Growing up, my parents used to half-kiddingly tell me that I looked good in anything I ate. The emphasis here is on the word "half."
Despite multiple napkins and oversized bibs resembling Kevlar body armor, somehow the oiliest foodstuffs or similar substances that usually require an industrial grade powerwasher to remove, would undoubtedly find a place on the front of my shirt.
Bt eschewing my past dining history and a tendency to accrue dry cleaning bills that could fund a bank merger, I accepted a dinner invitation to join a pair of top executives from a Big Four firm for what was described as "dinner and a discussion about corporate governance issues."
Despite my noisy attempts to eat a steak with more fat than the trashcan at a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, the conversation flowed freely, with our hosts patiently answering questions on everything from the testimony at the Enron trial, to the effect the 150-hour rule has had on recruiting, and the ongoing efforts to roll back Sarbanes-Oxley for smaller public filers.
I have my own biases against scaling back the mandates of the sweeping corporate reform law and was glad to see that both in no uncertain terms, objected to the rollback of the law as well.
The dinner attendees (in full disclosure, all journalists) whom I spoke to afterward more or less agreed with the bill's co-author against the rollback movement.
However, SOX opinions outside the restaurant are somewhat different.
Currently, the Securities and Exchange Commission is mulling a proposal put forth by an advisory group that small companies be exempted from the internal control requirements of SOX. The proposed changes would free roughly 80 percent of public companies -- those with market values less than $125 million -- from at least part of the compliance mandates.
Critics of SOX and small-business advocates claim the legislation was a written as a knee-jerk response to the fraud implosions at Enron and WorldCom. They also pointed out that Section 404 compliance fees for the small filers were proportionately higher than for, say, GE or Ford.
The co-author of the 2002 law, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., recently left little doubt as to his feelings on the rollback movement.
In an impassioned speech before the Consumer Federation of America, Sarbanes said that the act has helped bolster investor confidence and that opponents and/or rollback enthusiasts should remember the primers that sparked its passage in the first place.
Sarbanes pointed out that the advisory group that drafted the proposal was largely comprised of executives from the small business community and their lawyers.
Now, while mammoth frauds of the Enron type are splashed across headlines and news tickers, your garden-variety malfeasance among smaller public companies occurs at far higher rates, but the public rarely, if ever, hears about them.
But speaking of rollbacks, when I removed my napkin as we prepared to leave, I was served a stark reminder of an article I'd read several years ago about how to get creamed spinach off a silk tie.
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