Over the past couple of years, I've become something of an agitator in my hometown, which is nestled in a leafy suburb north of New York City.

And for those of you who have known me during my five years at the helm of Accounting Today, you have probably surmised that earning that designation was probably not a quantum leap.

Among my high crimes and misdemeanors?

I had the temerity to vocally and editorially challenge the passage of a $7 million bond for construction on a 29,000-square foot firehouse -- to service a town with a population of roughly 10,000 people.

After three school bonds in seven years totaling nearly $100 million, I also called for a developer tax, whereby the profiteers who carted off wheelbarrows of cash and drove six-figure Mercedes convertibles while school enrollments ballooned beyond what the facilities could handle would actually have to plow back a percentage of their proceeds into the town infrastructure.

Naturally, most of the incumbent politicians were not enthralled with anybody challenging the status quo, and to be fair, I'm not the only one who has spoken out. The town supervisor, who has somehow managed to hold that post for 42 years, (making the late Richard Daley of Chicago look like a transient by comparison), has especially taken umbrage at yours truly and once pulled me aside to ask me why I'm always attacking him.

The American Institute of CPAs must be feeling a lot like my town supervisor.

Lately, the activist group CPAs Reforming our Profession, or Crop, has been asking a lot of uncomfortable questions pertaining to the institute financials, and calling into question the fiduciary responsibilities of the board members.

The group has pointed out, among other things, a $100 million drop in equity for the institute, the still-unclear financial relationship between the institute and online portal CPA2Biz, the criteria of how Nationwide Financial Services became the preferred provider for the AICPA retirement programs, and $30 million that had been withdrawn from the institute's credit line -- double the amount used the previous year.

At the Spring Meeting of Council in May, institute chairman Bob Bunting told attendees that it's not that Crop's questions were not valid, nor that they should not have been asked, but that they suggested "an innate distrust of the volunteer membership."

Crop members have asked and wondered why they are the only ones asking these questions.

They most likely are not.

Now this is not meant to be a judgment of who's right or wrong. Both factions in this skirmish have, at times, handled past conflicts with the tact of a two-by-four through a casement window, and if possible, sometimes more clumsily than that.

But over the past three years, discussing the institute financials with members has raised more than a few questions pertaining to a lack of clear understanding -- curious for an organization that represents those that, well, write and review financial statements.

Any questions surrounding the fiscal health of a membership organization or entries that aren't all that transparent should be answered -- and quickly.

After that, the members can make all the judgments they want.

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