For today’s story time, we’re going to change the people’s names, to protect the innocent (and the guilty).

Once there was a place called Pugsleyville, where the people had fallen on some dire economic straits in recent years. There was a young man in Pugsleyville who had tried his hand at several endeavors, but hadn’t really attained the level of power and status and control that he so desired. (We’ll call him Sam.)

Then he heard of some people who wanted to come and grow marigolds in and around the community, but a lot of folks didn’t approve of that. In most places, in fact the whole country, marigolds were illegal. And besides, they smell really bad.

Mostly they were sold on the black market, but some growers claimed they could be used for medicinal purposes too. Anyway, Sam buddied up to these marigold people and the Legislature, and by various sneaky means managed to make Pugsleyville the marigold capitol of the USA.

While it seemed to make a lot of money for the marigold people, and maybe Sam, it didn’t turn out to help the economy or the education system as promised, and residents really didn’t like the reputation Pugsleyville had gotten.

But Sam had been so successful with his marigold scam he thought he’d try another. Through his marigold activities, he’d met a man from California who owned a minor league baseball team, located in Utah.

Since Pugsleyville residents had approved a large sum of money to be used specifically for development of a downtown youth sports complex, Sam and his new marigold/baseball friend decided to try to get their hands on that money.

But something had changed since Sam’s marigold success: A new county commissioner had been elected on a platform of truth and integrity. And truth and integrity were just what the citizens of Pugsleyville had been waiting for.

So Sam’s grandiose but ridiculously flawed plan to build a minor league stadium and six hotels and a bunch of restaurants and bars right in the middle of downtown went down the drain, partially through the insistence of new commissioner Gus that the plan did not meet the description of what the voting public had approved. And Gus insisted the money must be spent on what the voters approved.

About that time, an independent outside audit firm completed its financial audit of Pugsleyville and cited the financial shenanigans over the money that had been spent on the now defunct baseball stadium plan as inappropriate and against the voters’ wishes.

Several other associates of Sam’s got caught with their hands in the cookie jar in the same audit. (By the way, shortly after Sam’s baseball stadium scheme fell through, Major League Baseball removed the Utah team from its approved roster. So, if Sam’s plan had succeeded, Pugsleyville would have spent millions of dollars and have nothing to show for it.)

So Sam whiled away his time, not trying to think of ways to improve the quality of life in Pugsleyville, but trying to get even with Gus for voting against his plan. Then the light bulb came on. Gus was up for reelection, so all Sam had to do was sabotage his campaign.

No one was planning to run against Gus because of his honesty, integrity and accomplishments. But Sam found someone else who was mad at Gus for being honest.

Abner was a retired, washed-up former politician whose son was one of the county employees caught by the independent audit misappropriating funds. Sam convinced Abner everything was Gus’ fault and proceeded to orchestrate Abner’s campaign from behind the scenes.

(Abner should consider running for the City Council also. When Abner’s son found out he was caught by the outside auditors, he resigned from the county and quickly convinced the mayor to appoint him to the same job at the city that he had held at the county. However, his reputation preceded him and council members refused to confirm his appointment. So their names should go on the “get even” list, too.)

Or maybe Abner and Sam just could try to understand that politics in Pugsleyville is evolving, and slipping people envelopes of money or promising favors in return for favors given isn’t acceptable. If you cheat or steal or bribe people in “Pugsleyville,” either its new internal auditor or the independent outside audit firm will find you out. And there’s no one to blame but yourself.

Every decision has consequences.

Since retiring from careers as an insurance executive and a senior management executive of a large multi-use entertainment venue, Emily Price keeps busy as an activist and community advocate for social and political causes.