Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Margaret Harris Comprehensive School STEPS UP TO THE PLATE!

Hey Batter, Batter, Batter!  SWING!

158 TOWERS for Margaret Harris
AND 7 TOWERS for the Palace

Yes, that's right, the Palace now has approximately 7 of its own NEW TOWERS within a half mile radius of their throne room.  What's that all about?  Are they all cell phone towers?  Is this what it takes to get 4G wireless?  Are they building a broacast facility?  Is this why they wanted all that SPLOST money for videoconferencing?  Are they planning on spying on all of us?  Are they being replaced by 3-D images like on the Wizard of OZ, a sound effects machine for their microphones and a giant fog machine?  What is going on here?

The homeowners and residents near Margaret Harris Comprehensive School in Atlanta have recently learned that their neighborhood is one of the 9 that will soon receive a cell tower without a single notification to the community by the school, the school board or the county zoning officials.

Several representatives in this tight-knit community plan to speak out at the Monday board meeting. 

Any other schools that would also like to be represented during the public comments portion of the board meeting, sign up now!  Just send an email to: and include the school you would like to reference as well as the topic of your "issue" and how you have attempted to resolve it in the past.  You get three minutes and a lot of blank stares.  It's fun!

Remember - it was this time of year LAST YEAR that the 12 cell tower schools were selected by the school board's special committee headed by Steve Donahue of Plant Services.  He doesn't have an Engineering Degree or anything like that.  He is just a former principal who did some construction work to put himself through college.  He's the same one you can thank for the timely response your school likely gets when they put in a maintenance request or need a repair to something minor like the septic tank.

Don't forget ... if your school escaped without being selected for a cell tower during the first round draft picks of 2011, you might be a lucky winner THIS YEAR.  That means they could be talking about you RIGHT NOW!  We suggest that you become PROACTIVE and get in front of the board and let it be know for the public record that you persoanlly or collectively DO NOT WANT TO BE NEXT!  Show support for those who are on the list now and look out for your neighborhood now as YOU COULD BE NEXT!

MONDAY, December 5, 2011
6 p.m. SHARP
Administrative and Instructional Complex

J. David Williamson Board Room
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
You can also watch live:
Tune in to Comcast 24
And join in the live comments at:

Margaret Harris Comprehensive School
Speaking UP!  Joining GTCO-ATL in the countywide opposition!

and, if you have not done so already,
Sign the Countywide Protest Petition
to oppose cell towers for all schools in DeKalb County:
See the Margaret Harris newscast clips run on these local broadcast stations:
DeKalb School Watch:  More Residents Fighting Cell Towers

Unite Our County! 
Stop Corruption in its Tracks!

NO cell towers at ANY school!

IMPROPER or NO Notification is NOT OKAY!
Needless Exposure to RF Radiation is NOT OKAY!

Not in My Backyard?  You bet! 
Not in My Neighbor's Backyard, Either!

The convenience of wireless?  Not worth it!
The many risks associated with cell towers?  Too many!
The amount promised to the PTA?  Doesn't change how we feel!
The demand to be fairly represented by our elected officials?  Will not go away!
The chances we will lobby to vote you out!  Extremely Good!

T-mobile:  We're not ALL stupid Americans!  We know what you are up to and
we are still two steps ahead of you!  Back off.  Give up.  Or, prepare to spend a lot more money!

You can't buy us out.  You can't wait us out.  You might as well move on. 
Your friends at are waiting. 
Tell them hello from and take your webmaster with you, please.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

DeKalb residents meet to fight cell tower

By Jennifer Griffies

 On Monday night, residents upset over the building of a cell tower near their DeKalb County neighborhood, plan to meet to discuss ways to prevent its construction.
The DeKalb County School Board voted to build the tower in July, but neighbors only recently found out about the plans after numerous fliers went out around their area.

Sean Farnon, who lives in the Briarcliff Heights community, tells Channel 2 Action News the tower would be located behind Margaret Harris Comprehensive School for the severely disabled.

"Why are they putting a cell phone tower on school property? In my opinion, it's underhanded and they're trying to go around local zoning laws," said Farnon.

T-Mobile apparently filed for an administrative permit which bypasses public input on zoning.
This latest tower would be the 159th cell tower within a four mile radius of their neighborhood.
"How many more do you need," asked one resident.

The DeKalb County School Board signed a contract with T-Mobile allowing them to build nine towers on school properties.

Atlanta, Cobb, and Fulton schools also have cell towers on some of its campuses.
The residents, who'll meet at 7 p.m., say they'll file a lawsuit if the tower is built.

LETTER: Dear President Nancy Seegar, Georgia Association of Zoning Administrators:

Sent via email:  11/22/11

Dear President Nancy Seegar, Georgia Association of Zoning Administrators:

I am writing to you today on behalf of the citizens in DeKalb County, GA, with the hope that you or your association might be able to help us understand some zoning issues that are currently the center of much controversy and has many residents, homeowners, taxpayers and voters upset with the way we believe our rights are being violated.
The subject is the placement of telecommunications towers,
specifically T-mobile cell towers, on public school property.

We understand that the DeKalb County School Board voted in July to lease property at 9 schools throughout the county to T-mobile, a commercial entity solely interested in tax breaks and profit with no contribution to the educational endeavors of our school system. While we are upset about the short notice and lack of notification provided by the school board, we do understand that the time to voice our objections to them has passed as the leases have been reportedly signed. That is what brings us to you for help in understand the process.

We have started a non-profit group to assist the concerned citizens who live near these 9 schools by provding a central location for news and information that might help them understand what has taken place and what rights they may have if they wish to oppose the placement of any of these towers before construction begins. According to statements by the school board, that construction may begin anytime and will likely be complete by March 2012, so we do not have a lot of time.

Once the land lease was approved, we expected that T-mobile would then need to get a Special Land Use Permit for each site. We expected these permits to require public hearings and notification since the permits require the re-zoning of residential areas to accomodate the large, industrial structures which, until now, we have not seen located anywhere except commercial properties or setback from major highways and Interstates. So, our group was prepared to speak out and assist each of the 9 communities with bringing any specific concerns related to the zoning issues to the attention of the zoning committee and county commissioners, by preparing briefs and speaking out during the typcial public comments portion of such hearings.

CHASE Steps Up to Oppose Cell Towers on School Grounds

Dr. Darren Harper Addresses the State Legislators -
Warns of Cell Tower Cancer Risks, Especially for Children 
(full video.  Thank you to Unhappy Taxpayer and Voter)

Dr. Darren Harper and Johnae Davis (elementary student) speak up for DeKalb County children at the DeKalb Legislative Delegation 2nd Public Hearing at Porter Sanford Community Center on November 15.

Harper is the Health Professional Committee Chairman for the group known as CHASE (Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment).  He is also a medical MD and a professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta.  In his presentation, Dr. Harper urges legislators to take a closer look at the issue of placing cell towers near schools in DeKalb County, explaining how our children are the most vulnerable to the forms of cancers that can arise with continuous and cumulative exposure to RF radiation, even at low levels.

Please sign our petition to stop cell phone towers on school grounds:

And, if you are concerned about the future of our county, please contact your state legistators by phone, email or in writing to ask them what they plan to do to ensure the cell tower companies, like T-mobile (a German company), do not continue to bully and sneak their way into our neighborhoods and onto our school grounds.

The grounds are being cleared RIGHT NOW, so the sooner you can let them know how you feel about this issue, the better.  In other states, legislators have issued a state-wide moratorium to HALT ALL CELL TOWER CONSTRUCTION until they could get more information and a better understanding of the needs of the industry vs. an all-out race to put as many towers in as many locations as quickly as possible to beat their competition in the race for 4G marketshare, tax breaks and more corporate profit.

Here is an easy way to find out who represents you in our state government.

Just enter your zip code and you will have a list of the names and their contact information.  Let them know that you intend to vote in all elections, pay taxes in this county and are concerned about the sudden sprouting of cell towers all over our "greenest county in America" - especially the ones on our PUBLIC SCHOOL PROPERTY.  This is property that taxpayers are paying for and have intended for it to be used for the educational purposes of children, not for a profit-center for T-mobile. 
Here is a great example of public notification done the right way. 
And, this sign was posted right outside Jolly Elementary School
in Clarkston, GA, one of 9 schools  expecting to get a new 150' cell
tower with a 60' x 60' base by March against the wishes of the
community and even the city's Mayor!

It is your constitutional right to be heard by your government on issues that affect your health, safety and way of life and infringe upon your enjoyment of your residential community.  And, our children have rights to receive an equal education, funded by the taxpayers, without fear that their health and safety might be at risk.  Parents must send their children to school by law, but no one can force a parent to assume a KNOWN health risk and shoulder the financial burden that could go along with providing medical treatment for their child.

Help us hold our elected officials accountable for this bad decision. 

Thank you, Dr. Harper and CHASE for helping spread the word about the dangers and risks associated with cell towers so DeKalb residents can speak up about what they want or do not want in their own neighborhoods.

iPhone 4 Explodes Midflight on Australian Airline

Apple’s iPhones are always among the hottest gadgets of any holiday shopping season, but for one passenger on an Australian flight, the phone was too hot to handle — literally.

While on Australian flight Regional Express ZL319 Friday, a passenger’s iPhone 4 (not the iPhone 4S, which is Apple’s latest model) suddenly started “emitting a significant amount of dense smoke, accompanied by a red glow,” according to a Regional Express statement.

The plane, which was flying from Lismore to Sydney, was in the midst of landing when the incident occured. “In accordance with company standard safety procedures, the flight attendant carried out recovery actions immediately, and the red glow was extinguished successfully,” according to Regional Express’ statement.

After landing, the iPhone was handed over to officials at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. There’s no official word yet on what caused the phone to combust.

Exploding Apple products are rare, but explosions have happened in the past, mostly related to the devices’ lithium ion batteries overheating.

The European Union launched an investigation in 2009 after multiple instances of iPhones and iPod Touches exploding or catching fire midflight were reported in the U.K., Holland, France and Sweden.
Apple also recalled its first-generation of iPod nanos sold between September 2005 and December 2006 because the battery would overheat and “pose a safety risk,” according to the company’s website.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Notable Quotes from Oct. 25 Meeting at MLK High

"In the beginning there was only one school 
- and that was Lakeside."
 - Jay Cunningham, DeKalb County School Board Member


                                        "Matter of fact, you've got another one also,
looking for a second cell tower."
                                                             - Jay Cunningham,
DeKalb County
School Board

"It is totally advantageous for T-mobile.  By going through the school
districts and the churches, they can totally disregard the law. 
And they are doing this to folks all across this country."
                              --  Viola Davis, Unhappy Taxpayer and Voter

"You're going forward on the premise that 'you guys were legally notified.' 
And, not only was there not proper notification, but you guys did
not even advertise in (The Champion Newspaper) 
where you are legally required to advertise."   
--  MLK Nearby Resident and Homeowner

"Based on them meetings, and what we got,
we've already voted.  So, I wanted to hear your concerns,
but at the same time period, it's after the fact." 
 --  Jay Cunningham, DeKalb County School Board Member

"You took three schools off the list.  They've got the same concerns as we have up here. 
And they say the same thing.  They say that if you don't approve it for these three schools,
you shouldn't approve it for any schools.  That should  have been it. 
You don't need to hear it from us.  We've got the same concerns." 
--  MLK Nearby Resident, Homeowner and Parent

To read more, or hear these quotes for yourself, click here for the full meeting audio:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

VIDEO: Updated: Exactly What Happened During "The Vote"

There have been questions posed to us lately about the school board's vote back in July to lease the public school property at 9 schools to T-mobile. 

We attended the meeting in person, but in case you missed it, here's how you can watch for yourself:

It is highly recommended that you watch this video of the school board vote:

* 1.  Copy and paste this link into your browser:
2.  Scroll down until you locate .asx link icon Work Session and Business Meeting (11 Jul 2011)
3.  Click the link and wait for the video to load.
4.  Skip ahead more than 3/4th of the way through to 2:42:38 in the video.

*  Note:  Updated link information as of 11/23/11

Meeting minutes for this item are incorrect so it is important to watch the video to understand exactly what happened during the board discussion and vote, including discussion about the ability for citizens to object after the vote if they had not been previously informed, as indicated by GTCO-ATL in our petition.

What we learned from watching this video is that board member Donna Edler suggested that she would like to make an ammendment to remove all schools, but that created further discussion about the fact that there were some schools that actually wanted the towers

Following the discussion, Ms. Edler put together her ammendment, with some help from fellow board member Pam Speaks who agreed that there were two schools that were very vocal about wanting the towers:  Lakeside and Briarlake (mistakenly called Briarcliff a few times). 

First vote was on Don McChestney's ammendement to remove Brockett, Meadowview and Medlock.  It passed, but was a bit confusing because Mr. Womack indicated that the vote would not only remove the three, but also approve the others.  He started to move on to the next item (as chairman Bowen was absent so Womack was chairing the meeting), but was instructed from the floor (presumably Legal) that the main motion still required a vote. 

Donna Edler then made her motion which would remove all remaining schools EXCEPT TWO: Lakeside High School and its feeder elementary school, Briarlake, because these were the two schools that were known to be in favor of the towers.  How they made this determination, we don't know, especially since it is now so clear that the majority of the parents and community were not informed at all. 

The Briarlake community has launched a huge public awareness campaign to voice their opposition to the cell tower.  It's been stated that only 2 people attended the T-mobile meeting from Briarlake.  We are guessing these are the same two people now named as the co-chairmen for the new Briarlake Foundation which will likely receive the lump sum payoff from T-mobile.  But, that's just speculation from the peanut gallery.  The names of those people may eventually surface, but regardless of whether we know who showed up, what's more important is who are these people that were in favor of the towers?  They were apparantly so in favor that several of the board members agreed that it would not be fair to remove all the schools because these schools were so vocal in wanting the towers for the financial aspect of it (which had only been disclosed publically about 24 - 48 hours prior to this meeting) but also for the benefit (better cell phone coverage for T-mobile customers?). 

A few PTA board members at almost every school have now admitted to being "in the loop" with the proposal from the beginning, so we can only assume that they are the ones who stated their opinions on behalf of the school community.  We are not vilianizing them for having an opinion that might be in favor of cell towers.  Perhaps they were told something that the rest of us were not.  The part we object to is that there appears to be a change of heart, and opinion, with at least one school's PTA that is now speaking out against the towers.  But, if they are not telling the truth about their invovlement from the beginning, how can we be so sure they are working in the best interest of the anti-cell tower community now?  And, why are these parents so confident that they speak for the entire PTA membership?  Clearly, this is a controversial topic and most people would expect an organization like the PTA to err on the side of caution, to protect children from all harm above all else.  And if there is a chance that a cell tower could have unknown health effects on children, why would anyone take a default position of "go for it" without at least insisting on out-clauses in the contract, or more time to consult with the community before rendering a decision?

We are calling this to your attention so that you will know all the facts and can make your own decisions about how to proceed.  It is great to work together - as along as you are all working toward the same goal.  If the PTA or a similar group not directly a part of the school itself stands to get a lump sum of money, how sure can anyone be about their motivations or goals?  It is one of the unfair issues forced upon the schools when T-mobile made this offer of money part of the public announcement.  Can one or two officers speak on behalf of an entire association or school without so much as taking a survey or calling members to ask their feedback?  Is this form of feedback a fair measure for board members to use when signing a 30-year deal?  We don't think the feedback that the board relied upon was fair or accurate, but the leases have reportedly been signed, which means this is a mute point. 

The issue now is whether or not these leases are legally binding and valid.  And whether the school's exemption to zoning laws should apply to T-mobile.  These are issues that must be decided in a court of law as they have no precedent in the state of Georgia.  We do know that your right to be heard in opposition to Cell Tower applications is protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees your Constitutional right to petition government for the redress of grievances.

Know Your Rights!

Reprinted in part from

As an individual or an association, you have the right to fight against sustaining the adverse consequences which you may suffer in the event that a Cell Tower were to be installed in close proximity to your home, or in your community.

You have the right to fight against sustaining a loss to the value of your property as a result of the installation of a Cell Tower in close proximity.

You have the right to protect yourself, your family, friends and neighbors against against the dangers of Cell Tower collapse, which occurs more often than the average person realizes.

You have the right to fight against having the installation of a Cell Tower adversely effect the character or aesthetics of your neighborhood.

You also have a right to protect yourself, your family, friends and neighbors against against the potential adverse health impacts associated with continued exposure to RF emissions from Cell Towers.

What you may not know is that, in addition to any rights you possess under state law, your right to be heard in opposition to Cell Tower applications is also protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees your Constitutional right to petition government for the redress of grievances.

Your Right to Petition, encompasses a federally protected right to be heard before any local Planning Board, Town Board or Zoning Board, and to make submissions to same, for the purpose of opposing any Cell Tower application pending before any such board or boards.


Note:  GTCO-ATL is not associated with a law firm and is not recommending any particular attorney or law firm.  We do believe that it is a good idea to consult with one or more attorneys in order to determine if your rights have been violated and if there is anything that you can do legally to stop a cell tower from being built near your home or your child's school if you have concerns about the health and saftey issues, as we do. 

We are only trying to put forth the best information we have found in order to help our neighbors try to fight back against what we believe has been an unfair process for approval and zoning of public property to a commercial entity without input from the taxpayers.  Every community must work together to get the best results they can for their circumstances.  We encourage all communities, when speaking out, to be sure to mention that this process has been unfair to all schools involved.  We are hoping that, by working together, we can collectively stop a dangerous precedent that leaves the taxpayers, residents, parents and every other citizen that might be affected by a zoning decision of this magnitude out of the loop and places children in harm's way.  What is the purpose of zoning regulations in the first place if they cannot protect a residents from having a huge industrial structure built in the middle of their neighborhood?

If you have information you would like to share on our site in order to help others, please email us at  Thank you!

Friday, November 18, 2011

YOU TUBE VIDEO: Wonder What You Would Have Heard at the T-Mobile Meeting?

Here's a link to a T-mobile meeting, with good turnout, in Portland, OR.  This community was obviously notified before the meeting about the purpose of it since they arrived with banners and great questions.  They refused to let T-mobile reps. separate them into breakout groups and insisted on one big meeting so they could all voice their concerns publically and here the answers together.  Do no let T-mobile "Divide and Conquer." 

This appears to be their main strategy, pitting neighbor against neighbor, parents against community, PTA against non-PTA, administration against the rights of children, neighborhood agains neighborhood... it is working here, but hopefully we will be wiser next time.  Hopefully there is still time for some communities that are opposed to this infill of residentially zoned peace and quiet, with a large industrial structure from a heartless company simply looking to evade taxes and take advantage of the trusting nature of the citizens who believe their lies. 

Portland, OR, meeting attendees were able to ask questions of T-Mobile and city officials. To view a recording of the entire meeting, follow this link.

Example for How to Fight Back

Portland Oregon learned about cell towers coming to their neighborhood just a few weeks ago, unlike the several months that we have had here in DeKalb County.  Here's how they are handling it as mentioned on their community website:

Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association Meeting Thursday 11/17/11

Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association members vote whether or not to allocate funds to provide much needed legal support. We suspect this issue will not be without some degree of controversy among ENA members. We need as many neighbors and friends to voice their concerns and show their support for this issue. Please remember we’re in this together (as a community) and more towers will likely follow without our support. Similar legal issues (based on preserving neighborhood character) have been fought and won in Oregon. Please join us at the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association meeting this Thursday – 11/17 – 7:00pm in the Duniway School library.

Note to DeKalb County Schools, if your school was not on the list this time, you might  be caught off guard when you receive the news.  We hope you are reading and learning from the events that have happened so that you will be better prepared than our first groups of schools were.  Once a precedent is set, there will be nothing to stop the Board of Education from coming back to this "cash cow" again and again. 

If you have a child at a cell tower school, or live in a neighborhood nearby, it is not too late!  But, DO NOT attempt to negotiate with the Board of Education OR the county commissioners office as they have already been contacted repeatedly.  They are either not able to change the decision, or do not want to do so. 

This is now a matter that requires legal representation.  You must act quickly before the towers are built for your best chance at a victory and for recooperating your attorney fees.

Good Luck!  Email us at if we can help.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cell Phones Disrupt Some Fire, Police Radios

JONATHAN D. SALANT, Editoral Staff - Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The proliferation of cell phones is having potentially dangerous consequences for firefighters and police officers, who in some places can't use their radios to call for help because of interference from cell signals.
The Boston suburb of Cambridge, Mass., is one of those areas. Last fall, an officer responding to a fight at an apartment had to walk to the other side of the high-rise to call for backup. Another time, an officer responding to a burglar alarm couldn't call for help as he approached the building.

In both incidents, the delays didn't cause any major problems for officers. But the potential is there, said Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald Reardon, who oversees the city's entire public safety radio system.

``If equipment needs to be repaired or upgraded, we have no problem doing that,'' he said. ``This is beyond our control. It's a worry.''

Ernest Mitchell, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, was more pessimistic.

``Thankfully, no one has died,'' said Mitchell, who is fire chief in Pasadena, Calif. ``But it's only a matter of time.''
Read more about how cell phones disrupt police, fire signals here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

UPDATED: YOU TUBE VIDEO: CEO Burrell Ellis Answers GTCO-ATL Question During Town Hall Meeting


At this November Town Hall Meeting, our co-founder waited patiently until almost the end of the Town Hall meeting until he finally had a chance to speak.  Asking two great questions, we thought for sure we would make some headway on both the SPLOST and the cell tower issues.  Instead, the answers were a little vauge and then directed to Senator Steve Hensen and others on down the line.  But, hey, at least we got them talking about the issue and the others in the room learned more, too. 

Thanks for thaking the question, Mr. Ellis.  But, what we could really use now is an answer that makes sense.  WHY and HOW can our locally elected school board be the ones to determine whether a huge industrial cell tower with HAZMAT materials and RF radiation is safe and properly kept up to code in light of all the controversy surrounding placing these structures near homes and schools? 

Are we really supposed to believe that DeKalb is the ONLY county where we do not care about exerting our power?  We let the school board walk all over us and our children?  And we don't care?  C'mon, that's not the way things work around here!  And, if it is, then we say that it is about time for a change!  Who's coming with us??

Click Photo for YOU TUBE VIDEO:

GTCO-ATL Asks the Hard Questions! GTCO-ATL Asks the Hard Questions!

BREAKING NEWS: Briarlake Elementary - A Community Led Astray?

Signs of the times.  Trees outside Briarlake Elementary School are tagged and ready for chopping.  The outside classroom  bleachers and stage sadly sit in the background.  It, too, will likely be a memory soon as it appers to be in the way of progress, according to the plans drawn up by T-mobile.  Briarlake Elementary and Lakeside High School were the only two schools that reportedly were in favor of cell towers at the time of the July 2011 school board vote.  But, after news spread about the plans, the community stepped up to tell a different story.  It may be too little, too late.  And, there may even be more towers on the way!

One of the most vocal opposition groups to the DeKalb County School Board's decision to place cell towers at 9 schools has come from the Briarlake community. GTCO-ATL was the first group to reach out to them and provide information in an effort to be good neighbors and good citizens helping to spread the word, as several school board members have admitted they did not do a very good job at themselves.

Shortly after our initial meeting, however, the PTA stepped in and decided to plot their own course. Stephanie Byrne is a parent who admits she knew about the proposal back in May, but didn't think it was anything serious enough to warrant telling her neighbors. She was even interviewed by CBS Atlanta way back then since her property backs up to one of the proposed cell tower sites and T-mobile will likely have to buy a portion of her property in order to comply with the county's setback requirements.  She said she followed the story until June when it was postponed and she didn't hear any more about it until after the July vote.

An ominous scene on Nov. 11, 2011.  Cell tower near Briarlake Elementary School and the address for the newly formed Briarlake Foundation which will be accepting money for iPads, despite RF radiation concerns growing worldwide.

While other neighbbors are in a panic to sell, from the looks of all the signs around the school, the Byrne household is only interested in setting out exensive signs opposing the towers and handing out buttons. Maybe that is because Stephanie and Mark Byrne have also been lucky to learn that their property values have somehow been swapped around just in 2011 where the property is valued far higher than the building. That should work in their favor when T-mobile comes knocking. Hopefully they will knock loud since they don't respond well to visual cues like the ones in orange and green all over the landscape that will soon be chopped and shreaded.

Byrne has led the movement to gain publicity and hound the school board even though it has been stated publically multiple times that the contrats are signed and it is a done deal. The school board began talks of cell towers back in the Fall of 2010, according to Paul Womack, school board representative and nearby neigbhor to Byrne. 

GTCO-ATL has recently learned that the timing of initial cell tower talks (Fall 2010 according to a statement by Womack) coincides with the application submitted by a big name construction law firm to file the paperwork for tax-exempt status and set up the Briarlake Elementary School Foundation, which can receive gift donations. Byrne and a fellow Briarlake parent, Michelle Decker, a parent council represenative, are the only ones with their names tied to any of the information that can be found online about this foundation, except the pricey paralegal who filed the paperwork.  With only 22 "likes" on their empty Facebook page, it is difficult to determine how a school of only 400 students has raised more than $4,000 with very little publicity for their efforts. Even more baffling is why they would state that their annual goal is $100K, which rivals that of Lakeside High School's similar foundation, The Valhalla Group, which is in a higher income bracket neighborhood and has more than 1,500 students.

Where Did They Go Wrong?
The questions are many and the answers are few. GTCO-ATL encourages anyone in the Briarlake community sincere about wanting to stop the cell tower to take their own actions rather than waiting for Superman, or anyone else, to do it for them. This is a long-term deal, spanning 30 years, that will be much more difficult to undo once the tower is up than it will be to stop it from going up in the first place.
Wonder if these folks know that the person who voted yes
at the School Board Meeting in July lives directly across
the street.  It would have been easier to walk over and talk
to Paul Womack about the decision than use an expensive
yard sign to send a message, don't you think?  Then again,
maybe they are already acquainted and that's the reason
for the metal fencing around the property, too.
We are not attorneys, but would like to recommend, as we have all along, that the time for speaking up in front of the school board and hoping to be heard has long past. The board has rendered its decision and stated that the contracts are signed. They have been asked to reconsider the vote and have stated many times that a reconsideration will not happen. The issue is now with the county's office of Planning & Sustainability and the Director of Planning's office under CEO Burrell Ellis.

DeKalb County commissioners have stated that T-mobile claims it is exempt from following our county's regulations for proper zoning procedures, but that issue is debatable and has not been decided in a court of law. They have also stated that their power is limited by the FCC ruling of 1996, but we suggest that there is language indicating that local govenment still has some control over the placement and location of towers, especially in residential areas.

Can a school board that is only elected for 4 years and is headed by an Interim Superintendent, sign a contract with little or no community input, for 30-years that will lease public school property that is actively being used for the primary purpose of educating children? And, if so, should they disclose the terms of the ageeement to the public?

Can they agree to allow some or all of the money to be directed toward individual PTAs or private foundations being led by PTA board members who also state they are against the cell tower and that they formed a resolution to official declare thier opposition?

And, most importantly, does the exemption to zoning regulations that is provided to the school system automatically apply to a commercial entity (and not even an American-based company at that), not at all related to education or providing any educational value, so that it may also enjoy the tax exempt status and the lax building approval process that the county gives its own school system?

Too Little, Too Late
At GTCO-ATL, we know what we would do. And, we are quite surprised to see how easily a community can be led astray without questioning the intentions of the people stepping in to help, the funding by which they are doing so, and the steps they are advocating in order to bring about a change.

Thowing out the Trash, alongside the SPLOST.  Briarlake's PTA also advocated
for SPLOST despite their "outrage" over the school board's recent decisions.
Henderson Middle and Lakeside High School are their feeder schools.  Henderson
is slated for SPLOST IV dollars while Lakeside is under construction with
SPLOST III.  What the SPLOST couldn't pay for, they hope cell towers will.
The Briarlake Elementary School Foundation has a new website that states "iPad technology" is one of the reasons it is rasing funds. Someone needs to tell Byrne and Decker to do a little more reseach about the real reasons true opposition groups have formed against the cell towers - RF Radiation has been upgraded by the World Health Organization to class 2b, possible human carcinigin. And, children are the most vulnerable population to this form of microwave radiation. If the iPads will be connecting wirelessly to the Internet, then they will add even more radiation to the classrooms that will already be seated under a massive 4G cell tower in a neighborhood that some can say is already drowning in a sea of radiation.

The community website is now listed as an LLC. And, the organizers are not returning our calls. The site is updated on a regular basis, but has no mention of the activity at the cell tower site and only suggests the community do more of the same - which has so far resulted in nothing more than a lot of attention that could have been spent alerting the other 8 schools rather than just listening to the outcry from one.

And, we continue to wonder if the entire education system is so badly broken here in DeKalb that no one remembers to think about the most important thing at the bottom of all this mess - the children.  If anyone bothered to ask them, what do you think they would say?

Court OKs Warrantless Cell-Site Tracking

For what it is worth... perhaps there is more to the desired use of cell towers in our neighborhoods than meets the eye:

A federal appeals court said in September 2010 the government may obtain cell-site information that mobile phone carriers retain on their customers without a probable-cause warrant under the Fourth Amendment.

Refer to: for more details.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Petition Quote of the Day: Jolly Elementary in Clarkston

"We do not want a cell tower at Jolly Elementary in Clarkston! Why is it that I live across the street from the school and did not hear anything about this until my retired neighbor from 4 blocks away told me about it? I was not informed about any meetings ever. I am no longer buying a thing in this county so you get as few of my pennies as possible. Who is looking after the children if the schools are too busy playing games with our health and trying to be CEOs at Tmobile. Do you have no shame?" 

                    --  taxpayer, resident and VERY UPSET

Congratulations to our annoymous quote winner of the day! 
Please, let everyone in our county know how you feel.  And, help us fight the towers!

MobileWise Issues Report to Protect Children

Click to read the new report from the U.K. to limit cell phone use in children.

This week MobileWise, a nonprofit organization located in the United Kingdom, released a new 47- page report: Mobile Phone Health Risks: The Case for Action to Protect Children. The report reviews research on cancer, damage to fertility and reproduction, damage to biological processes, and the vulnerability of children. It recommends that the new leaflets with clear concise cell phone safety information be widely distributed in schools, medical facilities, libraries, cell phone stores, and other public areas.

Health Canada Issues Cell Phone Advisory

Warnings to cell tower workers posted on the gate to a transmission tower base. 
Can you kids read and understand what this sign is telling them to do?

On October 4, 2011, Canada joined Israel, Germany, India, France, Finland, Russia and Switzerlandin recommending that children under 18 limit their cell phone use. In response to the World Health Organization announcement that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields are a possible human carcinogen (in the same class as DDT, lead, and chloroform), Health Canada (Canadian federal government agency) issued a proactive advisory to encourage kids under 18 to limit cell phone usage, text rather than call, and use hands-free devices, More information is at

We Must Have Been Sleeping...

... because the California PTA made a formal RESOLUTION in 2001 to oppose cell towers and wireless devices in schools.    Here's the text for the wireless resolution from California if you would like to read it.

Here comes Georgia TEN YEARS LATER and our PTA says what?  "We don't take sides on issues like these."  Really?  Tell that to California.  They are light years ahead of us in education, safe use of wireless, going green, solar power... maye it's time to move!  Oh, that's right!  Those darn property values won't let any of us go anywhere right now, will they?

Well, while you are stuck in DeKalb similar to the way that drivers are now stuck in worse  traffic thanks to the NOT-SO-HOT lanes, at least you can enjoy a few good short films, courtesy of the Caliornia PTA.  Pinch me when the Georgia PTA gets on board and stops trying to pretend like they aren't hiding the cell tower money somewhere. 

The one exception to this 'teasing' of the PTA is Briarlake.  They may have agreed with Womack in the beginning, but they sure did a 180 degree turn when they realized they were not fairly representing their community thanks to a little publicity courtesy of GTCO-ATL.  Last we heard they were drafting a resoltuion.  I asked if they would then give it to the state PTA and I got a laugh.  The Briarlake parent told me, "I don't think they are that serious." 

So, what does it take to get serious?  We are!   Are you? 

Public Exposure: DNA, Democracy, and the Wireless Revolution and Electromagnetic Radiation: A Scientific Overview
Part One (30 minutes) Part Two (30 minutes)
Electromagnetic Radiation: A Scientific Overview by the late Dr. Theodore Litovitz, physicist, Catholic University of America
(24 minutes)
Avaliable only online, "Electrical Hypersensitivity and the Health Risks of RF Exposure from Antennas" Talk by Magda Havas, Ph.D., professor and environmental scientist, Trent University, Ontario, Canada
Part One (20 minutes) Part Two (21 minutes)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Smoke Rise Elementary - Welcome to the Club

It appears as though Smoke Rise Elementary School has been issued an Administrative Permit for a T-mobile cell tower on school grounds.  So, along with the SPLOST-promised tear down and rebuild, the neighbors nearby, including the Private Swim Club have a 150' cell tower to add to the construction that their quiet neighborhood will soon be enduring.  So, Smoke Rise, welcome to the club.  That's not the swimming club, by the way - we meant the cell tower club.

Speaking of country clubs, we wonder if the sunbathers and swimmers will appreciate all the constuction workers next door for the next 5 - 6 years, depending on how long it takes to demolish and rebuild a school for 600 students.  You know how considerate those construction workers and contractors can be when someone in a bathing suit is within 100 yards of a job site. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

LETTER TO A FRIEND - What a Cell Tower Looks Like - Help for the Lithonia Schools

A friend who lives in Lithonia and has been trying to help spread the word about the cell tower approved for Martin Luther King High School recently asked if I had anything to help her show others exactly what cell towers look like and how many we already have in most large cities, such as Atlanta, today. 

In an effort to help others who may have heard the comments at last night's board meeting and would like to learn more, I'm reprinting part of the letter below:


Dear Concerned Citizens of South DeKalb:

This is the video I made when we were considering the cell tower issue at Brockett: . This video led us to the Channel 2 reporter who did a story about us prior to the board's July vote.  It helped us gain support and let our board know how we felt about the issue they would soon be voting on.  We also delivered our petition of 100 names from concerned residents in our community.
This is the video I made after Brockett was taken off the list, but we still felt it wasn't enough. We wanted to help the other schools, too. This is the video that gained a lot of views online and caught the attention of School Watch Blog as well as the local FOX reporter who ended up doing a story about us and the fight against the towers:
Either of these videos might be helpful to show people who are not yet familiar with what cell towers look like and how dangerous and intimidating they are up close. My main reason for making the first video was that I was so shocked by how many we had around us to begin with and I wanted to go and see them for myself. When I did, I was sickened. I wouldn't want to spend all day, every day next to one of these things. How could my school principal, PTA and school board expect me to be okay with this? 
How close is too close?
Cell towers are moving into DeKalb County
at a rapid pace.  Who is ensuring they
are safe to be placed so close to our homes
and schools?  The answer will surprise
you - possibly no one.
It is wrong - on so many levels. Who are they to make this kind of decision for my family? I am required by law to send my child to school, but they have an obligation to make that school a "safe and healthy learning environment." 

There is NOTHING that is safe or healty about a cell tower on school grounds - even the cell company would never claim something so ridiculous. These towers are clearly hazardous, as evidenced by the very signs they are required by law to post on them and by the setbacks, eavesments, fencing, locks and other requirements that the school board claims to be exempt from... and therefore they are granting that same immunity to their new contracted partner for the next 30 years??

There is no precedent in GA state courts and there is no law that says this is a legal claim of exemption or a legal use of active school property paid for by the taxpayers.

This is something that is too big to be ignored or overlook or swept under the rug. I am so happy that we had so many people who spoke out at last night's meeting. Here we are, 6 months after they first announced their plans and we are STILL talking about it. As soon as we were informed, did our own reserach and learned the truth, we were OPPOSED to this action. Yet the board wants to "move forward."   I'm sure they do. Don't we all? 

But, this issue will only go away if they acknowledge what they have done and lay out their plans to void this contract and commit to the parents and other taxpayers in DeKalb County that this is a non-educational issue and a poor source of ongoing revenue. They must commit to stop these towers and resolve to not bring this issue up in our school system again unless all of our concerns have been adequately addressed and the scientific community has made a final determination regarding the safety of non-ionizing radiation when children are exposed to it continuously and against their will.


Further thoughts on this subject:
We are so thankful that we helped stop a cell tower from coming to our school, but that does not mean that this issue will go away.  The health of my child and every child in DeKalb is placed in greater and greater danger every time another cell tower goes up that is closer to the roads than they used to be, closer to the retail businesses we frequent than they used to be and closer to the schools that we support with our own tax dollars that are near so many of our homes, tucked into the residential communities where we should feel safe. 

We are asking everyone we know to pay attention to your surroundings and question your goverment and school officials about what is being done to ensure our safety.  This issue needs to remain front and center in our minds and in our communities until it is recognized by our leaders as significant and they take action to respond to our requests for reasonable limits upon a fast-growing industry that should not be allowed to self-regulate when the results could one day prove to be devestating.

I, for one, want my legacy to go down as someone who stood up, spoke out and tried to protect her family, loved ones, neighbors and friends.  I do not want to be someone who had doubts, but wasn't strong enough or sure enough to even ask any questions or seek any answers.

Wi-Fi in the Classroom: A Non-Consent Form for Parents

Just added to our documents file is a handy tool for parents and administrators who have questions or concerns about wi-fi in the classroom.  The DeKalb County School District has listed Wi-Fi for all classrooms as an initiative requiring funding under the SPLOST IV referendum, being voted on by taxpayers in our county today, November 8, 2011.

Vote Today, Nov. 8
Find Your Polling Location:

If you are a parent with a child in a DeKalb public school, we urge you to watch the video in our previous blog post concerning the dangers of enabling wi-fi to be used by or near your child.

If you would like to express your concern and request that your child's school provide a safe and healthy alternative to this form of instruction, please download and use the NON-CONSENT FORM made available today by Get the Cell Out - Atlanta. 

For a copy of this form in PDF format, use this link:

Get the Wi-Fi Out! Vote No on SPLOST!

During the public comment portion of last night's DeKalb County School Board meeting, GTCO-ATL friends and associates were on hand to speak out against the cell towers that will soon be going up at 9 of our public schools. 

Six speakers addressed the subject of cell towers at schools and the improper notification that was provided to the communities around the schools.  Also raised was the issue of Wi-Fi in the classroom, which is an initiative DeKalb seeks to undertake as part of the SPLOST IV referendum.

To bring GTCO-ATL fans up to speed about the problems with Wi-Fi, we have found an excellent video, about 14 minutes long, that covers the issue and actually measures the radiation fields to show you first hand what we will be doing to our children if we do not STOP SPLOST at the polls.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Public Comments at the DeKalb County School Board Meeting, 6 p.m.

Reminder to GTCO-ATL followers and curiosity seekers - Don't worry if you are hooked on technology or were raised on TV - a long attention span is not needed!

"The DeKalb County School Board Meeting" at 6 p.m.

For maximum entertainment value, please arrive by 5:45.
Meeting begins promptly at 6 p.m.
Public comments are typically heard near the beginning.
You can sneak out at the break without obligation to return.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Voters weigh education sales tax with SPLOST

PTA President Admits Prior Knowledge of Cell Tower Proposal

As reported on DeKalb County School Watch blog:

Words were exchanged in anger, tempers flared and PTA President Evelyn Cunningham, wife of school board representative Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, admitted she had been aware of talks with the DeKalb County School System (DCSS) regarding the cell tower proposal for more than a year. She offered no explanation about why the subject was not announced to the parents or community until May, just a month before the school board was scheduled to vote.
Cunningham approached the group of approximately 12 - 14 people who had gathered outside the entrance to Martin Luther King, Jr. High School around 11 am. Monday, Oct 24, to inspect the location where they recently learned a T-mobile cell tower will reside for the next 30 years, thanks to the school board’s approval to lease its property, along with eight other school properties, in exchange for about $400 a month which will be deposited into the county’s general fund. The deal also includes a one-time payment of $25,000 that will also be deposited into the general fund, but those funds will be “directed” by the PTA or a School Booster Club that the school wishes to support.

While the group was assembled outside the school, a spokesperson for the local non-profit group “Get the Cell Out - Atlanta” was also being interviewed by a reporter from WXIA-TV for a story related to SPLOST IV. That story has not yet aired. As the group was disassembling and preparing to return to their vehicles or walk back to their nearby homes, Ms. Cunningham approached them and demanded to know their names and what had been reported to the news media. After several minutes, the group convinced the PTA officer to calm down and discuss her concerns rationally, which is when she admitted to having known about the cell towers for more than a year. When asked if she received the information from her husband, she replied that it was her understanding that lots of people in the PTA were aware of the proposal and it was not specific to anything her husband told her directly.

The DeKalb County Board of Education Administrative Rule O.C.G.A. 20-2-1160 requires: "… public forums from time to time, especially when dealing with controversial issues or matters of deep community concern, to receive input from citizens on policy issues, the educational program, and school administration."

The DCSS official position on the subject of public notification has been that public meetings were held at each of the schools once carrier T-mobile had been selected. Critics claim the flyer sent home with children was vague and did not convey the message that the meeting was to discuss the intent to place cell towers on the school property.

DeKalb County zoning laws specific to the permitting of cell towers has language that prohibit cell phone or cell tower companies from constructing towers, which emit low levels of RF radiation 24 hours a day, within close proximity of residential neighborhoods unless there are no other suitable alternatives. T-mobile representatives stated during the school meetings in May that the schools were selected because they were the “easiest” choice for them to pursue, not the last alternative as required by the county.

T-mobile also reported in the community meetings, according to one parent who attended the meeting at Brockett Elementary in Tucker, that they did not want to build their towers in neighborhoods where they are not wanted. The community members and neighborhood associations near Martin Luther King, Jr. High School have stated that they have been shut out of the process completely, only learning recently that a 150’ tower with a base size of 60’ x 60’ has been approved by the school board.”

At the July 11 board meeting, Jay Cunningham spoke out on the cell tower issue, stating that the community was in favor. In an interview with a reporter from the Crossroads newspaper in July, Cunningham said “Everybody has their view,” adding that he only had one call opposing the proposal. “Everybody had no problem with it. I didn’t hear anything negative from the community.” Read more: CrossRoadsNews - Cell Towers Going to Schools

“It is very disappointing and makes you wonder if you can trust anyone in this school system,” stated one of the people who witnessed the altercation between the PTA President and the community members who say they would like some answers.

“We have fought things like this before,” said one man from a neighborhood right next door to the school. “This is the first time something like this has happened where they plan to allow zoning for something and we do not hear about it until it is too late.”

For similar meeting held by School Board Member Paul Womack at Briarlake Elementary, click here: Womack T-mobile Cell Tower Meeting.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wise Words

"Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice."
— Robert F. Kennedy

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

UPDATED 4/11/12: Margaret Harris Comprehensive School

Update as of 1/3/11: The permit mentioned in this article is not a DeKalb County permit as we previously reported. We have learned that the permits listed on are actually the FCC permits which must be obtained first before the local permit is issued. As of today, we have not heard of any county permits issued for our cell tower schools, however, the due diligence period for applications should be ending as early as 1/12/11. We expect to see those permits approved and construction to begin shortly thereafter.  (Or, a second due diligence period of 6 months shall begin.)

4/11/12 update:  The second due diligence period is expected to end on 7/11/12.  Construction shall commence shortly thereafter.

Administrative Permit Approved for a Vulnerable Population at Margaret Harris Comprehensive School. Listed as unregistered, T-mobile's application on 9/19/11 appears on the list as .06 miles from this special education school for students with severe and multiple disabilities, ages 3 – 21 and grades P-12.  UPDATE===  This is an FCC Permit, not a DeKalb Administrative Permit.

From the school's website: Values -- DeKalb County School System:
• Value and promote parent involvement
• Regard quality public education as essential
• Honor universal human rights
• Contribute to the common good of our community
• Hold high expectations for ALL
Click photo to view larger version.

What is the Human Right to A Safe and Healthy Environment?

Every woman, man, youth and child has the human right to a safe and healthy environment, and to other fundamental human rights linked to and dependent upon a healthy environment.

Human Rights relating to the environment are set out in basic human rights treaties and include:

* The human right to a safe and healthy environment.

* The human right to the highest attainable standard of health.

* The human right to ecologically sustainable development.

* The human right to an adequate standard of living, including access to safe food and water.

* The human right of the child to live in an environment appropriate for physical and mental development.

* The human right to full and equal participation for all persons in environmental decision-making and development planning, and in shaping decisions and policies affecting one's community, at the local, national and international levels.

* The human right to safe working conditions, including adequate safeguards for pregnant and lactating women.

* The human right to freedom from any type of discrimination.

* The human right to education and information, including information relating to links between health and the environment.

* The human right to share in the benefits of scientific progress.

Click image above to view larger version.