Congratulations to the American Numismatic Association, its new board of governors, new executive director and new legal counsel on settling a lawsuit that has been hanging over the organization and some former employees.
Members who voted for new leadership in last year?s election might now see in concrete terms that the members of the new board were serious in tackling the legal issues.
The fact that it has taken a year to accomplish this is not surprising given the complicated nature of the American legal system and the issues involved in the lawsuit.
As Ron Sirna, the legal counsel said at the Florida United Numismatists convention forum in January, a lawsuit is like a tobaggon ride. Once you start down that hill, you just can?t stop it and walk away.
The ANA has gotten to the bottom of that hill and has now stepped away. Have the members of the ANA been paying attention all this time? I hope so. It is important that they recognize the achievement. It is important that they remain engaged so that the current and future boards continue to reflect the wishes of the average member.
That is a big challenge. We live in a peculiar age. The Internet gets us information in a flash. People make up their minds in a flash. A consensus forms.
For almost 12 months, since last year?s board was sworn in, the average member could think that nothing was happening with the suit, the board was just like the prior one, etc., etc., while all the while it was moving heaven and earth to set a new direction.
This is where the newspaper editor in me sees the root of the problem. An ANA board of governors is a quasi-public body that owes the members the right of feedback and consultation. This means that they need to actively stay in touch with members and solicit opinions.
Members do not have veto power over each board action, but a board that is attuned to listening to members will find out a whole lot quicker that it is messing up than a board that does not.
With every problem that the prior board had, it reduced each question to the fact that it had a right to act. Of course it had a right to act.
However, was the board acting against the wishes of the majority of its members? That is a question that should always be asked for any major issue.
When the prior board fought with Chet Krause and Cliff Mishler over naming rights to the museum, the board had a right to do this. That it was stupid and contrary to the majority?s wish should have been the guiding principle.
Instead, very obvious defensiveness set in among board governors and they resented the very ANA members whose interests they should have been serving.
The end of this lawsuit takes down a section of the wall that had been erected between the board of governors and the membership. The 2007 election removed a section and the firing of the prior executive director demolished another part.
This board and future ones should never let that wall go up again between itself and ANA members. Listening to member opinions is critical.