Monday, April 14, 2008

PBS Expose

(as cut and pasted from a comment in the prior post)

PBS Exposed Barbara Toffler as an Unethical Ethicist
Cheating for Arthur Andersen and Enron—Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars at a Time Snatched to Feed Her Fancy Habits and Grandiose Ego

Barbara Ley Toffler: The Culture of Greed
May 2, 2003 Episode no. 635

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: This week, 10 of the biggest banks and brokers on Wall Street agreed to pay $1.4 billion to settle charges that for their own profit, they had knowingly misled millions of investors.

Phil Jones has the story of one woman caught up in the unethical culture that brought down Enron, Arthur Andersen, and many others.

PHIL JONES: Bob, it was in the early 1990s that business ethics actually became a business unto itself. With concerns over business scandals, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which is an independent federal agency that advises courts, basically said to corporations, "We are going to sock you with huge fines when you break federal laws dealing with white-collar crimes -- but if you have tough, formal written programs dealing with ethics and standards, the fines will be less." So businesses began to hire experts to draw up ethics codes. One of the nation's leading accounting-auditing companies saw a chance to cash in on the ethics consulting business. And before it was over, ironically, one of the nation's ethics experts had lost her own ethical compass.

BARBARA TOFFLER (Business Ethics Consultant): I remember when I walked into the building, 1995 -- the flagship office of Arthur Andersen -- and I was starting a new adventure.

JONES: Barbara Toffler's adventure came in the midst of the 1990s bubble economy. Wall Street was on a high. During this period, Toffler, a leading expert on management ethics, got a call from the Arthur Andersen auditing firm. They asked her to run an ethics consulting service for Andersen clients. Little did she realize what was happening inside the firm.

Ms. TOFFLER: Everybody was trying to grab business from somebody else. I mean, that was my daily activity -- fighting. It was like one piece of bread, and 10 of us there, "Got to get it! Got to get it!" It doesn't matter whether I like bread, whether I know what to do with the bread. But, "I've got to get it."

JONES: Toffler was making about $300,000 a year back then, living in style in New York. She was now playing in the big game -- which even included company pep rallies and clients of Arthur Andersen that one day would become notorious.

Ms. TOFFLER: We had this huge light and sound show -- fabulous -- for the "client of the future" -- our best client and the one that everyone should be going out and getting more of. And up on those screens comes the upended E -- Enron.

JONES: Barbara Toffler, who had built a career in the field of business ethics, was asked to do unethical things, and she complied.

(to Ms. Toffler): Were you told by your bosses not to be aggressive on billing and ethical matters?

Ms. TOFFLER: Not to be aggressive on billing?

JONES: Mm-hmm.

Ms. TOFFLER: No. I was certainly not told I should not be aggressive. I mean, I was told, of course we were going to be aggressive.

JONES: The billing was maddening?

Ms. TOFFLER: And one of the phrases that we used to describe it was "billing our brains out."

JONES: But as Toffler has recalled her nightmare in a book called FINAL ACCOUNTING: AMBITION, GREED, AND THE FALL OF ARTHUR ANDERSEN, she claims that on at least one occasion she was coerced by a partner to overbill a client.

Ms. TOFFLER: Our piece of this particular budget was somewhere around -- stretching it -- $75,000. It wasn't that big a job. I gave him my budget. He looked at it, threw it back at me, and said, "Double it." I said, "Double it? That's it. We can't double it." "That's what you do," he said. "I want that doubled. Double it. Don't bring it back to me until it's doubled."


Ms. TOFFLER: Back I came with a $150,000 [budget]. I did.

JONES: And did you say anything?

Ms. TOFFLER: I just gave it to him. And we stretched it! We added hours. We added tasks.

JONES: However, she admits that sometimes she overbilled on her own. The game, she said, was to make a client dependent on her, especially when the client was new to the ethics business.

Ms. TOFFLER: It gave us the wonderful opportunity to say, "Well, this is what you need. And you certainly are not prepared to do this on your own, so here are the very many things that we can possibly do for you. And we'll set up weekly kinds of activities for you to do." So if this person's doing something every week, then, obviously, he has to come back to us. We have to be there. Well, suffice it to say, within a very short time, we had set up a planned program to bill this firm $250,000 a month to basically do work that their employees should've been doing. The CEO got wind of this and he basically said, "Enough, enough."

JONES: So you sort of got caught on that one.

Ms. TOFFLER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. This was somebody I know, somebody I still know. But I was enormously embarrassed. I mean, I had never ever done something like that.

JONES: But you never went to your bosses and said, "This isn't ethical."

Ms. TOFFLER: Sure, I did. But I was seen as kind of a pain in the neck. I mean, I know I was seen as a pain in the neck. My feeling was like, "There goes Barbara again."

JONES: Toffler's experiences occurred before the scandals of Enron, WorldCom, Quest Communications, and Global Crossing. But before she finally left in 1999, three years before Arthur Andersen collapsed, Toffler herself had become a victim of what she calls a new greedy culture at Arthur Andersen.

JONES: So while you were working there, what happened to your ethics?

Ms. TOFFLER: I don't want to say that I forgot everything that I was raised with, but you know, when you spend time working in an organization -- particularly one that has a strong culture -- you find yourself being drawn into that culture and beginning to behave the same way the people around you do.

JONES: Toffler argues that she never did anything that was illegal, but she's spent a lot of time thinking about how she managed to get caught in a web of unethical behavior.

(to Ms. Toffler): As you look back, why do you think you did these things?

Ms. TOFFLER: I did them for many reasons. One, I was making very good money, living a very comfortable life, and I didn't want to give that up. Two, I had brought several young people into the firm, creating opportunities for them to start to build their career. And I felt that if I left, or if I created too much of a disturbance, I might be harming them. Three, I always thought of myself as a competent person, somebody who could be successful in most environments that I had been in. I'd been a professor at Harvard. I had a very successful, honest, ethical consulting firm. I couldn't believe that I couldn't be successful at Arthur Andersen. Oh, I felt -- well, of course, I felt like I was failing. I felt like I couldn't play the game the way they did.


Ms. TOFFLER: If I am given a target, and the only way I can achieve that target is by doing something that's ethically questionable, or even illegal, but my boss is unrelenting and I have got to do it -- most people are not morally courageous. And many people will say, "Look, I've got kids in school. I've got aging parents. I've got a mortgage. I've got all kinds of commitments. Who am I to be so cavalier to say, 'I'm sorry. I will not work under these conditions,' and walk out?"

also- see another one:


Anonymous said...

Seems that Boss Yitz has finished the deal on selling his soul to Joe Ferriero in Hackensack. I hear the pay for souls is pretty good even for low quality models. Rudolph gets even more money for selling out Teaneck and opening the door to county contributors. Can Gussen be far behind? Three right-wing Republicans all becoming Democrats because the price was right. Anyone want to by a bridge (or a budget) form these folks?

Anonymous said...

A letter in the Record:

Moral compass needing correction

Regarding "Teaneck councilman assailed for voting in N.Y.C." (Page L-3, April 3):

Any judge will tell you that ignorance is not an excuse for breaking the law. Furthermore, Teaneck Councilman Elnatan Rudolph is a political consultant and should know the laws of both New York and New Jersey. His attempts at deflecting the seriousness of the infraction reveal his arrogance and are insulting to the citizenry of Teaneck. Just because this infraction is not as sensational as the recent missteps of other politicians, it nonetheless reveals a moral compass in need of correction.

The citizens of Teaneck should expect more of its leaders.

Paul Seitelman

Anonymous said...

Who is Paul Seitelman? Does he know a big deal like Toffler's fleecing people for Enron and Arthur Andersen from a common mistake like Rudolph's? At least Rudolph produces for the citizens. Toffler is on a ticket with Tax Bonus Honis. Remember that your municipal taxes could have been 6 points higher if Monica had had a majority. Would you like to see Mayor Monica fleecing people with the slick help of B.L. Toffler?

Anonymous said...

Your budget will be more than six points higher. Next year. Theres no choice. This council took the low road of pushing off this years expenses to next year when there won't be an election. 8% tax increase in 2007, a false "0%" in 2008 and back to 8% for 2009. Blame Elnatan Tax-Fraud Rudolph for this one and thank him for nothing on election day!

Anonymous said...

Stop lying. The Zero increase keeps your negative divisive people out of office.

There will be more budget cuts from Team Teaneck next year. Bet on it.

You can always throw them out in two years if they don't keep the cuts up. But if you put a Honis Bonus group in you will definitely have big increases.

Anonymous said...

There will be more budget cuts from Team Teaneck next year. Bet on it.

I couldn't be any happier if this happened next year. The problem is that Elnatan Tax-Fraud Rudolph needed a budget this year that looked like there were budget cuts. Whether it was police cars, legal settlements, tax appeals or insurance payments, nothing was cut anywhere in this budget. All the "savings" were made by pushing off expenses to next year, when there is no election. With other expenses and bills already on the plate for next year, it will be impossible to keep the rate below about 8%. The council lacked the balls to make real cuts this year and they won't start to grow any next year. They might find a way to push off all of our expenses to 2011, after the rest of the frum four are up for election.

Anonymous said...

"Frum Four"--nice. And I bet you don't think you are a prejudiced person! In case you haven't noticed, this year's Team Teaneck candidates are a very mixed group. They will all be elected and you prejudiced folks will need a different term to define those who work hard for Teaneck taxpayers while you cook your bile soup that Teaneck voters won't allow past their lips.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't it the prejudiced Jewish Standard that called them the frum four? I believe everything I read in that paper.

Anonymous said...

No one takes that paper seriously, certainly no one "frum".

And unfortunately, when the term "frum four" is used as a pejorative it is a sign of anti-Orthodoxism.

Check with your local ethicist.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Seitelman and others need not be so concerned. There was in fact no violation of law, either in New York or New Jersey. NJ law requires residency be established one year prior to the election, which it was. It also requires being registered to vote at the time of the election, which Mr. Rudolph was. New York law does not require sole residency be in New York and allows for dual residency with registration in NY.

Unfortunately, we have all be had by Martin Cramer and his lack of intellectual honesty. NO LAWS WERE BROKEN. THIS IS A NON-ISSUE AND IS MEANT TO DIVERT ATTENTION FROM REAL ISSUES

Anonymous said...

It astounds me that Rudolph, the man of a thousand political campaigns, can be so completely ignorant of basic election law. He filed incomplete and late financial statements two years ago because he didn't know he had to. He forgot that establishing residency in New Jersey means permanent residency. The one man who should know the rules by heart seems to have never heard of them or seems to believe they just don't apply to him.

New Jersey law requires continuous residency. You couldn't just buy a house on May 15, 2005 and move in one year later, the day before election day 2006. You needed to be a resident that entire year and Rudolph was not. Voting is the clearest possible declaration that you are a resident of that place and when Rudolph voted in September 2005 he declared that he was a legal resident of Brooklyn as of the previous 30 days, not Teaneck. Assuming that he properly reestablished residency in Teaneck in September, he was not a resident for the full year required in May 2006. If Rudolph had been caught in his lies two years ago he would have been tossed off the ballot, even if he would not have been prosecuted then.

This clear lapse in ethics from someone who say he was involved in election campaigns in utero is disturbing enough. It might have been possible to brush it off as a simple mistake, if he had been honest up front, admitted the mistake and not started attacking his alleged opponents for catching him with his pants down.

Like those caught hiring a hooker or cheating on their taxes, Rudolph is unlikely to be prosecuted. But the legal and ethical violations remain. All voters should be concerned about Rudolph and his dishonest behavior.

I will agree that Seitleman was wrong about Rudolph's moral compass needing correction. I don't think Rudolph has ever had one.

Anonymous said...

MORONICA HONIS does not even own or rent property in Teaneck yet claims to represent the citizens of this town?

She lives with her Mommy & Daddy and can't even keep a job in a public school system.

A vote for this loser is a vote for stupidity!!!

Tom Abbott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I don't know what kind of person equates a spur of the moment mistake like voting at his old address while accompanying his sickly mother to her polling place with the level of hypocrisy and immorality represented by a Spitzer, Patterson or Toffler. All I can say is that it is doubtful that the sane citizens of Teaneck will make such a comparison. This is especially so when all the good Rudolph has accomplished (without the hypocrisy of a Spitzer or Toffler) is contrasted to the careless disregard for the citizens' interests of a Honis.

Truth Teller said...


Rudolph has acknowledged he made a mistake.

Why do you want a pound of flesh from him?

It is strange that you are quick to forgive the truly awful immoral acts Toffler committed out of venality but cannot absolve the one slight error Rudolph made on that election day.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Abbott:

Your complete lack of honesty and integrity is astounding! Not only do you remove postings on your blog regarding this matter, you then go and discuss it (albeit in a completely unintelligent manner) on another blog! And then you hide the truth!! Regardless of which candidate you support, Ms. Toffler’s behavior IS of interest to the voters. While her book may have exposed unethical practices at Arthur Anderson, she still admitted on national television that she essentially stole more than $75,000 from a client because of GREED!

Anon 6:12 PM (or should I say Mr. Cramer)
Once again you must take us for idiots!

“New Jersey law requires continuous residency. You couldn't just buy a house on May 15, 2005 and move in one year later, the day before election day 2006.”

HE DIDN’T!!! You attempt to confuse the constituency of Teaneck through OUTRIGHT LIES. Councilman Rudolph bought his house more than a year before the elections. He maintained a dual residency within the lawful meaning of the statutes of BOTH jurisdictions and, as such, was not in violation of law. Just ask the Attorney General’s office! You should be ashamed of yourself for stooping to such disreputable levels. THE VOTERS OF TEANECK ARE NOT SO SIMPLE MINDED AS TO BE CONFUSED BY YOU!

Barbara Toffler, on the other hand, was definitely in violation of several State and Federal statutes. Her claim to be an expert on ethics must be from having practiced violating those same ethics she supposedly knows all about. HOW DUMB DO YOU THINK WE ARE?! This behavior shows the same hubris as those politicians who openly go lead lives of illegal activities and unethical behavior and are then surprised when they get caught.

Furthermore, Mr. Crane, the supposed “brains” behind Teaneck United, through his malicious attempts at spreading reprehensible, offensive and despicable lies has violated not only the libel and slander statutes but has also violated the Canon of Attorney Ethics. In his boundless and baseless hatred for Councilman Rudolph, a person a quarter of the age of Mr. Cramer who has done nothing to Mr. Cramer to engender such animosity, Mr. Cramer has lost his moral compass. This behavior could well cost Mr. Cramer his license to practice law if and/or when he is brought before the Bar’s Ethics Committee.

We can only hope that the voters of Teaneck are not so easily manipulated. All politics is based on interpersonal relationships. It is this type of networking that brought over one million dollars to Teaneck in Federal, State and County grants. It is the same type of behavior which got Martin Cramer his job as Township Attorney when he had it and Debra Veach her position as Prosecutor. The difference here is who is doing the networking. Whenever Loretta Weinberg feels her power base is threatened she and her minions scream foul play. Notice that she nor her followers do not do so when they are on the receiving end of the benefits of these types of arrangements. Without Loretta Weinberg we would not have had Monica Honis or Audra Jackson forced upon us.

Let us follow the example set by Senator Obama in his campaign: let us focus on the issues not the infighting. Let us agree to disagree on how to make Teaneck a better place and let the voters choose which candidates have the better vision. Do not be swayed by the Karl Rove-like mudslinging and Swift-Boating of Martin Cramer and his Teaneck “United”. Their approach seeks not diversity or inclusion but rather exclusion of anyone who is different from them or who does not share their same bigoted anachronistic view of the world.

Teaneck CAN be a place for all its residents to come together to raise their families and strive to achieve the American Dream. We CAN do it and we must, for the sake of our children and grand children.

Remember: can we do it?


Anonymous said...

Wow. Wouldn't it be fun to know just who is connected to the this blog! So here's my low-tech poll - just answer:

Who's connected to the writer/s of this blog:
Elnatan Rudolph
Joe Ferriero
Yitz Stern

Actually - I'm having trouble coming up with more names than these three - who else would benefit by the types of posts this blog specializes in?

Truth teller said...

You can't figure anything out because of your own narrow limitations. You are choking on your anger, hostility and unfairness. You don't know what ethical conduct means and trip over it every time.

We are ordinary citizens who don't want to choke on taxes and can't stand the negativity against achieving real positive change for Teaneck. Just because YOU are looking for new jobs or the restoration of your old jobs from your political boss (who may pretend not to be a boss)doesn't mean that those of us (and wait till election day when you discover how many of us there are across the e.d.'s of Teaneck) supporting Team Teaneck are looking for anything other than the good government of the township to the benefit of its residents.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:54
“Seems that Boss Yitz has finished the deal on selling his soul to Joe Ferriero in Hackensack.”

What are you talking about? In what way does Ms. Toffler’s ethical lapses have anything to do with Yitz Stern?

“I hear the pay for souls is pretty good even for low quality models.”

Now you are just being nasty for the sake of being nasty.

“Rudolph gets even more money for selling out Teaneck and opening the door to county contributors.”

In what way has Teaneck been “sold out”? I do not see any way in which the Town has suffered from the over one million dollars brought into the Town. Your knee jerk reaction is simply childish. Just because your candidates have done nothing of note for the Town is not a reason to deny the fact the Councilman Rudolph has delivered more to the Township in two years then Martin Cramer, Ms. Toffler, Ms. Jackson, or Ms. Honis have done combined.

“Can Gussen be far behind? Three right-wing Republicans all becoming Democrats because the price was right. Anyone want to by a bridge (or a budget) form these folks?”

What are you talking about this time? Obviously you are once again focusing on the canard that the zero percent increase in the budget is either slight of hand or some sort of scam. Look at the numbers. It is none of these things. This is what is called in the real world Fiscal Responsibility. Those who voted against the budget and wanted to raise it in order to fund unnecessary expenditures of tax payer funds are the ones selling the bridge. They are the one trying to convince you that you need to buy things that you don’t need.

Swiggle said...

Barbara Toffler (through her mouthpiece, Mr. Powers) said last night that learned her lesson and left (Arthur Anderson) before things got worse.

My question is: how steep is the learing curve on her? Will she only partially screw over the town before she learns the next valuable lesson?

Barbara Toffler is no Diogenes. She makes it seem as if she looked for the honest way around all these roadblocks and eventually realized she had to leave because there were none. While Diogenese looked for an honest man and reputedly found nothing but rascals...Toffler fleeced clients until it was clear that she would be caught and left to preserve any respect she may have had left.

Anonymous said...

It appears that this cadidate assumes that the residents are stupid.