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How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm
after they've seen the farm
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Senate President Pro Temp Greg Treat announced the development of a new select committee on Monday.
According to Pro Temp Treat, the committee will be a business retention and economic development select committee, in which he will chair.
Officials say the committee’s purpose will be to study the present-day economic landscape in Oklahoma to bring more employers and major investments to the state.
“Oklahoma has abundant resources, qualified employees and a legislature and executive branch that is friendly to the business community,” said Pro Tem Treat.
“We have a history of going out of our way to offer advantages other states cannot. There is no reason for us to continuously lose out to another state in this country on major business developments. That is why I am determined find the common denominator as to why we aren’t being chosen and figure out how we can become more attractive to businesses looking to expand or relocate…”
[The boardroom of Shepherd Bailey in Pizzle, Oklahoma. Nice blond wood all around, company name on the wall, small conference table with some Aeron knockoff chairs, and off to one side a coffee table with trays of Danish and little muffins and water bottles, surrounded by brown leatherette chairs. In the room are CYRUS, a sixtyish black man with a fringe of white hair, wearing a work shirt, immaculate overalls, and nondescript short work boots, who stands with his hands behind his back, staring out the window, leaning for time to time against the wall; and BOB SWIDGET, about 50, in a decent light blue suit with thinning but tousled hair — he looks like he could be Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s older, disreputable brother. He sits at the conference table and drums his fingers and nods in time to an unheard tune. The door opens and GLADYS, about 60 with a white bun of hair and dressed like a secretary from a 1950s office comedy, lets in JIM MAZZILLI (35, midnight blue suit, buzz-cut blondish-grey hair) and LANCE GREGG (29, dark grey suit, brunette with buzzed-side-and-peaked-top haircut).]
SWIDGET: [Rises, takes and shakes MAZZILLI’s hand] Jim Mazzilli, isn’t it?
MAZZILLI: That’s me.
[MAZZILLI looks at CYRUS, who keeps staring out the window.]
SWIDGET: [To GREGG, extends hand] And you must be Lance Gregg. Howdy.
GREGG: [Shakes hand, also looks at CYRUS] How are you, Mr. Swidget?
SWIDGET: Fine but let’s drop the formalities, shall we? I’m Bob.
[They look at CYRUS.]
And you’re Cyrus, I guess!
CYRUS: [Mildly] Yes, sir.
[SWIDGET gestures toward the brown chairs.]
Make yourself at home. Have a pastry. Cyrus here will get you some coffee.
MAZZELLI: [Sitting down, looking differently at CYRUS] Oh. Thanks. Cyrus, thank you, yes, I will have some coffee.
CYRUS: Regular or decaf, sir?
MAZZELLI: Regular, with milk. Thank you!
GREGG: Nothing for me, thanks.
[CYRUS bows, leaves.]
SWIDGET: So, I guess you fellas are looking to get out of the big bad city.
MAZZILLI: Well, expanding, Bob. Not that it isn’t beautiful out here.
GREGG: Oh, beautiful. Magnificent country. Just gorgeous.
SWIDGET: You know, over in Blister, next town over, you can get 350 acres for less than half a million.
MAZZILLI: Is that so? My gosh.
GREGG: How much is an acre, anyway?
SWIDGET: Well, 640 acres is a square mile.
GREGG: [Makes impressed noise] That’s about half the size of Central Park.
SWIDGET: That’s right! And you don’t have to worry about muggers and rapists and gangs coming after you, neither.
MAZZILLI: Well, that’s not really a problem in Central Park either.
GREGG: No, not for a long time.
MAZZILLI: But the price is certainly right.
SWIDGET: You fellas live in New York?
MAZZILLI: I do, and Lance went to school there.
GREGG: Yes. It’s quite a place. Expensive, though!
MAZZILLI: And they certainly don’t give the kind of tax breaks —
SWIDGET: I suppose it’s alright if you’re young and single, sowing your wild oats. Folks around here settle down pretty young, most of ‘em get married as teenagers. I mean the ones who aren’t, you know, baby-daddies and so forth. [Looks at the door] Wonder what’s keeping Cyrus?
MAZZILLI: Yes, we’ve seen the figures. And I’m sure they’re —
SWIDGET: Lemme tell you, these boys around here, they’re not the kind of workers you have to worry about. For the kind of money you fellas pay — I know it don’t seem like much to you, but these boys will think they died and went to heaven. Loyalty like that you can’t get in the cities. Like when that Jeff Bezos was going around to places like New York for his HQ and they gave him the high-hat, huh! You won’t get that around here, and you don’t have to butter ‘em up, neither — you just take care of ‘em as little as the law allows and they’re your slaves.
[SWIDGET stands, shouts.]
CYRUS! What the devil —
[The door opens; CYRUS carries a tray with the coffee and accessories.]
CYRUS: I just made some fresh for you gentlemen.
[He serves the coffee.]
MAZZILLI: Great! I appreciate that, Cyrus. I could use a fresh cup of coffee about now. Thank you. Looks good!
[Silence. After serving the coffee, CYRUS looks at SWIDGET, who without looking at him gestures toward the door. CYRUS goes out and closes the door behind. Pause. SWIDGET looks a little put out. MAZZILLI and GREGG exchange glances.]
SWIDGET: [Quietly] See, we don’t like to give our employees the idea that they’re doing us a favor. We’re doing them the favor by employing ‘em, the way we see it.
SWIDGET: [Rubs his chin] Something else I got to ask you fellas. You do any of that [screws his mouth up] DEI or that ESG?
MAZZILLI: Oh, well, yeah, sure. Pretty much every company our size does. But that’s C-suite stuff, it shouldn’t affect things much here.
GREGG: We do employee training. You know, harassment, ethics.
SWIDGET: [Airily] Oh, yeah, we have that too. [Chuckling] Tell you the truth, though, we give ‘em cheat sheets so they can get through it quick. It takes away from work time, and if you left it up to them they’d be fooling with it all day.
SWIDGET: And listen, when it comes to that environmental — don’t bring that stuff around here. We got enough trouble with BLM and I ain’t talking about Black Lives Matter. Folks around here been living on the same spread for decades, some of ‘em, them what’s got a spread, and they treat their land the way they want to treat it and they don’t like land management or EPA or any of that telling ‘em what to do with their land.
GREGG: I see.
SWIDGET: And diversity! Look here. Shepherd’s got all that taken care of to the letter of the law. You saw Cyrus. He’s a vice president. Got vesting and everything.
MAZZILLI: Cyrus is a vice president?
SWIDGET: What, you don’t think we have African American vice presidents? Think we’re a bunch of dumb crackers? We’ve had EEOC up our ass I don’t know how many times and we always get away clean because we know what we’re doing.
MAZZILLI: Uh huh.
SWIDGET: Oh, and that door swings both ways, my friends. If you’re bringing executives in here of the female persuasion? And I’m talking about real women, not transexuals, that’s a whole ‘nother story. But if they have some idea that we’re gonna let ‘em get abortions while they’re under the jurisdiction of the great state of Oklahoma, you tell ‘em they got another think coming.
[MAZZILLI stands up. GREGG follows suit.]
MAZZILLI: OK, good talk. We’ll be in touch, Bob, thanks a lot.
GREGG: Yes, thank you for your time.
[Pause. SWIDGET doesn’t get up. He chuckles.]
SWIDGET: All right, gentlemen. You know what, some things are meant to be, some aren’t. You head on out there and Cyrus will take care of you. Hell, take him with you if you like.
[MAZZILLI and GREGG leave. After a moment the GLADYS returns.]
GLADYS: How’d it go?
SWIDGET: [Darkly, without looking at her] I tell you, Gladys — th’ whole worl’s in a terrible state o’ wokeness.
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