Chapter 12

Dealing with politicians is definitely one of the downsides of being the police commissioner, Mac thought as he made his way to Councilman Reynolds' office. For some reason the councilman requested an immediate meeting to discuss some budget details but Mac really had no idea what the issues were to be discussed. The receptionist informed Mac that the councilman was waiting for him and he proceeded to councilman Reynolds' office.

Reynolds rose from his desk to shake Mac's hand and motioned for him to take a seat facing his desk. The councilman sat on the edge of his desk as he addressed Mac.

"You may know Commissioner, I'm taking additional interest in budgetary matters and I want to talk to you about some recent large expenditure requests recently requested by your department. I believe that the expenditures are for overtime and extra security regarding the Moreno trial." Mac raised his eyebrows at the mention of the topic. The request for additional money was submitted only two days ago. With the normal bureaucratic red tape a politician wouldn't
have seen the paperwork for at least two weeks. How is it that this councilman is questioning the requests only 48 hours after the paperwork was prepared?

Mac held his temper as he spoke evenly and hopefully slowly enough for this penny-pinching bureaucrat to understand his explanation. "Councilman Reynolds, you must be aware that Anthony Moreno is one of the most notorious and dangerous crime bosses in the northeast
United States. Having enough evidence to bring him to trial is just the start of the process to bring him to justice. Moreno and his associates are absolutely ruthless and will stop at nothing and will do whatever it takes to sabotage his trial. That includes intimidating witnesses. The police department has to allocate additional resources to see that witnesses and people associated with the case are protected."

Flipping through some papers in a binder, Reynolds paused and peered at Mac through his glasses as he noted, "Commissioner, I can understand that some police resources are needed during the trial. But some of these requests...? For example, why is so much money being allocated to A.D.A. Jensen's security?"

"Her safety was actually threatened by Moreno," Mac countered as he looked at Reynolds in disbelief. " I was there and I heard the threat myself."

"That was probably bluster or anger on Moreno's part," Reynolds said dismissively. He asked, " Has any attempt been made on Ms. Jensen's life?"

"As of yet, no," replied Mac as he stared incredulously at the Reynolds. Does this idiot think
that because no attempt has been made then no security is needed? Reynolds' next statement confirmed Mac's thoughts.

"Then my first suggestion would be to scale back or eliminate the security. I really do think that it is a waste of time and money. I spoke to the DA about this and he had no problem with my request." Mac refused to even argue this point with the councilman. He'd head to the mayor's office immediately after lunch with Dara to insure that Dara's security would remain in tact. Reynolds continued to the next issue. "Also, I can understand the extensive security for the witness Bannion for the trial. But the money requested for his lodging and care seem a bit excessive to me. I need more details about exactly what these expenditures are."

"Only myself and 2 officers on the force know that information and we can't detail it to you or to anyone else without jeopardizing Bannion's safety," was Mac's steely reply to Reynolds last request. "After the trial is completed and Bannion is put in a witness protection program, I will have no problem going over every receipt and expense with you. But until then I can give you no more details regarding Bannion's security details." It occurred to Mac that Reynolds would not be the first nor last politician to be associated with organized crime. The councilman has always been a lightweight on the city council and his unusual interest in budget matters related to the Moreno case was extremely suspicious. To confirm his suspicions Mac asked, "Do you have any specific budget concerns which are not associated with the Moreno case? Perhaps we can come to some agreement on those now."

"I really expect to come to an agreement with you on all of these budget issues Commissioner, regardless whether they relate to the Moreno case or not," retorted Reynolds. "As a public official I am entitled to know important aspects of the Moreno case," he blustered as he drew himself up and stood to face Mac.

"Not when it comes to the safety of those involved with this case you're not," declared Mac. ?We can take this up with the mayor if you wish and I'm sure that the FBI would have some interest in this matter also. Let me know when you want to meet on this issue again and we'll all get together and work out any problems that you may have." Mac grabbed his coat and left the office. If Reynolds is sniffing around for information for Moreno, any attention drawn to Reynolds' interest in the trial would be undesirable, from both Moreno's and Reynolds' points of view. Mac doubted that Reynolds would continue pestering him for information, but the attempt was indicative of the fact that Moreno would leave no stone unturned in getting out of the charges. Mac was still pondering his meeting with Reynolds when he saw Dara leaving the
police station. He was relived to see Officer Allen walking a few paces behind Dara. Mac called to Dara and asked her to wait for him as he rushed to join her.

"I thought that you were going to wait for me in my office?" asked Mac as he reached her. Dara reached up with a gloved right hand and pulled Mac's face to hers as she gave him a tender kiss. As he pulled back, Mac looked into her eyes and then her face to read her expression. "What's wrong?" he inquired. "Has something happened?"

"I just wanted some fresh air," replied Dara as she tried to suppress any thoughts about her earlier confrontation with Felicia. She wanted some time to herself to reflect on that meeting but running into Mac unexpectedly meant that she would have to postpone her solitary thoughts until later. Dara smiled as she saw the skeptical look on Mac's face and continued, "Yes, I wanted fresh air even though it is ten degrees out here. Remember, I'm from the Chicago area and Port
Charles has nothing on the windy city when it comes to winter weather."

Mac was convinced that Dara didn't want to talk about something so he decided not to pursue asking about it now and instead offered," Let's go across the street to Mario's and get one of those panini sandwiches for lunch." As a sign that she agreed, Dara placed her hand in Mac's as they crossed the street to the restaurant. Mac reflected that Dara was becoming more comfortable showing affection towards him in public and he was a bit surprised how much that gesture of
taking his hand pleased him so. He looked at her as they entered the restaurant and thought, "It was so subtle I didn't know it was happening. I always liked and cared for Dara but until this moment I didn't know that I loved her." Even though it had been cold outside he felt quite warm and squeezed her hand a little tighter. Patrons seated themselves at the restaurant. Mac led them to a booth and they took a seat as he continued to think. He knew that it would be some time before he'd tell Dara how he felt, partially because he knew that Dara wanted to take things slowly between them. Also, his divorce with Felicia had to be finalized before Dara would really
feel that they were a couple. Hopefully that would take place within a few months and by then Dara would be ready to move forward with him in her life, he thought. Dara smiled at Mac and handed him a menu. "It's funny," he thought. " I know that Dara is not telling me something that's on her mind. And now I'm not telling her how I really feel and I'm masking my emotions just as she is. I hope that we can get to the place where we trust each other soon because that's
the only way we'll make it...if we trust each other and share our thoughts."

After lunch Dara told Mac that she wouldn't be able to see him that night because she really wanted to prepare for the continuation of Moreno's trial which was to take place tomorrow, unless the judge granted the defense's request for a continuance. In addition, Dara wanted to take time that night and think about her relationship with Mac. She went that afternoon to Judge Marshall's chambers. As Dara expected, the judge would not allow the DA office to amend the charges against Moreno because the trial had begun, but the DA was free to have a new trial with the charges. And the judge was going to allow Bannion to testify at the trial on Friday. The judge ruled that 72 hours should be sufficient time for the defense to prepare for the new witness. The trial would resume again tomorrow on Wednesday.

Dara spent the rest of the afternoon meeting with the district attorney discussing her strategy for the trial and then meeting with Officer Richards in her office going over additional security details. At 18:30 Dara was ready to leave the office and Officer Allen escorted her to the elevator to the parking garage. Just as they exited the elevator, Officer Allen's cellphone rang which she answered. "What, are you sure?" she argued. "Can I speak to the Commissioner? O.K., we'll be right back." Officer Allen looked at the caller id number on her cellphone number and recognized that the call had been placed from one of the phones in the squad room. She looked
at Dara and explained, "The Mayor has agreed with the city councilman to pull your security. I just got a call from David Wagner, who's an assistant to the mayor. We need to verify this with Commissioner Scorpio and see what he wants to do."

"Officer Allen, Mac mentioned at lunch that the councilman wanted to pull the security and I guess Mac was unsuccessful in keeping it," Dara surmised.

Officer Allen tried calling Mac's cellphone but the call transferred to his voicemail. "He must be on the phone," said Officer Allen. " I don't want to leave you alone until I talk to the commissioner. Let's go back to the station and look for him."

"I really need to work tonight. I actually left a few papers in my car. Let me get them and I'll meet you in my office," Dara suggested.

"O.K., I'll get the commissioner and I'll bring him to your office." Officer Allen entered the elevator and tried using the cellphone to contact Mac's secretary. As the elevator door opened on the first floor Officer Allen spied Mac as he crossed the lobby. She exited the elevator and inquired, "Commissioner Scorpio, do we need to make some special arrangements now that the
security has been eliminated for A.D.A. Jensen?" As she finished speaking the sentence Officer Allen realized the gravity of her mistake. It was obvious from the expression on the commissioner's face that he knew nothing of which she spoke. She watched in horror as the color drained from Mac's face.

"Where is Dara at this moment?" barked Mac as he ran for the elevator and frantically looked at the display that indicated where the elevators were located.

"She went to her car on the second floor parking lot, I just left her there, and then she was going back to her office to wait for us," gasped the officer as she raced to keep up with Mac.

Noting that there was no open elevator on the first floor and that the two elevators were on the second and fifth floors, he knew that Dara should still be in the parking garage. "Come on," Mac ordered as he opened the door to the stairway and raced down two flights to the parking garage. As they reached the second floor of the parking lot they heard three gunshots and the sound of screeching tires. Both Mac and Officer Allen drew their guns as they ran to the designated parking space for Dara's car.