So The Wall Street Journal has an interesting profile of the head of KPMG, the accounting firm that has had San Diego leaders “over a barrel,” as they say, for nearly three years.

To give you an idea of how long that’s been:

  • My colleague, Andrew Donohue, hadn’t even met the woman to whom he’s married when KPMG was hired to produce the city of San Diego’s audited financial statements for the year 2003.
  • Evan “Ace Boy” McLaughlin, was serving lemonade at Petco Park.

It’s been six months since the firm Kroll Inc. — headed by the renowned former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt — finished its $20.3 million investigation on behalf of KPMG. The completed effort, of course, was supposed to immediately enable production of these long-awaited audited financial disclosures from KPMG.

The city paid that enormous sum of money — enough to help give police officers a substantial one-year raise — based on the myth that KPMG needed the investigation and that it would produce an audit. KPMG supported Kroll’s expensive effort throughout those endless public discussions we endured as the City Council decided again and again to fork millions over to Kroll.

The Wall Street Journal article is fairly laudatory of KPMG Chairman Timothy Flynn’s effort to pull the big accounting firm away from the brink of collapse and potentially disastrous scandal.

And guess who appears in the article as an “informal” counselor of Flynn and KPMG with words of praise for the company? Yes, the always eloquent Mr. Arthur Levitt from Kroll.

Out of nowhere in the middle of the Journal article comes this:

Frequently described by those who meet him as earnest, Mr. Flynn, says former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, is like “the parish priest who became pope.”

I’m not sure what that means.

But then the mutual respect of the two accounting world giants comes through at the end of the article:

One former critic is impressed with changes at KPMG. Former SEC Chairman Levitt once called KPMG a “rogue operation.” Mr. Levitt, who has offered informal counsel to Mr. Flynn, says that the chairman “stepped into a troubled situation and by sheer strength of personality and character saved that firm from destruction.”

Well, isn’t that special?

SCOTT LEWIS

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