OSCPA candidate screening process provides CPAs with valuable voting insight

September 27, 2010

By David A. Simko, CPA, Chair, OSCPA Statewide Candidate Screening Committee

The 2010 elections are very important to Ohio’s future and to all of us as CPAs and citizens. In this very challenging economic environment, Ohio needs leaders with proven skills to address its financial problems head on and make the difficult decisions necessary to put the state on a path for a strong recovery.

This election in particular underscores for me as chair of OSCPA’s candidates screening committee just how valuable a resource we have in The Ohio Society’s endorsement process.

Every two years OSCPA engages dozens of CPAs from across the state in a comprehensive interview and selection exercise that spans several months and culminates in a select group of candidates receiving OSCPA’s endorsement for public office.

It is a very thorough, objective and bipartisan process—one in which candidates are invited to confidentially share their views and policy positions on issues that are important to CPAs. Each of these affect Ohio’s business climate, economy and, ultimately, all Ohioans.

This year, OSCPA significantly weighted its endorsement decisions by considering how candidates plan to address the budget deficit and what they plan to do to make Ohio economically competitive again. We weren’t looking for line item by line item specifics, but rather a strong sense of candidates’ commitment to address areas such as making government more efficient and effective, cutting costs, driving economic development, and closing the budget shortfall.

As a result, CPAs across Ohio now have a very qualified resource to study before making the decision how they will vote in the November election. I encourage you to do your own research on the candidates and their plans for Ohio, and to read the 2010 OSCPA Election Guide that was printed in the September issue of CPA Voice. It includes endorsements for numerous House, Senate and Congressional candidates, as well as all of Ohio’s statewide races. Our regional and statewide screening committees spent considerable time vetting these individuals who have pledged to promote business-friendly programs and work diligently to move Ohio back on track financially.

OSCPA is one of the few Ohio organizations that so thoroughly screens candidates for their views. As a result, an OSCPA endorsement carries considerable weight in legislative circles and with the public at large.

Most importantly, I hope you will make your voice heard by voting on Nov. 2. For more information on the 2010 elections, visit the Society’s Election page.


Disaster could be just around the corner. Are you prepared?

September 23, 2010

Tornado For many, September means back to school, football, the beginning of fall and gearing up for the holidays. But what I bet most don’t know, is that September is also National Preparedness Month.

Those that live along coastal areas and on fault lines have disaster plans in place for hurricanes and earthquakes. The worst natural disasters Ohioans have to worry about are tornadoes and occasional flooding. But that shouldn’t stop us from thinking about man-made disasters and the potential emergencies that may arise. Ready America, designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies, states that preparing for disaster goes beyond hurricanes and tornadoes:

“Emergency preparedness is no longer the sole concern of earthquake prone Californians and those who live in the part of the country known as ‘Tornado Alley.’ For Americans, preparedness must now account for man-made disasters as well as natural ones. Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.”

It’s important to have a plan at home in case of a disaster, but how many people think about their company’s disaster plan? Do you know what your company’s disaster plan is, or even if it has a disaster plan? With small businesses making up 95% of all businesses, it’s vital to have an actionable business continuity program and effective solution to address what would happen if any or all of your critical business functions were compromised due to a natural or man-made disaster.

In light of National Preparedness Month, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers the following tips for home and business owners to prepare for disasters:

  • Develop a solid emergency response plan. Find evacuation routes from the home or business and establish meeting places.
  • Business owners should designate a contact person to communicate with other employees, customers and vendors.
  • Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. Disaster preparedness begins with having adequate insurance coverage—at least enough to rebuild your home or business. Homeowners and business owners should review their policies to see what is or isn’t covered. Companies should consider business interruption insurance, which helps cover operating costs during the post-disaster shutdown period. Flood insurance is essential.
  • Copy important records. It’s a good idea to back up vital records and information saved on computer hard drives, and store that information at a distant offsite location in fireproof safe deposit boxes. You should have copies/back-ups of important documents ready to take with you if you have to evacuate.

Consider implementing these strategies for your company. Agility Recovery Solutions, states that business interruptions can take many forms and seldom give us warning. And, what might constitute a nuisance to a large corporation could be a ‘disaster’ to a small or mid-size business. What’s more, nearly 90% of all companies unable to resume operations within five days after a disaster are out of business within a year.

For more information, check out these resources:

  • Agility Recovery Solutions, a former division of GE with over 20 years of disaster recovery and business continuity experience, provides comprehensive, turn-key recovery solutions and testing options to businesses across North America
  • Plan, prepare and stay informed with Ready.gov
  • IRS.gov lists some simple steps that can help taxpayers and businesses protect financial and tax records in case of disasters

Does technology improve our lives, or just complicate it?

September 8, 2010

technology Just recently it hit me that my daughter, who will be one year in October, won’t know a world without smartphones, a trusty GPS, Bluetooth, Blu-ray, iPads, DVR, e-readers, social media, and so much more. Technology is taking over our lives and I’m not complaining, but as a parent of a “Generation Z’er”, I have to wonder just how differently her childhood and her life will be shaped from mine.

I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was in high school, à la Zack Morris’ phone in Saved by the Bell (and before that I carried around a pager and had to call home within 15 minutes of being paged). My daughter received her first cell phone at two months old, à la Fisher Price.

Until I started thinking in terms of how younger generations’ lives are affected by technology, it never hit me just how much the average person depends on technology and how it shapes us. So it begs the question, does technology improve our lives, or just complicate them?

After I received my Droid Incredible two months ago, I caved to the curiosity and pressure of Foursquare. Since then, friends and family will probably attest (complete with eye rolls) that technology just complicates our lives after I whip out my phone at each venue to “check-in” to my location. What can I say? I’m always eager to see what my next badge will be, and just maybe I’ll become a Mayor someday.

E-readers are at the top of the latest trends list and at the forefront of minds from students to business travelers. I can see how having such devices can lighten the load and be beneficial to most. But as an avid reader, I much prefer to hold the real deal in my hands and then line them up on my bookshelves. And I shudder to think that there could be any real danger to print media.

Wait a minute, what’s happening here? Technology is supposed to make our lives better, richer and more convenient, but lately I’m finding myself slow on the uptake to these new technologies (not all, but some). It’s not lost on me that this makes me sound like I’m getting old.

How about mobile banking via an app on our smartphone? Again, this falls into the “complicate” category for me, even though I have yet to try it and it’s supposed to be more convenient. There’s just something about it that I don’t trust. I’m sure this will be common place for the upcoming generations, and visiting a bank teller will be no more.

When I threw the question out on Twitter asking if anyone had tried mobile banking I did receive a few replies, one stating that banking with Bank of America on the Droid is bad, and the user claims that one star is too high of a rating, and the other saying that while they haven’t tried mobile banking, they have heard of many people happily using QuickBooks mobile.

A recent article on How Technology Has Changed Business Communications talks about how individuals are growing less socially adept because of the minimal amount of experience they’ve accumulated in face to face interaction:

“The relational aspect of business communications has been changed definitively by the evolution of technology. With email, text messaging, social networking sites, and cell phones becoming more and more popular, face to face communication is become far less frequent. A side effect of this change has been a decreased emphasis on personal relationships with business contacts and clients by some companies.”

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and am now more aware of the fact, but I don’t recall technology advancing quite this fast two to three decades ago. So I’m curious, what do you think about how technology has changed our lives? Does it complicate it? Does it make it infinitely better? Or is a mix of the two? What is your e-reader, mobile banking or other technology experiences?


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