ARRL: It's not just the bylaws that need changin'

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KL7SB, Jan 13, 2018.

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  1. KL7SB

    KL7SB Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I know many of you have read the various items on the ARRL Board of Directors and its actions that have been posted recently. AA7BQ posted an editorial today. In the main, I agree, but wanted to expand on it some.

    I imagine, most of us don't pay a lot of attention to "League Politics" most of the time. I sure don't. I read Tom Gallagher's "Not a Big Radio Club" op-ed when it came out and thought, "Well, they sure didn't hire this guy for his Public Relations skills," but didn't give it much thought beyond that. I have a business to run, community and charitable obligations, oh, and a little bit of a radio addiction. I only started hearing about it fairly recently, from the "Have you heard about this?" pipeline of my contesting friends.

    I'm an OCD researcher by nature, so I started looking around the Intertubes, seeing what the varous controversies were about and ..."Yikes." Board candidates being disqualified, with no reason given, other than an unexplained "Conflict of Interest." NTS blowup due to some "Sure, right around the time Elvis returns" dream of coordinating ARES/NTS with FEMA. Fame chasing on the Puerto Rico disaster with officials showing up for photo ops, while contributing only problems. The ARPA fiasco where the most skilled communicatons attorneys in the country are screaming out "Bad Idea" while the ARRL Pres defends the stance of the HOA Assocation, and a sitting Director gets censured without explanation other than something along the line of "Questioning anything about the Code of Conduct we just adopted publically, violates the Code of Conduct." I"m sure the fact that he had issues with the ARPA legislation was pure coincidence.

    You have all seen, either in the CQ White paper, or AA7BQ's editorial, or in other Web or Social media spaces, the various ways this Board has tried to silence people, prevent transparency, and "punish" those who oppose. The obvious question is "Why?" In most cases the first instinct is, "Follow the Money." That seemingly doesn't apply here. Nobody is getting wealthy off of Newington (ARRL Salaries are on the low side, especially for the area, and the BOD are volunteers.)

    Next on the list is more ....*esoteric.* Did K1ZZ meet with Vladimir Putin at the 2010 WRTC in Moscow, and agree that the League would recognize D1 for DXCC in exchange for the Russians shutting down the woodpecker. Did N3KN sell prime propagation windows at W1AW to wealthy donors? If not that, then what?

    Since then, I've had a number of phone conversations, email exchanges (including with my Division Director Fred Forgey K7SCX), some on the record, some not. To this day, neither Mr. Gallagher nor anyone from the BOD has been willing to answer "Why?" Different people have asked that question in various ways to different members and to Mr. Gallagher, and with absolutely no variation, they always deflect. Same thing, if you ask about disqualifications, censures, etc. The standard answer on those is "We do not discuss personnel issues." There is a slight problem with the fact that elected volunteer officials are NOT personnel, but ..clearly, that is the word in the script.

    Unfortunately, in that kind of atmosphere, much like we see in "real" political situations, that means getting a truthful view requires off the record exchanges, and some conjectures. While I won't pretend to be Woodward or Bernstein (I did have journalistic ambitions once upon a time, and my daughter works in the industry), I believe what I state is as accurate as we can get without anyone being under oath.

    My sense is that there are a few guys (the CEO and the BOD are all Male at this point), who believe that major change was needed from the last administration. That would be the only reasonable explanation for hiring someone who, though a licensed Ham for a long time, who had no profile in the various Amateur Radio sectors, but had an impressive resume from the Private Sector Finance Industry and Corporate and Non Profit BOD experience (more on that later.) There were things they wanted to get done (ARPA was especially big for these folks.) They thought the only way to get there was to become more "Professional." That meant moving to a more centrally controlled "Corporate Non Profit" structure and Tom Gallagher
    was the guy who would get them there. The catch of course is they were coming in to a 102 year old organization, built and structured as a membership services organization. "Corporate Nonprofit" and "Member Services" require very different skill sets for their BOD. In Corporate Nonprofit (example March Of Dimes), the Board has to set both direction and policy. The people they are serving are for the most part, not the people donating, and their fiduciary and ethical obligation is to use revenue and assets towards the mission. This generally requires high levels of experience, education, etc. beyond that of the general public. In a Member Services Organization, the members direct interest (and that of the hobby, service, demographic, whatever) are the mission. The job of the BOD is to understand what those of the members in their area want, bring them to the table, and come to consensus, and hire professionals to act on the necessary tasks. That is it. In that contest, there is nothing wrong with electing the local EmComm guy who never leaves home without his H/T, or "Hamfest BBQ guy" or whoever it may be who is willing to put in the time and travel and perhaps has a gift of gab.

    Very few on this BOD are qualified to serve on a "corporate non profit" Board. But, plans are plans, the CEO and ARRL President are smart people (and I mean this seriously), and somewhere along the line decided that, they weren't going to let what I imagine they consider "petty b.s." get in the way, whether it be Board Members talking out of school, NTS guys who might blow up their FEMA dreams, etc. get in the way. Most people, by nature, will go along to get along, and will go in the direction they are pulled, *especially* if being asked to go beyond their capacity, and given the vote counts we've seen, they have. The rest they decided to just push out of the way, assume people would forget quickly, and move on. Can't let silly little things like bylaws or due process get in the way of what (they believed) needs to be done.

    Eventually though, piss off enough people and some kind of pushback happens. The response has been to increasingly circle the wagons. Thus, a Code of Conduct (which in itself is normal enough), written in such an expansive way, that even releasing proposed amendments to the Bylaws before voting is considered a violation by Mr. Gallagher. Proposals to enforce mandatory arbitration (again, generally a mainstream idea, but with suspicious timing) all indicates a BOD that is *scared to death* that they have liability issues.

    Now back to Mr. Gallagher's Resume. As I stated, it is impressive. Wharton MBA, service at a number of large profile investment houses, service on BOD's both public sector and non profit. What is missing however is *anything* relevant to management, particularly as regards a Members Services Non Profit. Whatever one thinks of Mr. Gallagher, what comes through every single time in his writing, is his condescending attitude, and flat out exasperation at having to deal with the type of issue that come up in a Member Services Organization just pours out. It screams "I have better things to do than deal with this crap"
    and that attitude now seems to go from Top to Bottom with a few exceptions.

    So, as best as I can tell, that's "Why." Perhaps in time, some of the members will be open to giving a more accurate description without conjecture from the inside, people who don't wish to expose themselves now, will be willing to go public, or a legal action or suit, will force a discovery process which will require deposition under oath. Right now, this is it.

    Where do we go from here? First thing I wish to make clear is that I am speaking here only for myself. While I highly recommend My ARRL Voice and encourage you visit their website I am not a leader, I do not speak for them, and not everyone involved would agree with all of my conclusion or recommendations. I also want to be clear that the leaders of My ARRL Voice and myself are all longtime ARRL members, many who have served in either Field Organization positions, the BOD, or as professional staff, and we are the furthest thing from "League Bashers."

    Having said that, I see three paths of action, in parallel.

    First, Doing what is happening right now. Emailing your Division Director, explaing how you feel. Publicizing this with your local radio club. The reason I decided to write this in the first place, was because Fred's editorial stated the policy issues, and they do need to be dealt with, but in the big picture, this is a classic "The People ARE the policy" situation. I am not an attorney, and can't state whether or not any laws have been broken, but this Board, even if all or most had no malevolent intent, has violated basic ethical standards. They have made themselves into a self serving special interest group, not a member serving one. Directly violating ethics is a character issue, so too is not having the integrity or strength to not "go with the groupthink" when others are doing it. The vast majority of Directors, with the exception of W3TOM, N6AA, and K5RAV need to be replaces as does the ARRL President, Rick Roderick K5UR and the CEO, Tom Gallagher, NY2RF. Consider running for the Director position in your District or recruit a well respected, well rounded active Amateur Operator to do so. It is quite likely that there will be funding for candidates to run against most incumbents. Research the numbers and the possibilities for a recall in your District. (One of the problems with the BOD disqualifying candidates is, appointed candidates have a higher threshold for recall, than elected ones.)

    Second. The people who have the most leverage in any organization, are those who donate the most, or who have significant legacy bequests to the Organization in their estate plans/will. I *strongly* encourage all who have this in their plans to do something along the
    lines of the following letter


    From: Donald Schliesser <>
    Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 12:14 AM
    Subject: Open Letter to the ARRL Board

    ARRL Officers, CEO, Directors, Vice Directors,

    My name/call is Donald L. Schliesser, K6RV. I have been licensed since 1952, 66 years, and an ARRL Life Member for 55 years. I have been very active over the years, as one of the four Founders of the Northern California DX Foundation, as President of the Northern California DX Club, as one of the founding members of the Northern California Contest Club and in many other ways, including my donations to the ARRL, and my setting up a Legacy Gift through my Will and Living Trust.

    I have been concerned about the ARRL, and its direction, for the last couple of years starting with the, in my opinion, misguided Rule Making in RM-11708, and the Ham Radio Bill (Parity Act) currently awaiting action in the U.S. Senate. The most recent actions by the present ARRL President and his friends on the Board, and the ARRL CEO (the so called “Code of Conduct” for Directors/Vice-Directors, the unwarranted censure of Director Dick Norton), have really given me reason to be alarmed and to take action. Now with the changes being proposed to the Articles of Incorporation / Bylaws by some Directors (with the direction of Mr. Roderick), makes me want to say the line from the old Movie: “I am mad as Hell and I am not going to take it anymore!”.

    I do not have to go through the arguments for or against any of these proposals – you all know what they are. The bottom line is that they are all counter to an Organization that should be operated in a democratic way. These are all things that smack of a Hostile Takeover of the ARRL with the end result of appointing Directors/Vice Directors and others so that the ARRL will be run by a Cabal of power hungry people to the exclusion of the Members who should be able to choose their representatives, and communicate with them without inside threats, pressure, or intimidation.

    It is my view that the present ARRL President does not care what the Members think or say – if they disagree with him. He appears to think this insult to the Members will pass. He appears to not want to have any input from the Members. I contend he is wrong and those who support him will find this concern by the Members will NOT go away.

    I make this promise and commitment: I am rescinding my Legacy Gift, I will make no more donations to the ARRL, unless and until, the present Officer’s are changed. More importantly, I will make it my mission to talk to ALL of the Legacy Gift Donors and Annual Donors and ask them to cancel their support for an Organization that, in my view, has fallen into disrepute by the actions of a few at the top.

    Donald L. Schliesser, K6RV
    Cedar Park, TX


    Finally. While legal action is always a last resort, and since it is "our League" something to be avoided, almost at all costs, if all else fails, legal tools are sometimes the only way to compel transparency. While I don't see a context for this now, and it hopefully will not be necessary, it is an option that needs to be on the table.


    Stephen Bloom KL7SB
    W8NSI, WH7WP, K2HN and 35 others like this.
  2. KF7LF

    KF7LF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you Stephen...very well stated.
    W8NSI likes this.
  3. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page


    Thanks for pointing out the apparent 'corporate non-profit' stance. The ARRL is a member driven charity, and taking on a 'corporate non-profit' stance is inappropriate given the membership is driving the bus.

    I have my own opinions on NY2RF. He has definitely put the emphasis on operating and showcasing who we are back up front, and that is a very good thing.


    I have found several cases where his statements are either not factual, or a 'misread' of the facts, or unwieldly exagerrations (to wit: 'Force of 50') In one case over a year ago, I tried to set that straight, and he mistakingly copied me on an email to another ARRL employee where characterized me as :"Who is this officious *&*^%*%".

    The answer to that is I am an ARRL member in a member driven non-profit. And there are many of us.

    I think the ARRL is fine. I am actually proud of where it is trying to position us (US hams)(save for the disasterous HR555 wording). The present board and management issues are not fine, and either require more action based on feedback from the membership, or replacement. People are adaptive. I certainly do not discount the former and prefer it to the latter, but then again, I am an optimist.

    I am withholding any direct feedback to the ARRL pending board response to the present concerns. I have contacted my Director telling him to table the amendations in this upcoming board meeting

    I certainly have high respect and a high degree of agreement with other ARRL members who have voiced their concerns.

    Chip W1YW
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
    N1URO, KN6Q, N4VER and 2 others like this.
  4. KL7SB

    KL7SB Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Chip:

    I definitely hope you are right, if for no other reason, pragmatically, there is no replacing the BOD overnight. I've heard enough about the agenda and "off the record" comments to have very little hope of any significant changes at the Board meeting. They will lighten up the language of the CoC some, and not pass the really extreme stuff N2YBB has proposed (unelected Board members voting), but the basic premise of "We're scared sh*tless of liability, and "what we want to do is too important to let anyone get in the way," will not. When someone (or some group) tells you who they are ..repeatedly ..take them at their word. People are adaptive but if they don't have character or integrity by the time they are mature adults, that isn't likely to change.

    Steve KL7SB
    NY7Q, KA2LIM, W4GCH and 1 other person like this.
  5. K4MZR

    K4MZR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Right on target!

    Mr. Gallagher's arrogant and poorly-reasoned editorials in QRZ prompted my departure from the league and his departure is a prerequisite for even considering rejoining.
    WD8ED, NY7Q, KA2LIM and 4 others like this.
  6. K8ERV

    K8ERV QRZ Member QRZ Page

    My attention span is one paragraph of no more than ten lines.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  7. KL7SB

    KL7SB Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    "Keystone Kops" ARRL Board of Directors, keeps effing up, tries to hide it, we're sick of it, and lots of really wealthy people have decided to leave their money to something else until that changes. Rinse and Repeat.
    W4KVW, N2AMM, KE5ES and 9 others like this.
  8. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page mean 'QST'.
  9. K4MZR

    K4MZR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes, I do ... thank you for the correction!
    W1YW likes this.
  10. W8BUD

    W8BUD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I also have departure from the league until changes are made to address the problems we face today its a sad affair for the membership.
    NK2U, AI7PM and WA3CAS like this.

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