The American Numismatic Association board of governors fired executive director Christopher Cipoletti effective 5 p.m. Mountain Time Oct. 16.
In the legal parlance of a motion that was passed in executive session at 6:45 p.m. the day before, Cipoletti's employment was terminated with cause.
Board members and their legal counsel A. Ronald Sirna Jr. said very little to explain their action, but considering the other motions passed at the board meeting, it is clear that they feel that too much authority was vested in one person for the ANA's good.
Under terms of Cipoletti's contract, which runs through Dec. 31, 2008, the next legal step is arbitration between the parties.
"This will lead to an arbitration we have to participate in," ANA President Barry Stuppler explained after the board announced its decisions. "We will see how that goes."
ANA President Barry Stuppler and newly appointed legal counsel A. Ronald Sirna Jr. could say little about Chris Cipoletti's termination. Stuppler revealed that arbitration was the next step as prescribed in Ciploletti's employment contract.
In an example of what goes around comes around, a second board motion that terminated "all financial and trustee relationships including the position of corporate agent held by Christopher Cipoletti by virtue of his employment as the executive director and general counsel of the American Numismatic Association" was made by Gov. Walter Ostromecki. Ostromecki had been removed as a governor at the October board session just two years before. He was elected governor again in the July election.
A third motion tried to shut the barn door on any further ANA flirtations with concentrated executive power. It explicitly states that the executive director and the general counsel cannot be the same person.
This combination was tried when Cipoletti began his term as executive director Jan. 1, 2003, after having been serving as the legal counsel since 1997, according to Stuppler.
At the time of the merging of the duties in one person, it had been hailed by ANA leaders as a cost-saving measure. It is clear the new board takes a dim view of the result.
ANA President Barry Stuppler and Vice President Patti Jagger Finner prepare for the public session of the ANA board meeting Oct. 16 in Colorado Springs.
Sirna's position as legal counsel was established Oct. 16 on the same timeline as Cipoletti's ouster. Sirna's former title had been special legal counsel to the ANA president, a post that was created by the current board at its first meeting Aug. 12 in Milwaukee, when it also put Cipoletti on paid administrative leave to focus on a pending lawsuit. Nothing was said at the October meeting about the status of the lawsuit.
An executive search to find a new executive director will begin as soon as the executive review and compensation committee can meet to define the process.
Sirna said "it could be a three-month process. It could be a six-month process."
The board met in executive session at ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., all day Monday, Oct. 15, and Tuesday morning, Oct. 16. Its decisions were revealed at a public session that ran for a little more than an hour Tuesday afternoon.