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The Lure of Less


*Email: w2vu@cq-amateur-radio.com

Something amazing happened at the ARRL board of directors meeting in January. The board — which includes five newly-elected directors among its 15 members — put the brakes on changes in League governance and other matters that have been generating controversy among the members for the past two-and-a-half years (Details of the board’s actions are in “News Bytes” on page 9). These changes began with the removal of a long-time volunteer from a top position in the National Traffic System and from his elected position as a Section Manager; continued through questionable actions by the Elections and Ethics Committee, including canceling elections and disqualifying candidates without explanation to members; adoption of a code of conduct for directors and vice directors that essentially stifled dissent outside the board room; proposed changes to the League’s governing documents that would have diluted directors’ voting power and limited the role of vice directors, and questionable changes in a key piece of legislation intended to prohibit outright bans on amateur radio antennas (the Amateur Radio Parity Act).

ARRL members, major clubs, and big donors became very concerned about these actions and began threatening to withhold support unless things changed. CQ provided a platform for dissenting voices to be heard and has published no less than a dozen articles, white papers, and news items since late 2016 calling for members to reassert their ultimate authority as the “owners” of the ARRL through their votes for board members.

In addition, a group of concerned League members started an organization and webpage called My ARRL Voice . The group focused on promoting transparency and accountability by League management and the board of directors, and endorsed candidates in five director elections held last fall. Four of those five “voice”-endorsed candidates won.

The impact of the election results began to be felt even before the first board meeting at which the new directors would cast votes, most notably with the resignation as of December 31 of longtime ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD. Chris had been a key member of the team that was shepherding the Amateur Radio Parity Act through Congress and working to overcome the objections of the lobbying organization for homeowners’ associations. Based on what we’ve been able to determine, Chris decided to step down after it became clear that the new board was going to revisit the League’s approach to the parity act, but not before filing a petition with the FCC on behalf of the ARRL (at the direction of the Executive Committee, despite requests to delay action until the new board was seated) asking that the provisions of the parity act be added to the amateur rules. The board responded by cutting all remaining ties with Imlay as well as the League’s Washington lobbyist, withdrawing the FCC petition and asking the bill’s sponsors in Congress to put it on hold until there’d been time to “review, reexamine, and reappraise” the ARRL’s approach to the issue.

The board also repealed the controversial code of conduct and began the process of making significant changes in the Elections and Ethics Committee and how it functions (see News Bytes for details). One director who had been restricted from certain board activities by the Elections and Ethics Committee was appointed to the committee after the board reversed the previous committee’s ruling.

What was most interesting to us was that many of the motions carrying out this change of direction, and in some cases, reversals of previous actions, were approved by large margins, some unanimous, some 12-3 and a few 10-5. This suggests to us that many of the incumbent directors voted for the previous changes not so much because they supported them but because they were intimidated by the actions of the previous Executive Committee and Elections and Ethics Committee, and feared that they might face censure, expulsion, or disqualification from seeking re-election if they dared to voice opposition. As we pointed out at the time, the ARRL is a membership organization whose leaders need to be responsive to the members’ needs … and that the members need to take action when their leaders are not working in their best interests. We are very pleased that the members reasserted their interests via their votes and that the new board appears to taking the members’ concerns to heart. We hope it continues.

About Those Late Issues… We want to bring you up-to-date a bit on our very obvious problems in recent months with getting the print edition of CQ into the mail on a timely basis. As this is written in early February, most of you had just received your December issues. We apologize for these delays and thank you for your tremendous patience. Bottom line: It’s a very challenging time to be in the magazine publishing business. Many titles are closing or going digital-only. We have no plans to do that. In our experience, digital- only specialty magazines cannot support themselves in the long run. We had almost gotten back on track last summer, but then hit a pothole that set us back once again. And one delay led to another. Now that things are moving again, it is our plan to try to catch up a little bit each month until we’re back on schedule. Many readers have complained that our hamfest and contest listings are out of date by the time the magazine arrives. We recognize that this is a problem and have tried to accommodate for it by running two months’ worth of listings in each issue. Plus, these calendars are both posted on our website on a timely basis, along with current news on the CQ Newsroom . Again, our apologies for the delays and our thanks to you, our wonderful readers, for your patience and understanding.

Housekeeping Notes This issue contains the final “CQ World Wide” international news column by Tom Smerk, AA6TS. As Tom explains in his column, he is also a musician and that part of his life is taking up more of his time, so he doesn’t feel he can continue to devote the necessary time to researching, gathering news items, and writing the column each month. Tom has brought news of ham radio events and activities around the world to our readers for the past six years. We thank him for his contributions and wish him all the best in his growing music career.

“Listening Post” editor Gerry Dexter was again unable to do his column this month (yours truly filled in again), but all indications are that he’ll be back on the job as of the next issue. We’ll be glad to have him back. Finally, we’re still looking for a successor to Ted Melinosky, K1BV, as both Awards Editor and USACA Awards Manager. We’ve got a description of what we need for each position in this month’s Awards column. If you’re interested and think you might be qualified for either or both, please send me an email.

Spring returns this month … time to start planning new antenna projects and outdoor operating adventures. Get outside, get on the air and have fun! – 73, Rich W2VU

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