ARRL Board Publicly Censures Southwestern Division Director

The ARRL board held a special meeting via teleconference on November 14 at 9PM (Eastern) and publicly censured Southwestern Division Director Richard Norton N6AA.

I only have the board meeting minutes and the ARRL Board Director Code of Conduct which was cited. But from what I read here (and you can read it for yourself below), it’s clear that  Richard Norton publicly dissented against an ARRL board decision at an Amateur Radio meeting (Hamcon? Pacificon?), resulting in this censure.

While ARRL directors can argue with each other in private meetings, ARRL wants all directors to  publicly represent ARRL as a bloc, and does not tolerate it if one director publicly opposes some action of ARRL.

So, the members get minutes with bald notices of how directors voted upon a motion, but no transparency to a director’s own sentiment and rationale regarding any particular action. Of course, such information would usefully inform us when we vote for ARRL directors, thus the fact that it is concealed is troubling. Obviously, by doing this ARRL largely keeps the membership from being active in ARRL politics. Troubling indeed.

Here are the relevant minutes of the board meeting:

4. Mr. Carlson, moved, seconded by Mr. Lisenco that:

Whereas, Mr. Richard Norton, N6AA, publicly criticized the ARRL Code of Conduct for Board members at a public Amateur Radio gathering by virtue of his characterizations thereof, thus criticizing publicly the collective action of the Board of Directors adopting said Code of Conduct and drawing the Board’s collective decision making into disrepute, in violation of multiple portions of the Code of Conduct, including but not limited to Sections 1.b. and 8.a, 8.b., 8.d; and 8.f; and Whereas, Mr. Norton has been cautioned by Board members that his actions and his manner in the above respects are not acceptable and cannot continue, with no notable change in his behavior since that time; and

Whereas, Mr. Norton has been given a copy of the Recommendation of the Ethics and Elections Committee dated September 7, 2017, and has responded to it and tendered to the Board of Directors four statements of ARRL members in support of his response;

Now, therefore, the Board of Directors having considered the recommendation of the Ethics and Elections Committee at a Special Meeting of the Board of Directors duly called for the purpose of considering the actions of Mr. Norton and an appropriate remedy therefor, and in view of the information before it and taking into account Mr. Norton’s response and his submissions in response thereto, finds that there exists sufficient cause (i.e. a material violation of the ARRL Code of Conduct that has caused harm to the League) to publicly censure Mr. Norton for his unacceptable behavior as an ARRL Board Member, and Mr. Norton is admonished by the Board that no further, similar behavior will be tolerated. That action is so ordered.

After discussion and a roll call vote being requested, the motion was ADOPTED by a vote of 11 Aye, 3 Nay and 1 abstention with Directors Carlson, Olson, Norris, Williams, Lisenco, Blocksome, Frenaye, Pace, Boehner, Allen and Sarratt voting aye, Directors Abernethy, Norton and Woolweaver voting nay, and Director Vallio abstaining.

Here are the cited sections of the ARRL Board Director Code of Conduct:

1(b). A Board member should take no action that could adversely affect the reputation or credibility of the ARRL, or discourage membership in the organization.

8(a). A Board member, as a leader in Amateur Radio, is encouraged to be an ambassador and an advocate for ARRL and, subject to the Confidentiality Standard of this Code of Conduct, to publicly promote the activities and actions of the organization with the ARRL membership. In doing so, a Board member must act at all times faithfully to the intent of the Board as expressed in its official statements, and should not reinterpret or re-characterize the Board’s actions to reflect his/her own view or the views of any other Board Member.

8(b). While having the right and responsibility to exercise independent judgment and to express dissenting opinions during Board deliberations, a Board member also has the obligation outside the Boardroom to respect and support final decisions of the Board, even when the Board member dissented from the majority view.

8(d). A Board member must not take actions publicly or with respect to the ARRL membership that have the purpose or effect of undermining or discrediting the decisions or actions of the Board.

8(f). A Board member may not publicly oppose a Board action prior to the effective date of his or her resignation from the Board.

Source Material:

About The Lawsuit: May I Please Introduce My Wonderful Legal Team!

As you probably know, Open Source Security, Inc., and their CEO Mr. Bradley Spengler have sued me for defamation and half a dozen other things. It is obvious legal hygiene not to talk about a lawsuit in process. Meanwhile, you can follow the suit on Pacer, and please allow me to introduce my legal team!

I am incredibly pleased and impressed with Heather, Melody, and Cara and their firm O’Melveny. They have done superb work, assembled a very strong case for me, and are a pleasure to work with!

Heather Meeker and I first met about two decades ago and have had a business relationship for a decade. She’s the best attorney for any Open Source matter. I have often worked for her and her clients. So, it was natural that I would turn to Heather when I needed legal assistance. Heather is the author of Open (Source) for Business: A Practical Guide to Open Source Software Licensing — Second Edition and three other books.

Melody Drummond Hansen is a senior attorney at O’Melveny who was an obvious choice because of her previous experience with defamation cases. Because of Melody’s participation, my case is strong and I feel very secure.

Cara Gagliano got her J.D. in 2015 and has already built an impressive portfolio of cases. She does much of the research and writing for my case, and of course has the assistance of Melody and Heather. Cara is doing superb work! I could not ask for better.

Finally, I have to thank Cara, Melody, and Heather’s families, who have supported them while they burn midnight oil on my behalf.

I am so lucky to have all of these excellent people helping me.