Adventures in Amateur Radio

Scappoose, Oregon, USA    -     Columbia County

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.: 2018 ARRL NW 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. myARRLVoice.org

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

7. My Views on the ARRL Strategic Plan

8. My Views on the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Program

9. My Views on the DX and Contest Advisory Committees

10. How can I help?


Introduction:

 

The ARRL Northwestern Division has a decision to make:
Stay with the status quo, or move in a new and positive direction
 

w7vo 640x480You've heard the issues: Over the last year the League has been plagued with controversy, member discontent with Board actions, (including the public censure of one of their own), and the recent resignation of its CEO.  Members in our own Division have lost their voice.

This strife has made it more difficult for the League to do the work necessary to realize the goals of its aggressive strategic plan. It also does nothing to instill confidence, or invoke an atmosphere of trust.  

We must, and can do better. 

Change is needed your voice needs to count!  We need to move 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 need to ensure member voices count, and foster transparency in League operations. 

I'm running for ARRL Northwest Director this fall to help solve these problems, and get our League focused on the important work ahead to ensure a bright future for Amateur Radio.

Remember: This election is not about preserving legacies;  It's about action and getting things accomplished.


My Professional qualifications:

I recently retired from a successful career in high technology, with the last nine years at the Director level. This was for a global telecom company with over $30,000,000 in annual sales, where 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. In addition, I brought cross-functional international units together in collaborative efforts to bring cutting-edge products to a global market.

During the full span of my 35 years in a variety of technical roles in operations, engineering and management, I oversaw many staff members spanning multiple departments, ensuring they all worked together to meet our company's goals.

These are all relevant skills that will serve me well on 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.

    Arrl Life Member

  •  Commitment:  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.


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:  myARRLVoice.org. They have been instrumental in beginning the process of improving transparency at the Board level of the League.  I might add that 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): 

Transparency

"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 affect 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 proposals before they are 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.)

Governance

"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"

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.

Accountability

"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 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 member's inputs 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 both active debate within, and views expressed from members on all sides of an issue without keeping it all internal to the Board. 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 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.

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, 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 firmly 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 good-will 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. 

2. Increase the vitality of Amateur Radio

Increasing the vitality of amateur radio means to me having an ARRL rife with vitality itself. That said, this has to be accomplished while not ignoring its illustrious past, nor the members that have supported the League over the years. There is a saying that 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 that 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, react to their needs, and provide them with value.

Part of "increasing the vitality" revolves around #3 below, "keeping amateur radio accessible to all". However, that has goal to come in such a way as the license itself doesn't become meaningless.   Careful thought and consideration has be a part of this process, and the League has to 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 needs to 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 80M, 40M, and 15M 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 badgeI believe that we can all agree that ARRL Volunteer Examiner (VE) Program has been a huge success over the time it has been in force. That doesn't mean that 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. Our local VE group here in my own county expressly forbids telling applicants about any of these organizations, nor is recruiting allowed.  So the examinees leave the session with almost no chance for future elmering, and most will not renew their license when the 10 years is up. The League needs to ENCOURAGE, ( if not require), ARRL accredited VEs to allow local clubs and ARES programs to recruit, and 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?


How Can I Help?

The best 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 quite a few scheduled over the next few months, but I will find a way to squeeze a meeting in!

GoFundMe button 
 To ensure that I can reach as many of the Division's ARRL members as possible with this message (some 12,000 plus of them), there has been a GOFUNDME account set up to help defray some of the expenses for printed materials, mailings, and travel to radio club meetings within the five states the NW Division covers.

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Note that any excess contributions at the end of this campaign will be donated to the
ARRL Mary Lou Brown Scholarship Fund.

 

 

73,

Mike Ritz, W7VO

 

ntennas.

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