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NCCC open letter to ARRL

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    NCCC open letter to ARRL

    NCCC members and friends,

    On November 22, of this year, Bob, N6TV, notified us via the NCCC Reflector of an article the ARRL had posted on a web page entitled, “ARRL Board of Directors Publicly Censures Southwestern Division Director”. That Southwestern Division Director was none other than Dick Norton, N6AA, one of the super stars of amateur radio contesting and DXing. The same Dick Norton who was elected to the CQ Contest Hall of Fame, in 1995. The same Dick Norton who is one of the very few hams to have operated in all 40 CQ zones. The same Dick Norton who is currently the President of the Southern California Contest Club.

    How could this be, I asked myself, as did many of you. The subsequent comments on the reflector have been absolutely 100% supportive of N6AA and 100% opposed to the ARRL’s actions. For more than a month now, the comments continue to dominate our reflector. While at the NCCC Holiday Dinner, I had many of those in attendance chat with me about it as well as the other NCCC Board members present.

    The Board took a “wait and see” attitude prior to proceeding with any action. We wanted to make sure we knew the facts prior to taking action and several of our Board members have been seeking out those facts.

    As a result, and having researched the facts, the Northern California Contest Club Board has issued a statement expressing our concern over the ARRL’s actions involving N6AA, as well as the specifics of the ARRL’s new Code of Conduct.

    Our letter, below, is going out tonight to the ARRL officers and board


    To: ARRL Directors and Officers

    From: The Northern California Contest Club, Inc.

    Date: December 25, 2017


    The Northern California Contest Club is an ARRL affiliated organization with approximately 300 members, most of whom are themselves League members.
    We pride ourselves upon having many of the most active hams in Northern California and Western Nevada among our ranks. These are hams who are active not only on the air, but also in ARRL matters. Over the 45 years of our existence, our membership has included many ARRL Pacific Division Directors, Vice Directors, Section Managers, Volunteer Counsels, Official Observers, Emergency Coordinators and a host of other League appointees.

    We are sending this letter to express our concern about events unfolding at League headquarters. Specifically, we believe the ARRL Board has made a serious error in its recent censure of Southwestern Division Director Dick Norton, and we are concerned with the lack of transparency and the stifling of communication we see possible under the Board’s Code of Conduct (ARRL Policy on Board Governance and Conduct of Members of the Board of Directors and Vice Directors).

    Many NCCC members were in the audience for the ARRL forum at the 2017 Visalia International DX Convention, and we have seen the letters written to the ARRL Board by Mark Weiss, K6FG, and by Tim Duffy, K3LR, stating what happened in that forum. The events as described by Mr. Weiss and Mr. Duffy are accurate. In our opinion, Mr. Norton did nothing in the Forum to deserve the censure. We respectfully request that the Board rescind the censure and issue a public apology to Director Norton.

    As a related matter, we also have seen the letter Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, sent to members of his Division in which he stated “… there were individual witnesses who attended the forum in Visalia who came to us with a different story than those released by Mr. Norton’s supporters. … I will not discuss the specific reasons enumerated as they are of a personnel nature and not appropriate for discussion …”. Director Lisenco’s letter alarms us. Essentially, he is saying the Board censured Director Norton based upon secret facts (which obviously differ from what we, Mr. Weiss and Mr. Duffy observed) asserted by one or more unidentified witnesses. This lack of transparency does not put the ARRL Board in a good light. To the contrary, it suggests that there is an ulterior motive or something the Board is trying to hide, and is far more likely to bring the Board’s decisions into disrepute than anything Director Norton did at the forum.

    As for a code of conduct, we certainly understand why it is appropriate for the ARRL Board to have one. However, we believe that the specific Code adopted by the Board at its January, 2017, meeting is wrong for our type of membership organization. It inhibits the free and effective exchange of information between our elected Director and Vice Director and the League members residing in our Division. As proof of the Code’s “gag order”
    effect, we need look no farther than Director Norton’s censure and the fact that our elected representatives refused to discuss it with us in any detail for fear of violating the Code themselves. We urge you to please amend the current Code to provide for much more transparency of Board actions and a freer exchange of information (including how the Directors
    voted) with League members.

    Very truly yours,


    Bob Hess, W1RH (President)

    Chris Tate, N6WM (Vice President)

    Ian Parker, W6TCP (Secretary)

    Dick Wilson, K6LRN (Treasurer)

    Ron Castro, N6IE (Director)

    Rich Cutler, WC6H (Director)

    Rusty Epps, W6OAT (Director)


    Although we have yet to see anyone in our club express an opinion in favor of the ARRL’s actions involving N6AA, it is entirely possible, with an organization of our size, that we may have members applauding the ARRL.
    While our statement represents the opinions of the majority of our members, we encourage any member in favor of the ARRL’s actions involving Dick Norton and the new Code of Conduct, to contact the ARRL directly to express their opinion.

    We are forwarding our statement to many other clubs and encourage our members and friends to forward our statement to others in the Amateur Radio Community.

    Bob Hess


    Northern California Contest Club Banner

    73 Al 4L5A