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Northern California Contest Club Letter

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)