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ANA board gets good legal news

Austerity was in and excess spending was out as the old board of the American Numismatic Association met briefly in public session Aug. 7, one day prior to Cliff Mishler taking office as president along with his newly elected board colleagues.

Though it wasn’t mentioned by the board itself, the absence of coffee, soda and an assortment of breakfast rolls in the meeting room at the Los Angeles Convention Center told much of the story of the recent cost-cutting effort that has brought the ANA budget into operating balance, with only unpredictable legal expenses still pressuring the endowment.

Barry Stuppler, outgoing president, was pleased to report that he thought that the ANA would be able to start replenishing the endowment by $300,000 before the calendar year was over, breaking a sequence of withdrawals to cover the cost of litigation with or because of the prior executive director, Christopher Cipoletti.

General Counsel Ron Sirna’s legal report was the highlight of the meeting populated by 45 people at one point, including five ANA staff, and the 11 board and ANA officials at the head table.
“We won the Cipoletti arbitration pretty emphatically,” Sirna declared after promising to make his presentation short.

Sirna said the arbitrator had found that Cipoletti had breeched his fiduciary duties. Cipoletti’s claims were dismissed entirely. The arbitrator awarded the ANA its costs but not attorneys’ fees.

Sirna said the arbitrator did not award attorneys’ fees because it could not legally be done.

A pending ANA claim in district court in Colorado has added a civil theft count against Cipoletti.

Another lawsuit in which the ANA is being sued for fees by Graham & Stubbs, a Denver law firm hired by Cipoletti to pursue another now settled suit against former employees and contractors, will likely be delayed from its December start because Cipoletti has gotten a new attorney.

With a new attorney coming on, Sirna said the court granting a continuance is routine.

“I feel confident we will prevail,” Sirna declared. “When that’s over, that will put an end to it.”

He said the ANA has pending counterclaims.

“We will prevail on these counterclaims against Cipoletti and the Denver law firm,” he declared.

A suit brought by ACG grading was resolved in February, Sirna reported. A pending one with Universal Grading Service he expects to be resolved now that the venue has changed from New York to California. Insurance covers the costs of these latter two suits.

Stuppler thanked the board for its two years of service.

“The membership gave me an all-star board,” he said. “I think we have the ship corrected. It has been my true pleasure. Cliff will do an outstanding job.”

He was given a standing ovation by those in the room.

The ANA is currently operating in a short fiscal year of April 1 to Oct. 31 as it is in the process of changing its fiscal year to Nov. 1 to Oct. 31.

The seven-month budget is $70,000 ahead, executive director Larry Shepherd reported. He said the next budget is shaping up very well.

Shepherd reported that membership was up and donations were up as exemplified by a $250,000 donation given Aug. 5 at the opening ceremony by Dwight Manley to the Florence Schook School of Numismatics to fund scholarships.

Stuppler said the membership has taken recent fee and dues increases well.

The new $6 admission fee for nonmembers that began with the convention resulted in 300 new memberships taken out at the show (a number raised to 460 the next day) and $30,000 in revenue was generated by that point.

ANA later said that convention attendance of unique visitors was 7,727.

Shepherd said the fee was part of the new ANA strategy to add value to an ANA membership.

Among the incidental facts Shepherd reported, Summer Seminar attendance rose this year and the Citizens Coin Advisory Committee, which held a meeting there, will be back in Colorado Springs, Colo., in conjunction with the event in 2010. The 2009 Summer Seminar also covered its costs, another first.

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