Letters to The Editor

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Letters to the Editor...June 7, 2002

From time to time we receive a number of responses and comments from our members/readers. Last week, we ran an editorial that evoked some feedback. You may view the original "Editorial" and Member feedback below....

June 7, 2002 - Editorial -

I attended the AICPA's Practitioner's Symposium in Las Vegas this week and listened to AICPA President Barry Melancon update the audience on the status of audit reforms and changes to the profession in this post-Enron era. This is a man who has been at the center of a firestorm for a number of months now, and the fact that the stress of the job has not snapped him yet is a testament to the strength of Mr. Melancon as an individual. I had the chance to speak with a number of practitioners, and feedback ranged from true supporters to those who feel deceived, cheated and abandoned by the AICPA.

The zealousness of the positions of both sides reminded me of watching debates on CNN by Palestinians and Israelis as to who is right in their approach. There continues to be a great degree of pent up anger and venom aimed at the AICPA and its leaders, but, like the Palestinian and Israeli debates, the rhetoric sounds like too many pre-planned sound bites that are fed to the membership to mold common opinions. The true supporters of Mr. Melancon and his management team do have one thing in common with their vocal adversaries - they both believe passionately in their opinion of the AICPA.

My message today is not to those passionate believers but to those of you in the middle, those who may not have strong beliefs, and those that really don't care about what's happening in the leadership ranks. Find out what the issues are, and determine for yourself what your opinions are about the AICPA and its leadership of the profession. Figure out how all this national politicking affects you and then decide for yourself if it is even an issue worth caring about. The debate will continue and AccountingWEB will assist, and hopefully it can be a more thoughtful discussion than just a canned recital of party lines.

Michael Platt, CEO, AccountingWEB, Inc., June 7, 2002

Member Feedback and Comments -

I must take strong exception to your editorial comment. First you place both sides of the Palestinian and Israeli debaters on an equal basis. If you had read as much on the subject of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, which in fact is just a cover for a much larger war for the survival of western civilization, as I have, I would doubt that you would reach that conclusion. However, I am not writing to debate the Palestinian/Israeli question, or the survival of western civilization. I write regarding the survival of our profession

I take great exception to your implied accusation that those of us that are unhappy with the AICPA leadership speak rhetoric and in pre-planned sound bites. The fact is we ask questions; the leadership of the AICPA did not and does not answer those questions. None of our positions or questions in opposition to XYZ was ever published in the Journal of Accountancy or any other AICPA publication. Instead we were described as people who were not informed or objected to change, neither of which was true. The AICPA informed its membership that its scientific polls showed that their proposal was going to win the necessary 2/3 majority yes vote. I need not remind you of the actual vote.

You address those members of the AICPA who make up the middle to find out what the issues are and determine for themselves what there opinions are about the AICPA. How can they do that when they cannot hear from the other side, as the AICPA continues to lock us out? Whey doesn't the Journal of Accountancy have a letters to the editor section. Why will the publishers not print articles offering opinions that are contrary to management's position?

As for Enron/Andersen and all the other accounting scandals. disclosed and to be disclosed, instead of spinning what is going on, the AICPA leadership should have come forward and said that we as a profession had screwed up and that we were going to make changes and go back to basics where our responsibility is to the reader of the financial statement and not to the client that signs the check. It was under that scenario that America became an economic powerhouse. It was a time when investors and lenders could rely on the financial data they were given.

I am insulted by what the Big 5 and the AICPA have done to my beloved profession (43 years as a CPA) and I am insulted by your dismissal of our positions as "canned recital of party lines." Shame on you.

H. Katz, CPA
June 7, 2002

I appreciated your call for us to become informed about the AICPA's leadership, and I am grateful that AccountingWEB is serving as a balanced forum for that to happen. I have this basic question that nags at me: Do I trust the AICPA to do the right thing? This goes for the large accounting firms as well.

As of this morning, there was no verdict in the Andersen trial. I expect them to be acquitted. But do I think that they, in any sense, did the right thing? And do I trust the other four to do the right thing? This is, in my opinion, at the heart of what we have lost as a profession. And the fact that we have points us to the culpability of the AICPA. But, even more importantly, it points us to the mirror.

M. Shaub, Ph.D., CPA
June 7, 2002

I really appreciated your editorial today. I am one of those people who are not sure where they stand on the issues. While it appears that there are some appearances of conflict of interest and bad business decisions,

I believe that the opposition to the leadership of the AICPA has not adequately proven their point to me either. Right now, I am subscribed to the xyztalk listserv for information from the opposition.

I was wondering if you could provide some links to resources for both sides so that your readership could get a broad base from which to make a decision.

Thank you for having such a wonderful site with information I need on a daily basis. When the CPA2biz survey people called me, I told them that we already had what we needed in AccountingWEB.

S. Graywolf
June 7, 2002

Your editorial today started out well, but I fail to see any connection between the topic of discussion and the Palestinian and Israeli war. Please do not trivialize a war where hundreds of people are being killed and wounded with disagreements that involve male egos, money and the desire to create controversial press.

H. Baum
June 7, 2002

I read your comments about the passion both sides feel concerning Barry Melancon. I'm not passionate about any individual in AICPA. However, I feel the AICPA now shuts out the opinions of anyone who isn't a CPA. This wasn't always the case.

B. Blankenship, EA
June 7, 2002

Our firm voted on this matter with our feet. We resigned our membership in the AICPA as a protest against their change into a trade association. We need a professional organization which is dedicated to the professional ethics we were taught at the beginning of our careers. We do not have it.

We have an organization where the top management pays no attention to the members at large; who take steps to enrich themselves through commercialization of services offered to their members; who continue to battle against reforms even as the profession is highlighted as a failure on a daily basis in all the major newspapers of this country.

We constantly read about disciplinary actions taken by the AICPA against accountants all over the country. I do not recall ever seeing such action against any member of the big 8,7,6,5 or 4 accounting firms even though they seem to commit transgressions regularly.

The AICPA is a failure and it will not reform itself. The top officers have to wake up. I suggest that more firms should resign so they realize they have really lost support. All the state societies are superior to the AICPA and so is the National Network of CPA Practioners.

J. Sieger
June 7, 2002

I own a small CPA firm in St. Louis, Missouri. I am not sure I have all of the facts about the AICPA and what is going on in the profession. Frankly, I am too disgusted to gather them. But from what I see locally, I am getting pretty closed to being embarrassed to be called a CPA. I see reasonable size local firms committing gross accounting malpractice and their senior leadership ignoring it. I see unprofessional conduct among CPA's regarding simple things like not returning phone calls. I see firms pushing the ethics envelope as far as they can. I see a CPA do tax returns, not having a clue about how to handle a technical issue and then he gets favorable press in the local paper.

Part of this is a reflection on society. But if CPA's are going to regain their status as trusted advisors, there is going to need to be some leadership somewhere. And I do not see it at the AICPA presently.

I sometimes wonder if it is me that is going nuts or is it the world.

T. FitzGerald
June 7, 2002

Just a short note to advise you that your editorials are most informative, and not skewed to one side or the other. I enjoy reading your editorials and find them helpful in understanding various situations or events, from various points of view.

I also want to point out that I have subscribed to AccountingWEB for about two years and find the service extremely informative and useful.. Sometimes you have news before it hits other publications.

My compliments go to you and your staff for putting together a terrific product that is useful, informative and that provides an easy manner to share the information with others. You basically have assembled the CNN, WSJ and NY Times for the accounting profession, in one website.

G. Victor, CPA
June 7, 2002

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