OK. Which half of the truth do you want? I am just back from the American Numismatic Association?s National Money Show, which was held March 16-18 in Charlotte, N.C. I went in March 14 so I could spend approximately a day and a half in board meetings.
I am not kidding in my question. If I take the side of the board of governors, you will get one half of the view. If I take the side of the group of declared candidates who want to throw out the incumbent board, you get the other half. Both sides are right as far as they go.
The annual ANA budget was presented, discussed and adopted. It has a deficit. Aha, say the anti-incumbents, we told you so. Throw the rascals out in the upcoming election.
Rubbish, retorts the board. The budget has never been so honest. We have had a deficit for years that was paid for by the endowment fund. In 1994 the board adopted guidelines that allows it to take five percent of the endowment (basically its investment earnings) to cover the shortfalls. Prior budgets simply added a line for the endowment income that made the budget seem balanced on an operating basis when it wasn?t. This budget doesn?t do that.
Both sides are right. There is a deficit when the numbers are presented one way. There isn?t a deficit when the numbers are presented another way.
Is this what ANA members want? A fight over accounting practices that in no way changes underlying reality? I wouldn?t think so. Gov. Don Kagin hit the nail on the head when he chastised himself and the board for its failure to communicate. That failure has metastesized and fueled a full-blown insurgency led by new candidates. These are not fire-breathing radicals. They are concerned. They are responsible. They will do a good job should they be elected. I have friends on both sides of the incumbent-insurgent divide. Will they be talking to each other when the election is over? I wonder.
Lincoln quoted the Bible when he said ?a house divided against itself cannot stand.? What kind of house will the ANA have after this election?
After watching the board meeting, a candidate forum and a town hall meeting I concluded that there are two levels of reality. If someone who does not know the people involved were to read a transcript of the proceedings, they would wonder what the fuss and ruffled feathers are all about. Those who are in the know can see the personality clashes and emotive issues that send the two sides over the deep end.
The candidate forum had a tone of a married couple discussing issues during a messy divorce. What of issues?
For a while, you would have thought the ANA?s future hinged on bringing back its old lamp of knowledge logo. Is that the signature issue the ANA wants going forward into the 21st century? It seems silly and it truly is.
The proposed bylaws, which will truly change the tone and character of the organization and its relationship with its members, were virtually unanimously condemned in whole or in part. Those who condemned parts did not specify. A newcomer would have thought the candidates were basically in agreement. Ah, but we old-timers know better. What kind of face does that put on the ANA?
The real issues were never discussed. The root question is what kind of organization should the ANA be, one that acts like an institutionalized teacher of the public about numismatics, or one that focuses on helping (teaching) its members in numismatics? There is a very real divide between the concepts, but it isn?t discussed. ?I support education? is the cry of both sides. Well, who doesn?t?
It all seems to boil down to personality clashes. There are those who don?t like the current president, the likely next president, or the executive director and those who do. That is not necessarily a bad thing if kept within bounds. We?ve had clashes before, clashes of titans. The difference is no one questioned the titans? root commitment to support the ANA.