroline McCoy. I hope to see you next time." A pause before Heather yells out, "Cut!" She unhooks her microphone before turning to look at Caroline. "I hope that wasn't too bad."

"Oh, no," Caroline wheezes, lying through her teeth: "Perhaps my aide will look over the tape and offer one cut or two aside from your generous offer to cut information from my segment on tourism, but I wouldn't want to compromise the candid integrity too much. Everyone loves a politician with proper policy, I think," she says a little wryly.

"They do" Heather nods in agreement, "Shame they are so hard to find." She offers her hand to Caroline. "You aide can offer all the advice they like" she smiles…in a 'but I will ignore everything they say' kind of way. "We are airing this tonight during the evening news. I'm sure the response will be enthusiastic. I do hope we can follow up on those ideas to regularly talk. I've enjoyed it."

Peering a little, Caroline wipes that away to try an adopt a somewhat less frosty demeanour. "And I'll be glad for the townfolk to see my face a little more." She stands up and is handed a coat, and a PA comes to her with a tablet full of bars, graphs and other forms of data. "Well. Until the next time, ma'am."

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