For Busy Women, A New Volunteer Option

The Green Cars Are Coming

War on the Web

Summit For Big Box Employers

Crawling the Web’s Underside

Ethical Vs. Creative Accounting

Women’s Tribute

Donate Please: NCCJ

Apply Please

Participate Please

Corrections or additions?

This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring & Bart Jackson was prepared for the May 7, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Reparations for Pollution May Hurt

<d>Edward Hogan was in third grade on the first Earth

Day, back in 1963. He decided then and there that his career would

revolve around the environment. The resolve was boosted by hiking

and fishing trips to the Adirondacks with his family, and further

reinforced by his favorite childhood reading. "I didn’t like to

read," he recalls, "so my parents bought me fishing magazines."

Now an attorney specializing in environmental law and litigation at

Norris McLaughlin & Marcus in Bridgewater (908-722-0700), Hogan speaks

on "The Politics of Natural Resource Damage" on Friday, May

9, at 8 a.m. for "Natural Resource Damages and the Public Trust,"

a one-day conference presented by NY/NJ Baykeeper at the Gateway Hilton

in Newark. Among the other speakers at this event are Ned Sullivan,

president, Scenic Hudson; Bradley Campbell, commissioner, NJDEP;

Tom Borden of the Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic; and Rob

Ricker of the Atlantic Branch Chief Damage Assessment Center of

NOAA.

Established in 1990, the Baykeeper works at protecting the ecological

integrity of the Hudson-Raritan estuary. The organization helped achieve

a multimillion dollar Natural Resource Damage settlement against Exxon

in a major oil spill; defeated the construction of a 2,300-acre toxic-mulch

dredge spoil island in the middle of Raritan Bay; and recently declared

victory in its effort to save the 7,000-acre Hackensack Meadowlands.

While organizations like the Baykeeper often work tirelessly against

corporate polluters, there are also cases where corporations bear

what some consider unfair blame — and severe penalties — for

environmental discharges that are not their fault, and that in some

cases have no negative effects in the real world. This is the issue

that Hogan, who holds a master’s degree from Yale’s School of Forestry

and Environmental Studies and a J.D. from Georgetown, addresses in

his talk. It has to do with the possibility that a crack out-of-state

class action attorney may be brought in to go after thousands of New

Jersey businesses, each of which could face substantial fines.

Here is the background.

"Under laws of the Earth Day era," says Hogan, "state

and federal governments have the authority to force people to do clean-ups

and to collect reparations for damages." He points to the Exxon

Valdez as a classic case. The spill, which occurred shortly after

the oil tanker’s captain admitted to drinking alcohol, released 11

million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Property

values plummeted, commercial fishermen were put out of business, ducks

died, and tourists canceled trips. Damage on this scale is spectacular,

and most reasonable men would believe that a punitive damage award

would be justified.

Most cases of pollution are far less dramatic. They often involve

industrial properties from which harmful manufacturing by-products

were released — often in an era when doing so was not against

the law. Since the first Earth Day, an enormous number of such sites

have been cleaned up. "The state has approved, closed out, 10,000

clean-ups," says Hogan. Efforts to remove contaminants from New

Jersey soil and water have been "very successful," he says.

Clean-ups most often are triggered by the sale of a property, at which

time the owner has to satisfy the state that sources of pollution,

perhaps a leaking gas tank, have been removed, and that any damage

from discharges has been remediated. This is often an expensive process,

and, Hogan points out, the bill is presented to the property’s owner.

In a great many cases, the owner is not the party who discharged the

materials, and, says Hogan, he often very well may not even be aware

that the damage occurred.

A common scenario is that a manufacturer released toxic materials

into ground water near his plant in the 1940s or 1950s, and then the

current owner purchased the site a decade or two later. In order to

sell the site, the owner has to clean it up. Or, as Hogan puts it,

"You may not have discharged, but you’re it." These owners

may not be polluters, but they are liable solely because of their

status as owners. By and large, business owners have accepted this

responsibility graciously, if not happily. In turn, the state has

refrained, in most cases, from collecting reparations — payments

for damage above and beyond the cost of clean-up.

"In the past 25 years," says Hogan, "the state has brought

about 60 or 70 reparation cases." This, of course, represents

just a tiny fraction of the 10,000-plus sites that have been cleaned

up. The state, says Hogan, did not go for reparations in most cases

"because they (current owners) didn’t do it. The state could have,

but it didn’t." Instead, reparations were sought only in cases

of acute spills.

Then in 1992 the legislature enacted a 10-year statute of limitations.

This freed businesses from the threat that the state could decide

to bring a suit for reparations at any time. The attitude as Hogan

characterizes it was "we’ve cleaned up. We want to settle so you

can’t come after us for reparations."

In 2000, as the clock began to run on the statue of limitations, Hogan

says the state snapped to attention, realizing that it was almost

out of time to decide whether to bring suit for reparations in a large

number of cases. The state made the preparation of lawsuits in 6,000

cases a high priority. "Every case manager in the state’s clean-up

division worked half time for six months helping to prepare the cases,"

says Hogan. "It was an enormous amount of effort."

The state legislature extended the statute of limitations, and the

legal community learned four or five months ago, Hogan says, that

the DEP was planning to contract with an out-of-state plaintiff’s

attorney, "the kind who brings big class actions," with an

eye toward having him prosecute some or all of the cases.

Hogan says that seeking reparations in the vast majority of the 6,000

cases is a bad idea. For one thing, he points out, the "damage"

done to the environment in any number of cases is, in a sense, virtual

damage. No real harm was done. For example, many companies’ discharges

went into ground water that sits under cities. It has never been tapped

as drinking water, and never will be. Damages, he says, would most

likely be calculated based upon the amount of water made unavailable

for drinking because of the discharge of toxins, when, in fact, no

one was ever going to drink that water anyway.

Another reason for going easy on seeking reparations, perhaps surprisingly,

is that, according to Hogan, doing so would be bad for the environment.

New Jersey has had great success in cleaning up brownfields, which

is the term used for abandoned or underutilized commercial or industrial

property that was contaminated by manufacturing by-products or other

discharges. Across the state many brownfields, the legacy of the early

decades of the century, have been reclaimed. Should owners be faced

with paying reparations as well as clean-up costs, Hogan believes

that many would just walk away.

Should the state decide to seek reparations, Hogan would gain some

business by defending some of those faced with making the payments.

But he says it is not work that he looks forward to. "These people

are liable only because of a statute," he says. "They tried

to do the right thing."

Top Of Page
For Busy Women, A New Volunteer Option

Women are busier than ever. This observation, from Janice

Carson of the United Way, has implications for all facets of 21st

century life — from shopping, dining, and travel patterns to eldercare

to the future of the destination shopping mall. It also affects the

volunteer work that traditionally has met myriad community needs.

More women working longer hours at more demanding jobs means fewer

woman-hours available for organizing relief drives, raising money,

and identifying effective community aid programs.

Women who do find time to give are a precious commodity, and Carson’s

organization is eager to sign them on. Toward that end, the United

Way of Greater Mercer is launching a Women’s Leadership Initiative

on Friday, May 9, at 8:30 a.m. at a breakfast at the Nassau Club.

Called Rise and Shine, the meeting features a keynote by Elizabeth

Christopherson, executive director of NJN Public Television and

president of the NJN Foundation. PNC is a sponsor of the event. The

price of admission is two cans of protein-based food (think tuna,

or stew) to be donated to a food bank. Carson encourages women who

cannot make this date, but who want to be involved, to call her at

609-637-4904 for more information.

"We want women to lend perspective and to give us their experience,"

says Carson, a graduate of Rowan College (Class of 1964). "Here’s

an opportunity to form a network and to let women plan, work, and

accomplish."

At its first meeting the Women’s Leadership Initiative, whose co-chairs

are community volunteer Lilly Palmieri and Saul Ewing attorney

Jane Kozinski, will decide on an issue to tackle. "We’ll

put our heads together," says Carson. In addition, a survey will

be sent to all who are interested, but who are not able to attend.

"By early June we will have the results," she says. Then,

by summer or perhaps in the early fall, depending on everyone’s schedules,

an expert on the chosen issue will be enlisted and will conduct an

informational session.

While Carson and her steering committee are open to any number of

ideas, she does stress that the United Way stays within its stated

mission. The organization, relying heavily on payroll-deduction contributions

from area employees, concentrates its efforts on funding the work

of groups involved in addressing the needs of children in poverty,

youth at risk, the working poor, and seniors in need.

Once an issue is identified and explored, the Women’s Leadership Initiative

will get busy. But Carson, who is gregarious in a low-key, definitely

non-judgmental way, emphasizes that "no one has to sign up."

Those who do want to get onboard for a particular issue can be most

flexible in the way they help, and in the amount of time they give.

In fact, for a particular issue, the entire group may decide that

the most they can do is give one day a year to painting and sprucing

up in an area in need of a quick makeover. Or perhaps an issue might

trigger the dedication needed to start and staff a mentoring program

or an outreach to members of the community struggling with limited

literacy.

"The sky’s the limit," declares Carson. "We’ll decide

what is going to meet the need, and then an expanded group of women

will decide what to do."

What if a man should want to join the Women’s Leadership Initiative?

Carson laughs, and encourages any man with a yen to improve his community

to give her agency a call.

The United Way is open to all volunteers. One of the agency’s important,

ongoing needs is for "resource development volunteers." Translation:

fund raisers. "Our biggest challenge is finding people who have

the time to raise money, who like people, and like asking them to

pitch in," says Carson. She adds that not everyone is comfortable

with asking for money.

That’s okay, she says. For those who like people, but who shrink from

hitting them up for donations, there is a need for people to help

the United Way to decide where to invest the contributions it receives,

and to go out and review and monitor the programs selected.

With the United Way for 15 years, Carson, a native of West Windsor,

has also been a teacher in the New York City school system and an

event coordinator in the fashion industry. Extremely sensitive to

the time constraints of those who want to volunteer for their communities,

Carson says she has first-hand experience of the increased demands

of the workplace.

"We went through a down-sizing last year," she says. And while

her agency’s payroll shrunk by 20 percent, its workload did not. "Profits

and non-profits, we’re facing the same thing," she says. Women

who want to help out anyway, and who are looking for an organization

that respects their time, might find the ideal outlet for their skills

at the United Way’s new Women’s Leadership Initiative.

Top Of Page
The Green Cars Are Coming

More than 30 teams from Canada, China, and 15 states

are set to participate in this year’s Tour de Sol: The Great American

Green Transportation Festival, which takes place from Saturday through

Wednesday, May 10 through 14, in cities stretching from Trenton through

Washington, D.C.

The festival, free and open to the public, takes place in Trenton

on May 12, moves to Philadelphia on May 13, and to Washington, D.C.

on May 14. In addition, an open house is set in Burlington City on

May 10. On that date, visitors can watch the teams go through pre-event

qualifying tests. For more information call 413-774-6051 or visit

www.nesea.org.

The event showcases all greener modes of transportation that can reduce

oil use and, at the same time, improve the economy and the environment.

Cars, buses, and scooters that reduce gasoline use or that use a domestically-produced

fuel — such as biodiesel, electricity, hydrogen, natural gas,

or propane — will be on display and, in some cases, available

for test rides and drives. Also on display will be programs that promote

the health and quality-of-life benefits of walking, biking, and taking

mass transit.

Among the vehicles competing or exhibiting are those manufactured

by General Motors, Toyota, DaimlerChrysler, Allison Transmission,

and Honda. Some models are already being sold, while others are still

in the planning stages.

In addition to big manufacturers, the event includes some two dozen

university and high school teams as well as individuals who have built

one-of-a-kind experimental vehicles.

The Tour de Sol began in 1989 as a competition for solar-powered racing

vehicles. Over the years, it has expanded to include all greener vehicle

technologies. It is now the largest and longest running environmental

automotive competition in the United States.

Top Of Page
War on the Web

The Iraq war saw the use of a sophisticated communications

infrastructure that revolutionized command and control functions,

says Russ Lockwood, a military history web publisher. Lockwood

will tell about the evolution of combat communications at the Society

of Internet Professionals on Wednesday, May 14, at 6 p.m. at the Sarnoff

auditorium on Fisher Place. Cost: $10. Call 215-369-4866.

Lockwood’s discussion will start with hand signals and musical instruments

and progress through more modern devices, such as the telegraph, walkie

talkies, and text messaging.

Lockwood’s interest in military history began at the age of 6, when

his father taught him chess using kings, queens, knights, and castles.

He started reading up on medieval knights, and then graduated to World

War II, "because the local library had more material on it."

A graduate of Syracuse University (Class of 1981), where he studied

journalism and history, Lockwood has written for the New York Times

Information Service, Creative Computing magazine, and Personal Computing

magazine. He also ran Compuserve forums, including AfterHours and

Computer Gaming World, and was editorial director of AT&T’s New Media

Services web division.

Magweb (short for Magazine Web) was founded in 1996 by Lockwood and

his three partners. A compendium of more than 100 magazines on military

history, the company, with offices in Stockton, is self-funded, turned

a profit in 2000, and continues to grow. Lockwood previously spoke

to this group on how content subscriptions can be profitable (U.S.

1, November 7, 2001).

Lockwood’s original business plan included websites for magazines

in a number of niches. He started with military history because, he

says, "if you’re going to be spending 12 hours a day on something,

it helps if you love it." Eighty percent of his subscribers pay

an annual fee to browse such periodicals as American Revolutionary

War Journal, English Civil War Times, Cry Havoc (all historical periods),

Dragonman (history of the Ottoman Empire), Abanderado (Spanish Civil

War history), and the Penny Whistle (military history, games, miniatures

and reviews).

Top Of Page
Summit For Big Box Employers

The gauntlet has been thrown down to 500 employers at

Exit 8A, challenging them to unite and establish a reliable transportation

system to get workers to their warehouses. Many of the jobs pay minimum

wage, yet without the availability of public transportation, the workers

must supply their own.

Keep Middlesex Moving has set Thursday, May 15, 8:30 to 11 a.m., for

a free round-table conference on the problem at the New Jersey Principals

and Supervisors Association conference center. Fifteen companies had

signed up for the conference as of last week, about half the capacity

of the conference room. For reservations call Cristina Fowler

at 732-745-4318.

Speakers include moderator Anita Perez, Carl Spataro of

the Middlesex County economic development commission, Jim Wilno

of New Jersey Transit, Ted Williams of Centaur Consulting, and

KMM representatives Fowler and Roberta Karpinecz.

One attempt to solve the Exit 8A transportation problem was made last

year by the Mercer County Workforce Investment Board. Aided by the

Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association, it instigated

a shuttle service from the Hamilton railroad station. Trenton residents

were supposed to take New Jersey Transit from Trenton to Hamilton

and board a bus that would wend its way past Robert Wood Johnson Hospital

at Hamilton to Route 130 to the big box warehouses. "It was intended

to get people to employment opportunities at Exit 8A and to some of

the employment centers, such as Hamilton Marketplace, along Route

130," says Sandra Brillhart, executive director of the GMTMA,

which provided start-up support for the project through last August.

"We found most people were using it to get to Hightstown and East

Windsor locations, rather than the longer route to Exit 8A."

Unofficial results show that — at least as far as Exit 8A is concerned,

the Trenton-Hamilton-8A plan was not a roaring success. "Usually

these initiatives are more successful when employers are paying for

it themselves and when they have control over the schedule, the timing,

and the routing," says Brillhart. She points to successful shuttles

in Mercer County, "but they are express services and paid for

with private dollars. Public transportation shuttles make a lot of

stops and it is a long ride to begin with."

Also some temporary staffing firms supply both the workers and the

transportation. Bob Brown of Trenton-based First Staff does

this (U.S. 1, December 12, 2002). "In the land of big boxes, there

is a strong demand for labor intensive workers and the staffing agencies

generally have to provide the transportation because there is no public

transportation to Cranbury, Dayton, and Monroe."

It’s hard to implement change, says Brown. "Years ago SEPTA ran

a bus to the Philadelphia airport and there were five giant packaging

companies less than two miles from where the bus turned around, but

they wouldn’t add that stop."

Top Of Page
Crawling the Web’s Underside

Has the web really leveled the playing field? Or has

it just opened the door for global conglomerates to extend their tentacles

into your small market niche? In either case, it is hard to deny that

the consumer and small business owner, hunting for an enormous range

of goods and services, and easily comparing prices and features online,

has become hooked on web shopping. Yet this leaves the small or mid-size

business owner wondering just how he can throw a saddle over this

unbridled, wildly competitive cyber-mart.

Options will be discussed at "Marketing Your Website," a seminar

on Thursday, May 15, at 8:30 a.m. at the Trenton Business and Technology

Center on South Broad Street in Trenton. Cost: $49. Contact 609-989-5232.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Small Business Development Center, this

talk features the NJSBDC’s director of E-business services, Nat

Bender. For a sample of Bender’s own work, go to www.NJSBDC.com

and examine the site he designed. The site also provides a full calendar

and an explanation of the SBDC’s business mentoring, funding, and

other advisory programs aimed at the up and coming entrepreneur.

"The competition on the web is indeed real business competition

— just as fierce, but with a different set of players," says

Bender, "and this is one thing small firms seem to forget."

Helping them remember and crawl along the competitive web has been

Bender’s personal project during his past six years with the Small

Business Development Center.

Born, raised, and still living in Plainfield, Bender trained as a

writer, earning a journalism degree from Rutgers. After working for

Health Foods Magazine, he shifted to AT&T to help create its web communication

system. When the monopoly split, Bender moved to the New Jersey Institute

of Technology’s brand-new web certification program. "They tout

me as one of their rags-to-riches stories," laughs Bender. "But

actually it’s more rags-to- survival." Whatever the label, a mere

four weeks into the course the SBDC offered him an E-business career.

"The web has shifted the sands of every business," Bender

says, "so it becomes merely a question of choosing your best strategy

to participate."

Search engine selection. A thorough, easy to read explanation

of business-applicable search engines, authored by Bender, is printed

on the www.NJSBDC.com site under "E-business." Once you’ve

broken the "Google-only" mindset, a world of specialized search

engines, worthy of comparison, unfolds. Some, like Yahoo and LookSmart,

are directories, leading browsers directly to your site by name. Others,

like Google and AltaVista, search via automated crawl systems that

focus on keywords and other points of content. It is imperative to

find out exactly how each engine works and to adjust your site accordingly.

Payment plans differ. Google’s AdSmart charges advertisers based on

cost per click. Others levy a flat fee; but even some of these also

have an underlying per-hit plan. Bender’s puts Yahoo, Inktomi, and

LookSmart on the "must do" list for small companies, with

Google and Alta Vista just behind. In the third tier are AOL, InfoSeek,

Excite, and Lycos.

With the country’s instinctive tilt toward size, notes Bender, many

of the very valuable specific search engines tend to get bypassed.

For example, Lycos specifically aids businesses with market surveys

and Northern Lights has gained a reputation as that last place to

look after you’ve tried all the rest. Industry-specific sites are

ideal for those on a budget — or those with a niche product. They

allow for sending targeted messages to likely customers. Www.SearchEngine

Guide.com lists a wide array of such sites. And yes, you can find

geographically specific sites. Look for them on www.searchenginecolossus.com

David and Goliath. So you are all set to web-market that

new cleaning fluid you’ve just invented in your basement lab. Want

to go head-to-head with Dupont?

Son, you will lose. Bender points out that big companies have a reach

against which the small firm cannot compete. He suggests avoiding

a David and Goliath showdown, suggesting a partnering arrangement

instead. One of the true wonders of the web is that big companies

are open to teaming up with complementary small companies.

Successful web designers know that, on the web, a teach-before-you-pitch

technique works best. Every business now is striving to make its site

the one potential customers turn to first for information. Big vendors

desperately want to become the one-stop shopping site in their business,

the place that provides encyclopedic information along with a full

array of products. If your new cleaning fluid takes care of spills

no other cleanser can handle, and if you can provide examples of problem

stains, along with techniques to banish them, you may be able to get

a link from a high-profile housewares or hardware chain website, or

even a little real estate right on the site.

Online catalogs. Vertically or horizontally, your product

can link up with others — and thereby gain much greater visibility

than it might attract on its own. Obviously Lillian Vernon does not

manufacture every kabob basket, floating cooler, and pet welcome sign

for sale in its online catalog. Rather, a large number of small businesses

have combined their products under a popular umbrella.

Other possibilities for winning through aggregation include product

or service advertisements on the websites of professional groups or

chambers of commerce. Often as not, the groups welcome the energy

of an aggressive marketer who will work to enrich everybody.

In joining with others, companies often fear that they will be touting

their competition at their own expense. Typically, this does not happen.

One of the area’s oldest horizontally linked websites belongs to the

state library system. Founded two decades ago as the South Middlesex

County Automation Consortium, each of its three largest member libraries

received a 20 percent annual boost in circulation the year they linked

together their interlink. Now that the system has gone statewide,

circulation continues to rise significantly despite a stable state

population. The lesson is that easing access enriches all.

Auction sites. It has worked wonders for the insurance

industry, loan companies, and every raw materials producer in the

commodities market. Simply gather on a single site, and wait for bids

to roll in. This tactic has even boosted sales for the hard-hit airline

industry. Even sole practitioners offering a service can benefit from

an auction website. Elance (www.elance.com), for example, aggregates

grant writers, electrical engineers, word processors, tax attorneys,

web designers, and scores of other professionals, who get the attention

of businesses and individuals looking for expertise on a per-project

basis.

Before small business owners develop an online marketing strategy,

Bender suggests that they first critically examine products and services.

"You’ve got to make sure that the public wants what you are selling,"

he says. Simple as this back-to-basic business maxim sounds, there

are kaput E-commerce firms that forgot it, and live on only as abandoned

websites, floating aimlessly and forever in a cyber graveyard.

— Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Ethical Vs. Creative Accounting

They have lost our trust. Headlines tell of accountants

who sold $47 million of bogus tax shelters to Sprint, and now that

company’s stock is worth less than its tax bill. And Enron. Well,

suffice it to say that the energy-trading company’s name has entered

the vernacular as a synonym for shady dealings, and the accounting

firm that audited it is no more. These high- profile cases have put

a good number of accountants on the defensive. Can the accounting

profession convince a wary public that 99.9 percent of all who practice

the profession are honest and independent-minded? The New Jersey Society

of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) is working to restore that

impression.

Exactly what state law and personal morality require of all accountants

is the subject of the "New Jersey Law and Ethics Seminar,"

which takes place on Friday, May 16, at 8:30 a.m. at the Douglass

College Student Center in New Brunswick. Cost: $189. Register online

at www.NJSCPA.com or at 973-226-4494.

Sponsored by the Middlesex-Somerset chapter of the NJSCPA, a four-hour

course like this one is, as of January 1, mandated for every licensed

accountant in the Garden State. This one, run by Bernard Kieley,

president of Morristown-based Kieley Capital Management (973-455-1894),

will involve 50 to 100 attendees. A similar course is sponsored by

the Mercer chapter on the same day at the Mercer College Conference

Center, featuring Michael Polito of Deloitte & Touche. Call

609-633-6586.

Kieley urges all New Jersey CPAs to take this course well before the

three-year limit. The NJSCPA will even hold in-house courses for firms

of 15 or more. Those who leave it to the last semester of 2005, he

warns, will find all the seminars full; and simply put, no one will

make it into 2006 as a licensed CPA without it.

"I am an accountant," says Kieley, whose practice is based

in Morristown. "It does clients no good to whine. I am just the

scorekeeper. I will not drive their getaway car." This breath

of ethical fresh air comes from a personal tax accountant who Worth

Magazine has listed among its best investment counselors for four

years running, and Accounting Magazine has honored among its top picks

twice. He has taught accounting at Rutgers University for 10 years.

After graduating from Rozelle Park High School, Kieley found himself

serving aboard a destroyer in Vietnam, where he spent downtime teaching

himself about mutual funds. After his tour was over, he went to night

school at Upsala, earning a degree in accounting. It was there, in

his money and banking class, that Kieley met another young accountant,

Yvonne, whom he was later to join both in wedlock and in business.

Continuing night classes, he gained an MBA in finance from Rutgers

University. "The first time I stepped into a daytime classroom,"

he laughs, "they called me professor."

"Rather than a four-hour lecture on morality," says Kieley,

"our members need to know the whole raft of state statutes that

somehow get skipped in college and later training." One fascinating

example he points out is that a CPA who fails to keep up with continuing

education courses can have his license quietly revoked. In this circumstance,

he could be advertising himself as an accountant when he is not, making

him guilty of fraud, and eligible for a stretch in prison. NJSCPA

past president Polito, who has had a great deal of input in this pilot

seminar, hastens to add that it mirrors all recent S.E.C. and federal

rulings.

But beyond these older, if sometimes forgotten, statues loom ethical

gray areas that circle around client, accountant, government regulators.

Fee disputes. Most typically, explains Kieley, fee disputes

between an accountant and his client are initiated by clients who

either don’t have the wherewithal to pay, or who are convinced that

their CPA should have worked harder. One’s taxes, so goes the myth,

are determined solely by the quality of one’s accounting team. If

they’re good enough, they can make the whole bill simply vanish in

a cloud of deductions. This is not true, but there are a number of

executives who come storming into their accountant’s office shaking

what they consider to be an unacceptably high tax bill.

Then, in a paper chase standoff, the angered client withholds payment,

and the accountant withholds vital documents, which he neither files

nor returns. At that point, the law steps in. Legally, an accountant

may not withhold documents. However, he may charge his client hefty

interest on the bill, and any IRS payments and penalties still stand.

(Note: unfinished documents, like an unsigned tax form, can be withheld.)

Watershed of blame. The legal waters become a bit more

muddied when the SEC or IRS raises questions and everyone runs to

hide behind a scapegoat. Suppose a construction firm wants to deduct

the cost of certain new equipment and depreciate other equipment.

The company accountant prepares and signs the return. Later, the IRS

questions the deductions and the depreciation schedule. It penalizes

the construction firm, and even accuses it of fraud.

Now the finger pointing begins. The owner brings a negligence charge

against his accountant. "He’s my accountant," claims the owner.

"He should have told me this depreciation was outside the rules."

The accountant responds with "Hey, I just crunch the numbers.

If he wants to take an on-the-edge flyer, that’s his gamble."

Usually, Kieley notes, ultimate responsibility rests on the business

owner — the person who wanted to take the deductions and depreciate

the equipment, not the accountant who should have warned him. However,

he adds, "both sides here should err well on the side of caution,

and together examine the slightest possible red flag."

Sloth and lateness. Along with Hamlet’s complaints about

the insolence of office and the law’s delay, today’s business owner

might well add to the list of universal annoyances the overwhelming

tide of sluggishly-processed numbers. Our government, while so slow

in returning tax refunds, is Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to collecting

multiple kinds of taxes. Late payment penalties pile up quickly.

Whose fault is it that the forms were not signed and filed: the grieving

widow who is too upset to look at papers from her late-husband’s business

right away? The bank executor who takes his cut, but forgets his duty?

Or the accountant who didn’t crack the whip on them — and himself?

Deciding just who is responsible for delays that can cost tens of

thousands of dollars in taxes has made many an attorney a lot richer.

Fifteen thousand of New Jersey’s 17,000 CPAs belong to NJSCPA. In

addition to holding its members responsible for following state law,

this association employs a higher, more stringent set of professional

standards. But in the end ethics must be more than the fear of being

caught. Kieley insists that in the case of those high-profile scandals,

the accounting firms "needed to strap on their spines, refuse

to indulge in a con, and just honestly pay the tax bill." Yes,

the accounting profession will recover from the current black eyes,

he believes, "but it will take integrity; simply doing our job

honestly, not because the law threatens us, but because it is right."

— Bart Jackson

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Women’s Tribute

The 20th Annual Tribute to Women 2003 Achievement Awards

reception and dinner (formerly known as TWIN) is Thursday, May 8,

at 5:15 p.m. at the Princeton Hyatt. Cost: $100. Call 609-497-2100,

extension 333, for last minute reservations.

The YWCA has assembled a stellar array of women to honor for their

professional and community contributions; this year’s list includes

Margaret Lancefield, medical director of charity care clinics

at the Medical Center at Princeton (and also the spouse of Representative

Rush Holt), as well as two other Medical Center physicians, Linda

Sieglen (chair of the anesthesiology department) and Kathy Ales

(medical director of the Merwick unit. The legal profession is represented

by Jane Altman of Altman & Legband at Montgomery Knoll. The

pharmaceutical arena is represented by Kim Klinger, vice president

of human resources for Bracco Diagnostics, and Louise Mehrotra,

vice president of finance for Janssen Pharmaceutica. Jyoti Chopra

of Merrill Lynch represents the financial sector. Rev. Sally Osmer

(of the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton) and Janet Stern

(of the Arts Council of Princeton) represent the nonprofit arena.

Women in education include the president of the College of New Jersey,

Barbara Gitenstein; Charlotte Bialek, head of the Princeton

Regional Schools board; and Pauline Wood Egan, trustee board

chair of Stuart Country Day School. A chaplain at Princeton University,

Rev. Hazel Vivian Staats-Westover, will also be honored, as

will Karin Trainer, Princeton University Librarian.

This year’s group is surely the first to feature two librarians. The

second is Leslie Burger, director of the Princeton Public Library.

The mayor of Princeton Township, Phyllis Marchand, is on the

list, as are two executives in state government, Lori A. Hennon-Bell,

deputy superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, and Debra

M. Johnson, an attorney directing legal and regulatory affairs

at the New Jersey Department of Health.

Top Of Page
Donate Please: NCCJ

<d>Katherine Kish of Market Entry seeks sponsorships

for the National Conference for Community and Justice dinner on Thursday,

May 15, at the Doral Forrestal. Sponsors contribute $1,500 for a table

for 10 and an ad page in the program, and other categories of giving

include "supporter" (four seats for $500) and contributor

(two seats, $250). Call Linda Tondow, 732-745-9330.

The evening supports an historic group (formerly National Conference

of Christians and Jews) fighting bias, bigotry and racism and working

closely with young people, says Kish, who co-chairs the event with

Allen Rowe. Edward Bullock, of L’Oreal USA, will receive

a diversity award, as will Educational Testing Service, represented

by CEO Kurt M. Landgraf.

Sponsors so far include Eden Institute Foundation, and the supporter

category includes Robert Clancy, PNC Bank, the Pacesetter Group

of Companies, Shiloh Baptist Church, and Wegmans Food Markets.

On Saturday, May 17, the Capital Health System Foundation

holds its sixth annual dinner dance, "A Capital Affair," at

the Princeton Hyatt. The event raises substantial sums for Capital

Health System programs. In 2002 the foundation provided $25,000 to

the system’s nursing program in support of continuing nursing education;

funded CUNA Program, which provides support, guidance, and direction

for new mothers; and provided $2.4 million for the purchase of a new

PET scanner.

This year Capital Health Foundation is offering tables at its May

17 fundraiser for between $2,500 and $10,000. It is also offering

sponsorship opportunities for between $3,500 and $10,000.

Sponsorships are sought for the American Red Cross Golf Classic

on Monday, June 2, at both the Cherry Valley and Bedens Brook country

clubs. Following a buffet luncheon, an 18-hole shotgun start is at

12:30 p.m., followed by cocktails, appetizers, and dinner. Sponsorships

start at $750, and a foursome costs $1,400, or $350 for an individual

golfer.

Major patrons are Fleet Bank, Johnson & Johnson — NCS, Johnson

& Johnson Consumer Companies, and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers.

Proceeds will benefit programs in Mercer and Middlesex counties. Call

609-951-8550.

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Apply Please

The New Jersey Business/Industry/Science Consortium

(NJ BISEC) and PSE&G announce the 13th annual Environmental

Education Grant Program. The program is open to teachers of grades

K-5 and 6-9 who teach in PSE&G’s service area. Teachers who can successfully

link their students’ understanding of math, science, computer science,

and/or technology concepts with enthusiasms and appreciation for the

environment are encouraged to apply.

Applications that focus on the development of one or more classroom

units, the expansion of an existing course or curriculum, or the extension

of classroom work to community or after-school activities will be

considered.

PSE&G/NJ BISEC Environmental Education Grants provide funding to carry

out the project for up to two years. Grants are available in amounts

of up to $3,500, and may be used to purchase materials and equipment,

take field trips, and develop curriculum-related activities.

The grant application deadline is Monday, June 2, and awards will

be announced in September. For more information and an application

visit www.pseg.com/eegrants.

Top Of Page
Participate Please

Celebrities from television, stage, sports, politics,

academe, and literature will be lending their support to Recording

for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D) for the nonprofit organization’s

ninth annual National Record-A-Thon. The New Jersey Unit of RFB&D

(www.rfbdnj.org), located in a new facility at 69 Mapleton Road (at

St. Joseph’s Seminary), is celebrating this event from Monday to Saturday,

May 12 to 17. Hours are Monday to Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30

p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A Record-A-Thon

opening ceremony/studio grand opening takes place on May 12 at 1 p.m.,

and the studio will be open to the public for tours during Record-A-Thon

hours.

Founded in 1948 to serve veterans blinded in World War II, RFB&D is

the nation’s first and largest nonprofit organization to provide recorded

textbooks to students in kindergarten through graduate school with

disabilities such as blindness or severe dyslexia. RFB&D serves 117,000

students nationwide, including 5,000 students in New Jersey.

Celebrity readers join the 500 regular volunteers at the New Jersey

Unit who lend their time to record textbooks and other academic materials

for students who cannot read standard print effectively because of

a disability. Over the course of the New Jersey Unit’s Record-A-Thon,

volunteers expect to double the week’s regular production, increasing

the number of books available in RFB&D’s "learning through listening"

library in the organization’s national headquarters at 20 Roszel Road.

This event, the unit’s major fundraiser, is also designed to raise

awareness of the services RFB&D offers to students throughout the

state.

"We could not sustain our operation without the support of all

the volunteers and local celebrities who believe as we do that education

is a right, not a privilege," says Olivian Boon, interim

executive director of the New Jersey unit of RFB&D. "The work

our volunteers do requires a great deal of training and focus, but

we take great satisfaction in knowing that every book we record represents

another step forward for a student trying to meet his or her educational

potential."

Recorded textbooks from RFB&D are unique because they are the only

recorded textbooks that include full and complete descriptions of

all graphic elements within a book, including pictures, photographs,

charts, maps and graphs. Because of the complex and advanced nature

of many of the titles requested by RFB&D members, regular recording

volunteers are required to have a level of expertise in the fields

they are assigned to read.

"Because not everyone has the skills or the desire to read textbooks,

we offer a variety of volunteer positions at our studio that allow

people to get involved in other areas of our work," says Boon.

"We’re proud of our new recording facility. We welcome people

who want to participate in our work and who share our commitment to

making education accessible for students with disabilities." For

more information, call 609-750-1830.


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