Status of the ARRL Confidientiality Requirements and the Richard Norton N6AA Censure Issue

I went to Hamvention, and lobbied every ARRL director I met regarding the issue of the confidentiality rules and the Richard Norton N6AA Censure. Including at their donor reception. See this if you’re not up-to-speed on the issue.

It’s clear they have the message that the members are upset. There has been some feedback from Rick Roderick in print that is less than welcoming of dissent. I made a point in speaking with directors that they are a representative organization and must deal with opposition well. I also repeated my belief that this started with bad legal counsel, and that dealing with counsel that might not be the best is one of the most difficult jobs for any director who isn’t a lawyer.

Several directors told me that ARRL had obtained a bylaws template from the National Council of Non-Profits (or a similar organization) and would be submitting that language for member review before voting on it. It’s apparently different from the language, perhaps intended for a for-profit board, that they have partially suspended now. This new language is not yet published.

Rick Roderick (president) and two directors, in the ARRL booth, said that the Ethics and Elections committee would not prevent Richard Norton N6AA from running for director again because he had been censured. I had thought that the censure had the purpose of keeping him from running again, but perhaps they recognize the member sentiment.

However, ARRL directors and officers are not presently considering apologizing to Director Norton, who I believe suffered public defamation at their hands in what seems like ill-considered over-reaction. Nor does it seem the members will get any apology. What I heard from directors is that they consider the matter of Norton’s censure over and done with.

So, Dick Norton brings this whole matter to our attention, it sounds like it will be fixed due to your concern, but Norton suffers for having done it. Norton, of course, has been really nice about it. In his speech at the ARRL forum this year at the International DX Convention in Visalia, he treated everyone else as he would be treated, neither naming names nor speaking ill of others.

A white-paper on governance changes proposes that ARRL indemnify directors and officers against certain kinds of lawsuits. I agree with this. Having gone through a 3 Million Dollar lawsuit regarding my role in Open Source, I see the need and suggest that you approve of this.

The white paper also proposes a trivial addition to the name of ARRL in the bylaws, adding “ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio”. This is because the by-laws date from the early 1900’s and are written for the purpose of ARRL as a message-relaying organization similar to NTS, rather than ARRL’s later role as a representative organization of Radio Amateurs.

So, IMO, those of us who have made noise have been heard and the entire organization will be better off for it. Let’s keep watching the issue and talking with ARRL directors and staff.

Bruce Perens K6BP