Saturday, March 31, 2012

TUCKER PATCH: Some “Choice” Words for Parents

(click headline for full story)
Tucker parent Cheryl Miller holds her young daughter outside Brockett Elementary
School last July. Miller was interviewed by a local television news reporter about the
upcoming cell tower vote that the school board would be making and she voiced
her concerns that most people in most of the communities affected were
completely unaware of what was, "probably going to happen."

Reprinted with permission
Local Voices, Cheryl Miller, Get the Cell Out - ATL
Posted on March 27, 2012 at 5:35 am

I have been concerned about the issue of cell towers on school grounds since I first heard about it last May.  A lot has changed in my life since then as a result of this and other actions that were taken by the DeKalb County School Board.

We fought to protect our neighborhood from the unannounced intrusion and, thankfully, we won that small part of this much larger battle.  We started speaking out to warn other schools about the cell tower decision and, hopefully, we made the dangers of RF radiation a little better known throughout the county.  We did this through an unofficial group called Get the Cell Out - Atlanta and we post blogs on our website frequently about the things we have learned during this process.

We are even hoping to continue reaching out to others on this subject by remaining active with a group called The Center for Safer Wireless.  They have great information that can tell you what you need to know to keep your family safe while the debate over the science behind wireless technology continues in the worlds of research, science and politics.

You wouldn’t do something dangerous if you were warned ahead of time of the risks, right?  And you wouldn't insist that others do it just because you wanted to take a chance with your life, right?  The scary part about cell phones is that we were given the technology years ago without the warnings because, at the time, they were thought to be safe.

Now we have embraced the good features and benefits into our culture, but that means our money has gone toward a lot of big businesses that have motivation to prevent us from learning about the dangers that have surfaced, not just in independent research, but even in the studies they have funded themselves.  We have to separate out the PR machine of what the cell phone industry wants us to believe and the cautions we are getting from the medical community.  Consider the source of the information before you accept anything as fact.

You can expect more of the topic of cell towers when you return from Spring Break.  We expect there will be construction activity and a lot of people who previously have not kept up with the news will soon learn about what has been decided without their input.  They will not be happy about, that's for sure.

Where do we go from here?

We took our child out of public school because we felt that a school board that is willing to risk lawsuits by devising plans to narrowly comply with the law just to avoid public input into a decision is obviously not interested in what any of us have to say about anything they do.  So, if I cannot have input and I cannot trust them to make good decisions, how can I leave my child’s education in their hands?  That would be irresponsible of me, if I have other choices.

And, I do.  And, so do you.  But, whatever you decide to do about your child’s education, the most important thing is that you pay attention to what is going on so you will know when action on your part is necessary.  You don’t have to plan a major protest or even join the PTA.  And, given the fact that the PTA elected to keep quiet when they were informed about the cell towers, I personally would not be renewing my membership if I were still involved with the school.  They did not represent me and isn’t that the whole reason to be a member of an association?

I know they are not obligated to think like I do.  But  I am not obligated to join them or pay them my dues, either.  And, in my opinion, they should not be allowed to accept an offer of $25,000 or more from anyone if there are strings attached that include whether or not to tell me something that, as a member, I have a right to know.  These cell towers are obviously worth a lot of money to someone, and avoiding the public input and notification tells me that it probably isn’t the community, the children or the teachers that will be the ones to benefit.

But, even if you are confident in your PTA or you think everything is fine at your child’s school, that’s no excuse to  put the blinders on and just hope things will continue.  I think many of us assume that if there was something going on at the school that we needed to know about, someone would tell us.  And, that may be true, but how do we know they will tell us soon enough for it to matter?
Ultimately, the future is up to you

We must stay vigilant in the fight to ensure our children are getting everything they deserve.  The number one thing you can do to ensure your child has a happy future, is to impress upon him or her the importance of getting a good education now.  And if you don’t think that is happening at your neighborhood school, try to figure out what the problems are and how you can help solve them. 

Sometimes just calling attention to the issues will make the people who work there step up and do something about it.  No one likes their faults to be called out.  If you can do it politely and with an offer of help, you might get the issues resolved and that will help your child and every other child at that school.

If you have no option other than leaving the school, consider your child’s circumstances before you decide what is best.  There are other “free” forms of education out there, from home-schooling to an online K-12 program which is funded by the state.  There are private schools that offer scholarships and other forms of financial aid.  And, there are private school start-ups that are not as expensive as what you might think.

I have even heard of families joining together to form a home school program in a local church or community center where one parent agrees to be the teacher so they do not all have to stay home from work.  It’s a throw back to the one-room school rooms that we have heard about from the old days.

There’s something to be said about a dedicated teacher, no stifling bureaucracy  and parents who are invested in seeing it work.  That’s how charters get their start.  If there are a lot of people in your area who feel the same way, you can look into the options to start a charter, but that will likely take time and only help you if you have more kids coming up in the system, not the child you are probably concerned about right away.

School vouchers may be a good idea after all

And, if the subject of school vouchers is ever brought up in Georgia, I will likely be one of the first to jump on board with supporting it.  A voucher would give every parent access to the best schools in their area by giving “credit” that can be used toward private schools.  Essentially the dollars we as taxpayers put into a child’s education would stay with the child, regardless of where he or she attends school.  So, the private schools would have a new market for income which means more of them could pop up to try and attract more students.

And, it means the public schools would have to shape up.  They would essentially have to “compete” in order to keep kids there.  Options give everyone a chance to do the best thing for their child.  But, right now, the options are too limited, even with charters in the mix because regardless of what you choose, the child is still within the public system, so the dollars stay in house.  With vouchers, every child would actually be worth something to those who insist on looking at schools for their dollars and cents.  If they don’t deliver, they lose headcount and that leads to a loss in funding for them. 

They would be forced to shape up, or lose money which leads to a loss in power and influence.  And if the job doesn't come with so many perks, who know, we might find some people who are in it for the right reasons - they actually care about the education of children.

See where I’m going with this?

TUCKER PATCH: Cell Towers: One Man’s Risk May be Another Man’s Peril

(click headline for full story)

Father and cell tower opposition leader Paul Miller, resident of Tucker,
has been speaking out about the dangers of radiation from cellphone towers
to protect his daughter, above, from having one placed at her elementary school,
or any other public school in DeKalb County, GA. Miller and his wife Cheryl started
"Get the Cell Out - Atlanta" to help other schools on the cell tower list
with any opposition they wanted to voice. The Millers were sucessful in having their
own neighborhod school removed from the School Board's list but say they
continue fighting because the lack of notification places many other families at
risk of being radiated around the clock against their will.

Local Voices:  Cheryl Miller, Get the Cell Out - ATL
Posted on March 19, 2012 at 9:50 am

Reprinted with permission from The Tucker Patch

It's the common sense idea behind many adages: "Be careful." "Better safe than sorry." "Look before you leap." "First do no harm."

When the DeKalb County School Board announced its plans regarding cell towers last May, very few people were aware of the issue.  And then, a few weeks after the announcement, the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded its assessment of the radiation to “possible human carcinogen.”

That was a game-changer for me. I don’t care if other schools have tried this idea as some sort of alternative form of financing. That was an uninformed mistake they made based on a lack of information as far as I’m concerned. Knowing what I do, I could never agree to take that chance with the life of a child... not my child and not anyone else's, either.

The WHO is the largest, most well-respected group of scientists and researchers in the world. Often, the classifications of threats to human health that are determined by them will start a domino effect among all other health organizations, including the American Cancer Society, in terms of how they also view the threat level and determining what precautions to recommend.

What They Don’t Know Might Hurt You

In short, if the WHO says that they are unsure, then all the debate in the world will not change the fact that we will all need to wait and see. In the meantime, what’s the logical thing to do? I guess that depends on how much you value your own life, or the lives of those around you. And, it probably depends on how much of a “risk-taker” you are when it comes to your own health.

But, when it comes to public policy, are we expected to blindly place our trust in other people, elected officials or not, to make the right choices for us?  How about for our children? If the WHO is not sure, why would we expect our school board to know the right thing to do in this situation? Even if they had a track record of excellent decision-making, which they do not, does that mean we are required to keep quiet and hope for the best?

Perhaps we have elected a board of “risk-takers” without realizing that such a personality trait might be an important issue to raise during the campaigning process. It isn’t a party affiliation. Risk-taking is a personal decision, but right now it is something that is impacting others.

Have we entitled others to decide everything for us? Or do we still expect our goverment officials to represent us? Do we expect them to ASK first and THEN action once they know how we feel?

Committee Chairman Rep. Chuck Sims held up a local bill (HB 1197) that was intended by Rep. Dr. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) to prevent cell towers from being placed on public school property, even though he does not even live in the county. He waited for the arrival of industry lobbyists who provided very little input other than citing the FCC Telecommunications Act of 1996 and claiming it was in their favor. Despite the overwhelming support for the bill locally (17 of 19 delegates signed on in favor), it was stalled and may likely never make it out of the committee.

Supporters are working on possible re-writes of the legislation and say that they may even try to call for a repeal of the portion of the FCC Act that states that one cannot deny approval of a cell tower based on health factors alone. Another idea involves including an item on the upcoming ballot so voters can, at least, let their voices be heard on the subject.

The Precautionary Principle (or “Prudent Avoidance”)
"When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken - even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically," states Paul Miller, co-founder of Get the Cell Out - Atlanta, and a physical therapist at a prestigious hospital near Atlanta.

Miller treats bone marrow transplant patients frequently and extended an invitation to the DeKalb County School Board to visit him at work so they could see first-hand what the victims of cancer must suffer. He stated that he thought they should see what they are asking parents to put on the line before any final plans are made regarding the placement of towers on school grounds.

Key elements of the Precautionary Principle include:*  Taking precaution in the face of scientific uncertainty;
*  Exploring alternatives to possibly harmful actions;
*  Placing the burden of proof on proponents of an activity rather than on victims or potential victims of the activity; and
*  Using the democratic processes to carry out and enforce the principle, including the public’s right to informed consent.
For more information about the debate on cell towers or how you can help support the legislation currently proposed, please go here. And, you can sign the countywide petition here.

Friday, March 30, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Thank You Board of Commissioners!

Commissioners give thumbs down to cell towers at school

by Jennifer Ffrench Parker Cross Roads News (reprinted with permission)

(click headline for full text)

Here is the full text regarding the actions taken by our county commissioners this week.
From Crossroads Newspaper (and thank you to reporter Jennifer Parker for remaining dedicated to this topic)....

Click the image of the DeKalb tower regulations
above to review the full text.
The DeKalb Board of Commissioners has taken a position on cell towers on DeKalb school properties, and it’s a thumbs down.

In a March 27 letter to CEO Burrell Ellis – signed by all seven members – the commissioners said the county should not ignore its ordinance unless it has been proven in court that they must ignore their adopted policy.

The commissioners – Elaine Boyer, Jeff Rader, Larry Johnson, Sharon Barnes Sutton, Lee May, Kathie Gannon and Stan Watson – said that if any private company applied for a building permit to erect a cell tower in a single-family residential district, it would be denied.

“Therefore we respectfully recommend that the Planning and Sustainability Department not issue any building permits for the cell towers to the Board of Education, or any other property owner without the owner complying with applicable DeKalb County zoning law,” they said.

Walter Woods, the school system’s spokesman, said Thursday that the district would like the ability to raise money for schools through its lease with T-Mobile, just like other school districts are doing.

“Other neighboring districts have multiple towers and have no problems,” he said. “But the county is our partner and we will work with them and we respect their counsel and guidance.”

Woods said that T-Mobile will be applying for the permits, and not the district. The district signed 30-year contracts with the wireless provider on Dec. 8 to erect the 150-foot cell towers at six elementary schools, two high schools and a comprehensive school.

The schools, picked by the DeKalb School Board in its July 12, 2011 vote, are Flat Rock and Princeton elementary and MLK Jr. High in Lithonia; Briarlake and Narvie J. Harris elementary in Decatur; Smoke Rise Elementary in Stone Mountain; Jolly Elementary in Clarkston; and Lakeside High and Margaret Harris Comprehensive School in Atlanta.

Under the agreement, T-Mobile will pay the district more than $2.3 million in rent over 30 years and each of the schools’ PTSAs will get a $25,000 one-time payment and an additional $25,000 each time T-Mobile co-locates other providers on the towers. The school district will be paid $16,800 per year plus $4,800 for each provider that co-locates on the towers.

Through Thursday, he said the company had not yet made any applications to the county.
“They are still doing site preparation,” he said.

Since the school board’s decision, parents and community residents opposed to the decision, have been pushing for a position from the board of commissioners. They have also pursued state legislators to pass laws exempting the use of school properties for cell towers.

Opponents of the decision said that enough is not known of the health risks of cell tower emissions on children’s growing bodies, and that the school properties are primarily in residential neighborhoods and the 150-foot towers will negatively affect the value of homeowners properties.

In their May 27 letter to the CEO, the commissioners argued that the Board of Education’s leasing of schools for cell towers to increase revenues is a “proprietary function and not a governmental function.

“Rather than being passive regarding DeKalb County zoning regulations and ignoring citizens complaints about cell towers in residential zones and on school property, we recommend DeKalb County take a more active role to protect the interest of citizens and uphold adopted ordinances.”
The commissioners also said that the Board of Education cell towers decision places the county government in “an untenable position.”

“It is the policy of DeKalb County as determined by the Board of Commissioners to prohibit cell towers on single-family residentially-zones properties,” the commissioners said. “This zoning ordinance was established to ensure the safety of county residents and to protect property values of single-family homes.”

A response from Ellis was not available at press time.

Read more: CrossRoadsNews - Commissioners give thumbs down to cell towers at school

GTCO-ATL Comment:  For the past 10 months we have been speaking out against cell towers on school grounds and researching this issue to better understand the politics, science, economic and legal issues surronding it.   We learned about other communities in the U.S. that were "blindsided" by the issue and had not even considered a policy regarding cell phone towers and how their placement might be regulated. 

But, that was not the case here.   To read DeKalb County's cell tower regulations, click here.

Thank you to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners for doing the right thing and sending a letter to the CEO Burrell Ellis's office informing him that you do not want to see cell towers constructed that defy our own policies.  Thank you for listening to those who have come before you in person, by phone and in writing to ask that you get involved and protect us and our communities.  

Thank you to the members of the DeKalb Delegation who signed on in favor of the local bill, sponsored by Karla Drenner, a radiation expert who had concerns about cell towers being placed so close to children who are the most vulnerable to the RF emissions.

The CEO Burrell Ellis and his advisors now hold all the cards.  We will be posting contact details on our website for the areas of the CEO's office that may have input into the decision.  We will urge him to review the case law on the exemption issue in Georgia which clearly states that structures on public property that are for proprietary purposes are not exempt. 

Therefore, a Special Administrative Permit (aka, no public input) is not the proper process for T-mobile.  They need to apply for a Special Land Use Permit, just like anyone else wishing to put up a cell phone tower anywhere else in the county. 

Thank you to every person in DeKalb County who has taken time to learn about this issue and show support for the schools and communities currently in danger of being affected.  Our website will hit the 15,000th page view mark any day now and the countywide petition, once closed and now re-opened due to community feedback, still gains new signatures almost daily!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

DeKalb County School District Launches New Alert System

Dear GTCO-ATL friends,

You may have already received word about this, but I wanted to make sure....

DeKalb County Schools are offering a message service for free alerts and important messages.  If anything good has come from our cell tower battle, perhaps it shall be that the school system realizes the importance of having a way to communicate with the community (not just parents) rather that relying on the PTA (and placing them in the middle when word doesn't get out). 

If you pay property tax in DeKalb County, then you are a "stakeholder" in education.  You don't want to be kept in the dark when it comes to important announcements that might have an impact on your local school.  Like it or not, the success of the neighborhood school has been proven to be one of the primary influencers in assessing your property value. 

So, please sign up, stay informed and please plan to make INFORMED CHOICES at the ballot box this year when and if we are able to elect a new school board.  This is a year that the safe choice will NOT be the incumbant, so please research the alternatives and make the choice that's right for DeKalb County's children and communities!

I just signed up for the alerts, and it literally took me less than 30 seconds to do so.


Mar. 21, 2012 – In an effort to communicate timely, school-related information to parents,
teachers and citizens through the tools they use every day, the DeKalb County School District is
launching a new automated notification service that sends school news via email, text message
and voicemail.  The new service, called K12 Alerts, is free and available to everyone who wants
to know more about DeKalb Schools.

K12 Alerts will keep parents, DeKalb Schools staff members and local residents informed of
everything from weather-related school closings and early dismissals to other important news
impacting the School District.

Anyone interested in receiving messages from DeKalb Schools can register through K12 Alert’s secure online portal at

For more information about K12 Alerts visit

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Looks Like We Should All Pack Up and Head for North Idaho...

(click headline for full story)


Read the article below and consider whether the neighborhood in this report did anything differently, anything more dramatically, or anything so unusual that their story makes sense when compared to our story here in DeKalb County, GA. 

The big differences we noted were:  we united our entire county across 12 different affected school communities in unison to protest the cell towers on school grounds, our school board had advance notice that parents and residents might be upset because they admittedly watched the results of the Cobb County cell tower fiasco which nearly resulted in one board member being recalled by the community for his gross misconduct and the last major difference:  our protest took place in a close suburb of a large metropolitan area with our communities already being totally saturated by cell towers without any significant gaps in service recognized by the FCC. 

The differences in the outcome:  their school board listened, they stopped their cell tower from coming. 

Similarities:  same lack of notification, same outrage, same radiation concerns, same studies cited. 

Differences:  Look at how much time, space and credibility the reporter for this story gives to the concerned parents and residents.   

Proposed Playground Cell Tower Nixed By Effective Public Education Campaign In North Idaho

Good News From Amy Worthington
The Idaho Observer
When neighbors caught wind of a proposed new cell tower to be erected adjacent to the Lake City High School ball field in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, they were stunned. Among them was Sue Anderson, who organized a group of concerned neighbors to research the details. "Only about 50 property owners within 300 feet of the proposed tower were notified by the city about an upcoming hearing on the tower proposal. Hundreds of other homeowners were left completely in the dark," says Anderson.
The tower proposal, in the works for about a year, was between telecommunications provider Verizon Wireless and School District 271. Verizon negotiated to pay the district $1,000 per month to lease ground for a 115-foot tall structure with antenna space for three other providers besides Verizon. Eventually, the new tower, adjacent to the football stadium, would be buzzing with dozens of antennas for both cellular and PCS communications.
Sick neighborhoods
Since an elementary and middle school are very close to the high school, Anderson and others set about to update themselves on the latest science regarding health effects of microwave radiation emitted by cell towers. "News and science reports from all over the globe seem to show that a cell tower neighborhood is basically a sick neighborhood. We found many media reports about cancer clusters in residential areas close to microwave towers," Anderson says.
A 2004 German government study found that people living within 1,300 feet of cell tower radiation had three times the normal cancer risk.
Among other facts uncovered by Anderson's group was a 2004 resolution by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) that opposes commercial cell towers on fire stations after a medical study showed brain and nerve problems for irradiated personnel.
It was also discovered that the Los Angeles Unified School Board passed a resolution opposing cell towers on school property after the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences classified electromagnetic fields as a Class 2B carcinogen.
Public outreach campaign  
Anderson and other volunteers put crucial radiation news and science into a flyer and distributed them throughout the affected neighborhoods. Attached to the flyer was a summary of 220-peer reviewed and published studies documenting cancer-initiating and cancer-promoting effects of high frequency electromagnetic fields used by mobile telephone technology.
The summary was completed in 2000 by ECOLOG Institute, a German research group commissioned by telecom giant T-Mobile to collate known health risks of mobile telecommunications. ECOLOG's summary cites everything from DNA damage to infertility and disruptions of the immune and endocrine systems. The Institute concluded that current power density exposure standards should be reduced by at least a factor of 1,000. Critics charge that T-Mobile subsequently "buried" the report in an effort to keep public discussion of the proven health risks associated with cell phone radiation off the agenda when tower sitings are being proposed.
Pressing the advantage  
Once neighbors of Lake City High were armed with the science information and several web sites where more information could be researched, they flooded school officials with complaints about the proposed tower.
"Our most critical concern was numerous studies showing memory and cognitive function impairment among those living near microwave transmitters," said Anderson. "In the Freiburger Report, thousands of German doctors have linked wireless phones and cell tower radiation to dramatic increases in disorders of learning, concentration and behavior among their patients."
Anderson asks, "How can a school district justify exposing kids to continual radiation documented to cause sleep disturbances plus concentration and learning difficulties?"
Martha Rayne, who lives only meters from the proposed tower site says, "We were outraged to learn that the FCC has no manpower to monitor emissions from these towers so no one really knows if they are in compliance with exposure standards. And we were surprised to learn about all the different frequencies that blast out of a cell tower-everything from 217 hertz and 1733 hertz with harmonics all the way up to carrier microwaves in the megahertz and gigahertz realm. Where are the long-term safety studies for all of these frequencies?" she asks.
Anderson and others prepared a 46-page binder for school district officials documenting why microwave exposure is especially hazardous for school children. Included in the information was a 2002 statement by EPA's Radiation Protection Division which states that current federal exposure standards touted by the telecom industry as "adequate" in fact do not protect the public against possible damage from prolonged, low-level microwave exposure. The EPA letter admitted that studies show cancer can occur from long-term irradiation.
Also included was a letter from Dr. Henry Lai, a leading radiation and biomedical researcher working at the University of Washington, who stated that numerous medical studies show serious health effects can occur at irradiation levels far below current exposure standards.
Anderson points to a December 2006 article in Coeur d' Alene Magazine which disclosed that the Kootenai Medical Center (KMC), serving as a magnet hospital for the five northern Idaho counties, is now inundated with cancer conditions of all types. The article reported that an average of 210 patients are cared for daily at KMC's North Idaho Cancer Center and that more than 100 new cancer patients join the ranks of the "Big C" club very month.
According to the article, so crushing is the cancer case load in North Idaho, that other cancer centers are being rapidly expanded in Post Falls and Sandpoint. "One hospital worker told us that experienced medical personnel talk among themselves as having never before seen so much cancer among young people," Anderson said. "Our urban areas have been increasingly saturated with microwave radiation from wireless tower and roof top transmitters since about the mid 1990s. Scientists say cancers can have a latency period of around 10 years, so that computes with our area's growing cancer epidemic," she observes. "And the irony is, people who have cancer are the last people in the world who need more microwave exposure," she says, pointing to a Spanish medical study that documented how leukemia cells proliferate rapidly when exposed to RF/microwave radiation.
Dr. Lai's research group reported findings that microwave radiation can actually be physically addictive. The cell phone "high" is triggered by endorphins released into the brain when microwaves enter through the ear. Wireless industry ads and promotions continually prod kids to buy new glitzy wireless hardware for watching TV, downloading music and texting. Kids know nothing about wireless health hazards because the industry is not required to warn them that numerous epidemiological studies show cell phone usage greatly increases their risk of developing brain cancer. "It's a real problem," says Anderson. "The more kids get hooked on wireless toys, the more towers are needed to service those toys. And, if they have their schools and playgrounds irradiated by nearby transmitters, they are getting a double whammy."
Odorless, tasteless, soundless, invisible-and patient  
Microwave radiation from cell towers can pass easily through walls, windows and roofs. A French medical study of people living within 1,000 feet of cell towers documented common complaints of extreme fatigue, memory loss, headaches, sleep disorders, depression, skin problems, hearing loss and cardiovascular problems.
Anderson elaborates, "With the tower crisis at hand, we had to educate ourselves on the mechanisms of cell damage that our kids could sustain from years of exposure to these cell tower frequencies broadcasting continuously. We learned from the literature that there is a cascade effect. One of the first things this radiation does is cause a loss of calcium ions from cell membranes, which makes cells more likely to tear and leak. Leakage of calcium ions into brain neurons causes gradual brain damage and neurological symptoms seen in so many irradiated people. Weak, calcium-deficient cells become vulnerable to cellular DNA damage. DNA damage opens the door to tumor growth."
Neighborhood wins round one  
On May 4, the district issued a press release in which the school superintendent stated that the district had taken to heart concerns of people who live near Lake City High and had asked Verizon Wireless to withdraw the tower project from school property. "We were so happy," says Brenda Cowles, grandmother of two. "School officials actually listened to those whose lives are at stake here!"
"The battle for the health and safety of our school kids is not over," Anderson says. "Verizon can move over to vacant land near another set of schools further south, or it might try to lease private property right across the street from the high school and hit our kids from there."
Telecom providers are not required by law to consider health effects in their siting proposals. Further, the Telecom Act of 1996 prevents local planning authorities from prohibiting cell tower construction on the basis of health/environmental considerations. "Thanks to this unconstitutional federal law, city planners are obligated to rubber stamp whatever facilities Verizon says it needs for 'essential' services. So we have sent much of our documentation to Verizon Wireless, asking the company to walk the moral high ground and consider the health of our children in school zones when siting their transmitters," Anderson explains.
Cowles agrees. "Microwave transmitters belong in industrial zones where human exposure can be kept to a minimum. Shielded buildings can take the rays better than our little kids playing outdoors," she says.

Cell Towers on School Grounds Can (and Do) Fall Over!

(click headline for details and video)

Cell phone tower collapses in Wellesley
By Elana Zak/GateHouse News Service   GateHouse News Service   Posted Jan 24, 2009 @ 12:32 AM
A cell phone tower collapsed right off Route 9 eastbound early this afternoon, after a fire started underneath the tower while welders were working on it.

The fire burned for about 20 to 25 minutes, said Wellesley Police Sgt. Glen Gerrans. The tower collapsed before firefighters, who were waiting for power to be cut, could begin putting out the fire. No one was hurt, according to Gerrans.

“Underneath [the base of the tower] are electronic boxes that contain switching equipment and so forth,” Gerrans said, pointing to the still smoking tower, “and the workmen were working on that part underneath the actual cell phone tower itself using welding equipment and that’s what started the fire.”

Read more:

Cell phone tower fire burns itself out

Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007, 10:56 AM     Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2007, 7:50 AM   By Steve Pepple

A cell phone tower on the property of the Howell High School complex on Highlander Way in Howell caught fire and forced the evacuation of several buildings and closure of the middle school because firefighters feared it would fall.

 Howell Fire dispatcher Barb Souchick said the fire, which started at about 9 a.m., burned iself out by about 10 a.m. She said firefighters had to let the fire burn because the tower was too tall to hit with water from hoses.

Howell Fire Chief James Reed said he believes a contractor working with a torch at the base of the tower may have set it on fire, and that the entire interior of the tower burned.

He said the tower served AT&T, Sprint, and carried the Internet connections for five Howell schools, but did not know which schools were affected.

Read more here:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Well, this explains a lot. Doesn't it?

At GTCO-ATL, we are not saying that technology is bad.  We are not saying that it is wrong.  We just think that if it emits a form of radiation with unknown consequences, we should hold off on giving it to children everywhere until it can be proven to be harmless. 

With that said, the cell towers at DeKalb schools will likely begin construction very soon despite the vocal and continous protests of our residents and parents from one end of the county to the other.  Multiple protest groups have popped up, but none appear to be making much headway. 

There's obviously more to these cell towers than what we are being told because too many people are either keeping quiet, telling conflicting stories, spouting off information direct from industry lobbyists that is incorrect or simply sitting back with a "just wait, you'll see" sort of attitude.

So, what can it be?  Perhaps the cameras all over the Interstate and on our highways that have popped up on light pole and traffic lights have something to do with it?  Perhaps the decline in the economy has not given the cell carriers enough customers for their 4G technology to allow them to continue their expansion plans, so they needed a fresh crop of customers - children.  Sort of reminds you of the way cigerettes were marketed, doesn't it?  "Entice the children; they don't know any better and by the time they figure us out, they'll already be hooked," they likely said to themselves.

So, when T-mobile was coming to our schools last year, we protested in one way by saying, "Wait, they are supposed to be merging with ATT by the end of the year!  Why would you sign a 30-year deal with a company that has admitted it doesn't want to remain in the U.S. and is going to be non-existant by the end of the year?"  We got no response.

Paul Womack said, "This was done for the coverage, not the money," as he told us about his poor cell reception with ATT.  We thought, "But these are T-mobile towers so they won't help you with that."  And when the deal with ATT didn't go through, we thought, "Good!  Now T-mobile won't need the towers, right?" But then we learned that a condition of their dropping the bid to merge, ATT got a sweet deal on the infrastructure rights from T-mobile.  Essentially, T-mobile towers ARE ATT towers.  ATT puts them up (or uses sub contractors), they maintain them and they provide space for T-mobile who still wants an easy exit plan. 

So, the question we posed almost a year ago, "Why does T-mobile want to put Cell Towers at our schools?" on the Tucker Patch should be updated today to question, "Why does ATT want to put cell towers at our schools?"  We can guess the usual answers like, "profit," "improve their coverage," etc., but is that enough to get so many levels of the government to protect them over the outcry of residents?  There must be something more to this story.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that cell phones and wireless technology were on the list of items for SPLOST IV and a lot of it sounded a little strange, like video conferencing technology for elementary schools?  Really?  Can't teachers just try to teach them to read and write first? 

So, a little surfing the web and we found a pretty simple explanation.  ATT is investing big time in its products being marketed to schools.  Makes sense, right?  Where else can you get a fresh crop of future customers and put your products right in their hands and convince their parents that it will be good for them?  Schools, of course. 

For the school systems, the ones in particular who like to keep giving higher and higher salaries to a lot of people who work in the administrative office, they might be thinking, "Hmmm... how else can we take more money away from the classroom to bring to our palace?"  Or, "How else can we avoid those annoying in-person meetings the parents and teachers keep insisting upon?" 

Of course, a virtual learning environment! (And, sure enough, guess what bill is coming up through the state Senate this week:  SB 289, required online learning for 9th grade and above.   

Yes, that's right.  Let's take as much of the human element as possible out of teaching.  Don't worry about that thing the pediatricians keep telling you about too much TV being bad for them.  This time it is going to be different.  This is "interactive."  It's practically like the real thing, except cheaper (Not for the taxpayer).  You can have bigger classrooms and get rid of more teachers!  And, you can even avoid having to meet with anyone in person because everything can be done from the Palace!

Government employees will love it because we can let them use the infrastructure for their own purposes to make money, too.  They can put up cameras to catch people speeding or running red lights so they can send out more tickets.  They can even cut back the number of police officers because you just need a few to sit at the station and keep their eyes on the monitors all night until something happens.  What a great deal!

So, if you are like us at GTCO-ATL, you are frustrated with being left out of the process.  All we can do is speculate (which is all we are doing).  We don't claim to have the answers, but the answers must be out there.  And, as we have said all along, if it is something that is supposed to be good for us, then why aren't they telling us?  What are they hiding?  How can they get away with this? 

Do our teachers know they are going to be phased out?  Well, the ones that haven't already been phased out, that is.  Why isn't the teacher's union more on top of this cell tower issue?  Is it because they are fighting the fact that the school board is trying to cut their pensions? Well these towers might be the beginning of cutting a lot more than pensions!!  Is anyone paying attention?  Is anyone doing anything about this? 

Think about it.  In the meantime, read these exerpts from ATT's "Learning on the Go" webpage:

  • To some, a cellphone in the classroom is a distraction and should not be allowed. To others, a cellphone in the classroom opens up a whole new world of possibilities to advance instruction and drive learning outcomes.

  • The ATT Learning On The Go handbook focuses on those who are embracing this technology. Real-life examples of innovative programs are profiled, particularly smart-phones as an instruction and collaboration tool. The reader will see how this technology is being used today to engage digital natives, promote customized instruction, and differentiate the school to attract the best and brightest students.

  • Trends and statistics related to mobility and education will be provided, showing the relevance and projected success mobile devices can have in the classroom. With the use of mobile devices on the rise (39 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 own just a cell phone, according to a 2009 Mediamark Research and Intelligence survey), harnessing this technology for use in education can benefit students, teachers, faculty and staff.

  • When it comes to cellphones in the classroom, some educators have changed their thoughts and are now changing their worlds.
Really?  Do products really educate?  Or is it the content that counts?  Do "educators" really feel this way, or is it the "administrators" of education that like to see the green that will come along with helping a company known for creating monopolies right into the front door of our education system, ripe for a takeover of mammoth proportions? 
As the current stakeholders in education, the taxpayers, should we be concerned?  Because from the way things have been going, it looks like a new investor is coming in (via the cell tower financial contributions) and they may not be ready to leave any time soon (thanks to the 30-year contracts).  Are we so sure the profit objectives will align with educational goals?  Or is ATT trying to train our children to be the "working class" of their monopoly in the future?

We are not saying whether we think virtual learning is good or bad.  We are just saying that the people should have at least a little bit of a say in all of this stuff, shouldn't they?  Even those without children who pay taxes should be a little worried when cell towers start going up right next to homes and cameras are added to school buildings and busses.  The children of today will be deciding whether or not Medicare benefits will be continued for us when we are elderly and cannot send them to their rooms.  They will be deciding whether or not nursing homes are built to sufficient health codes or building standards.  Do we really want to raise a generation of idiots?  Or worse than that, a generation of premature cancer victims to bankrupt healthcare and give even more money to the drug companies than we do already.

The consequences may be more than we realize now, but there will be consequences.  There always are.  You can bank on the fact that the ones who are doing this business in secret will be long gone before anyone can hold them accountable for their actions.  But, we will all have the memories of this time in history.  The time when we saw the cell phone companies coming, we knew they were taking aim at our schools and we didn't do anything about it. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

DeKalb County Finds Telecommunications Towers and Antennas in the County Directly Affect Public Health!

Pictured above, a view recently on 285 Northbound in Atlanta.
Eleco-smog, or RF emissions from cell towers and wireless
devices, cannot be seen or smelled, but similar to
carbon dioxide, that does not mean it is not real. 
And, that does not make it safe. 
(click headline for full text)

"DeKalb County finds that the number, height, design characteristics and location of telecommunications towers and antennas in the county directly affect the public health, safety and general welfare."

If you have heard that there is nothing to be concerned about when it comes to wireless technology, then check out the DeKalb County Code of Ordinances.  You might be surprised to know that the DeKalb County government would disagree with what you heard.  In fact, they feel just the opposite. 

See the county statement in its official doctorine, the code of ordinances, for the safe siting of cell towers:  Sec. 27 - 779. - Telecommunications towers and antennas.  They go on to say:

"The county further finds that such structures, when inappropriately located, have the potential to pose a danger to surrounding property owners and the genral public and substantially detract from the beauty and aesthetic appearance of the county."

Regardless of how or why the DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis is comfortable with just pawning this big decision off to one of the several Interim Planning Directors he has had on board, even after all the calls and emails, he will still have to make sure they comply with a few regulations.  That is, if his office plans to follow its own Code of Ordinances. 

You really should read the long list of stipulations we normally expect cell towers to comply with, but here is one example:

"Any tower or anenna located within any zoning district where permitted by specail administrative permit shall be set back a distance of one-third of the combined height of the towers and antenna or one hundred (100) feet, whichever is greater, except that where any such adjoining propery is used for resindental use, then said telecommunications tower or antenna shall be set back fromany such off-site struture in residential use, including any accessory structure designed for regular human use, a distance o one-half (1/2) the combined height of the tower and antenna or two hundred (200) feet, whichever is greater."

Several schools on the list for DeKalb County do not have the property to accomodate this requirement.  Is it going to take a lawsuit in order to make our government follow its own rules? 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  If your school is scheduled to get a cell tower, construction shall commense any day now so you should be on high alert.  If you plan to file an Appeal, you have only 30 days from the day that T-mobile and/or the School Board filed the application.  If you file your appeal documents without legal council and need help locating an attorney immediately afterward who can assist you, please email us at and mark URGENT in the subject line.  Leave us a phone number where you can be reached and we will try to help you get in touch with someone who can help you from there.  If you are within the 30-day shot clock of the application date, your attorneys fees will likely be refunded at the end of the case.

As of time of this writing, there are 6 DeKalb schools with FCC Permits AND signed contracts by Super. Cheryl Atkinson in early December 2011, including: 
  1. Jolly Elementary School, Clarkston; 
  2. Smoke Rise Elementary School, Stone Mountain; 
  3. Princeton Elementary School, Lithonia; 
  4. Martin Luther King, Jr. High, Lithonia;
  5. Flat Rock Elementary, Lithonia;
  6. Margaret Harris Comprehensive School, Atlanta

There is one school, Briarlake Elementary School in Decatur, with a signed contract, but no FCC Permit appears on under Unregistered Towers OR under New Application.   There is an existing structure listed as right next to the school, but GTCO-ATL was told by No Briarlake Tower, LLC that this is a satellite dish that is no longer is use, but is till showing up in its orginal location.   Upon reviewing the setback requirements (top of this article) in full, it is possible that even with the exemption and the Special Administrative Permit, Brairlake may not be a large enough campus to be able to comply with the safety standards, if T-mobile is electing to follow them.  It is possible that the FCC is not going to approve their permit application.  They should still be on the lookout for a county permit or varience application with the Office of Planning and Sustainability or with the Office of Public Works.

There are two schools that did not have signed contracts to be sent at the time of our Open Records Request recently, according to Walter Woods, spokesperson for DCSS.  He suggested we check back in a few weeks.   Those two schools are Narvie J. Harris Elementary School in Decatur and Lakeside High School in Atlanta.  GTCO-ATL predicted both of these schools would be removed from the cell tower list early on in the process. 

Heartless! T-Mobile Destroys Memories of Dad's Dead Daughter
The eerie part of this video is the thought that the phone itself may have contributed to the cancer that developed in this young girl's abdomen.  And it was her Dad's last link to a final message she left for him before she died.  T-mobile deleted it without the man's  approval and now he must take them to court to try to get them to retrieve it.  Heartless!  Why does T-mobile have to continue to pick on American families? 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Balloon Test - Look Out Below!

Jolly Elementary (Clarkston), MLK High (Lithonia), Princeton Elem. (Lithonia), Smoke Rise Elem. (Stone Mountain), Margaret Harris Comprehensive (Atlanta) - start looking for the balloon test and remember to take photos from different angles from your own property and in different locations (front yard, back yard, looking out your window, etc.)

Since all the photos will be views of the same thing (a balloon), it is helpful to also keep a notepad with you so you can write down the location in the correct order they are taken to make sure you do not get them mixed up.

If you neighbors are not home, be nice and take some from their vantage point as well. These pics are important to show the actual visibility expected from your residence so loss in property value can be estimated.

You can also CALL DEKALB COUNTY and ask for them to give you the date and time of the balloon test near your school. 


School District Cell Towers

Why Your School District Property May Be More Valuable Than You Think.
(click for full story)

 There has been a huge push by wireless providers in recent years to increase the capacity of their wireless networks. For example, from 1st Quarter 2010 to 1st Quarter 2011, the amount of data used by each cell phone per month has increased by 89%. This trend will continue as more subscribers get smart phones with data capability.

Another tower as seen from I-285 on the north end.  Towers are
approved with the RF radiation level reported for a single
antenna.  They can add new antennas at will and never
be checked to see if they are still below FCC standards
for human exposure.
In addition to increased data use, virtually all providers have unlimited plans of one type or another. This requires that they find additional capacity in their wireless networks, which can be met in a number of ways including increasing the density and number of cell sites in areas where capacity is needed.

Historically, the wireless industry has built communication towers in commercial and industrial areas, avoiding residential communities that tend to voice "NIMBY" opposition. "Not In My Back Yard" is a nice way of referring to the mindset of those users who demand more consistent and reliable wireless service, but don't want to be anywhere near the wireless infrastructure necessary to provide it.

Now that wireless carriers need increased capacity and better indoor coverage to meet growing consumer demand, they are starting to focus more closely on residential areas. Another factor impacting this trend is the shrinking proximity between cell sites, which is forcing carriers to find alternatives to using commercial or industrial areas and simply aiming coverage into the residential areas. Instead, carriers are now building sites between their existing sites- a process commonly called "infill".

The challenge wireless carriers are faced with is that many zoning ordinances have outright prohibitions against wireless towers in residential areas or require large parcels be allocated to accommodate the "fall zone" of a communication tower. This has triggered many carriers to get more innovative and creative when working through the demands of local communities - including using stealth towers and other camouflage technologies to better "hide" towers. Despite this, in many residential areas, there is a finite supply of larger parcels that would even meet local zoning regulations.

Carriers Meeting Demand with School District Cell Towers
In our years of experience, both as a site acquisition agent for the wireless carriers and as a consultant for hundreds of churches and municipalities, these larger parcels are often churches or schools. Because of their unique locations and larger parcel size, churches and school properties are often excellent locations for cell towers. Unfortunately, because of the aforementioned NIMBY effect, they are often contentious ones as well.

Ironically, wireless carriers prefer not to have school district cell towers because of many parents' fears about potential health risks of cell towers. It is difficult to predict whether a proposed school district cell tower will upset local residents and parents and as a result, wireless carriers will often look to other properties before they consider building a school district tower.

Given this situation, if a wireless carrier has approached your school district, you can bet it's probably a measure of last resort. Your school district property may be the only option for that particular wireless carrier and as a result, you may have a significant advantage in negotiations. It's precisely these types of situations where our expertise is most effective.

We've assisted many schools and universities in the successful negotiation of school district cell tower leases. We can review your specific situation to determine if the carrier is considering other site options and if not, then we can help your district decide just how hard to push in the negotiations.

Our Customers Tell it Best
Our clients are our best advocates. As one of our school district clients in Arizona said:
"Hiring Steel in the Air was the best decision we ever made. We work with Ken Schmidt who is clearly an expert in this field. Prior to Steel in the Air, district staff negotiated these cell site contracts and did a poor job. We make more and have better contracts because we use Steel in the Air."
Prior to using our services, this Phoenix school district relied on shared information they gathered from other districts in the area. Unfortunately, that information indicated a fair market value of leases that was lower than it should have been. Fortunately, as a direct result of using Steel in the Air, this school district received almost double the average lease rate than they would have received without our assistance.

Contact Us Today
Contact us today to discuss your school district's cell tower situation. Our initial discussion is always free. While we can't tell you how much you should be charging for your leases, we can indicate if we believe there is room for improvement. Additionally, we can provide an estimate for our services and references from other school districts and universities who've benefited from our valuable services.
Please note: In most cases, our school district clients pay little or nothing for our services. Instead, the wireless carrier proposing the school district cell tower pays our fee.

Supreme Court of Georgia Decision: Public Property is NOT Immune From Zoning Laws and Regulations When a Proprietary Function is being Performed

(click headline for full text.)

In Macon Assn., supra at 488 (3), the Court recognized that in this country, the general rule granting immunity from local zoning ordinances to governmental entities is supported by essentially four traditional tests: the Superior Sovereign Test, the Governmental Propriety Test, the Power of Eminent Domain Test, and the Statutory Guidance Test.

  1. The Superior Sovereign Test holds that since the state and its units and agencies occupy a superior position to municipalities in the governmental hierarchy, their exemption from municipal zoning regulation is a matter of preemption.
  2. The Governmental-Propriety Test holds that property of a state governmental unit is exempt from local zoning when a governmental function is being performed but not when a proprietary* function is being performed.
  3.  Cases applying the Power of Eminent Domain Test take the position that when a political unit is authorized to condemn, it is automatically immune from local zoning regulation when it acts in furtherance of its designated public function.
  4. Under the Statutory Guidance Test, the courts simply look to the legislative statutes in order to glean some expression of legislative intent on the immunity question.
*  pluralpro·pri·e·tar·ies

Definition of PROPRIETARY

1  : one that possesses, owns, or holds exclusive right to something; specifically: proprietor 1

2  : something that is used, produced, or marketed under exclusive legal right of the inventor or maker; specifically: a drug (as a patent medicine) that is protected by secrecy, patent, or copyright against free competition as to name, product, composition, or process of manufacture

3  : a business secretly owned by and run as a cover for an intelligence organization

Maybe This is Why They Can Put Up the Towers SO Fast!

Exerpt taken from Wireless Estimator

Cross Florida's border where there are more state and local requirements than oranges and you'll find that most contractors don't need a license in America's Peach State. The exception is asbestos abatement and the mechanical trades, and, of course, the always popular electrical profession. Check for local jurisdiction licensing requirements.

Out-of-State Corporations Out-of-state corporations must register with the Georgia Secretary of State to do business in the state. For information click on Secretary of State .

Add this Complaint to Your List: I Don't Want My Child Traumatized When a Tower Climber Falls to His Death!

(click headline for full story)

Cell Tower Cimber --  Most Dangerous Job in America

Reprinted from Wireless Estimator

 January 30, 2006 - Based upon the latest national census of fatal occupational injuries from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers who are required to climb cell towers and other communications structures throughout the country have been identified as having the most dangerous job in America.

In previous years, inaccurate Occupational Health and Safety Administration coding and an unknown total of tower climbers prevented the tower erection and maintenance industry from revealing the most fatalities per 100,000 workers.

Although tower climbers are one of the smallest specialized construction groups with approximately 8,700 employees, they had ten fatalities from workers falling from a tower in 2004, representing 115 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Logging workers captured the second most dangerous occupation with 85 fatalities in 2004, representing 92 deaths per 100,000 loggers.

The occupation most aligned to tower erectors, structural iron and steel workers, an industry group of approximately 67,000 workers, had 31 fatalities representing 47 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Georgia School Law Tribunals and Appeals: Could This Be a Way to Overturn the Local School Board's Vote?

(click headline for full story.)

Here's one way to contest the local school board's decision!  The cell tower approval process must pass through three steps: 
  1. First, secure a lease agreement with the property owner
  2. Second, apply for a permit with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (see
  3. Thrid, apply for local zoning board approval and any building permits as needed by local goverment or other authories as mandated by state or local law.
Therefore, an illegal lease would mean Step 1 was not completed properly.  Therefore, there can be no valid application for FCC permits or local variances or building permits.

So, how do you show that the DCSS did not have legal authroity to sign any leases with T-mobile?  Contest the decision to the Georgia State Board of Education.  Here is the process to follow, called "School Law Tribunals and Appeals." 

If any school decides to follow this method of protest, please mention your concern for ALL schools when addressing the decision and lack of notification issues.  Remember, if one tower goes up, it sets a precedent that will be difficult to overcome for all schools down the road!  And, contact us at GTCO-ATL because we have a lot of records that can help you in your appeal!

   (1) PURPOSE.  The purpose of this rule is to specify the procedures for appeals from local boards of education (LBOEs) to the State Board of Education on issues respecting the administration or construction of school law.
         (a) The vice chairperson for appeals of the state board or a hearing officer contracted with or employed by the state board shall conduct a review of appeals to the state board and shall acquaint state board members with the matters to be considered.
         (b) The vice chairperson for appeals or the hearing officer shall draft the ruling of the state board.
         (a) LBOEs shall hold hearings when required by law.  The LBOE shall adopt, except as otherwise provided for by law, the following hearing procedures:
               1. The LBOE shall notify the parties of the time and place of the hearing.
               2. The LBOE shall sign and issue subpoenas.
               3. All witnesses shall testify under oath and shall be subject to cross-examination.
              4. The LBOE shall require the testimony and other evidence to be transcribed by a court reporter or recorded by other appropriate means.
               5. The strict rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law shall not be applicable to hearings before LBOEs.
               6. At the conclusion of the hearing, or within 15 days thereafter, the LBOE shall notify the parties of its decision in writing and shall notify the parties of their right to appeal the decision to the State Board of Education.

       (a) After a hearing by the LBOE when held in accordance with state law and/or state board policies, regulations or rules, any party aggrieved by a decision of the LBOE rendered on an issue respecting the administration or construction of school law may appeal to the state board by filing the appeal in writing with the local school superintendent.  The appeal shall set forth:
              1. The question in dispute;
              2. The decision of the local board; and
              3. A concise statement of the reasons why the decision is being appealed.
         (b) The party making the appeal shall file with the appeal the complete record, including a transcript of testimony certified as true and correct by the local school superintendent or a request that the superintendent transcribe and prepare such transcript.  The party making the appeal shall assume the costs of such preparation.

        (c) When any party is unable to pay the cost of a transcript of the hearing because of indigence, the party shall be relieved from paying the cost if said party provides to the local school superintendent an affidavit to that effect.  The party=s rights shall be the same as those had the party paid the cost of the transcript.  Upon receipt of an affidavit, the local school superintendent may inquire into the ability of the applicant to pay the cost of the transcript.  After a hearing, the local school superintendent may order the party to pay the cost of the transcript by a certain date.  Such decision of the local school superintendent may be appealed by the party to the State Board of Education in the same manner as other issues.  If a party appeals the order of the local board to pay the cost, the local school superintendent shall submit to the State Board of Education a transcript of the hearing on indigence that is certified by the local school superintendent.  If no appeal of the issue of indigence is filed and the cost is not paid as ordered by the LBOE, or if an appeal is filed and the State Board of Education affirms the local board decision, the appeal shall not be docketed.
     (d) The appeal to the State Board of Education shall be filed with the local school superintendent within 30 days of the decision in question.

     (e) Transmission to the State School Superintendent.   The local superintendent shall within 10 days after the filing of the appeal, transmit to the state school superintendent a copy of the appeal, together with the transcript of evidence and proceedings, the decision of the local board and other matters in the file relating to the appeal.  All materials should be certified as true and correct.  The appeal may be amended and a transcript filed any time prior to transmission to the state board.

     (f) Notice.  After a determination by the state school superintendent or designee that the appeal is in proper form for hearing, the appeal shall be docketed and placed on the calendar for review before the hearing officer of the state board at the earliest practical time.
    (g) The party requesting the appeal shall file a brief with the state board discussing the party=s position within 20 days of the date of docketing.  The opposing party shall have 40 days from the date of docketing to file a brief.
    (h) Oral arguments shall not be heard unless requested by a party or requested by the hearing officer.  Oral arguments must be requested by a party within 10 days of the date the appeal is docketed.

     (i) Procedure at Oral Argument.  If oral argument is ordered or granted, the appellant may be represented by counsel.  The argument shall be confined to the issues in the record and the evidence transmitted from previous proceedings.  No new evidence shall be received.  The state board shall not consider any question not specifically raised in the written appeal or the statement of contentions.
     (j) Decision of State Board.  The state board shall render its decision in a written order within 25 days after it hears the case and shall notify the parties in writing of its decision and of their right to appeal the decision to the Superior Court of the county wherein the LBOE is located.

     (k) Dismissal of Appeal.  Failure to comply with any of the provisions herein may be grounds for dismissal.

     (l) No Supersedeas.  No appeal shall act as a stay of a local board=s order unless so ordered by the local board or by the vice chairperson for appeals of the state board.

(5) SEVERABILITY.  The provisions of this rule are hereby declared to be severable, and the invalidation of any part hereof shall not affect or invalidate any other part.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dear Commissioner Elaine Boyer,

(click headline to read full text of this letter)

Original email dated Sept. 14, 2011

Dear Commissioner Boyer,

I am contacting you on behalf of a group of concerned citizens, parents, homeowners, taxpayers, residents, association members and business owners.  Our group covers every demographic category and the full span of this county, from the South, Central andd North Regions.  We have assisted with lobbying the school board to remove three schools prior to their vote on cell towers on school grounds back in July.  At that time, we were all told that the other schools would have an opportunity to address the zoning issues during the public comment portion of their Special Land Use permitting hearing.  We have now been told the school board is claiming exemption to this entire process, but no one has cited any case law to back up their claim.

(Get the Cell Out, by the way, has cited case law to various members of the commission that shows that the school exemption does NOT apply when the property being leased will be used for proprietary purposes.)

We are very concerned about the recent actions of the School Board, which they took while the Interim Superintendent was in place, and without following their own rules of conduct which require them to hold a public forum and consider the input of their communities before voting.  This has not happened and their own vice-chair Paul Womack has admitted that the notice was not sufficient during a meeting at Briarlake Elementary.

A partial transcript of that meeting is available on the DeKalb School Watch Blog.  Mr. Womack's comments are very shocking as he bluntly tells the parents that the school board did not put up signs, and they did not knock on the doors of the residents immediately surronding the school's property.  He claims they used other media outlets, but this is a misleading statement.  The AJC article being referenced was not published until after all the meetings had already been held, except the three schools that were scheduled for the last day of meetings.  WSB-TV has found no record of anything airing on their station except for a story the night prior to the July vote, but that story was initiated by us and was not an announcement of any meetings.  It was a story about our efforts to get the word out ourselves because the school board had not done it themselves.

We are counting on you to get this information into the right hands so that the county can consider it and take appropriate action.  Please do not let these cell towers go up if you are not certain the decision has been made following the letter of the law.  T-mobile has been known to start construction without required permits and will build towers that are not up to code.  Specifically, the base of these towers is not planned to be up to the Rev-G standard the is necessary to ensure stability in high wind conditions.  This should be of particular concern when you think about the fact that they want to put the towers with "fall zones" that include schools and homes. 

They have not proven that their towers will comply with the regulations necessary for respect of airspace since they will be near the DeKalb-Peachtree airport.  They have not shown anyone that they will respect the necessary setback requirements and they have not given anyone their plans for the cabinet or building structures that will be at the base of the towers or the fencing planned that will have to be sufficient to deter children from getting into the restricted area and trying to climb the towers.  Please remember, many elementary school children do not read or are just learning to read.  Typcial warnings on cell towers will not have any meaning to them and we have heard no plans for how they will be training anyone on staff at the school about what to do in an emergency or what to tell the children to ensure they understand the dangers. 

During the meeting at Brairlake, Mr. Womack even admitted that he did not carefully read the contract.  Did anyone?  How can we allow HAZMAT materials and a dangerous, tall industrial structure to violate the very essense of our zoning codes without questioning whether these leases are even legal and the structures will be sound?  And, if there is truly nothing to worry about, then why isn't anyone coming forward to tell us that? 

We are not involved in this issue because it is interesting to us.  We are involved because we feel we are being compelled to do so because of the lack of knowledge, accountability, interest or even minimal response we are so far getting from anyone and everyone we would expect should be wanting to protect us, the taxpayers, the ones who have elected all of you for the specific purpose of representing us. 

We don't know anyone who wants these towers.  So, who exactly is being represented and what do we need to do to show you that there are a lot more people on our side than they have on theirs?


Get the Cell Out - Atlanta

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NOTE:  The RF Emissions Report submitted by T-mobile to the school board is dated 2009 and is certified by someone in Colorado, not Gerogia.  The pole document is from Fulton County and the mount evaluation does not meet current safety codes.  We are not experts, but these were all errors that were easy for us to spot.  If you are looking at an application, we are sure you will see many more issues that concern you as well.