.: 2018 ARRL Northwestern Director Election
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Questions or comments:
A Campaign for Change!
Quick link guide to
sections on this page (or simply scroll down):
My Professional Qualifications
My Educational Background
My Amateur Radio Core Values
My Immediate Plans
for the Northwestern Division
My Views on the ARRL Policy on Board
Governance and Conduct
My Views on our new ARRL CEO
9. My Views on the ARRL
10 My Views on the ARRL
Volunteer Examiner Program
Views on the DX and Contest Advisory Committees
12. How can I help?
Hi, I'm Mike Ritz,
The ARRL Northwestern Division
has an important decision to make:
Stay with the status quo, or move in a new direction
ensure your voice is heard in Newington.
are at a crossroads;
You now have the opportunity to select your next Director, and must decide which
candidate can not only bring your thoughts and concerns to the Board, but can
drive positive change. Over the last year I have come to realize there are many
improvements to be made in Board transparency, communication, and in how our
Division members are represented. We can, and must do better.
Change is needed
— your voice must count!
We need to get the League back to where being an ARRL member
means you have a real voice in what happens in Newington, ("ARRL- The Member Organization"), while maintaining the health of "ARRL-
Corporation". We CAN have both! We must ensure member voices count, and
foster transparency in League operations.
running for ARRL Northwestern Director to help solve these problems,
to get our
League focused on the important work ahead and ensure a bright future for Amateur
Remember: It's about action,
properly representing our members, and getting things accomplished that enance
our experiences in amateur radio. In other words; it's about results,
not preserving legacies.
My Professional qualifications:
I recently retired after a successful career in high technology management at
the Director level. In this capacity I was responsible for generating and
executing business plans that promoted both revenue growth AND customer
satisfaction. I was part of the team
authoring long term corporate strategic plans, and served as our primary
customer advocate, bringing their voice to senior company executives. During my variety of roles in operations, engineering and
management, I oversaw many staff members spanning multiple departments, ensuring
they all worked collaboratively to meet our company goals.
These are all relevant skills that will serve me well in
representing the Northwestern Division to the ARRL Board!
I hold science and technology degrees from Foothill College (ASc) and San
Jose State University (BSIT, with a minor in Business), both Cum Laude.
While at San Jose State I was awarded Epsilon Pi
Tau honors for Education in Technology, and was also a founding member of the
university's Technology Advisory Board, established to help guide the
institution's future curriculum in technology.
My Amateur Radio Core Values:
: I firmly believe in our
public service role as radio amateurs.
I have served as an
ARRL ARES Emergency Coordinator (EC), and currently serve as Deputy EC for our local
county ARES/RACES program.
have completed FEMA sponsored educational courses, and training for our
local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, where I served as the
While an active EC I volunteered my time and resources to be entrenched
for a week with fire crews
on the front lines,
providing critical communications for a very large wildfire in Central
California. I recently took on
the challenge to author modules for
Oregon’s new statewide ARES Amateur Radio Operator (ARO) certification training program.
I am in my third term as President of the Willamette Valley DX Club, Founder/Trustee of the
Columbia River DX Club, (a club
I started to mentor new hams interested in HF and contest operation), and past
President of the Santa Cruz County Amateur Radio
Club. I'm not afraid to step up to the plate when leaders are needed.
I've been an ARRL member since first licensed in 1974. Life membership
in the League came soon after, knowing this hobby would be a lifelong passion.
I am a
very active amateur, on the air, and committed to bringing this energy and
passion to the Board.
Importantly, I have the free time necessary to work
to be your advocate in Newington.
Mentoring and Education:
I believe this is the foundation for the future of amateur radio. As a result,
I focus on mentoring new hams at my HF multi-op contest station. I am an ARRL
Registered Trainer, Volunteer Examiner,
presented numerous educational seminars for clubs and conventions,
(both professionally and ham radio related), and have authored several articles
related to the hobby and technology.
Plans for the Northwestern Division
question I've been asked is: "What would you do in the first 30 or 60 days after
being elected?" Well, there are two things I believe need to be done right away:
1. Re-establish an ARRL Northwestern Division specific
website, complete with a blog, to allow members to comment on subjects of
interest posted on the website. The prior Director moved this communications
medium over to Facebook and removed the website. There are a lot of members in
our Division that are not on Facebook, and our Division would be much better
served with a website that everbody would have access to!
2. Our Northwestern Division covers about 1 million
square miles, over 5 large states. It's impossible for me as a lone person to
reach out and personally touch every club in each state. What I would like to do
is establish a network of Northwestern Division Assistant Directors, probably at
least one in each ARRL section. This will greatly enable me to reach out to
members, and gather valuable input on the issues to take back to the Board.
It's all about improving two-way
communications within our Division!
My ARRL Voice
Last year there was a group, (that actually became a
movement), formed to bring
awareness of the many challenges facing the ARRL to the League's members, and to keep members informed
of relevant Board actions:
myARRLVoice.org (MAV). They
have been instrumental in beginning the process of improving transparency at the
Board level of the League. I might add there have been recent
improvements in transparency, such as releasing and publishing the minutes
of the January 2017 ARRL Board Meeting in QST magazine. That said, there is more
that can be done.
The MAV group's guiding principles,
(and my take on them):
"ARRL members should have timely access to information about
current initiatives and proposed actions that impact them, and they should know
the positions their Directors take and how they vote"
This is an issue, and one of
the big problems with today's ARRL Board. Many important proposals are coming
out of the Board's various committees that have a profound effect on members and
our hobby as a whole, then go straight to a vote (or to the FCC in one recent
case) without bringing the final proposals back to the members for comment. I
understand that often the Directors themselves do not know much about the proposals
before they are being asked to vote on them.
Section 8, "Support of Board
Decisions", of the ARRL Policy on Board Governance
and Conduct currently forbids Directors from telling members how
they actually voted, if they were in the minority. (See below for more on this.)
"ARRL should be managed efficiently and always remain
accountable, open and accessible to its members. Democratic principles and due
process should always prevail – favoring the Member"
As acting ARRL CEO, Barry Shelly, N1VXY pointed out in a recent editorial
in QST, the ARRL is a "representative democracy". That means that Board members
should be able to tell their constituents what is being proposed that affects
them, solicit their input prior to action, and members should be encouraged to
bring their proposals and concerns to the attention of the Board through their
Director. The Board should not dictate policy by itself.
"Members should have the opportunity to express their views
on any matter before the Board in advance of Board action. Directors have an
obligation to take member views and opinions into consideration on all matters
This goes back to the transparency issues noted above.
While the Board and Executive Board should be able to meet in private for
personnel or proprietary matters related to "ARRL- the Corporation", the
remainder of the Board meetings should be held in a public forum, perhaps even
with a live stream. All members input within a Division should be valued
and considered, even if the Director of that Division himself or herself
disagrees with the member opinions.
Every voice should count!
I am not a member of the MyARRLVoice organization,
nor do they endorse candidates. That disclaimer aside, I do support the ideals
of their principles, and will do what I can to
bring these to the ARRL Board!
The ARRL Policy on Board Governance and Conduct
The ARRL has a document that
was approved by the majority on the Board in January 2017 titled the
Policy on Board Governance and Conduct of Members of the Board of Directors and
Vice Directors (click on title for full document) which outlines how Board
members are expected to conduct themselves in the dispatch of their duties. This
document covers areas such as requiring members support the mission of the ARRL,
requiring members to properly prepare for, and attend meetings, ensuring that the
financial health of the League is well managed, and working together in a respectful and
courteous environment, among many other line items.
Section 8 of this code relates to
of Board Decisions". This very controversial section basically demanded Board members be a
united front for all board decisions, even if a member found themselves in the
minority (dissenting side) on a Board vote. A member could express concern with
a decision within the Board, but not publicly. The section also dictated that
if a member was unable to accept a Board decision the only remedy suggested was
a voluntary resignation from the Board. The consequence of this section is
that Board members cannot, in some cases, tell ARRL members in their Division how they
truthfully voted on a Board action.
This is about as far from transparency as
one can get!
The Board needs active debate within, and the views expressed on all sides of
an issue should be open to member review.
Members need, (and should
demand), to know
where their League representatives stand on important issues that affect them, and how they voted.
After a lot of heat generated from many disgruntled ARRL members,
the Board, at their January 2018 meeting, decided to suspend this
section of the code. Not rescind entirely, but suspend,
"pending further review and study". In my opinion, this section needs to be
fully rescinded to ensure that Board members are allowed to be completely transparent
with their constituents on how they vote on board proposals.
My Views on the
new ARRL CEO
has announced their new CEO selection, Dr. Howard Michel, PhD, WB2ITX, to
replace recently departed Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, and Barry Shelly, N1VXY, our
interim CEO. The CEO role is critical to the future of the League, and I
certainly wish Howard the best. That said, I have a few thoughts:
There were a couple of words used in the official ARRL
press release that really piqued my interest- references to
"member-organization", and "value". These are words I've used many times
during my campaign. What we can't have as the primary goal of our new
CEO is the financial success of ARRL- The Corporation, while overlooking ARRL-The
Member Organization. The ARRL is currently shedding members quickly
and we need to stem the tide. This is
done by having a strong, respected leader at the top with a real vision for the
future of amateur radio, and very importantly, respect for the membership.
Members themselves need to perceive the ARRL as a "value" proposition, or they
will continue to leave. This will be a real test for our new CEO. I'd certainly
like to hear more about his vision for the future, and hopefully we will.
When the ARRL increased the dues several years ago they
knew they would lose membership in the process, and that has come true in
spades. Some 12% of the membership has left the fold in the last couple of years
(From 176,000 to about 154,000 as reported in the ARRL 2017 Annual Report. They
expect to lose about 5,000 (about 2 %) more members this year. Our previous CEO thought that
was OK, since the dues increase would more than offset the revenue losses of
those that chose not to continue membership. How is that philosophy good for
either the League, or amateur radio in general?
Members need to be thought of more than just a revenue stream, and I hope Dr.
Michel understands that concept!
Dr. Michel certainly has great academic credentials, but
it appears his actual "on-the-air" time is seriously lacking, at least within
this century. As a relative unknown he certainly will have to earn the
respect of a skeptical membership. Communication with the membership base
will be key. (Remember that "communication" requires meaningful information
flowing BOTH directions!)
Again, I wish Dr. Michel all the success as our
new CEO, and suggest that others do likewise. It's to all our best interest that
he IS successful, and can turn the tide of discontent.
My Views on the ARRL Strategic Plan
In 2016 the ARRL published their five year
Plan. The ARRL Strategic Planning Working Group, (consisting of several ARRL
board members and a select group of ARRL Section Managers), was responsible for
its creation. This document contains most of what one would expect of a
typical strategic plan; a mission statement, a vision statement,
values defined, and a list of goals broken down into a series of initiatives.
What is missing here is the implementation process of the plan. How are
these goals going to be carried out, and what are the metrics used to
The plan published by the league outlined six major
goals, (which are listed below). There was no intent to provide an
implementation process, or metrics. It has been left up to the ARRL Board of
Directors to determine how to meet
each of these goals and initiatives, and there is still much more work to be done.
We are now more than half-way through the timeline. Where are we in
implementation? What progress is being made?
I thoroughly believe that the Board needs to provide its
members regular updates on how the League is progressing with the goals and
initiatives listed in the Strategic Plan. I've heard nothing regarding
progress, have you?
on each of these major goals follow:
1. Grow Amateur Radio worldwide
Surveys have shown that the average age of an
amateur radio contest operator in Europe is at least 10 years younger than in the United
States. Some of this I am convinced is related to the Iron Curtain falling in
Eastern Europe, which has opened them to more international radio activity,
coupled with an educational focus on science and technology. Amateur radio is continuing to flourish in Asia, as
there is increasing amateur activity from this area being noted in
contests. Obviously, we need to educate, encourage, and mentor a new generation of amateurs here
in North America to lower the age gaps that exist. The League encourages
technology and science education though
their scholarship programs, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
outreach efforts, and other educational opportunities they offer.
These need to be evaluated for effectiveness, compared to what is being used in
the rest of the world successfully, then tweaked as necessary. I believe that
developing mentoring programs, where new amateurs learn from experienced
critical to this effort and needs to be a focus for the Board.
I strongly believe in promoting STEM activities at all
levels of education. It promotes curiosity, develops critical thinking
processes, and lays the foundation for many fields of endeavor. It also provides
an opportunity to expose young people to amateur radio. But with that said, I
think it is a somewhat strained dream that we can get a large portion of those
young people involved in amateur radio while they are still young. Amateur radio
is expensive, and young folks typically don’t have the resources to undertake
the hobby. In addition, young folks have other activities such as higher
education, recreational sports, raising families, starting a career, that limit
the time they can commit. So I think that when we expose young folks to amateur
radio, we need to do so with the understanding that these young people may not
embrace, or return to, amateur radio for another 10/20/30 years. Think of it as
planting seeds, while some may grow immediately, most may need years to
I believe that both sponsored and individually
financed DXpeditions also play a
large and important part of
growing the hobby internationally, especially in developing nations. In these
settings very talented and experienced operators act as both mentors and
goodwill ambassadors that provide a trickle-down effect to local ham
populations, and within their governments. These
expeditioners often spend their own money and resources to provide these
services to amateurs worldwide, or receive partial financial aid from
outside foundations. There is probably more the League could do to support these
efforts, and in turn grow amateur radio worldwide.
I think amateur radio has an easy opportunity to attract
and foster involvement with the “empty nesters” and the recently retired. I
believe that these people are looking for new activities to keep themselves
active and engaged. It is also a time in life where they may have more resources
available to take up the hobby of amateur radio.
Increase the vitality of Amateur Radio
Increasing the vitality of amateur radio means
having an ARRL rife with vitality itself. That said, this has to be accomplished
while remembering its illustrious past, and members that have supported the
League over the years. There is a saying I used to remind the senior staff at my company
of all the time: "The most cost effective
marketing program is one that leverages our existing customers, through keeping
them happy with quality products, and service that meets their needs. It's much
less expensive to keep an existing customer than to find a new one".
That axiom equates to making sure
the League serves its members in such a way that the members see the League as a
resource, with a perceived "value add" to aid their participation in,
and the enjoyment of amateur radio. Issues regarding questionable governance
results in controversy, and coupled with a lack of transparency creates an atmosphere of distrust
resulting in long time members running for the door. This most certainly works against the
League's goal of vitality; certainly for itself, and for amateur radio as a
whole. We need to listen to what our members (in actuality our "customers")
have to say, respond to their
needs, and provide them with value.
An example: In 2015 the Board approved an annual dues increase dues
of $10 a year, taking effect in January 2016. In the 2017
ARRL Annual Report it was reported that as a result of the dues increase,
overall net ARRL membership dropped by 3% . This equates to a loss of over 5,000
members year-over-year, with an additional 2% (about 3,000) member loss expected
for 2018. How many of these "now former" members were put over the edge
financially by the dues increase, and how many were just fed up with what is
perceived as: "What is the ARRL providing me for my money, and is it worth
it?" People often vote with their wallets, and proper marketing of what the ARRL
does for members could go a long way to solving this issue.
Part of "increasing the vitality" revolves around #3
below, "keeping amateur radio accessible to all". However, that must come
in such a way as the license itself doesn't become meaningless. Careful
thought, consideration and member input has be a part of this process, and the League
do a much better job of communicating proposals before they are enacted.
Keep Amateur Radio accessible to all
The League is trying to improve accessibility for
those with HOA restrictions that either limit, or outright ban outdoor antennas,
(or in some cases, any antennas at all).
Radio Parity Act of 2017, (HR-555/S-1534), was introduced into congress in an
attempt to limit the power of HOAs in
regulating amateur radio antennas. While the original bill that was defeated
last session would have had a positive impact in regards to the power of HOAs in
regulating our enjoyment of the hobby, this bill is far from that. There are
arguments to support both sides, including that this bill is, in some ways,
"worse than not doing anything" by essentially making attempts at
installing stealth antennas in HOA governed areas illegal. We'll have to wait
and see what happens with this bill.....
Some of the FCC regulations need to change too! There is much work to do
with the FCC in the technical area of
spurious RF emissions from electronic equipment of all varieties that
interfere with our ability to enjoy our hobby due to the high ambient noise levels
Current rules for FCC
Part 15 Part B specify unintended maximum radiation requirements for parts of the radio spectrum,
but not others that affect HF operation below 30 MHz . Worse, there is word of a
change to regulations being considered
at the FCC that
would make radio receiver
manufacturers responsible to filter out these interference sources, having
apparently given up on making the manufacturers of the offending equipment
responsible. This is not a viable solution with current technology at a
reasonable price, and must be strongly addressed by the League.
On another note, I
have a few reservations regarding the
current FCC proposal submitted by the League to give Technician Class licensees
and digital privileges on 80 meters, 40 meters, and 15
written. While almost universally every amateur I've spoken with is dead set
against the proposal, I have softened my stance due to some recent arguments
I've heard saying basically, "What's the harm?" In the end, they're probably
right, and here's why:
The bottom line: Will many
Techs take advantage to this new opportunity? My best guess is that some will (a
very small percentage), but the vast majority will not. From what
I've seen in my 40 plus years in the hobby, and as a part of proctoring many
Volunteer Examiner sessions, most people that hold Technician class
licenses have absolutely no interest in upgrading or operating HF. Their 2
meter handi-talkie and local repeaters are all they need. These are ARES
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members, Red Cross members, four-wheel
drive enthusiasts, "preppers", or even church members.
Operation is confined
within their local communities, and that is where their interest in amateur radio
ends. For them, having a radio and access to
ham radio communications is the primary goal,
having amateur radio as a hobby is not. (As an aside: The League needs to
understand this difference, and adjust to this demographic if it wants to pull
them into their fold!)
What I would fully support is opening up some of the digital
portions of the HF bands to Technicians, as this will enhance their amateur
radio experience without giving them what equates to most of a General Class
license, without having to take the General license test. They can get a taste
of the HF experience with the new digital modes, using limited antennas and low
power, which even work well in apartments, urban settings, and other places
where voice, and even CW, would not be practical. Also, the test pool for
Technician Class needs to be expanded to include more questions regarding HF
phone and digital operating.
In the end it probably doesn't matter whether or not
this proposal passes muster with the FCC. If it passes I believe the new
allowances for current Techs will not have a profound effect on HF daily life or
spectrum utilization. For those few it helps, great.
HERE'S THE REAL ISSUE! What I
am really against is the fact that the League submitted this proposal to the FCC
without bringing it back to the ARRL members for adequate input and feedback
prior to submission! This issue goes back to the "Accountability" issues
in the "myARRLVoice" section above.
Advance Amateur Radio science and technology
I think the League already does a pretty good job of
this with technical articles published in QST and other publications they
produce. What the
League needs to do strive to better utilize the massive pool of technical talent
within their membership, by encouraging and rewarding innovation. Some of
the country's brightest minds are amateurs, and I
believe the League is on the right track here. That said, it probably can do more.
Organize and train volunteers to serve their
communities by providing public service and emergency communications
The League began this program with the successful
building up of the ARRL's Amateur Radio Emergency Service, (ARES), through
collaborative efforts with other agencies, such as the American Red Cross and
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). There
needs to be more effort placed on nationwide standards for ARES volunteers,
which is now mostly handled at the local level. This is going to require
mentoring and training of volunteers at the local level to bring them up to
national standards. Ensuring that all ARES members meet a minimum standard
of training greatly enhances our value to served agencies nationwide.
Note: The Board is currently considering major changes
to the ARRL ARES program. We need to ensure that local SECs and their ECs are
part of this process, along with input from their served agencies!
Practice good governance and organizational
This is something that the League REALLY has to focus on
moving forward, and it goes without saying. I really can't say anything here
that hasn't already been said! The League needs to listen to its customers
(ie: members), and govern in an open-door manner that evokes an atmosphere of mutual trust.
At this point this trust is lacking, and is very detrimental to the vitality of
the League. ARRL Members have to be treated as customers, resources, and
part of the team, not
forgotten or ignored. To ensure board transparency, Section 8 of the ARRL Code
of Conduct needs to not only be suspended, but removed.
Take care of these governance and organizational challenges, and the
rest will take care of itself. The League will most certainly prosper as a result.
The ARRL Volunteer
I believe we can all agree the ARRL Volunteer
Examiner (VE) Program has been a huge success over the time it has been in
force. That doesn't mean it can't be improved! One of the big
issues has to do with the fact that VEs are not required to supply information
about local ham clubs, local ARES groups, or even the ARRL for that matter, nor
do they have to allow local ham clubs or ARES groups to recruit members at the
testing session. The local VE group here in my own county at one time expressly forbade
recruiting at VE sessions. The examinees left the session with almost no chance for future elmering,
and most will probably not renew their license when the 10 year span is up. The League needs
to strongly ENCOURAGE, ARRL accredited VEs to allow local clubs and
ARES programs to recruit, and strongly encourage ARRL membership as a part of the testing
The DX and Contest Advisory
The league has two advisory committees, the "DX Advisory
Committee" (DXAC) , and the "Contest Advisory Committee" (CAC). Both are staffed
by ARRL members who are considered what can be best described as "subject matter
experts" in these two amateur radio disciplines.
One appointment to each committee is available in each Division and
appointments are made by the respective Division director. They both meet on
what appears to be an irregular basis, and they also seem to have very little to
An example of this was the recent addition of Kosovo,
Z6, to the DXCC Approved Country list. This was apparently done without any
input from, or consultation with the DXAC! Why have a DXAC if they are not going
to be utilized as subject matter experts before a final decision is made to add
a new country to the DXCC list?
The CAC finds itself in a similar situation, in that
they have very little to do. One of the things I believe is that we need to take
full advantage of "in-house" experts, especially on important issues. These
committees are comprised of amateurs that have vast experience and knowledge of
these special disciplines. Why not use them more?
Can I Help?
The first thing you can do is SPREAD THE WORD!
Spread the word about my campaign at your local ham club meetings, or better
yet, invite me to speak at your meeting. I have attended and presented at about
20 meetings in the last few months, but I will find a way to squeeze another in!
The second thing you can do is VOTE!
In the 2015 Northwestern Division election less than 22% of ARRL members
bothered to vote. We need "all hands ON-DECK" for this election!
NOTE: The ballots ARE NOW IN THE
MAIL! Please make sure you vote AND SEND IN YOUR BALLOT before the first week of
November! Ballots will be counted on November 16th.
THANK YOU IN ADVANCE
FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
Mike Ritz, W7VO
Questions or comments?