Saturday, December 31, 2011

Due Diligence Period Could End Jan. 11 or 12, 2012

Just a reminder that even though recent reports indicate that some school contracts with T-mobile were only signed recently, it is still possible that an earlier version was signed on or soon after the July 11, 2011, school board vote.  That would make this Jan. 11, 2012, the end of the due diligence period. 

At the July vote, Ramona Tyson, who was Interim Superintendent at the time, indicated that the "signature would be affixed to the contracts" immediately following the vote by the board and there would be no other opportunity for communities to speak up with regard to their opposition to the towers, or at least not to the school board.  The discussion then turned to the due diligence period that would last 6 months while T-mobile applied for its permits with the county and the FCC. 

We have seen several indications that many FCC licenses have been applied for much earlier than the recent announced contract signing dates, so it is still possible that the latest date is an attempt at "smoke and mirrors" to put communities at a lower level of alert.  In the meantime, the towers could go up as early as mid-January, so we are urginig every community to get prepared and be ready to "pull the trigger" on whatever options you have been considering if you see any signs of construction.

As we have stated many times, it is much easier to stop a tower from going up than it is to have one taken down.  Stopping a tower can often be as simple as forcing the cell company to prove it has a real "need" for the tower and not just a hope that there will be customers after they build their tower.  That is a legal stipulation by the FCC.  However, once a tower is up and running, they have a much better case for why they need it, as they only have to provide the actual usage data of the tower to show it really is being used.

So, get ready!  We're getting closer to a showdown in several communities.  Let's be prepared to fight and win!  Good luck and happy new year everyone! 


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WSB-TV NEWS VIDEO: Fight Brews Over Cell Towers On School Grounds

(click headline for the full story)

George Howell reporting, Channel 2
Updated: 10:22 a.m. Monday, July 11, 2011

Click photo above to play video.
WSB-TV, Channel 2 Action News,  has finally re-posted the original newscast that aired July 10, 2011, in the 11 p.m. news and then again several of the newscasts the following day leading right up until the DeKalb County school board's vote that evening at the public meeting. Thank you to Channel 2 and George Howell for taking an interest in our story and helping us get the word out to others.

Immediately following the vote, we were interviewed in the parking lot outside the "Palace" and the so-called "partial victory" was announced.  We were surprised that Brockett was taken off the list as we had assumed that the fate of all the schools had already been pre-determined.  At one point, the board members discussed removing some or even all of the other schools which we had been advocating for from the very beginning.  Because that did not happen, we decided to stay involved with this issue and follow it through to the end, whatever that may be.  

The transcript of the story is below:

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Parents opposed to a proposal to put cell phone towers on DeKalb County school grounds worked to spread the word Sunday.The fight will be resolved in a school board vote Monday.

With a petition in hand, Paul and Cheryl Miller gathered as many signatures as possible against putting a cellphone tower behind Brockett Elementary School, where their daughter attended Pre-kindergarten.

"This is putting her health in danger, and absolutely, this is why I am speaking out and I hope others will do the same," Cheryl Miller told Channel 2's George Howell.

The other schools on the table include Brockett, Briarlake, Flat Rock, Jolly, Medlock, Meadowview, Narvie J. Harris, Princeton and Smoke Rise elementary schools, Margaret Harris Center and Martin Luther King Jr. and Lakeside high schools.

Cheryl Miller said she's concerned about radiation emitted from the tower and questions why T-Mobile, which is in the process of being acquired by ATT, needs a tower in a residential area.

"We don't see why our school would possibly be one of the ones that would help," she said. She said she’s concerned that not enough parents are informed of the issue.

"Most people aren't even aware that this is probably going to happen," she said. DeKalb School Board Chair Tom Bowen said there have been several meetings discussing health concerns.

"We've received a significant amount of feedback, but based upon the information that we've received, the safety, which is of paramount concern of the district, is within acceptable levels," Bowen told Howell.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Do the Right Thing!

Please sign countywide petition to show our
legislators that the voters of DeKalb County
and the state of Georgia demand a change.

We speak louder as a group united than
we do as individuals divided.
And, we will speak together with our votes later
if they will not listen to us now.

Click link above to sign and leave your comments.
Thank you and happy holidays from GTCO-ATL!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Voting Season!

Photo credit: Channel 2 Action News
Tired of thinking about stuff like this? 

Wish you could breathe the fresh air again?

Well, we feel the same way!  So, let's start resolving RIGHT NOW to make it happen in 2012!
With the holidays just a few short days away, the New Year will be fast upon us. 

And, here at GTCO-ATL, we cannot be more excited to start spreading the news....

Calling all voters!  Calling all people of legal voting age (yes, that's you, Mr. I-just-turned-18 and they are putting a cell towers at my old high school)...  Calling everyone we know and then calling on them to call everyone they know ....  GET REGISTERED and GET READY TO VOTE! 

You can't bitch without a solution, so here's a great one...  don't like what you see right now in office?  Don't like this version of "tranparency" that is being served up to us cold on a platter of WTF?

Let's make VOTING COOL again!  
Don't know who your elected officials are? 
Don't remember if you are registered or where you go to vote? 
No problem!  Click the button below!  You are still considered a:

Click the button above to find your elected officials!
Just remember to read our website, remember the names of the people who have made bad decisions or simply failed to represent you fairly or protect your interests as a taxpayer of this county!  And then vote for SOMEONE DIFFERENT! 
courtesy of The Georgia Green Party. 

Elections and Voter Registration Calendar
2012 Election Event Dates
Voter Registration Deadline
Election Date
Presidential Preference Primary/Special Election (to fill vacancies and propose questions)
February 6, 2012
March 6, 2012
Special Election Runoff
February 6, 2012
April 3, 2012
General Primary/Non-Partisan/ Special Election (to fill vacancies and propose questions)
July 2, 2012
July 31, 2012
General Primary Runoff/Non-Partisan Runoff/Special Election Runoff
July 2, 2012
August 21, 2012
Special Election (to fill vacancies)
August 20, 2012
September 18, 2012
Special Election Runoff
August 20, 2012
October 16, 2012
General Election/Special Election (to fill vacancies and propose questions)
October 8, 2012
November 6, 2012
General Election Runoff/Special Election Runoff
October 8, 2012
December 4, 2012

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ding! Dong! The Deal is Dead!

(click headline for the full story)  So the "bad guys" lost a big one today by announcing that the merger is dead.  Unfortunately, it likely does not change much for the cell tower schools in DeKalb County as there is still a chance AT&T will want to buy up T-mobile's infrastructure, which means the towers are still a hot commodity in the money game being placed by the telcomm industry right now.  But, it's still good news to hear that a total monopoly of sorts has been stopped, or at least slowed down for now.  In the case of cell towers, however, competition may not be such a good thing as each company in the US continues to push for more and more towers to "one up" each other and the ones paying the price - the consumer. 

Ma Bell will not be ringing in the new year in a very happy way this year....

AT&T (NYSE: T) has decided not to challenge the Federal Communication Commission's objections to its proposed US$39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile. Given the energy, time and resources it clearly put into the effort, the company is likely still licking its wounds, but it will soon have to address the question of what to do next -- as will T-Mobile and its parent company Deutsche Telekom (NYSE: DT).

The proposed deal was seen as the solution to several problems: how AT&T could extend services throughout the U.S., despite its constrained bandwidth; how T-Mobile could survive in a market where it's a distant No. 4; and how Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent, could finally exit the U.S.
New Questions Pending
The deal may be dead, but the problems it was meant to solve are very much alive.
In certain respects, the companies' positions have worsened. Deutsche Telekom wasted several months as it waited to see how the proposal would play out. Ditto for AT&T, which could have been exploring other alternatives. Instead, it must now pay DT about $4 billion in a breakup fee.
T-Mobile, for its part, is still grappling with the issue of how to compete from its low perch in the market -- backed by a reluctant parent to boot.

Read More:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Petition Quote of the Day!

15:22, Dec 13
 (click headline for the full story)
     My partner lives right behind the Margaret Harris Comprehensive school for special needs children and is also disabled. She never received notice that a 150 ft cell tower was going to be built literally in her back yard.
     Not only is the Dekalb County School board taking it upon themselves to further disadvantage disabled children, they are also robbing surrounding residents of tens of thousands in property value, and endangering their health and lives. Two board members voted no: Elder and Jester. The rest voted yes to put these towers on school grounds and in residential areas.
     Their (the board members who voted yes) motives are clear, and they are transparent in their lack of representation of their constituents. These type of people must be voted out of office when the time comes. They do not care about the citizens that they represent nor do they care about the children that they purportedly are elected to protect.
    We need to make some changes come election time. We need more individuals like Elder and Jester. We need people on this board with sound logic and no hidden motives. We need representatives who are not led by greed and who will commit to doing what is right by the children of Dekalb County and its residents. I urge everyone to take the time to vote this coming year!
                                                                                       --  Concerned Resident and Student Pharmacist

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

GTCO-ATL Members Named TIME's "Person of the Year"


(click headline for the full story)
Every year, Time Magaizine looks at the political, social and economic landscape of our planet.  They review all the people who have made headlines and those who have made an impact to positively influence or change the world.

And, this year, the "Person of the Year" is ...

        "The Protester"

Congratulate yourself right now . . .  because if you have followed Get the Cell Out - Atlanta, contributed to the opposition of cell towers in DeKalb County, voted "No" on SPLOST IV, signed a petition, spoke out at a school board meeting, called your county commissioners, contacted the DeKalb County Office of Planning & Sustainability or the county CEO, written a letter or sent an email to our state legislators or Georgia Board of Education, contacted the media, written a blog, attended a public meeting, put a sign in your yard or even just discussed the cell tower factor with others in an effort to share what you know or learn more for yourself, we think you can consider yourself to be an active member of the Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter protest.  And, as an active protester who is concerned about our schools, our communities and our future - you can also start telling people that YOU are the TIME Magazine "Person of the Year."

YOU are the TIME Magazine "Person of the Month."  You are part of something BIG, somethiing that is GROWING and something that we hope will be a contributing factor to positive change for all of the residents and visitors of DeKalb County.

Our mission:  Demand Ethics, Transparency and Accountability from our leaders.

Our goal:  To unite the county in the opposition of cell towers and other radiation hazards that are dangerous, may pose an increased health risk and decrease the value of our homes. 

Here is a brief excerpt from this issue of TIME:

Is there a global tipping point for frustration? Everywhere, it seems, people said they'd had enough. They dissented; they demanded; they did not despair, even when the answers came back in a cloud of tear gas or a hail of bullets. They literally embodied the idea that individual action can bring collective, colossal change.

Read more:,28804,2101745_2102139_2102380,00.html #ixzz1gWiweK5y

"The 2011 Person of the Year issue is the product of a year's worth of reporting and thinking," said TIME editor Richard Stengel.  "From the beginning of the Arab Spring, we dedicated an abundance of resources to this world-historical story. We also watched as the germ of protest spread to Europe and then America and now Russia." 

Stenegel and vetern essayist and novelist Kurt Andersen visited Egypt and Tunisia to trace this revolution to its roots.  Anderson then wrote the impactful commemorative piece that explains the connections and the larger meaning of a world experiencing simultaneous protests in dozens of countries.

Chelsea Elliot, 25, from New York was profiled in the article for her role as an early protester in the Occupy Wallstreet movement.  When asked what she wanted people to know about the movement, she said, "I feel this is an amazing time to be alive in America — at this point we actually have the opportunity for change, in this moment of destruction. So I feel like there's a great chance to rebuild and I hope people get involved and realize that our economy is not the way that it is because of a change in wind, it's because of wrongdoing on our government and very powerful businessmen's part."

Read more:,28804,2101745_2102138_2102242,00.html #ixzz1gXnyfKYD

On the homefront, Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter, is a classic example of the unrest that is being felt throughout our country.  Our message started out small and has just continued to grow.  We had no idea what other peoople thought about this topic when we started or whether they would even open the door when we knocked on it with our petition in hand.  But, as time goes by, we have been encouraged and energized by the growing realization that the message is getting through, people are really paying attention and, as we had suspected, they are mad!  Regardless if they have children who attend one of the proposed cell tower schools, or if they live nearby, there are now more than 1,000 people who have listened or read about this issue online and they have been able to weed through the industry garbage to get toi the truth.  Some have felt moved enough to take action themselves. 

To bring about real change, it will take the ongoing effort of every peson who has educated themselves about this issue to make a committment to introduce others to the subject matter so that they can also become educated about it, too. 

It's a lot more difficult to change public policy if you have not been able to change public opinion.  Just like it is a lot more difficult to have a cell tower taken down than it is to stop one from going up!  We are not saying hat it can't be done, but the more we speak out now, and the more dedicated we can become to seeking the truth rather than accepting the lies, the more hardship we may be saving ourselvs or our children in the future.

Congratulations to protesters everywhere! 
YOU are changing the world!

Keep up the great work and remember that T-mobile doesn't look to put towers in communities that will stand together, speak out and then work to warn others --  they put towers in places where they think no one cares!  If you care, do something about it!

NTSB votes to ban use of all personal electronics in cars

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) voted unanimously today to recommend states completely ban the use of cellphones and other portable electronic devices in vehicles, reports the Associated Press. The recommendation suggests going far beyond the current restrictions on texting and talking on the phone while driving to include outlawing the use of hands-free devices.

The five-member board of the NTSB made their decision after a 19-year-old driving his pickup truck near Gray Summit, MO, crashed into a school bus, which in turn ran over a smaller vehicle and crashed into another bus. The pickup driver and a 15-year-old aboard one of the buses were killed in the accident. Records show that the pickup driver had sent or received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the crash.

“Driving was not his only priority,” said NTSB chairman Deborah Hershman. “No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.”

Despite bans on texting, studies show that the dangerous practice is only getting worse. According to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two of every 10 drivers, and half of drivers ages 21 to 24, admit to texting while behind the wheel. And one in every 100 American drivers are either texting, emailing, browsing the Web or using their handheld devices for some other activity, at any given time. Even more troubling: The people only think these activities are dangerous when they see someone else doing it.

Following the announcement of its recommendation, the NTSB has taken to Twitter to emphasize their safety warnings, publishing a flurry of updates: “Turn the portable electronic devices off before turning the car on,” reads one. “Life is far more precious than a phone call or a playlist.” And, “Distraction kills. More than a minivan load of people. Every day.”

What do you think of the NTSB’s decision? Do you think a ban on using all electronic devices in the car is a good idea? Could such a law be enforced? Would anybody follow such a law? Would you?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Signs of Soil Testing at Margaret Harris Comprehensive School

(click headline for the full story)  Despite the community's recent objections to the DeKalb County School Board, it appears as though T-mobile has started the soil testing process which is one of the steps they need to complete in order to apply for the Special Administrative Permit that they expect will be "rubber stamped" in a closed meeting with the Interim Director of Planning & Sustainability, Andrew Baker, sometime this month or early first quarter. 

The community members have started their own Facebook page at: We are rooting for them to catch up quickly so we can pass them the ball and let them run it in for a touchdown! If they can stop their tower, that means there is still hope for the other schools, too, so don't give up if you are still trying to find a way to oppose the tower near you! Seek legal advice outside of the county if you are having trouble finding council in DeKalb. Many land use and environmental attorneys here are already working on retainer with a cell company and cannot accept a job that would be a conflict of interest.

Signs of land distrubing activity in expectation of a T-mobile tower took place in the Briarcliff Heights neighborhood which is located in a part of Atlanta that is considered to be unincorporated DeKalb County. 
An important distinction to make is that between three similar sounding schools that have all been a part of the cell tower protest:  Brockett Elementary School is located in Tucker.  Community members there rallied early and were able to have their school removed from the school board's list in July.  By August, these parents started organizing an outreach campaign to inform the communities surronding the 9 schools still on the school board's list. 

The first school that Brockett Elementary, via Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter, reached out to assist was Briarlake Elementary School in an unincorporated part of DeKalb that uses the name of Decatur.  And, just recently members of GTCO-ATL were successful in reaching the Margaret Harris School in Atlanta, a community known as Briarcliff Heights.  To make matters even more confusing, Lakeside High School, the school that reportedly started the initial inquires into placing cell towers at schools to assist with their dropped call issues, is located in Atlanta on Briarcliff Road.

If you can keep all those "B's" straight, we'll give you an "A" for effort!

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Official: Cell Towers at DeKalb Schools Should Offend Everyone Equally

Contrary to some news reports, a look at the map below shows the towers where the T-mobile propsal suggested our county needed their towers.  The 9 schools that were approved by the DeKalb County Board of Education July 11 are spread out fairly evenly with 4 in the north, 4 in the south and 1 left in the centrally located region.

Click to enlarge.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pre-order FULL SIGNAL in time for the holidays!

Click here to put on Pre-Order on
We have watched this documentary and highly recommend it.  You will learn a lot about what has gone on behind the scenes with the cell phone industry since its inception and the role of T-mobile in all of it.  Very informative!
This title will be released on December 20, 2011.  Pre-order now!  Ships from and sold by
Want to receive this the day it comes out?
Release-day delivery option may be available at checkout for most continental U.S. addresses.
Ordering for Christmas? To ensure delivery by December 24, choose Two-Day Shipping at checkout.
Click here to go to the page for Full Signal, the documentary about cell phones that the industry doesn't want you to watch!

Friday, December 9, 2011

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT: 7/11/11 DeKalb County School Board Meeting - They Don't Care

Don McChesney proposes to remove
Meadowview, Brockett and Medlock Elementary Schools
from the cell tower proposal for 12 schools.

Question by Donna Edler to McChesney:  Why?
McC:  We've heard from these communities and they've been clear,
so I'm supporting their opinion.

Vote on McChesney's ammendment:  approved 7:1
(Donna Edler votes no as she states she favors removing all schools, not just three.)

Speaks:  Is there a grace period so that other communities can speak up
but haven't had the opportunity?  (audience spontaneously applauds.)
Paul Womack, acting chair in lieu of Tom Bowen's absense, admonishes them.

Speaks:  Is there a mechanism for other communities
to let the district know that they have an issue?

Ramona Tyson (interim superintendent): 
no option other than to pull the item.

Womack:  Isn't there a 6-month window?
Steve Donahue (Facilities Director in charge of the cell tower committee): 
T-mobile has 6 months for due diligence.

Nancy Jester:  concerned about many things.  I don't like the timing -
we didn't get this till Friday.  Didn't get financials.  Term is too long. 
I favor an opt-in rather than an opt-out for communities. 
There may be others we haven't heard from so I am reticent to support.
Donna Edler:  It's not the school system's business to provide
cell and Internet service to the county.

Vote on Edler's ammendment to remove all towers except two
(Lakeside and Briarlake) - Motion fails.

Vote on the main motion
(minus the three schools removed
during the McChesney ammendment): 
Passes 6:2
(Edler and Jester vote no)

------ Fast forward to 8/31/11 ------
Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter

From South DeKalb, "I spoke with the Director of Planning yesterday...
He said that the school board has the power
to go ahead with the construction
and the county has no say whatsoever. 
The state law gives them that rite to totally ignore our local zoning laws."

From North DeKalb, "Just talked to (Planning Department) -
she is going to try and find the governing law / regulation and get back to me. 
She confirmed there will be no hearing and no vote."

Also from North DeKalb, "On the proposed location #2 file,
why is my neighbor's house labeled #3?"

September 2011
Meeting is held by PTA at request of Paul Womack
to reassure parents at Briarlake Elementary School
that 120 towers in a 4-mile radius is not excessive.

District School Board Representative Paul Womack
to a parent who feels forced to move:

"I don't care."
(Get the Cell Out - Atlanta)

Please oppose cell towers
at all schools in DeKalb County, GA.

Our future depends on it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Response from DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson's Office:

(click headline for the full story) Commissioner Larry Johnson was elected as the DeKalb 3rd District Commissioner in November 2002. With the overwhelming support of the community he won with 92 percent of the vote, making him one the youngest commissioners to ever be elected to serve on the Board of Commissioners. 

The following is an email received Nov. 28.  It is in response to GTCO-ATL's inquiry regarding the zoning and permitting of cell towers at the 9 schools in DeKalb County that were approved by the DeKalb County School Board on July 11, 2011:

"Thank you for your comments; however, the decision to place cells towers on school properties was made by the Board of Education, a body elected by the citizens of DeKalb. The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners does not have oversight or the authority by state law to countermand decisions made by the Board of Education.

"I would certainly urge you to contact your State Senator and State Representative as well as the State School Board Representative. The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners does not have any jurisdiction in this issue. As it relates to the issuance of permits, the Board of Commissioners does not issue the permits for construction of any kind. The issuance of permits is an administrative function and follows the rules and regulations established for the permitting process. Unless the Board of Education or whomever is applying for the permits for the cell towers fails to meet the requirements as established, there is no way that the Board of Commissioners can legally intercede in this matter.

"Again, you comments are appreciated; however, I would urge you to contact the State Representative and State Senator for your area and the State School Board Representative."

Thank you.

Response (#2) From DeKalb School Board Superintendent Atkinson

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Response from Superintendent Atkinson, DeKalb County School Board

November 18, 2011

Thank you for the comments you expressed to the Board of Education during the November 7, 2011, Board of Education meeting.  This portion of the meeting is designed to give the community an opportunity to provide input to the Board.  To ensure that your concerns were heard, staff members made careful notes concerning issues on which you spoke.

You shared information regarding communication to citizens regarding the placement of a T-Mobile Cell Tower on school grounds in DeKalb County.  Thank you for your input.

On July 11, 2011, the Board of Education voted to approve the placement of T-Mobile cell towers on property owned by the DeKalb County School System.  The decision by the Board was made after much discussion and public input was received.  Three presentations regarding cell towers were made to the Budget, Finance, and Facilities Committee during the time period between 2010 and 2011.  Public information sessions were advertised and held at each site prior to the vote by the Board.  Citizens provided comments and information regarding cell towers during televised Board meetings in June and July.  The AJC and other local newspapers provided press coverage regarding the issue, and the Board discussed the agenda item extensively during the July business meeting prior to the vote.

We value all comments and carefully consider them when structuring plans and developing strategies for success in the DeKalb County School System.


Dr. Cheryl L. H. Atkinson

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Response from the State Board of Education

I am acknowledging receipt of your emails to the State Board of Education regarding the construction of cell towers on school property in the DeKalb County School System.

Though the state board members appreciate this opportunity to communicate with you, it is important to know that this issue is not under their authority. Our state constitution provides local school boards with the management and control of public schools, and this limits the Georgia Department of Education's and State Board of Education's authority over the operations of school systems. Accordingly, you must communicate your concerns to your local school system leaders. To assist you, I am copying Dr. Cheryl Atkinson, Superintendent of the DeKalb County School System, on this response. If you wish, you may also follow up with Dr. Atkinson's office by phone at 678-676-1200. I wish you all the best with this endeavor.

Best regards,

Sue Goodman
Manager, AskDOE
Georgia Department of Education
1566 Twin Towers East
205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

(404) 657-2952
(404) 651-8737 FAX

Cell Towers, Schools and NIMBYs

Reprinted from The Patch:
Credit Theresa Waldrop

"Will this bring about a change in the law, a ban on cell towers being too close" to gas stations, daycares and houses?

This was a question a bystander asked as he watched flames shoot from the cell tower near Rockbridge on Friday, watched as the tower leaned toward a nearby daycare center and gas station.

About 20 children, including five infants, were evacuated from the Education Statation daycare center during the fire. The kids watched it burn from a nearby Ingles parking lot until their parents could get there and pick them up. Some seemed to think it was great fun, while others looked quietly traumatized.

"It was very scary," said Robin Skelley a teacher at the daycare center. "Especially with all the babies and little kids."

And then there are schools, like Smoke Rise Elementary, that have agreed to put a tower on school property. It's good revenue in these times of shrinking budgets, but is it worth it?

When a Tucker school was considering putting up a tower on its property, a lot of parents were vehemently against it, and some were concerned about possible ill effects on the children's health.
I haven't met anyone who wants a cell tower near his or her home. Why does anyone think it's a good idea to have them near schools and daycare centers?

On the other hand, no one wants to make do without a cell phone, either.

So, where is the best place for them? Or are they no more dangerous than any other tall structure?

3:23 pm on Monday, December 5, 2011

The towers multiply because cell phones multiply. Therefore, the better initial question is how many people really need cellphones, and if they truly need them how much do they really need to speak on them. This writer may be the last person in a developed country (assuming that the USA is still in that group) not to have one or want one. So, what is the "benefit" and the "need"?

1. So your bossman can keep you on a string at all hours, taking away the peace of mind which comes from real time off;.
2. So your wife can henpeck you some more making you vet even your choices at the grocery store.
3. So you can readily speak with your "friends" from Facebook instead of face to face with any real friends you may have.
4. So you helicopter parents can keep a string on your kids so they never grow up.
5. I could go on, but I'm being overcome by nausea.

The only real benefit is emergencies, so with all those eyes and phones, one would guess that the crime rate has plummeted. Just watch the news.

Folks, you've simply been sold a bill of good, not unusual in this country. As for location near schools, in Dekalb County the answer is necessity brought about by horrible management. Elsewhere it's simple greed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

RESPONSE: from County Commissioner Gannon's Office

Thank you for contacting Commissioner Gannon’s office regarding cell towers on school grounds.
The DeKalb County School System is a separate government entity which owns and maintains their school properties. They are exempt from county ordinances and do not have to comply with DeKalb County zoning requirements for cell towers or any other structures. They do request building permits and will have building inspections. The construction of cell towers or any structure on DeKalb School System property does not require a vote from the Board of Commissioners.
Commissioner Gannon encourages you to share your concerns regarding the cell tower at Margaret Harris Comprehensive School with the elected Board of Education members who represent Margaret Harris.
Thank you
Corrin Wagnon
Constituent Services Coordinator
Office of Commissioner Kathie Gannon
Super District 6
Manuel J Maloof Center

1300 Commerce Drive
Decatur, GA 30030

PH: 404-371-4909
FX: 404-371-7004

Suggestion to Briarlake: Find out who this person is...

From the Womack / Briarlake transcript:  please read below:

Womack: One of your neighbors, I discussed it with him because he, uh, came. And I asked him, “what’s your interest?” And I said, “are you concerned?” and he said, “Oh, no. no.” He said, “I’ve put cell towers up all over the country. Now you may know who I’m talking about, somebody right around here. I live, not quite as close as you are. I don’t know what to tell you. I didn’t know why you didn’t know it because we tried to get the message out.

If you are looking to help Briarlake, it is important you try to identify who this person might be... a reported resident of your own community who attended the T-mobile meeting and apparantly puts up cell towers all over the country!  Is this the voice of the community?  Is this the person who convinced the school board that you wanted the tower so badly that even when Donna Edler tried to remove "all schools," she was corrected because some schools wanted the towers?  Her proposed ammendment ended up asking to remove all except Brairlake and Lakeside.  Why?  Who was it that was so convincing from your own community that the board members elected to represent you did not think twice about stating that you were in favor?

This is a big piece of the puzzle!  We have our own beliefs, but we will keep them to ourselves for now as we do not wish to publically call out anyone unfairly.  We just hope this question will bother you as much as it bothers us.  We hope you get answers before it is too late! 

For part of this transcript, refer to:

For the remainder of the transcript and full audio, please contact as they have an original audio recording of the meeting and have refused to release it.  We hope they will do so now as it may have more information that can help the community.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Does Dr. Eugene Walker, DeKalb School Board Member, Still Want to Put One in His Front Yard?

Firefighters put out cell phone tower fire in Lilburn

Two homes and a daycare were evacuated Friday after a cell phone tower fire at 592 on Rockbridge Road. No injuries were reported.
According to Gwinnett County Fire Captain Tommy Rutledge, the fire is believed to have been sparked by a telecommunications contract company working on the tower.
The tower is leaning at this point and fire crews have established a collapse zone in the event the tower comes down.
An engineer working for a cell phone company told CBS Atlanta that temporary cell towers were being considered as a short-term solution to remedy spotty outages in the area.
The owner of the tower said they plan to demolish the structure in the next few days.

Cell Tower Fire in Gwinnett County

From the Lilburn-Mountain Park Patch

A cell tower at the corner of Rockbridge and Lilburn-Stone Mountain roads caught fire Friday afternoon.
Updated at 8 a.m. Saturday

A cell tower will be taken down that caught fire in unincorporated Lilburn near the corner of Rockbridge and Lilburn-Stone Mountain roads Friday afternoon.

Firefighters were on the scene until about 6:30 p.m. Friday, when the fire was considered to be out and power was cut to the tower, said Tommy Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services.

A contracting company was welding on the tower, and that seems to have sparked the fire, which burned along the transmisison cables that run up the tower, Rutledge said.

The tower rises above a daycare center, and the children were evacuated to a nearby Ingles parking lot. There's also a gas station on the corner in front of the tower. Rockbridge Road was closed until about 6:30.

Firefighters on the scene and could be seen spraying the bottom of the tower at about 4 p.m. Fire and smoke engulfed roughly the top part of the tower, and the upper portion seemed to be bent and leaning slightly.

Firefighters established a collapse zone just in case the tower came down.

About 20 children were evacuated from Education Station Daycare, and the owner and teachers said it was frightening experience. Owner Celeste Ginyard said the children at first went to a nearby playground, as they had practiced in fire drills.

"It began to crackle and make a lot of noise," she said. "As it leaned, that's when I said we've got to get out of here." Within five minutes, staff members had the children, including five infants, in vans and buses, headed away from the site.

"I'm so glad we practiced," she said. "The kids are really what made it easy" although a few were scared.

Lilburn Cell Tower Catches on Fire - Daycare Center and Homes Evacuated

Emergency crews worry cell tower may fall after fire

News from WSB-TV, 12/2/11

Clarification About Permits / Shining a Light on the Truth

An update about what we know about the permit process...  the permits that were posted on and also mentioned on this blog are what we believe to be FCC permits, not DeKalb County permits.  At this time, we do not know of any formal permit applications with the county, however the signs of soil testing, electric testing, lines being run, tress being run over, etc. appear to be the first steps in the process. 

If you are planning to seek legal help, you should take photos of these events.  You should also try to photograph the "balloon test" from the perspective of your own property when/if you are able to capture it when it happens.  The balloon test is when they fly a weather balloon to the height of the tower.  They will use their photos to show how your property will barely be affected, while you can show a different angle than their's in order to prove otherwise.

To Brairlake:  Everyone involved with GTCO-ATL has been trying to help you in the best ways we can.  We do not live in your neighborhood, but we do know many people who do.  We have alerted everyone we can think of and we even asked reporters to meet us at your school in August, where we did an interview with FOX News stating that even though we had been successful in getting our school, Brockett Elementary, off the school board's initial list (with the help of many, many neigbhorslk), we still did not think the other communities were alerted and that was not fair.  So, we have tried and tried to let you know what has been going on, from our perspective.

We have no other intentions than to get the TRUTH to you so that you have every opportunity to protect yourselves, your home values and your children.  We feel this way about all the schools invovled and we have tried our best to travel to each and every community either personally, or through the help of other volunteers who have assisted us in our efforts.

We have searched for an attorney who would help us either pro bono or on a condition of payment only if it could be collected from T-mobile in a victory, but we have not had any luck so far.  That does not mean that you should give up.  Our time and resources are limited, just like anyone else's would be.  By spreading the word and working together, everyone has a better chance of finding the right solution and the right help.

We have been asked why we continue to state that Briarlake and Lakeside wanted the towers.  Clearly, we do not believe this to be true of the massive amounts of uninformed homeowners and parents in either of these communities.  That is our point - this decision was made without proper notification and without letting the community decide what would be best in their own neighborhoods.  The voices of a very few were somehow given more weight and credibility than common sense, which would tell you that no one would want a cell tower this large, this ugly, this dangerous and this controversial in their backyard, front yard or at their school.  I doubt anyone is really comfortable with how close we see these towers to our grocery stores, drug stores, doctors' offices and hospitals either.

But, if you would please WATCH THE VIDEO as we have asked so many times - where the July 11 vote takes place at the school board.  It is mentioned there that there are two schools who WANT the towers.  And, everyone we know agrees that Lakeside WANTED the towers and kicked off this entire request.  But, do the Lakeside residents feel the same way?  Do they know how many towers they currently have in a 4-mile radius?  This community is living under constant radiation from more than one hundred towers already!  Why do they need MORE? Why do they still have problems with their simple voice service?  How can MORE towers possibly solve this problem?  Isn't it more likley that the number of towers match the level of competition there is for this area of our county that has some of our wealthier residents?  Doesn't it sound likely that the towers match the competition and they are drowning each other out, interfereing with each other's signals, and fighting for the top position as the best provider?  We do not think MORE is what is needed here.  We think the county ZONING department needs to step in an insist on a wireless PLAN.  With a reasonable GRID that will divide up the space and ensure equal access for all carriers, the number of towers could likely be REDUCED significantly and the overall ongoing levels of RF radiation could be LOWERED while cell service could be IMPROVED.  Again, we are not experts here - but if we lived there, those are the questions we would be asking.  We hope someone in that area will pick up this issue and take it to the proper channels they need to in order to get some results.

Cell towers used to be structures that could carry a signal as far as 5 - 15 miles when we all used our phones for voice-only.  The 4G revolution is all about heavy data content, high intensity graphics, steaming HD quality movies.  Do we NEED these things on our phones while we are mobile?  Do these "luxuries" have to be wireless for us to enjoy them?  And are we all comfotable making this decision, not just for ourselves, but for everyone in our entire community and for children who have absolutely no voice in the matter whatsoever?

We do not know how a school board in this or any county could even consider placing a structure like a cell tower next to children who are required by law to attend school.  We, as parents, are upset and angry that they expected us to be okay with a decision like that.  We have learned, from our own experience at our school and from talking to other people with similar experiences at other schools, that there were one or two PTA officers who either knew about what was going on ahead of time, attended the T-mobile meeting, or learned about the true intentions of that meeting after the fact.

We do not know specifics about what they did or said after they learned about the cell tower proposal.  We only know what we did.  We alerted as many of our neighbors as possible from the very first moment we found out.  We made up flyers and distributed them.  We started send out emails.  And we do not even live within eyeshot of the school.  We went over to our school and knocked on doors of every property owner with adjacent property and we distibuted small flyers to every other door we could in the very short timeframe we had.  We spent our own money, used our own resources to get the job done and we were cut out of any former communications circles we had been a part of before because the people at the school were not happy with what we were doing. 

We did it anyway.  This issue is that important.

We don't know anything about how other schools reacted and why they did or did not spread the word to the community the way we did.  We called the national PTA to find out their position and they told us they were starting a committee to review the subject.  We have not heard anything further.

When we alerted the community at Briarlake, the PTA got involved and took over the campaign to inform the rest of the neighborhood.  We thought they were doing a great job and they told us they did not need our help.  Unfortunately, it looks now like they are not passing the information along to anyone who can actually help and they are not doing much more than just making a lot of noise, but they are not passing along information that can actually help.  We do not think they are being truthful on a lot of issues.  Those are the issues we are trying to point out here.

We have no alterior motives.  Our child is no longer enrolled in public school.  We are not in the position to accept special favors, not that we would if they were offered to us.  We care about our community and we have many friends who live all over this county.  We don't want to see this happen to anyone.  We hope everyone who comes here understands that we have done everything we can think to do that might help others.  We have had nothing but honest reasons to be good neighbors and set a morally acceptable example for our child that will hopefully help her understand why we had to take her out of her school after only a year.

If we were acting in a selfish or self-serving manner, we would have shut up and moved on a long time ago.  Without a cell tower, our neighborhood would stand to benefit if some of the other communities nearby ended up with towers in the middle of them, but we still speak out.  By keeping quiet, the school our child could one day attend might be the recipient of a lot of the cell tower funds, making it a better place for her future educational needs, but still we speak out. 

Think of it like this:

If you saw someone else and you thought they might be in danger, would you at least try to alert them to watch out?  Or would you turn the other way and just be relieved that you were safe?  That was the question we were faced with after Brockett in Tucker was removed from the list.  Do we keep quiet and be happy we can move on with our own lives?  We didn't think we could possibly do that and watch as towers continue to pop up all around us.

What T-moble is doing here is nothing new.  It has happeend and contiues to happen all over this country.  It has happened in Cobb County, Fulton County, Cherokee and others.  People everywhere are getting more and more angry, but we cannot give up.  We have to keep speaking up to our elected officials and let them know this is not okay.  And, we have to back up what we say with how we vote.

We urge everyone concerned about this issue to please stay involved.  Do what you can to tell the people you know, bring this topic up in conversation and educate others who are unaware of the problem.  Look out for your family and help those around you.   And, please, don't shoot the messenger - we don't like the message any more than you do!  And we wished this would have never happened to us, either.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Give Us Your Updates!

If you live near one of these schools, or have a child who attends school there, please let us know if you see any signs of site testing or construction on school grounds! 

If it isn't good for one school, it isn't good for any school

An excerpt from

If you want to fight against T-Mobile -
their phone number is: 1-877-453-1304 

(Call and CANCEL your service! 
After today's announcement,
Verizon is the better carrier anyway!)

According to B. Blake Levitt, Award-winning science journalist and Author of "Electromagnetic Fields, A Consumer’s Guide To The Issues And How To Protect Ourselves":

"Industry representatives point out that the RF emissions of cellular towers are far below the federal standards, which they often are. They liken the power output of the technology to 100- and even 25-watt light bulbs, hoping to assuage people's fears with familiar comparisons.

What they leave out is that 100 watts is the power output per channel, and one antenna may host dozens of channels.

As user demand increases, channels can be split.

Plus, unlike 60-hertz light bulbs, these installations function in the microwave, UHF bands, where questions about safety go back to the 1940s and remain unanswered today."

The more information I read on the subject of cell towers and cell phones the more concerned I become. Cell phones have become a big part of our lives. That said the burden of protection from their radiation should become a main concern of cell phone companies. And that should include cell towers. They are certainly making enough money off of us.

We are all being radiated more than we have ever been in the past. This is a real concern especially when it comes to our children.

We, the people, are going to have to be the ones
to pressure for these safety changes.

More and more people are becoming aware of the health effects and soon the cell companies won’t be able to keep covering the damaging studies up.

Cell phone companies need to step up and find ways to make these products safer. More research is needed in the USA to confirm what we all fear… that cell phones and cell towers create enough radiation to damage our human body’s cells.

Please join us in doing the right thing.  Support, do not bash, the schools and their communities who are bravely stepping up to inform all of us about the ways in which they are being abused by our local officials and ignored by our BOE.  Speak up for them so that no one else will be called upon next year to speak up for you. 

Help us stop this once and for all.  Say no to cell towers with your words, your actions and your votes!
Unite the county on this issue. 

If it isn't good for one school, it isn't good for any school.   If you would not want it in your backyard, then help us stop it from going in anyone's back yard!

Cell towers do not belong in our schools or near our homes.  Let your passion for 4G wait until you are at the office so we can keep our children safe!

AT&T and astroturf: is "following the money" enough?

By | Published 2 years ago
AT&T's government lobbying has a long and fairly sordid history. Before taking you inside our investigation of AT&T's recent anti-net neutrality lobbying (and the charges of "astroturfing" being thrown around), let's take a stroll down memory lane.

It was 1976, and a House subcommittee was considering a bill called the Consumer Communications Reform Act. The proposed law, heavily backed by AT&T, would have made the then monopoly even more of one by effectively declaring its long distance system America's "official" service. The bill clearly targeted a competitor: MCI's new microwave tower network, just being rolled out across the country. For days, Capitol Hill had been deluged by workers, priests, police chiefs, mayors, and anybody else Ma Bell could round up to support the legislation.

Then Representative Tim Wirth of Colorado walked into the hearing room. He saw that it was packed with people. Wirth asked the first panelist, an AT&T executive, to identify his colleagues. Five minutes later the man was still reading out names.

"Will everyone associated with AT&T just stand up?" an exasperated Wirth finally asked. The entire room rose. Everyone started laughing.

As it was then, so it is now. It should be no surprise to anyone that, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposes new net neutrality rules, AT&T Senior Vice President Jim Cicconi has sent out a e-mail to the company's entire managerial staff urging them to deluge the FCC's new discussion site with anti-net neutrality comments. The memo includes recommended talking points:
"The 'net neutrality' rules as reported will jeopardize the very goals supported by the Obama administration that every American have access to high-speed Internet services no matter where they live or their economic circumstance," Cicconi warns. "That goal can't be met with rules that halt private investment in broadband infrastructure. And the jobs associated with that investment will be lost at a time when the country can least afford it."

Fair enough; AT&T doesn't like the idea of network neutrality rules. But the company has long been accused of going well beyond such overt lobbying. It's also said to be a master at creating fake grassroots enthusiasm—so-called "astroturf" campaigns—often using small minority and civil rights groups as pawns in its government affairs chess game. Those charges are now being made once again, and Ars investigated the issue.  Read more at: