The Kanter Web Is Unraveling

The Kanter Web Is Unraveling
By Susan M. Halpern
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)

Sir Walter Scott was right: “Oh! What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

My recent article, “What Kanter Didn’t Tell You Changes Everything” was a thorough discussion of why no self-respecting accountant would act as Kanter did on February 23, 2016, when he gleefully joined in Meier’s plan to disparage Addison’s staff and prior management.  It was a classic Meier setup, with both Kanter and Meier omitting significant facts necessary to a fair presentation.  But then, fair wasn’t the point: the purpose was to set up the reelection campaign Meier will be running for those in his cadre who are now up for reelection.

Kanter’s presentation confirmed what we’ve said all along: he was hired to be the mouthpiece for a mayor who believes that he has to distort and disparage Addison’s past in order to measure up.  Kanter’s presentation was one-sided and politically charged. Kanter was not impartial or objective, and certainly not intellectually honest, all standards set forth in the AICPA’s professional responsibility rules.

Our analysis clearly touched a nerve.  In classic Meier fashion, he recruited folks to do his bidding.  They sent a newsletter out, trying desperately to undermine our analysis and refocus the public on all their disparaging comments.  These folks almost screamed that Kanter’s work was not an audit, seeming to argue that this meant that the AICPA standards don’t apply.  Here’s some more from the AICPA standards:

Regardless of service or capacity, members should protect the integrity of their work, maintain objectivity, and avoid any subordination of their judgment.

Members employed by others to perform consulting services are charged with the same responsibility for objectivity as members in public practice.

We could go on, but you get the point.  The FACT is that the standards apply, and that MATTERS.  But also think about the premise of arguing against application of these rules: who doesn’t want professionals hired by Addison to be impartial, objective and intellectually honest?  We believe that if Kanter is unable or unwilling to meet basic standards like intellectual honesty, impartiality and objectivity, then his work is entirely suspect and without any credibility.  And of course, that’s exactly the point.

But here’s another thing about the audit issue.  We agree that access to the FACTS is critically important. That’s what the Open Records Act is about: citizens getting FACTS from its government.  But these days in Addison, it’s damn hard to get those facts.  Talk about “past and present!”  In the past, information was shared readily, but the present is indeed very different.  Nowadays Addison is short on disclosure and long on obstruction, yet another sign of an unhealthy government.

In any event, in an effort to get the FACTS, we sent an Open Records Act request asking for Kanter’s work papers and communications between Kanter and Addison’s staff.  Here’s what Addison’s attorney wrote:

The City has determined that approximately 90% of the records responsive are excepted from disclosure pursuant to Section 552.116(a) of the Act.

You know what Section 552.116(a) deals with?  AUDITS.  That’s right, even as Meier and his supporters are telling you that Kanter’s work is not an audit, Addison is resisting disclosure by claiming that it is an audit.  So what Meier is claiming about Kanter depends on his purpose of the moment.  This is what Addison’s government has become, and it is unacceptable.

And by the way, we wrote back to Addison in response to the attorney’s letter, and we made the same arguments now being made by Meier’s supporters.  We quoted the same parts of Kanter’s agreement, telling Addison that reliance on the audit exception is improper.  We got nowhere, and Addison continues to conceal these key documents from its citizens.

And of course, that paves the way for Kanter and Meier to say whatever they want in their quest to disparage Addison’s staff and former management.  Sorry, but that’s not transparency.  It’s a web of deceit and slowly but surely, it’s beginning to unravel.

Those are the FACTS. And we agree that they MATTER.

Addison’s residents deserve far better.