Vol 9, No 2
IN THIS EDITION:
The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act, which died at the end of the 111th Congress, has been reintroduced in the 112th Congress as HR 81. The sponsor is Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18). The new bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), introduced Senate Bill 191, The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2011. Similar to HR 81, the bill, if passed, would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to undertake a study on emergency communications. S 191 has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Lieberman is the Chairman of the committee, while Collins is the Ranking Member.
The objective of the bills -- which are supported by the ARRL -- is for the Secretary of Homeland Security to study the uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio communications in emergencies and disaster relief and to identify and make recommendations regarding impediments to Amateur Radio communications, such as the effects of private land use regulations on residential antenna installations.
To prepare for the expected action we will need on these bills, and to keep our members informed of the actions of the ARRL on behalf of all Amateurs, the ARRL is now publishing a “Legislative Update” newsletter for those who want it.
Dan Henderson, N1ND, who coordinates the piece, writes:
“This will not be a monthly newsletter. Rather it will be a timely newsletter with the goal to convey important information in a timely manner to the ARRL family. The legislative process is a fickle thing – sometimes it moves as slow as molasses in a New England winter; at other points time is of the essence. Developing a newsletter designed to be emailed to interested ARRL members is a good way to provide important news and calls for action expediently.
“No general member will be automatically signed-up to receive this newsletter: it is an “opt-in” addition available to ARRL members. To receive it, go to your Member Profile on the ARRL Web at www.arrl.org/Users/edit and select the tab for “Edit Email Subscriptions”. To receive the Legislative Update when it is mailed, simply check the appropriate box on that page then click “SAVE” at the bottom. It is that simple. To unsubscribe, follow the same process, but uncheck the box for this newsletter.”
As PIOs, I hope you will sign up for this information and stay aware of what is happening, what is needed, when and where. We all know that, even with the best of intentions, someone can go off half-cocked and actually end up hurting the cause. You are our best prevention for that. With hundreds of you across the country, you can pass the word to even those who don’t read or stay up on new information.
We have a good shot at getting passage this time. You can help us, and Amateur Radio, by staying informed.
We get a lot of questions about copyright materials and the new website. It’s nice to see how many people are starting to get used to it and learning how much is really in there. While we continue to polish and expand it, things are settling down and people want to use the things they see there.
Production Coordinator Maty Weinberg, KB1EIB, is our copyright contact person, but you can see our copyright FAQs at http://www.arrl.org/copyright-faq. They answer 90% of the questions folks have.
“You can use news items from our web site and QST, and information from The ARRL Letter and The ARRL Contest Update without prior permission, provided credit is given.
“Typically, we do not allow QST articles to be posted to web sites. The exception would be to an author of the article or manufacturer in the case of a product review.
“We do not hold copyrights to all ARRL Web material, therefore we can’t give blanket permission for web items. But you can always put in a link to the ARRL site.
“Not sure? The best thing to do is to send a note requesting permission before any items are posted. Turnaround time is usually no more than a day or two.”
Since we introduced the newest flier, there has been a lot of interest. Now you can order copies of this new flyer (in packs of 25) from the Sales & Marketing Dept. This is the flier telling non-hams about all the non-emergency work we also do for our communities and how to link up with ham groups.
ARRL Order No. SRVE SERVING YOUR COMMUNITY FLYER (25/PACK)
PIOs are not only wonderful for getting information out, they also have great noses for news in general. When something happens that is media-worthy, they often will write to me. That’s fine, but there is an even better way that can get it noted faster and by more people at HQ.
This is another one of the new things we can do with the website, and it works well. Keep that page bookmarked – you never know when you will want it.
Each year some members of the PRC rotate in and out depending on what the expected needs of the Committee may be. The Committee’s members are appointed by the ARRL President. For 2011 we’re looking at revisions to the PIO Handbook, better coordination with ARES and a lot of video work as some of the main activities. So it’s natural for the Committee to be loaded with people who have experience in those areas. We have a really good lineup!
This is not an “advisory” job – it’s a very hard working group. Bluntly, without them and their efforts, a lot of support items you enjoy as PIOs simply could not happen. Please give them a “thank you” when you see them in hamfests and conventions.
The 2011 ARRL Public Relations Committee:
SM Bill Morine, N2COP, Chairman
Vice Director Jim Boehner, N2ZZ, Board Liaison
SM Kevin O’Dell, N0IRW
Don Carlson, KQ6FM
Walt Palmer, W4ALT
Mark Abramowicz, NT3V
Steven Polunsky, W5SMP
Diana Eng, KC2UHB
Norm Rashleigh, VE3LC, RAC Liaison
I think it may have all started with the Huffington Post. But the next thing I knew there were many media outlets all saying how Amateur Radio was being used by the Egyptian protesters to coordinate things there and get information out of the country. Well, it indeed is true that it is very hard to shut down hams when they feel the need to communicate. We might do it out of patriotism (as in a war) but as Sadaam Hussein found out in Kuwait, hams don’t always go quietly dark when it’s not by choice.
But despite the formation of several groups monitoring for signals and some 3rd and 4th hand claims someone heard a CW message passed, at this time (Feb 1) we know of NO Amateur Radio contacts coming out of Egypt.
There are several reasons for this including economics and political realities. But more to our point here… before we pass on information to the press, verify, verify and verify it again! While I am sure the overseas hams mean well, if we are not careful we all will look rather silly when the realities come to light.
If Amateur Radio were indeed saving lives or important in this, I would be the first person to blow our horn. But when far too many outlets, including the BBC, errantly claim we are passing messages for them, I get very worried. False claims of saving the world will only hurt us all.
As Bill Morine, PRC Chairman writes, “Much like rumors of Ham Radio helping the Chilean miners – please refrain from touting Amateur Radio’s role until we can corroborate some meaningful participation.” Just because it appears in a media source doesn’t automatically make it true.
On a similar note, if you have not seen it yet, look for Ward Silver’s latest editorial piece, “When all else is made to fail.” It is an excellent piece of writing.
One of the joys of this past month has been working with Jim Wilson of the Boy Scouts in preparation of the signing of an MOU between BSA and the ARRL. Yes, I know we’ve been together for almost a century, but it’s time we finally got us “hitched.”
The joint release and a copy of the MOU should be coming out Feb 3 (if the snows allow) and a video about it soon afterward. Keep an eye out for both items.
For PIOs, this is a chance to make some new friends for ham radio. Contact your area scout council, scoutmasters or anyone you can find. Let them know about the ham groups in the area and make introductions for anyone who is not already linked up with us. The BSA will also be making a lot of noise about this, so you will get reinforcement from both sides. It’s a great opportunity we should not let pass.
In this section I try to write about something important at the time. Well, we had some wonderful Media Hits with NASA and their satellite. Then we had whatever is going on in Egypt. And there’s no minimizing the importance of the legislative outreach. But the most important thing on people’s minds at HQ has got to be the snow.
Have you ever been to ARRL HQ? If so, then you will enjoy these pictures.
As a church sign pleaded…
“Will whoever is praying for snow please STOP!”
Allen Pitts, W1AGP
Media & PR Manager