What was the “breach of confidentiality” that got Walter Ostromecki Jr. voted off the American Numismatic Association board? Ostromecki says it was a letter he wrote to Cliff Mishler Sept. 10.
Topic of that letter was to acknowledge an e-mail from Mishler, who co-chaired an ANA fund-raising effort for the museum and who has been rebuffed by the ANA board in his effort to name the ANA museum after Edward C. Rochette, a former ANA president and executive director.
Readers may wonder what explosive content would lead to Ostromecki being removed from the board of governors by a 7-0 vote of the other governors attending a closed session meeting Oct. 14 in Colorado Springs, Colo. They will keep wondering because the content as published here seems completely routine and harmless.
Numismatic News has obtained copies of Ostromecki’s letter and others written by or sent to Mishler and Chet Krause, the co-leaders of the fund-raising effort.
The letters are published here in chronological order.
Aug. 4, 2005, letter to ANA President Bill Horton from Chet Krause:
Words fail to express my disgust at recent action that changed the name of the Edward C. Rochette Museum to apply to the upper gallery of the museum only.
The banner we unveiled at the ceremony that took place July 2nd read ... Museum, which includes both the upper and lower galleries. I have seen a release for the Numismatist that directly mentions only the upper gallery.
Let me tell you that a half million dollars does not grow on trees. Upon my return from San Francisco I shared what had been done with the anonymous donor. He vented his disgust in words that are not printable.
If you haven’t given thought to what he, Cliff and my influence has on any future fundraising efforts you might consider it at this time.
You should understand that by prematurely canceling the campaign we did conduct that raised about $1 million, another million was left on the table. I am quite sure those funds will no longer be available to any campaign unless you have our blessing. Right now none of us are in a mood to do so.
No response to this letter is necessary except one telling us our donation included to name the Edward C. Rochette Museum stands as it was intended.
cc: Barry Stuppler; Patti Finner; Alan Herbert; Prue Fitts; Donald Kagin; Michael Fay; Walter Ostromecki; Remy Bourne.
Aug. 31, 2005, letter to Chet Krause from ANA Executive Director Chris Cipoletti:
Bill Horton has asked me to respond to your August 4, 2005 letter to him. The ANA Board had an opportunity to discuss your letter and the concerns you expressed.
We certainly do not want you left with a negative feeling about the fundraising campaign or the ANA. There was obviously confusion about the naming rights associated with your gift to the building fund and, unfortunately, naming opportunities and giving levels for those opportunities were not laid out at the beginning of the fundraising campaign. That is something that we cannot correct after the fact but it is an issue that we would greatly appreciate having an opportunity to discuss with you.
Cliff Mishler and I did not discuss the details of the naming in advance of the ceremony and I had not seen the banner that had been created until it was unfurled. I’m sorry that I did not ask to see the banner or clarify what was being named in honor of Ed Rochette prior to the ceremony. Had we had a conversation along those lines prior to the ceremony, we might have alleviated some of the issues that are now troubling you.
While we cannot undo what has occurred, Bill Horton and I would like to speak with you about your concerns. We would be more than willing to pay you a visit in Iola or arrange a conference call. Please let me know if you are amenable to a visit or a call so that we can provide you with the underlying analysis for the Board’s decision and to see what we might be able to do to respond to your concern that the campaign was prematurely cancelled.
I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you in the near future. Please feel free to call me at 719.482.9830.
cc: Bill Horton
Sept. 6 fax to Chris Cipoletti from Chet Krause:
Cliff Mishler was in Omaha this weekend. I have not had occasion to let him read your fax received Friday afternoon. I’ll do so this morning and no doubt one of us will respond later Tuesday.
At this point yours and Bill’s travel to Iola seems to be spending of time and money that could serve a better end. I am well aware that Iola is not a convenient place to get to, further there is no time factor to meet as water is already under the bridge. Our differences are more like repairing the dike at New Orleans.
My travel is quite limited these days. The ANA in San Francisco liked to kill me. Perhaps Cliff could arrange a meeting with you in his travels, which still are much broader in scope than mine.
He and I have a very like mind on this subject matter, thus when he speaks to this matter, he speaks for both of us.
Sept. 7 e-mail from Cliff Mishler to Chris Cipoletti with copies to all ANA board members and Chet Krause:
The situation concerning the handling of ANA Museum naming rights, involving the contribution made by the anonymous donor, Chet Krause and myself, started out being a very disappointing development, as I indicated to you and several board members during the course of individual conversations at the San Francisco ANA, but as time has passed we have found it to be very, very disgusting.
In the face of documented evidence to the contrary, you and the board have elected to undercut us and Ed Rochette where museum naming rights are concerned. While I acknowledge that $1 million was the figure that was originally thrown out for “museum naming rights,” those rights were offered by you to another party for $500,000. There was no mention at that time, nor subsequently in my presence, that the lesser amount would only qualify for “gallery naming rights.”
While there was certainly no specific discussion between us concerning the qualification level our combined contributions would meet, we are deeply disillusioned by the fact that following the unfurling of the banner at headquarters on Saturday, July 2, you did not see fit to tap Chet or myself on the shoulder and reveal that there was a misunderstanding at hand. To have learned about it through third party e-mail communications, and the “Living Legacy” item that had then been committed to publication in the August issue of Numismatist, was a most unacceptable approach.
While I am certainly willing to sit down and discuss this matter with you and Bill Horton, or any members of the board, I can tell you that nothing you can do short of naming the museum after Edward C. Rochette will pacify us. You indicate you “cannot undo what has occurred,” so what is there to talk about? The matters of our feelings relative to the adverse influences on the conduct of the fundraising campaign, wrought by you and the board, are certainly water under the bridge, as Chet indicated in his Sept. 6 note to you.
We’ll go on with our lives, and you and the others concerned can go on with theirs. Life is too short to continue wrangling over these matters, but I can assure you that our concerns and disgust will be with us for a long time.
Sept. 10 letter from Walter Ostromecki to Cliff Mishler in response to e-mail:
I am in receipt of your E-mail/letter of 6 September 2005. I appreciate your insights and comments regarding the situation regarding the ANA Museum Gallery naming rights. You have provided this new Board member with so vital information details pertaining to this issue that I had no knowledge of.
I, too, am very very disgusted at the out come. I have voiced my concerns during a Board conference call as so. The loss of an $500,000 was most up-setting. Fundraising donations of that nature do not grow on trees! I only wish there had been some written notes – a paper trail – outlining the agreed points of the earlier conversations.
It is unfortunate that this new ANA Board member had no input or vote on the matter as it was handled by the old BOG. I first learned of the “misunderstanding” in a note I received from Chet Krause 6th of September. I(t) is totally unfair for a non informed new Governor to be blind sided over an issue of this magnitude after taking office. It tarnishes the ANA in collector eyes.
Thank you for sharing with me your view points and concerns. They have been heard and duly noted!
I receive no communications from Headquarters as my E-mail address site does not meet Mr. Cipoletti’s special secrecy requirement. It goes through a secretary – a non interested impartial party – prior to being placed in my office box as Director of Leadership. [email@example.com] Mark it attn: Walter or Leadership. You are welcome to use it, should you wish or have need. I reply daily. It is on my attached card.
PS: You may let Chet know my personal feelings, too. I’d be happy to sit with you both and listen/resolve the “hurt feelings” issues. W
Sept. 26 letter from Cliff Mishler to Walter Ostromecki in response to his Sept. 10 letter:
Thanks for your kind letter of Sept. 10, in response to my communication of Sept. 6, to ANA executive director Chris Cipoletti and the board. My apologies for not responding in a more timely manner, but your letter arrived while Sally and I were away from Iola enjoying a short motor home trip through the Upper Midwest.
It has now been nearly three weeks since that e-mail was dispatched, and you are, by the way, the only one to whom it was directed who has accorded me the courtesy of a response. That, in my opinion, is one hell of a way to command and steer a ship!
I would like to, at this juncture, address one specific concern that was addressed in your letter, that being the belief that there does not exist “a paper trail” as concerns the matter in question.
While it is true that various verbal discussions were not formally documented, I would submit that the two documents that I enclose with this letter establish that there was a clear understanding of what was being discussed, offered and acceptable.
As relates to the first document, note that in the next to the last paragraph of the May 11, 2004, e-mail from Chris Cipoletti to (Editor’s note: name here and elsewhere crossed out in heavy black marker by Cliff Mishler from this copy), that it is stated in part, “for a total contribution by (name omitted) of $500,000 in 5 years for naming rights of the ANA museum.”
At this year’s ANA convention in San Francisco, following my in-depth conversations on the subject at hand with Chris Cipoletti and president Bill Horton, along with four individual board members, if I recall correctly, I had a brief discussion with (name withheld) inquiring as to his recollection of what the naming opportunity offer was that was on the table when (name withheld) Chris, Arthur Fitts and myself met in the Miller Time Pub lounge on Thursday afternoon, May 6, during the 2004 CSNS convention in Milwaukee, while the PNG Day/CSNS Bourse switchover was underway.
To the best of (name withheld) recollection, at the time, he related to me, it was his belief and understanding that the discussions related to museum naming rights, not gallery naming rights. In point of fact, he further indicated to me to the effect that had that not been the case, he would have rejected further consideration at that time. I must point out, for the record, however, that in a discussion with Arthur during the San Francisco ANA, he indicated to me that it was his recollection that that was not the case.
Turning to the second document, a letter from me to Chris Cipoletti dated July 29, 2004, note that in the third paragraph it is stated in part, “for the purpose of museum naming rights.” I would hasten to point out, as well, that in this instance the monetary consideration was $500,000 cash in the bank, not $100,000 per year for five years, as was being offered to the (name withheld) which was also being offered attendant additional “sponsorship” benefits tied to half of the commitment proposed for them.
At no time, to the best of my recollection, did Chris ever indicate to me, verbally in person, over the phone, in a letter or an e-mail, up to that juncture, or through the next 12 months, that the $500,000 contribution would only be eligible for “gallery” recognition, rather than “museum” recognition. The first time I learned anything about the conflict was in late July, 2005, when I started receiving calls and e-mails relating thereto on the Thursday or Friday before I headed off to the San Francisco ANA.
I must interject at this juncture that early on, our discussions with Ed Rochette, first, and Chris Cipoletti subsequently, after the executive director responsibilities were passed between the two of them, were that naming rights for the “museum” would be at the $1 million level. The scenario here was that as Dwight Manley received “library” naming rights for $500,000, the greater identity provided in receiving museum naming rights would be worth twice as much.
When it was agreed to lower our sights to $500,000 for (name withheld) and when that initiative failed, in the absence of any advisory to the contrary we certainly – Chet, myself and the anonymous donor – quite logically I believe, assumed that that level was available to anyone. I further understand that the Manley commitment for library naming rights was actually only $250,000 in cash, with the promise of future contributions to bring his total “up to” $500,000, which I understand he has been fulfilling by funding rare book and related acquisitions.
Then, to add insult to injury, the Living Legacy naming announcement presented in the Association news & notes department in the August, 2005, issue of Numismatist, presents a pair of errors that rank as monumental blunders. First, the date of the naming event in Colorado Springs is given as June 25; it was Saturday, July 2, and I have travel records to establish that fact. Secondly, it is stated that “Chet Krause and an anonymous donor each contributed $250,000;” the anonymous donor contributed $250,000, while the other $250,000 was a joint contribution on the part of Chet Krause and Clifford Mishler.
Perhaps such errors are understandable, given that the fundraising drive that Chet and I volunteered to undertake operated under handicaps from the very beginning. For starters, the money was spent before it was raised; you should never undertake a capital expansion without having all or the majority of the money at hand before the first concrete is poured or nail driven. Then the board agreed to our belated involvement, with the understanding that we were responsible for process. While we found the undertaking more challenging than we had imagined, and our results in hand had lagged to our objectives from the perspectives of both timing and dollars, the board acted to cut our efforts short, which resulted in our leaving at least $500,000, and probably in excess of $1 million on the table. Now, the board has reneged on what was a quite clearly accepted and understood naming rights commitment.
One final matter, concerning the banner that Ed Rochette and myself unfurled in Colorado Springs on July 25 (sic) indicating the “museum” had been named in his honor, while I certainly did not clear the wording appearing thereon with Chris Cipoletti in advance – it has actually been prepared for unfurling at the Pittsburgh ANA, which Ed had to cancel out on attending at the last minute – it is my belief that it is inexcusable that Chris, who joined with Chet in the audience to view it head-on, did not subsequently take one of us aside to bring the conflict in assumptions to our attention. Rather, we had to learn about the situation through the back door!
Now, that’s truly one hell of a way to run a ship, to say the least.
cc: William H. Horton, Jr., President
Barry S. Stuppler, Vice-President
M. Remy Bourne, Governor
Michael S. Fey, Governor
Prue Morgan Fitts, Governor
Alan Hebert, Governor
Patricia Jagger-Finner, Governor
Donald H. Kagin, Governor
Chris Cipoletti, Executive Director
Arthur Fitts, Past Governor
Gary E. Lewis, Past President
Chester L. Krause
Oct. 1 letter from Walter Ostromecki to Cliff Mishler in reply to his Sept. 26 letter:
Thank you for your letter of the 26th September.
While I cannot speak for any other ANA Governor, I consider it my duty to acknowledge any letter, phone call, fax or E-mail I receive from the membership. I believe anyone who contacts me is entitled to that courtesy, especially since it was the membership who elected me. My letter response to you has gotten me into a lot of hot water!
I appreciate your sharing your recollections on the matter in question. They have given me a clearer understanding on a matter I had little knowledge of, and no input on. I should now be able to freely discuss the matter with other Board members and make an informed decision.
I understand from sources that I run the risk of being removed from the Board in closed session “for my E-mail site not being a personal.” If that happens, all this is for not.
Again, thank you for taking the time to write and share your views and concerns with me