Adventures in Amateur Radio

Scappoose, Oregon, USA    -     Columbia County

ITU Zone 6         CQ Zone 3         Grid  CN85nt



.: 2018 ARRL Northwestern Director Election

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A Campaign for Change! 

Quick link guide to sections on this page (or simply scroll down):

1. Introduction

2. My Professional Qualifications

3. My Educational Background

4. My Amateur Radio Core Values

5. My Immediate Plans for the Northwestern Division


7. My Views on the ARRL Policy on Board Governance and Conduct

8. My Views on our new ARRL CEO

9. My Views on the ARRL Strategic Plan

10 My Views on the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Program

11. My Views on the DX and Contest Advisory Committees

12. How can I help?


Hi, I'm Mike Ritz, W7VO.
The ARRL Northwestern Division has an important decision to make:

Stay with the status quo, or move in a new direction
 to ensure  your voice is heard in Newington.

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 We 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- The Corporation". We CAN have both! We must ensure member voices count, and foster transparency in League operations. 

I'm 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 Radio.

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! 

My Educational Background:

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:


  • Public Service:  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. I have completed FEMA sponsored educational courses, and training for our local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, where I served as the Radio Officer. 

    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.

  •  Leadership: 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.

  •  Commitment:  I've been an ARRL member since first licensed in 1974. Life membership arrl life logoin 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.

My Immediate Plans for the Northwestern Division

FutureOne 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

myarrlvoiceLast 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: (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 of policy"

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!  


 IMPORTANT NOTE: 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

Code of Conduct GraphicThe ARRL has a document that was approved by the majority on the Board in January 2017 titled the ARRL 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 "Support 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

CEOGraphicThe ARRL 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

Planning puzzleIn 2016 the ARRL published their five year Strategic 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 measure success?

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?

My comments 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 amateurs, is 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 germinate.

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.

2. 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 must do a much better job of communicating proposals before they are enacted.

3. 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).  The Amateur 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 they produce. 

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 limited phone and digital privileges on 80 meters, 40 meters, and 15 meters as 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 members, 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.

4 . 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.


5. 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!

6. Practice good governance and organizational management

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 Examiner Program

VE logoI 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 session. 


The DX and Contest Advisory Committees

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 do.

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?

How 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.



Mike Ritz, W7VO

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