Monday, April 30, 2012

Million Dollar Mistake - FOX and the AJC Made Some Miscalculations. Read on for the Truth....

Click headline for full report and chart of tower revenue for DeKalb County.
If you read the AJC or watched the anchor report on FOX News this morning, you likely heard some very misleading information about cell towers and the money they are capable of brining to a school district like DeKalb County. To clear up the misunderstanding, we've analyzed the cell tower contract and broken it down in this easy to understand spreadsheet. We will be sending a copy to the AJC reporter and FOX news and asking for a retraction or clarification of their reporting (like that ever works, right?).

On a good note, however, we can assume that T-mobile or the school board put out the PR that led to the report. While the information was wrong, it at least confirms one thing - they are sticking to the story that the towers are for the money. That means they are not entitled to the school board exception and will not qualify for the permits necessary to commence groundbreaking.

We'll stay on top of this situation and let you know if there are any new stories to clear up the bogus ones!

GTCO ATL.summary.of.DeKalb.T Mobile.5years

Friday, April 27, 2012

Should They Call It "Smoke and Mirrors" Elementary?


This is a blog about Stone Mountain's Smoke Rise Elementary School, sort of. But, first a little background...

Ever since my husband and I heard about the ridiculous proposal being considered by the DeKalb County School Board last May, we have tried to warn others. We started with our neighborhood, branched out to our school community and then reached out to other schools near ours.

We wrote to various blog websites, the local media and started petitions. We called and wrote to school board members, the PTA, our principal, the county and state government officials and friends from various school districts across the country. We used the name Get the Cell Out -Atlanta Chapter because we had heard about a group in California that had a similar bad encounter with T-mobile several years before our school board decided they were a reputable vendor to lock in for the next several decades (while they agree to take all the bonus money up front leaving the next couple of generations to deal with the downfall of the already outdated technology and the expense of trying to get out of the contract).

We even had residents contact us long after the decision was already made because they saw a video I put on YouTube that showed the large number of cell towers we already have in DeKalb County all around us.

We've worked together with several groups throughout all parts of the county to bring awareness to this issue. We've asked all the right questions about how something like this can happen without anyone standing up for the rights of the citizens. We just haven't received any good answers, so we have worked our way along the chain of command. And many people have joined in our efforts along the way.

The county commissioners heard the many, many complaints on this issue and jointly penned a letter to CEO Burrell Ellis on March 27. The letter explains the zoning ordinance already in place that would normally stop cell towers (aka telecommunications towers) from being built in residential neighborhoods or with building in their "fall zone." They raised their concerns with the CEO that the BOE or T-mobile may try to apply for an Administrative Permit to avoid the proper review normally necessary and to avoid the public notification requirements of a Special Land Use permit.

School Board Chairman Dr. Eugene Walker was quoted in Neighborhood Newspapers as stating that the commissioners were overstepping their authority by writing the letter. Overstepping? Really?

We're talking about the people who were elected into office for the precise purpose of enforcing our county codes and building regulations. These are the folks who are trained for this purpose and Dr. Walker thinks it is out of line for them to want to do their jobs?

Dr. Walker must have his degree in "Spin" because the Supreme Court of Georgia doesn't agree with his interpretation the school exemption laws. The court ruled that the exemption is only permitted when the property is used for governmental or public purposes, not for a proprietary purpose (money generating), which clearly that is the ONLY reason T-mobile / ATT is interested in the deal at all.

So, what's going on with Smoke Rise Elementary?

That's what we have been wondering because they have mostly kept quiet during all the cell tower discussions. Does that mean they are in favor? Or does it mean they still don't know about what's coming? Or does it mean that someone in charge of their charter had to make a deal with the devil and can't figure a way out of it now.

I have driven through the Smoke Rise community and handed out a few flyers, but a lot of the homes are gated and I thought I might be mistaken for a door to door solicitor. But, I can't help wondering ... does anyone at Smoke Rise know about the cell tower? Do they care?

The school is in a nice neighborhood that might not want to see property values go down, but perhaps they believe the new school will make their value go up. What new school? Oh, that's right, you might not know if you didn't vote this past November when SPLOST IV was the only item on the ballot.

Taxpayers agreed, likely without realizing it, to demolish a perfectly good, solid, well-built historic school with character and charm instead simply refurbishing it and saving us all the expense of higher taxes.

It will be torn down and a new one will go up right on top of the same spot and will house the exact same number of students: 600. We can only assume it will follow the trend of our other new schools, which means it will be replaced with a poorly constructed, inferior quality, overpriced cookie cutter version of an elementary school that will likely start to leak from the roof, grow mold and be closed down for good in a few short years.

Amid the construction chaos, kids will still be expected to attend school. They blow up half of the school and rebuild it while shoving everyone into the other half. When the first half is done, they shove everyone over there and repeat the process. And, when no one is paying attention, a cell tower will also go up, radiating the kids, teachers and surrounding community. Refer to the photos attached to this story to see exactly where the tower will go and how many are already nearby.

The most at risk are the people who live within a quarter mile of the tower as they have no way to escape the damage of being under constant background radiation that has been linked to damage to biological tissues and DNA and may even lead to incrased chances of certain forms of cancer. And, of course, the children stand the risk of constant headaches, dizzy spells, trouble sleeping, lack of concentration, poor memory, brain fog and hyperactivity which are commonly reported after a school gets a tower or sets up wi-fi.



The tower will bring contractors who have to constantly check the tower and make repairs at all hours of the day and night. It will invite copper thieves into the community and give them a handy place to park and hide out, too. School Board Member Paul Womack told a group of parents at a Briarlake meeting last September that this whole mess was intended to solve a communications problem over at Lakeside High School, which is the only school yet to have a signed agreement.

So, what do you think?

Is the Smoke Rise community doing the right thing by keeping quiet and not participating in the protest against the cell towers? Or, perhaps, are the residents still largely unaware of what's to come? How will they react when they find out about it? How will they react if they find out we all knew and didn't tell them about it?

Do you know anyone with a child at this charter elementary school? Do you know anyone who lives near it? Have you warned them about the T-mobile towers and the bad deal the school board has made to lease the property paid for by our tax dollars to a commercial enterprise seeking to make even more money off us and avoid their share of taxes?

Do they know they will get a chance to voice their opinion about cell towers (called telecommunications towers by those who don't want you to realize what they are talking about) on the July 31 ballot?

Don't you think you should tell them? Wouldn't you want someone to warn you if it were your child or your neighborhood? Let's work together for the sake of our entire county. We need to rise above political rivalry or whatever else might be getting in our way. There is still time to put a stop to them and we won't get another opportunity to even try for the next 30 years.

If you would like to learn more, please visit: www.GETtheCELLoutATL.org.

And please email CEO Burrell Ellis to lend your support for the county commissioners and their request to do their jobs. And, please sign the countywide petition at www.thepetitionsite.com/1/GTCO-ATL.

Register to Vote; Learn What's on the Ballot and Prepare to Vote on July 31!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

American Academy of Environmental Medicine Issues Important Position Paper - Correlates RF Exposure with Multiple Diseases

(click headline for details)  In April, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine issued a position paper entitled, Electromagnetic and Radiofrequency Fields Effect on Human Health.

According to the report, "multiple studies correlate RF exposure with diseases such as cancer, neurological disease, reproductive disorders, immune dysfunction, and electromagnetic hypersensitivity..... many in vitro, in vivo and epidemiological studies demonstrate that significant harmful biological effects occur from non-thermal RF exposure...Genetic damage, reproductive defects, cancer, neurological degeneration and nervous system dysfunction, immune system dysfunction, cognitive effects, protein and peptide damage, kidney damage, and developmental effects have all been reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature."

Read the full reportVisit the AAEM website for more details.

HB 1299 Signed by Gov. Nathan Deal; JULY 31 Call to Action - VOTE NO to School Cell Towers

JULY 31, 2012 -  ON THE BALLOT

Gov. Nathan Deal has signed HB 1299, which was the negotiated compromise between Committee Leader Rep. Chuck Sims (R - Ambrose) and Rep. Dr. Karla Drenner (D - Avondale Estates) when the bills introduced by Drenner to ban cell towers from school grounds were halted by Sims with questionable logic of unconstitutionality. 

Sims has ties to the highly controversial group ALEC, recently in trouble for its support of the "Stand Your Ground" law that may play a role in the Trevon Martin shooting death in Florida.    ALEC members seek to push forth a highly conservative agenda that favors big business interests, disguised as being for the citizens.  ATT is one of the large corporate backers of ALEC that has not pulled out of the group recently like so many others have.  For more about ALEC, see ALEC Exposed. 

Coke, Pepsi, Kraft, McDonald's, Wendy's, Intuit, Reed-Elsevier, and others have dropped their membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Click here to tell other firms bankrolling ALEC to do the same.

More urgently for DeKalb County residents is that HB 1299 will result in a question being posed to voters on the upcoming July 2012 ballot.  This question needs your NO vote.  Warn everyone you know to show up for this election, or get an absentee ballot if they will not be in town, so that your area does not accidentally vote that you WANT cell towers at your schools.  It will most likely result in your school being next on the list and may even result in an attempt to overturn our county ordinances already in place to protect our health and property values!

VOTE NO!  VOTE NO!  VOTE NO!  VOTE NO!  VOTE NO!  VOTE NO!  VOTE NO! 




26 "( ) YES   NONBINDING ADVISORY REFERENDUM

27                Should the local or independent school system of DeKalb County or a

28   (X ) NO  charter school in DeKalb County place or operate a telecommunications

29                tower on any elementary, middle, or high school property?"


VOTE NO!  VOTE NO!  VOTE NO!  VOTE NO!  VOTE NO!  VOTE NO! 

LAST YEAR: July 2011 - the month when the School Board of DeKalb County voted to lease property to T-mobile over objections made by Get the Cell Out - Atlanta and others that communities were not properly notified and public opinion had not been duly considered.
Upon return to school in August 2011, the board began to hear exactly what we warned them about, an uprising of parents and community members began coming forward to complain that the decision was snuck past them in the middle of Summer when most families are not focused on school activities and many people are out of town.

THIS YEAR July 2012 - were there any lessons learned from past mistakes? No, in fact, if anything, the school board learned that July is a great time for them to sneak things past the school communities, so they plan to do it to us again.   Not only will they hold school board elections during this Presidential Primary period, they will also add the question about cell towers, without calling them cell towers, and without the support of those who lobbyed their state officials in order to gain their help. 

The question was drafted by a desperate telecomm group seeking to pinpoint where the "uprising" is coming from since they were unable to slow down or quiet the citizens of DeKalb County.  The pressure from the county residents and parents led to the county commissioners doing the right thing and telling the CEO that they wish to exercise their power to deny the T-mobile permits.  They urge the CEO to deny any permits that may come to him or his office for approval that do not follow proper process and procedures.

The unamimous support of the county commissioners should have been enough to stop the state from interfering.  The attempts at state bills were not successful, largely because they were introduced too late in the session to make it through the committee process, esp. when stalled by the committe chairman Rep. Chuck Sims (R - Ambrose).

But, rather than stop there, the telecomm industry is pushing back against the wishes of the people.  By introuducing a question onto the ballot that will do nothing to help the citizens, they are attempting to take control away from the citizens and override the power of local control in a very ALEC-sort of way.  The power of this decision belongs with the county commissioners and the Office of Planning and Sustainability and the Office of Public Works, as headed by the DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

What will CEO Burrell Ellis do?  We asked him this question MONTHS AGO.  To hear his response, check out our blog entry and YOUTUBE video from the CEO's Town Hall Meeting back in November 2011.  We even wrote to him long before this entire issue got out of control:  our letter here.

Local Power, Local Control

The FCC Telecommunications Act of 1996, the one that the telecomm gurus like to quote so often, actually speaks to the fact that the ultimate power should always remain under local control when it comes to the placement and design of cell towers.  While it does state that a local municipality cannot deny a cell tower SOLELY on the basis of environmental factors if it complys with FCC regulations, it does not state that they must approve anything that is contrary to local zoning ordinances already in place. 

In fact, we have sent a letter to CEO Ellis with backup of a legal case from Cobb County where a federal court upheld the rights of the local government to uphold its own regulations.  We will be posting that letter in the next couple days once we have confirmed receipt by all the intended recipients.

Social media and person-to-person networking is going to have to work overtime the next few months if there is any hope of beating these folks at their own game!

Please, tell everyone you know:  VOTE NO on the ballot question about "telecommuications towers on school grounds."  What they are really asking is whether you wish to have your county commissioners' opinions ignored and your local ordinances disobeyed so that they can put a cell tower at YOUR school in YOUR neighborhood.  They want YOU to be next!

And write to CEO Burrell Ellis asking that he uphold the county ordinances in DeKalb for safe siting of cell towers AWAY from residentially zoned communities.

Contact CEO Burrell Ellis:· CEO Burrell Ellis
Chief Executive Officer
DeKalb County Government
330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, 6th Floor
Decatur, GA 30030
· Email: schedulingceoellis@dekalbcountyga.gov
· Or ceo@dekalbcountyga.gov

And, sign the countywide petition at: www.thepetitionsite.com/1/GTCO-ATL
Please, forward this link to as many people in our county as you can.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Law prods public officials toward transparency


Law prods public officials toward transparency

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
5:01 a.m. Sunday, April 22, 2012
Reprinted with permission

Cheryl Miller has been hammering at a proverbial stone wall that she sees standing between her and the local school district.

Miller is among parents in DeKalb County who’ve been digging for information about a decision they find repugnant: allowing cell towers to be erected at several schools. They have been unable to get all they want despite using Georgia’s open records and open meetings law, but on Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed an overhaul into effect that might help them.

Miller and others who’ve fought for information say it’s a move, if a small one, toward more transparency. “Anything is a step in the right direction,” she said, “but there’s a lot that needs to be addressed.”

The new law lowers the burden of proof for claims that records were withheld illegally and meetings held improperly. And it requires that minutes be kept for closed-door meetings, so that if a complaint is filed, a judge will have a record to determine whether the meeting should have been open.

“It makes it a lot easier for litigating citizens to get into court with a viable argument,” said Hollie Manheimer, who runs the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, a pro-transparency organization.
The rewrite of the open records law eliminates some reasons governments have used to withhold electronic records, and it reduces the cost of copying paper documents from a quarter per page to a dime.

But it also makes more things private when a quorum of public officials is present, such as for ceremonial events including funerals. During such events, however, the officials can’t discuss government business or take action.

The rewrite was a priority for Attorney General Sam Olens. He sought opinions from Manheimer and others, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The revision gives the attorney general — and state residents — more clout by increasing fines for repeat offenders to as much as $2,500, five times the previous maximum.

Tricia Knor of Cobb County said the changes should make it easier to “put the fear of God in people so they’ll behave.”

Knor filed a complaint with the attorney general last year after discovering that Cobb school board members had discussed school business via email.

Olens’ office ruled the school board had come close to violating open meetings law but that it would be difficult to prove. The law at the time required evidence of “knowing and willful” acts, a difficult legal standard because it requires proof of ill intent. The school board got a public scolding and promised to behave.

That was little comfort to Knor, who said unpunished behavior was unlikely to change.
The new law allows the attorney general, or any resident, to bring a civil complaint with an easier burden of proof: The plaintiff must show that officials met illegally and acted “negligently.”

“It’s a great step in the right direction,” Knor said. “Is it going to stop all this? You hope.”
Matthew Cardinale, who runs the Atlanta Progressive News website, said the law takes “two steps forward, two steps back.”

He appealed an Atlanta City Council vote to the Georgia Supreme Court and won. The court ruled the City Council broke the law when it failed to record how each member voted on a measure to limit public comment at meetings.

“We have now legislatively banned secret votes,” Cardinale said. He thinks increasing the fines officials would pay should prove to be a deterrent. He dislikes the new exemptions shielding certain gatherings of elected officials from public scrutiny.

“The good things and the bad things kind of balance each other out,” Cardinale said.

Amy Henderson, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Municipal Association, said the law is clearer now. Clerks in smaller cities don’t have easy access to a lawyer to interpret the law for them, she said, so making the law “easy for them to follow is a good thing.”

Nydia Tisdale, a Roswell resident who has tangled with officials in Cumming and Forsyth County, agrees. “I think it puts it into layman’s terms and less legalese, so it’s more understandable,” she said. “You have a right to read what your government officials are reading and writing, and you have a right to record their activity.”

Even so, officials still have their own interpretations, and Tisdale may be one of the first to test the new law. She has already used it to file a complaint with the attorney general.

On Tuesday, hours after Deal signed the law into effect, Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt stopped Tisdale from recording a City Council meeting. A video she posted on YouTube captured the act. “Remove the camera,” Gravitt told the police chief. “We don’t allow filming inside the City Hall unless it’s for specific reasons.”

The law said before, and still does, that visual and sound recording during open meetings “shall be permitted.”

Gravitt said afterward that he thought Tisdale’s camera and tripod were “disruptive” and that it would be a public safety issue if everyone brought such equipment into a crowded meeting.

“We’re just going to have to live with it,” he said of the law. “We’ll just wait and try to change some of it next year.”

-----

Variable sunshine

People who use Georgia’s new open records and open meetings law will find several important changes:

● The cost of copying records goes down from a quarter per page to a dime.

● The burden for proving officials broke the law is easier with the introduction of a civil penalty.

● The fine for violators has been increased to as much as $2,500 for repeat offenders.

● A quorum of public officials may gather privately now to travel to and attend ceremonial events such as funerals. Public officials, however, can’t discuss official business or take action.

● Executive sessions must now be recorded.

Contract Signed for Narvie J. Harris Theme School, Lakeside Stands Alone


(click headline to view full story and contract details)

Get the Cell Out - Atlanta has received a response to our recent Open Records Request. Walter Woods, spokesperson for the DeKalb County School District, sent us the contract for Narvie J. Harris Elementary School 3981 McGill Drive, Decatur, GA 30084.

Narvie Harris T-Mobile Contract

We will have more information on the Narvie J. Harris location and number of cell towers already existing near it. In the meantime, we don't mean to say, "I told you so," but we have been warning everyone for months now that Lakeside High School's claims to want the cell tower for their school would turn out to be bogus. And, so far that's exactly how it looks.

The one school that we were told NEEDED a cell tower (to improve their ATT / T-mobile service) will end up NOT getting one. And, as things stand right now, their nearby feeder school Briarlake Elementary School which has been protesting for the past 8 months looks like it WILL get one. If that's not good enough reason for the community to find a well qualified canidate to run against Paul Womack in the upcoming JULY election, then how about some questionable ethics violations to top it off? (Yes, JULY - the same month that parents everywhere in DeKalb complained about because they were all out of town when the school board voted on the cell towers).

Conflict of Interest - Womack mentioned in a public meeting held last September that he had a son who died from brain cancer, a form of cancer that many reputable medical professionals believe can be attributed to the radiation from cell phones and other radiation-emitting wireless devices. Shouldn't his close, emotional tie to a controversial part of this entire issue have been a reason for him to excuse himself from casting a valid vote upon? What about the fact that he and his wife are big-time donors for the Duke University Brain Cancer Research Center? 


Placing one area's special interest above the good of the entire district - Another violation of the board's own ethics policies, Womack has stated that his main objective for bringing the cell tower issue to the board in the first place was to improve the coverage at Lakeside High School. So, how do towers at MLK High School, Narvie J. Harris Elementary School and Flat Rock Elementary School, all in the very southernmost portion of DeKalb County, contribute to the coverage at Lakeside?

Perhaps Womack was more concerned about how Lakeside High School would "finish the dream" since SPLOST fund were mismanaged and the district had to scale back their plans for the school's improvements. We added up all the money that the cell towers will bring in immediately after they go up (since most of it is in bonuses paid at the initiation of the contract) and, guess what? It's almost an exact match for the approximate $1 million that Lakeside needs to finish its contruction, a project headed by The Valhalla Group, the local booster club. But, when we say "local" that doesn't mean DeKalb County local... it means that some students have special permission to attend Lakeside even though they live in Fulton County. These families are rumored to be running Valhalla and since they are not tied directly to the school system, we can't request to see their financial information to determine if any deposit of funds have occurred from a T-mobile, ATT or DCSS. Go figure.

Using Inside Information to Influence Public Policy - Why else would a school's principal and PTA President be bold enough to talk about the needs for cell phone towers when their nearby elementary school is protesting over concerns for their property values and the health and safety of their children? How can one community be so apparently divided and not really have any luck convincing each other, much less anyone in authority, about who is right and who is wrong? Perhaps it is because the public protests are being led by the same groups, the administration and the PTA. So, they have mutual goals - money and coverage for Lakeside with the loss of Briarlake as an accepted casuality. Property values, they likely believe, are based more on school performance than they are harmed by cell towers. But, they might be in trouble there, too, since recent reports on graduation rates have proven them to be less successful than they once were in this area.

The facts will come out and speak for themselves, like the details of the prior attempt at Lakeside to get a cell tower in the late 1990s, the same time that Brairlake had an FCC permit for a 150' tower approved for their property, right next to the gym. What happened? Rumor has it that members of the community filed a lawsuit to stop the tower and won. Lakeside sits on donated property that cannot be used for commmercial profit. So, Lakeside leaders knew this already, another ethical violation. You can't use information to influence public policy that the public isn't aware of when you are discussing it.

Sound hard to believe?  Read this article about ATT's past with influencing public opinion and paying off people (like the PTA, perhaps?) to run their own agendas.  http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=background.view&backgroundid=167
If you have any information to support these claims, please let us know in the comments section. If stopping the cell towers is important to you, we want to help.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Parents Challenge Wi-Fi at Canadian Schools

Click headline for full text and video  September 8, 2010:  Children in Canada are reporting health effects from wi-fi in their classrooms.  Parents are challenging the school systems and demanding that it be removed.

Mary Garofalo of "16:9 The Bigger Picture" reports in this investigative piece on W-Fi in Canadian schools:



Removing the wi-fi is nearly as large of an expense as having it installed in the first place, but across Canada, schools are choosing to do so based on the growing concerns of their citizens and based on the trend in other countries.




 

What’s happening in other countries?

Sept. 2007 -  Germany (global headquarters of T-mobile) warns its citizens to avoid Wi-Fi for health reasons

April 2009 - France removes Wi-Fi from primary schools in the city of Herouville St. Clair, due to health risks

April 2009 - Teachers in UK call for immediate dismantling of Wi-Fi in schools due to health risks







Why can't DeKalb County, GA, and other U.S. school systems
learn from the examples in other countries
instead of repeating the same costly mistakes?


More recently, in February 2012, the Ontario English Catholic Teacher Association issued a position paper on wi-fi in schools.  It states wi-fi may present health risks and safety hazards.

If you agree that wireless technology is a convenience and not a necessity

worth putting our children and our neighborhoods in harm's way,

here is what you can do:


1.) Sign the GTCO-ATL petition:  www.thepetitionsite.com/1/GTCO-ATL. Your name can remain annoymous online and your contact information will not be shared with anyone.

2.)  Write to DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis at ceo@dekalbcountyga.gov and ask that he follow the recommendation of the Board of Commissioners and DENY any permits for cell towers on school grounds for T-mobile or the Board of Education.  Ask that T-mobile follow the ordinances already in place, just like any other company would have to do when submitting an application.

3.)  Write to the Georgia Governor using this form:  http://gov.georgia.gov/00/gov/contact_us/0,2657,165937316_166563415,00.html.  State that  you would like for him to VETO HB 1299 which is an attempt by lobbyists to trick the voting population in our county into approving (or stating they favor) something that is currently not allowed in Dekalb County. 

Want to do more?  Here are some other suggestions:


1.)  Bring this subject up in conversations with family and friends so they can learn about the dangers and take precautions when using cell phones and wireless devices, esp. near children.  Ask them to please vote on July 31 and to vote NO on any questions related to placing towers on school grounds.  Ask that they register to vote now, show up to vote on July 31, and vote AGAINST any incumbant who said "Yes" to cell towers.

2.)  Vote on July 31.  Say NO to cell towers on school grounds and Vote Against Any Incumbant who approved the towers (all except Donna Edler and Nancy Jester on the school board).

3.)  Check back here for breaking news and other updates (www.GETtheCELLoutATL.org).  Send us your letters and responses by BCC'ing us or forwarding them to us later.  Let us know if we can reprint them on our website.  We will not disclose your name.  Our email is sayno2celltowers@yahoo.com.

4.)  "Like" us on Facebook for even more up to date information:  https://www.facebook.com/Get.the.Cell.Out.ATL




Response from DCSS Spokesman Walter Woods ...

Feb 21, 2012

Dear (GTCO-ATL),

Appreciate your note, particularly from someone who knows the business and the scope of what we do.


In relation to your ORR question. The Lakeside and Narvee Harris agreements are worked out, but not formally signed off on. If you would like to request them in the next few weeks, please feel free to do so and we will provide.


But, there is no intention by the School District to change or expand cell tower agreements to other schools beyond the nine approved in July.


I'm available today to discuss or if you have questions.


Thanks,
Walter


Walter Woods
Executive Director of Communications
DeKalb County School System
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd.
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083

            678-676-0410       (office)
            404-486-3710       (wireless)
Walter_Woods@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

GTCO Nominated for Community Action Award

Get the Cell Out - Atlanta was recently nominated for an award for "Cause an Effect," a recognition program started by State Farm Insurance to reward real grass roots campaigns that seek to improve Education and Safety in our neigbhorhoods.

If we make it past the first round, we will let you know how you can help by voting for us.  Any amount awarded by the Cause an Effect fund will be used to secure legal help in order to continue the mission to stop the cell towers slated for DeKalb County schools. 

Thank you for the nomination and your moral support.  We just surpassed a whopping 16,000 page views since we first started this blog site in November!  We're glad to be helping the mission of awareness for the cause as well as better transparency by our government officials!

If you have not done so, remember to sign the countywide petition: www.thepetitionsite.com/1/GTCO-ATL

And email us with your letters to our leaders, their replies or any questions you may have.

Thanks!  sayno2celltowers@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dear FOX5 Station Manager, News Director, GM

Dear Station Manager / News Director / General Manager -I am a fan of FOX5 news, but lately I have noticed how frequently you run "stories" that appear to be nothing more than commercials for the newest iPhone or iPad.  Do you really  consider this to be news content?  In the meantime, the residents who have been fighting the telecomm industry, who rely on your newscast to be the watchdog of government, are having their neigbhorhoods torn apart by these near monopolies. Towers, phones, tablets - all emit radiation a possible human carcinigen. It's time we all rethink how "cool" we think our devices are in light of a possible health crisis.  By helping them "push" their products, you will continue to alienate the people who are sick of the lies and deception. www.GETtheCELLoutATL.org

BREAKING NEWS: Briarlake's FCC License is Approved

Notice to Briarlake Elementary School Community:
 
PowerTel, Inc. has an approved FCC Permit for Briarlake Property

And, that Permit Now Belongs to T-mobile! 

April 16, 2012 (click headline for full story)

According to the website www.antennasearch.com, the campus of Briarlake Elementary School was pegged as a potential cell tower location way back in 1998. 


Apparantly, the campus is already approved by the FCC for a tower that was originally planned by PowerTel, Inc.  As you will see in Figure A above, the proposed tower site is still on file and registered as 149.9 ft. in height, even though no such tower actually exists on the Briarlake campus today. 

The location is indicated in Firgure A below:













FIGURE B:  This photo which has graced the home page of PTA-led protest group,
No Briarlake Tower, LLC, is similar to the photos provided by T-mobile
to the PTA members at other schools dipicting what the school might look like
with a pine-tree type tower, called a "mono-pine."  The No Tower Briarlake website
states that it was created by a parent to show the "absurdity" of a tower at their school.
But, the location is oddly similar to that of an already approved tower location back
from 1998 which Get the Cell Out - ATL has recently discovered on the records.
In 1998 when this permit was applied for, PowerTel was in the process of setting up its own GSM network in the Southeast U.S., with its headquarters being in West Point, GA. That is the same address listed in the FCC license on file for Briarlake Elementary.

We overlooked this FCC permit until now because we were told by No Tower Briarlake, LLC, leadership that the permit was for a satelite dish that was no longer in use.  That does not appear to be the case as the permit specifies that the tower that was granted was for a structure that stands approximatey 150 ft. tall.

However, we have been trying to understand why Lakeside and Narvie J. Harris have not received signed leases nor do they have FCC permits.  Brairlake Elementary School, on the other hand, has a signed lease, but we have not located any signs of a recent FCC Permit.  


The other six schools have both their leases and FCC permits.  All the other permits were issued around September of 2011.  Only schools with both signed lease agreements and approved FCC permits are eligible to move to the final paperwork round in this process which is to submit a local application for a zoning variance and a building permit.  This is the stage of the process where we expected public notification and input would be sought from the county as that is the process for a Special Land Use permit. 

If you have been following the story, you will know that the school system and T-Mobile have communicated to the county commissioners that they plan to seek a Special Administrative Permit which does not follow the same public notification process or standards for approvals.  The CEO and Director of Public Works or Director of Planning and Sustainability will need to make these final authorizations and have been warned by the commissioners and the public that the towers will likely be non-compliant with our zoning ordinances.

See what you think about the information (above) that is located on www.antennasearch.com and chime in on our comments sections.  After further review of this information, we now believe T-mobile will attempt to build its Bariarlake Tower over the Summer.  It appears that the tower will go immediately behind, or even on top of the gym, as indicated in Figure B, a photo that is located on the website for No Tower Brairlake, LLC.

We have been skeptical that the tower locations previously mentioned by T-mobile for Briarlake Elementary School campus would actually pan out to be correct for several reasons.  For one, our advisors have told us that T-mobile's usual claim is that they need to be on the highest ground possible, not stuck down low in a valley like the outdoor classroom space at Briarlake.  Second, the playground does not offer enough space for proper setback from the road or neighboring homes.

So, it is looking more and more like Figure B, above, is a very accurate rendetion of how "Option C" will look at Briarlake Elementary School. 


But, can T-mobile use a location approved for another company?  They can if they own that other company, too!

Upon further investigation, GTCO-ATL has learned that PowerTel, Inc. was actually acquired by by Deutsche Telekom AG on May 31, 2001.  They were made a subsidiary of VoiceStream Wireless, Inc., which was acquired by Deutsche Telekom on the same day.[1][2]  And, who, exactly is Deutsche Telekom (which means "German Telecom")? 

Well, it just so happens that T-Mobile International AG is a German holding company for Deutsche Telekom AG's various mobile communications subsidiaries outside Germany.  So, basically, the FCC license for a Briarlake tower, approved in 1998 by the FCC for PowerTel, Inc, is now already in the hands of the same people who own and operate T-mobile.

 

Exactly WHO is T-mobile?  Who is Deutsche Telekom?


Deutsche Telekom was formed in 1996 as the former state-owned monopoly Deutsche Bundespost was privatized.  As of June 2008, the German government still held a 15% stake in company stock directly, and another 17% through the government bank KfW (so, more than one third is owned by the German government (the only government the U.S. has declared war against - twice!).

Still think it is okay for our school board to be making a decision like this without following the rules of our county zoning ordinances and against warnings from our commissioners and protests from our neighborhoods and parents?  Well, let's see what this organization is known for... 

Guess what?  Deutsche Telekom is known for a major violation of privacy rights!  They even won the European version of the "Big Brother Award" for the most blatant disregard of people's privacy.

As part of a major  eavesdropping controversy, charges were filed against Deutsche Telekom for allegedly abusing call data to snoop on supervisory board members and journalists.[3] 

In October 2008 the company confirmed that personal information of 17 million mobile phone customers had been copied.[4][5]

The Deutsche Telekom eavesdropping controversy became public at the end of May 2008 through an article in the weekly, Der Spiegel.[6] The prosecutor has initiated investigations against eight former members of Deutsche Telekom's advisory board, executive board and former employees. The investigation focuses on alleged eavesdropping against journalists and members of the supervisory executive boards of Deutsche Telekom.  They were looking for the source of press leaks.

Keep that in mind as you think about the our school board, with certain members still under suspicion for corruption in connection with the former superintendent Crawford Lewis who is awaiting trial.   And, pay attention to what else is going on around town that might also be related - such as all the security cameras that have been going up at every intersection and along the Interstates lately. 

And those cameras are likely the tip of the iceburg with many, many more cameras still to come?  If you recall, voters approved  $4.5 million from SPLOST IV to be dedicated to "provide wireless Internet access to every classroom to support future technologies and allow students the ability to roam with their hand-held devices." 

Could the school system really have tricked us into approving the funding to put a cell phone in every child's hand?  Or perhaps an I-pad, such as the ones that the Briarlake Foundataion has been saving its donations to purchase.  Or the ones that reportedly are already in existance at Flat Rock?  Or the ones that were approved at this month's board meeting for two of the county's lowest achieving middle schools with "Race to the Top" dollars? 


And another $2.5 million  from SPLOST IV that is slated for "modifications and upgrades to security ... for existing buildings and facilities, including but not limited to, camera installation, lighting, ... closed circuit television, and video recorder installation."  See the website:  http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/splost-iv for more details. 

We tried to warn the public about the specifics in SPLOST IV before it was approved, but the highly-financed campaign for its passage and support from the Fernbank community overshadowed any progress we made.

Now we have to just "wait and see" like everyone else.  While we're all waiting, please take time to at a minimum, bring this subject up in your conversations to help spread the word about the dangers of cell towers in case the voters are asked about it on the July election.

What's Next?

If you live near Briarlake Elementary School or any of the other schools expected to be receiving cell phone towers this Summer, check back with us on this website frequently as we hope to soon have specific construction timelines (a.k.a. "The Plans" as mentioned in the T-moblie contracts).  We will provide the timelines and other details once Walter Woods, Spokesman for DCSS, responds to our Open Records Request (also on this site for your review).

If you receive any information that might help the other schools as well, such as emails or letters from those in leadership who may have insight on this topic, please email us with the okay to put on this website.  We will remove your name before posting to protect your privacy.

Direct your news to share or any questions about what you see here to sayno2celltowers@yahoo.com.

*****

1. http://web.archive.org/web/20010417190834/http://www.powertel.com/htm/abo/abo_com_chr.asp
2. http://web.archive.org/web/20000229170845/www.powertel.com/investor/investor_main.asp
3. Forbes.com
4. The New York Times
5. Dw-world.de (German)
6. a b Spiegel Online May 29, 2008










Monday, April 16, 2012

Sound Familiar? "The principal and the PTA have to give it the OK."



We were debating about whether or not to post this article since it is from February of 2011.  That was until we saw something very interesting about the process as explained by a Real Estate Executive for the Maryland Schools.  In case you are pressed for time, we highlighted and underlined the good parts for you.
********************************************

Residents Upset Over Proposed Cell Tower
From the Gazette.net, Maryland Community News Online
Feb. 23, 2011

Neighbors say T-Mobile tower will lower property values
by Jeanette Der Bedrosian | Staff Writer
(Click headline to read full text)


A T-Mobile cell phone tower proposed for a field behind Sligo Middle School has some neighbors upset that the 130-foot monopole will lower property values, take recreation space away from school children and disturb the Sligo Creek ecosystem.

The proposal for the tower went in front of a Montgomery County hearing examiner earlier this month, who is tasked with determining whether T-Mobile should get the special exception in zoning necessary to use school space for a commercial purpose.

While awaiting a decision, however, nearby neighbors are up in arms that the school system and cell phone company did not properly alert nearby residents of what might be moving in next door.

Standing behind the school Monday morning, several Gridley Lane residents looked at the site of the proposed tower.

 "T-Mobile already has so many towers," said John Polletto, 63. "Why do they need more?"

 "They claim they put it here because of the trees, but the tower will be higher than the trees," said his wife, Kathy Polletto, 59.

 "This park wasn't built for that anyway," added Barbara Jarboe, 70. "That's not what people want to see here."

 The cell tower is proposed for a 30-foot-by-80-foot space behind the tennis courts at Sligo Middle School, according to T-Mobile's application to the county. T-Mobile would also install a 10-foot-wide access path along the side of the tennis courts. The tower will help provide in-building coverage to residential neighborhoods surrounding routes 193 and 97 to reduce the number of dropped calls, the document says.

...  (T-mobile text here) ....

 The residents who gathered behind the school earlier this week said they worry the cell tower will lower property values. It cuts into a well-used play area popular among sledders and families wanting to throw around a football or Frisbee. And as they point out deer tracks, they say the cell tower and associated access path will cut into a wildlife habitat and could possibly require removal of trees that could erode the forest.

 They said they didn't receive notice of opportunities for public comment until December, years after the application process started.

 "I didn't hear anything from T-Mobile, I didn't hear anything from the county, it was a piece of paper from my neighbor that alerted me," said Julia Wisniewski, a resident of nearby Gridley Lane in Silver Spring, referring to a note from a concerned neighbor.

 Neighbors said around Christmas, they were given a notice of the special exception hearing.

The process for getting a cell tower installed on the site involves several steps, according to Mary Pat Wilson, real estate management specialist for Montgomery County Public Schools. First, the applicant expresses interest in the site, the principal and PTA have to give it the OK, plans are drawn up and reviewed by a division of the Department of Park and Planning, the company has to get a special exception for zoning, and the superintendant makes the final decision, Wilson said.


 T-Mobile is currently at the special exception portion of the process, she said. The terms of the lease are currently under negotiation, she said.

 Several of the Gridley Lane residents and other Montgomery County residents testified against granting T-Mobile the special exception, John Polletto said. None of those gathered behind the school said they have T-Mobile as their cell phone provider, but they said even if they did, they still wouldn't want the tower. School land shouldn't be used for commercial purposes, regardless of a possible need for improved cell phone service, they said.

 "We can't lease out our backyard if we're having financial woes, so why can MCPS do that?" asked Andrea Crenich, 41, of Gridley Lane. "The whole point of zoning laws is to protect property values of the homes in an area. ... Would you buy a home that backs up to a 130-foot cell tower with an 8-foot chain-link fence and chopped down trees?"


Memo to CEO Burrell Ellis - New Message for "One DeKalb"

Memo (click to read full text)

To:       CEO Burrell Ellis
From:    Viola Davis
CC:       Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter, Get The Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter, Concerned Citizens of South DeKalb, Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment, DeKalb NAACP, NoBriarlakeTower.org, Briarcliff Heights Community Action Group, NoCellTowerFund.com, and all appropriate parties
Date:    4/3/2012
Re:       Quality Life For DeKalb – No Cell Tower On School Grounds

Quality Life For DeKalb – No Cell Tower On School Grounds

Viola Davis
One DeKalb Lives restore neighborhoods and build hope. One DeKalb Works create jobs and also build hope. These are two DeKalb logos on the front page of the county website.  However, One DeKalb has a “new message."

We are proud to join the basic message of One DeKalb to say that parents and homeowners from North and South DeKalb have sent a unified message that we do not want cell towers on school grounds and request CEO Burrell Ellis deny any applications for construction of cell towers on school grounds.

We are contacting CEO Ellis to move the One DeKalb political logo and slogan into a public issue action plan. North and South DeKalb have united to send a clear message that we do not want cell phone towers on school grounds especially within residential neighborhoods. We have collectively petitioned our elected officials to pass laws to protect our children, protect our neighborhoods, and protect our overall quality of life.

Parents and homeowners throughout DeKalb County take pride in the following facts:
·        The entire Board of Commissioners has taken a position on cell towers on DeKalb school properties to not ignore its ordinances unless it has been proven in court.

·        Rep. Karla Drenner introduced HB1128, entitled “Prudent Avoidance”, and received the support of 16 out of 18 signatures from the DeKalb Delegation.  DeKalb County has not seen this level of unity before in the history of any given issue and look forward to our CEO joining this history making venture.  We request CEO Burrell Ellis join the DeKalb Board of Commissioners to uphold our local zoning law. We ask CEO Burrell Ellis to prove One DeKalb is more than a political slogan by joining the Board of Commissioners to send a message to T-Mobile that DeKalb deserves a high quality of life and that quality starts and ends with upholding our local laws and ordinances.  

Time to Take Action:  Please write, email and/or phone CEO Burrell Ellis and request he join the Board of Commissioners and DeKalb Delegation to send T-Mobile a message that “it is the policy of DeKalb County to prohibit cell towers on single-family residentially-zones properties” and “this zoning ordinance was established to ensure the safety of county residents and to protect property values of single-family homes” as quoted from Crossroads Newspaper.

Contact CEO Burrell Ellis:
·       CEO Burrell Ellis
Chief Executive Officer
DeKalb County Government
330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, 6th Floor
Decatur, GA 30030
·        Email: schedulingceoellis@dekalbcountyga.gov
·        Or ceo@dekalbcountyga.gov

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Open Records Request: April 15, 2012

(click headline to read full text)

4/14/2012 
Walter Woods
Dekalb County School System

Dear Mr. Woods or to whom it may concern:

Pursuant to the Georgia Open Records Law (O.C.G.A § 50-18-70 et seq.) (the “Law”), you are hereby requested to make available for review and copying all files, records and other documents in your possessions as requested below:

1.)  Attendance records for the 12 school meetings that were held in May, 2011, at the schools involved in the cell tower proposal submitted by T-mobile.  These records were recently submitted to Crossroads reporter Jennifer Ffrench Parker.  (see picture at right.)

We are interested in the exact names of attendees, not just the number present.  As these records were made public for purpose of examination by Crossroads Newspaper, we believe they should be made public for examination by the parents and community members as well.

2.)  Attendance records AND meeting minutes for the August 2010 meeting of the Budget, Audit and Finance Committee.  We are interested in audience attendees, not just the committee members.

3.)  “The plans” as referenced in the T-mobile contract with each of the 7 schools that have signed contracts.  The plans were supposedly approved by the board and contain estimated construction timelines, according to the signed contracts dated December 2011, signed by Superintendent Atkinson and Chairman Bowen.  (see below.)


4.)  The signed contracts on or about December 2011 for leasing of school property by T-mobile as approved at the July 2011 board meeting for Lakeside High School and Narvie J. Harris Elementary School.  (These were not present in our initial open records request.)

5.)  The memo, contract or any other written or electronic communication that was signed or authorized by Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson for the leasing of property to T-Mobile (or a subcontractor thereof) on or about July 12, 2011, as was indicated at the July 11, 2011, board meeting.

If this request is denied in whole or in part, we ask that you cite in writing the specific statutory exemption upon which you have relied, as required by law. We also ask that you release all separate portions of otherwise exempt material. Please waive any costs associated with this request, or first inform me of such costs as required by Georgia law. 

As you know, the Law requires a response by you within three business days of your receipt of this letter and provides sanctions for non-compliance.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (sayno2celltowers@yahoo.com).

Sincerely,
www.GETtheCELLoutATL.org

Response from Governor Nathan Deal's Office

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 11:06 AM

Governor Deal has received your e-mail and appreciates hearing from you. You will receive a direct response from him shortly.  With the very high volume of messages and mail, we hope you will understand if there is a delay in responding.  If this is an urgent or time-sensitive matter, please call us directly at 404-656-1776.  Again, our thanks for your comments and input.

Please do not reply directly to this message. 
Thank you.

Rep. Chuck Sims (R - Ambrose) Cited for DUI in Atlanta

(click headline for details)

Who is Rep. Chuck Sims (R - Ambrose, GA)? 

Well, here's a little of what we know...

Rep. Chuck Sims (R - Ambrose, GA) is the person who single-handedly killed the HB 1197, a DeKalb County local bill that had the support of 16 of 18 local delegates and would have banned cell towers from school grounds, protecting our neighborhoods and school children. 

He is the person who represents a county of 380 people, who live in a 3.5 square mile area in South Georgia.

Look at it this way:  If Ambrose were an elementary school in DeKalb County, our school board would have closed it by now for under-enrollment!

Or, look at it like this:  The number of people who signed petitions to stop the cell towers in DeKalb County could make up their own county that would be more than FIVE TIMES the size of Sims' entire district.

Who is Rep. Chuck Sims (R - Ambrose, GA)??

He  is the person who took the liberty of stopping the will of the people in DeKalb County and apparantly thinks that he is superior to our court system, too.  The judicial system would be the only place to determine accurately if anything in HB 1197 was unconstitutional, as he claimed was his reason for stalling it.

He also supported the idea of placing a question on the ballot in DeKalb as a way to appease the people, or more  likely as a way to help the telecomm industry pinpoint where the objections are coming from so they can figure out a new strategy. 

He likely wrote the question, too.


Nevermind that the question doesn't give anyone the chance to say they don't know or are not familiar with the issue.  Nevermind that people might be opposed to it for an elementary school, but not for a high school.  Nevermind that a nonbinding referendum does nothing to help the protestors if it goes in our favor, but can be used against us if the voters are ignorant to the issue or confused about the meaning and the vote goes the other way.

What really concerns us is that someone like Rep. Chuck Sims (R - Ambrose, GA) can impose his own will, based on his own reasoning, without having to explain his reasons or jusification, to stop a bill that we have been working for nearly a year.  And, we were trying to have a state bill passed that would do the same because we are trying to look out for others, not just ourselves. 

If we could warn the smaller, more rural counties of what might be in store for them, we would.  But, with people like Rep. Chuck Sims in office, that looks as unlikely as being able to protect our own homes from dangers that we are supposedly already protected from by law.

So, who is Rep. Chuck Sims (R - Ambrose, GA)?  

Well, he is a person who doesn't always worry about his own safety or the safety of others.  He is a person who doesn't mind putting others in harm's way.  He doesn't mind breaking the law.  In fact, he doesn't even know when he should call a cab after too many cocktails in Atlanta, likely on the dime of a wealthy telecomm lobbyist.  He is a risk-taker.  And, thanks to him, everyone in DeKalb County will have to continue taking risks with the health and safety of our children.  How do we know this about Rep. Chuck Sims (R - Ambrose, GA)? 

Read* this report and see for yourself:

State Lawmaker Cited for DUI
Updated: Friday, 30 Apr 2010, 5:45 AM EDT 
Published : Friday, 30 Apr 2010, 4:50 AM EDT 
Reported by Tacoma Perry | Edited by Steve Dixon

ATLANTA - A state lawmaker is apologizing after being stopped for DUI.

The incident happened Wednesday night.

"I was pulled over in my hotel parking lot and that's all there was to it," said State Representative Chuck Sims.

But that's not quite all -- according to his own admission, State Representative Chuck Sims, said he'd been drinking earlier in the evening with his meal.

"I had had some alcohol earlier in the day or earlier in the night," said Sims.

Atlanta police officers pulled Sims over at the Baymont Inn at Piedmont and International.

He was cited with a DUI

Sims said he plans on talking to counsel but did release this statement:  "I realize this impacts my family, friends, colleagues and constituency, and I'm truly sorry for any embarrassment that I have caused. I am cooperating fully with the Atlanta Police Department to resolve this matter."

Sims has been serving in the state house since 1996 and represents Ambrose.

*  On May 5, 2012, we realized the link to the video for the FOX5 news story was missing.  We now realize it is missing from the FOX website as well as ours.  We have to wonder if someone noticed we were playing it here and pulled some strings at FOX to get it removed.  We have to wonder if any other person would have equal treatment with getting a story featuring them removed.  C'mon FOX, you're going to have to be a little less obvious if you want to claim you are providing your job of being the watchdog of government.  You are more like the government lap dog on this issue!