Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cell tower vote to be on July 31 ballot

Rep. Karla Drenner.  Photo credit:  Crossroads.
by Jennifer Ffrench Parker Cross Roads News 23 hrs ago

DeKalb parents and other residents who have been fighting the DeKalb School Board’s decision to locate cell phone towers on school properties will get to vote on a referendum on the towers on the July 31 ballot.

The non-binding advisory referendum won’t change the reality for thousands of children who will be attending the nine schools already leased to T-Mobile, but it could signal community sentiment to board members.

Residents can vote yes or no to the question: “Should the local or independent school system of DeKalb County or a charter school in DeKalb County place or operate a telecommunications tower on any elementary, middle, or high school property?”

Cheryl Miller, a Brockett Elementary parent and member of, and said the referendum’s wording is so vague and misleading she fears voters won’t know its about the same cell phone towers they have been opposing.

“We are afraid the general public will not understand that the cell towers we have been so opposed to for so long are actually the same thing as the ‘telecommunications towers’ they are being asked about on the ballot,” she said.“The wording sounds like the tower will be ‘placed or operated’ by the school system for some sort of educational purpose, which is not correct. The towers have nothing to do with education, and are not needed for wireless inside the school house.”
Miller said parents opposed to the cell towers at schools will want to make sure everyone knows to vote “no” to the question.

The referendum was created by House Bill 1299, sponsored by state Reps. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain), Rahn Mayo (D-Decatur) and other DeKalb legislators.

Drenner, a six-term representative and a radiation physicist, embraced the referendum after House Bill 1197 which she sponsored to ban towers from other school grounds failed.

State legislators have been seeking ways to prevent the location of more cell towers on DeKalb Schools property after a July 12, 2011, vote by the DeKalb School Board to allow T-Mobile to locate 150-foot high towers on nine school properties for up to 30 years. Most of those schools are in south DeKalb County.

The schools 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.

School Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson signed the 30-year leases with T-Mobile on Dec. 8. Over the life of the lease, T-Mobile will pay the school district just over $2.3 million in rent.

District spokesman Walter Woods said this week that the construction of the first cell tower is expected to begin in August.

“All sites are in some phase of design,” he said.

Drenner, a six-term representative and a radiation physicist, said she thinks the cell towers are a short, money grab by the school board.

“We’re trading short term money for long term health reasons,” she said.

Drenner has been fighting cell towers on school property because of possible health effects associated with radio frequency radiation and magnetic field.

She said that there are no longitudinal health study on the effects of cell towers on students,.
“I would ask parents do you want your child to be a case study,” she said.

Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur), whose bill requiring state and local governments to hold public hearings before leasing public property to private organizations for non-governmental and commercial reasons failed, said if the nonbinding refereundum succeeds, it will be valuable.

“It will put pressure on the school board to create a policy that is in line with what the people want,” he said.

Copyright 2012 CrossRoadsNews. All rights reserved.

Read more: CrossRoadsNews - Cell tower vote to be on July 31 ballot

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Important Dekalb School Board Meetings Tonight!

(click headline for details)

Photo credit:  11 Alive News

From DeKalb School Watch Two:


Today:  Thursday, June 28, 2012

5:00 PM

J. David Williamson Board Room

Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center

Administrative & Instructional Complex

1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard

Stone Mountain,Georgia  30083

Wait ‘til you see agenda …


1.  Approval to Issue A Tax Anticipation Note (TAN)

Presented by:  Mr. Michael J. Perrone, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Finance

2.  Approval of a Reduction in Force Plan

Presented by:  Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer,

Division of Human Resources

3.  Approval of a Settlement Agreement

Presented by:  Mr. Rocco Testani, Attorney, Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan

And, then at 6:00 PM …

1st Public Millage Rate Hearing

J. David Williamson Board Room

Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center

Photo credit:  AJC Get Schooled Blog
Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson, DCSD

If the meetings will be streamed online, you should be able to access them here:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ipads for Elementary School Children? Think Twice Before Jumping on the Bandwagon!

(click headline to view video)

Whew! No Mention of Cell Towers in School Board's New Budget Plan

(click headline for full story and budget recap)

Photo credit:  Hyosub Shin,
Dekalb County School Board members
(from left) Thomas E. Bowen, Jay
Cunningham, Sarah Copelin-Wood
and Eugene P. Walker (chairman)
talk before a meeting.

We were happy to hear the DeKalb County School Board did not discuss cell towers as a means of supplementing its billion dollar budget at the expense of our children, teachers and neighborhoods, but the cuts they made were still dramatic. 

From the DeKalb School Watch Blog,
here's a recap: 

■The property taxes in DeKalb county were raised by one full millage point.
 ■All employees are subject to 2 more furlough days on top of the already scheduled furlough days.
 ■70 more people in the central office will lose their job
 ■Pre-k programs will be reduced to only what the state funds provide
 ■52 magnet teachers will lose their magnet job
 ■28 Montessori teachers will lose their magnet job
 ■Transportation to special programs: DECA, magnet, themes AMS and STT remains unchanged
 ■Transportation for field trips will be cut by $1.6 million
 ■Additional transportation (efficiency plan) will be cut $700,000
 ■200 general ed parapros will lose their jobs
 ■25 media specialists will lose their jobs
 ■29 (all remaining) media clerks will lose their jobs
 ■10 SROs will lose their jobs
 ■Overtime pay for extra activities will be reduced by $5 million
 ■Fernbank will have to cut $1.9 million from its programs budget
 ■10 Asst Principals lost through attrition will not be replaced
 ■10 counselors lost through attrition will not be replaced
 ■20 interpreters will lose their jobs
 ■The summer work schedule is reduced to 4 – 10 hour days
 ■Employees will have to subsidize health insurance by an additional $35.57/month
 ■Employees will have to subsidize dental insurance by an additional $16.02/month
 ■Regular Ed Class sizes will increase by 2
 ■Special Ed Class sizes will increase by 2

Showing their continued defiance of the public's cry for a transparent government, the board removed the final vote tally from the electronic screen above their heads, infuriating spectators in the live audience and those watching the streaming video from computers at home or work. 

For more details, see the article in the AJC.

Remember:  Vote NO on the "telecommunications towers" question on your ballot, July 31.  Tell friends and neighbors to do the same as it may be one way to let your representatives know that your precinct is aware of the issue and against it for your local community or school.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Budget Talks Continue Thursday at 6 p.m.


The Called Meeting held by the DeKalb Board of Education on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 recessed at 4:02pm, and will re-convene on Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 6:00pm in the J. David Williamson Board Room in the Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center at the DeKalb County School System’s Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain.

Watch live at

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Crossroads: Town Hall Tonight at 6:30 p.m.

DeKalb School Board sets Tuesday Town Hall on budget

Written by Valerie Morgan

Courtesy: Crossroads.  From Left, back:  Walker, Cunningham, Bowen, Womack, McChestney. 
Front, from left:  Copelin-Woods, Jester, Edler, Speaks.

DeKalb County School Board members are inviting constituents to weigh in on the district’s proposed budget.

A Town Hall meeting will be held Tuesday (June 19??), 6:30 p.m., at Columbia High School, 2106 Columbia Drive, Decatur.

The meeting is being hosted by School Board chair Eugene Walker, board members Sarah Copelin-Wood, Donna Elder and Jay Cunningham.

“We’re looking for solutions. This is not a gripe session,” said Cunningham, who is helping to promote the meeting. “We don’t have any answers. We will be listenening.”

The School Board is scheduled to vote on the budget on Wednesday.

It is suggested that you arrive early to be placed on the list to speak at the Town Hall meeting.

Those who cannot make the meeting but would like to make a suggestion may contact their school board member by visiting

Directions coming from the North: 

Depart I-285 South / GA-407 South toward I-285 West / GA-407 West

1.6 mi

At exit 44, take ramp right and follow signs for Glenwood Road

0.2 mi

Turn right onto GA-260 / Glenwood Rd

1.2 mi

Turn left onto Columbia Dr
Fina on the corner

0.7 mi

Arrive at 2106 Columbia Dr Decatur, GA 30032
The last intersection is Hyland DrIf you reach Irish Ln, you've gone too far

Columbia High School
2106 Columbia Dr Decatur, GA 30032
            (678) 874-0802    

"In the beginning there was only 1 school - and that was Lakeside."

"In the beginning there was only 1 school - and that was Lakeside." 
                                        - DeKalb County School Board Member, Jay Cunningham

The date on this YouTube video is incorrect.  The meeting was actually held in 2011.
Please listen and you will learn a lot about the plans as far as Mr. Cunningham understood them to be.  We have to wonder if he would have still agreed to put MLK on the list for a cell tower if he would have known that Lakeside High School was not receiving one after all.


Is THIS Lakeside's Cell Tower?

New permit approved by DeKalb County for cell tower by T-mobile near Northlake Mall:

Is THIS the cell tower that will solve the communications problems at Lakeside?

Or could this FCC permit from several years ago be the new Lakeside cell tower?

Is this application on file the one that was shot down by the community in 1997?  Is it still valid today, even without a tower actually being built there?  Has T-mobile applied for an actual permit to build a tower here?  Can they move ahead without a contract with DeKalb County Schools? 

The players:

There are a lot of players trying to get OUR money.  Let's take a look:

Why aren't those people in the Lakeside community complaining about how they were the ONLY school to state that they actually WANTED a tower and they are the only school to NOT have a signed agreement?  Could it be that the tower is not what they really want?  Perhaps it was just a way to bully the other parents at the other schools into keeping quiet about expressing their concerns for fear of ridicule by those who were so "in favor."  Can any of the other contracts be valid when the whole purpose (as stated publically by Paul Womack, Pam Speaks, Donna Edler, Jay Cunningham and other board membbers) was to improve the cell reception at Lakeside?  If T-mobile is not holding up the primary intent of the agreement ... then the whole deal should be OFF. 

The School Board
And, just because the school board wants to press ahead with building, shouldn't our county still uphold its own zoning ordinances regarding safe placement of cell towers away from residential areas or other areas where the public can reasonably be expected to gather (like schools)?  There is NO educational purpose to ANY  cell tower at ANY school.  AND... the money CANNOT be used for any primary school purpose.  Cell towers provide a slush fund for those at the top,  or special interest groups and nothing more.  The money does not come from taxes and in a public education system, that means the money cannot be relied upon as a portion of the budget as that is an intrusion by the private sector. 

The board will meet tomorrow, June 20, to announce their plans for cuts to the budget in order to make up for the shortfall being blamed on our property values.  Funny - if they did their jobs then our property values would be increasing and we wouldn't be in this mess at all, would we?

If the CEO of DeKalb County is considering special permits, shouldn't the public at least be aware of them?  Don't we have the right to know if construction will soon begin in our own neighborhoods?  Don't we have the constitutional right to address our own governement over grievences?  How can we do that if we don't know what they are planning to do?

If ATT wants to build a school or contribute to Lakeside's construction, then let them make a donation to the Valhalla Group.  We should not expect some neighborhoods to pay a high price by giving up valuable educational space for the next 30 years just to fund a few pet projects under the table.  Why should anyone be forced to have a cell tower in their own backyard or at their child's school? A possible carcinigen on school grounds should be something we would PAY to eradicate, not something we are considering allowing on our grounds. 

The Tax Commissioner
We pay a large portion of our property taxes to our school system to educate children, but they are cutting valuable resourses, teachers, science centers and more while they increase their own budgets, discuss their own travel plans and approve millions for lawyers to get them out of trouble. 

This budget shortfall is being blamed on the tax situation in DeKalb County, but our Tax Commissioners office has admitted to giving out "faulty data" last year due to a software issue.  And, again this year, they are claiming the same thing.  If the taxes were correct, would we have enough money to fund all of our programs without having to look at these cuts? If the state wasn't cutting our funding or "redistributing" our money to other counties, then would we still be in the dire straights we find ourselves in today?

The Astroturf Campaigns (fake "grass roots" groups claiming to be ordinary citizens but really advocating for hidden agendas)
Is it so far fetched to believe they might also try to give the public the false impression that there is any support out there at all for cell towers on school grounds?  Wouldn't it make more sense that most parents wish their kids would pay attention in school and not be texting each other?  Wouldn't most logical human beings advocate protecting children and not risking their health? 

Where are all these "supporters" for cell towers?  They have not actually shown up to any event where both sides were encouraged to speak out.  Even T-mobile doesn't want to talk about the "good" side of cell towers.  Otherwise they would have worded their event flyers in a way that actually encouraged people to attend.  That's because they know that the only good in it is for them... they get tax free access to our neighborhoods and schools.  They get to take the cheap way out of providing their service.  And they get to sublease their space (our space) for big profits. 

Are there any true supporters for cell towers at schools?  We may find out the answer to that question when the July 31 election results are available.  If it does nothing else, perhaps this ballot question will shine a light on the pockets of corruption in our county. 

No matter where you live... please vote and tell others to do the same.  We will continue to hope that the good side of human nature will prevail and we will learn that no matter what else is involved here - politics, money, corruption - that no one really can say "yes" to placing a possible carcinigen at an elementary school in our county.  No matter what they have been promised, no matter what they have been told - there is nothing that will make us turn on each other to the degree that we would put an innocent child in harm's way. 

We are counting on the good inside of our followers to help us spread the word.  No cell towers.  Not now.  Not ever.  Not at our schools or near our homes.  Raise our taxes, but please don't radiate our children.  The science isn't certain.  The research isn't in.  The top scientists in the world have urged caution ... it is up to us to listen.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

LAST CHANCE: SPLOST Oversight Committee Applications Due Tonight by Midnight!

(click headline for full text and a link for the SPLOST Committee Application)

From: Get the Cell Out - Atlanta
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2012
Subject: Question

If the purpose of the citizen’s oversight committee for SPLOST funds is to allow volunteers from the public to help oversee the process by which our public funds are being spent to ensure there is no deviation from the voter-approved project list, then why are you asking them to sign a non-disclosure agreement?

Isn’t this supposed to help ensure the transparency of the process?  How will they be able to ask as our guardians of public trust if we can’t actually trust them to be permitted to tell us everything they learn?    Isn’t that they whole point of their existence on the committee?
Please respond. 

Thank you,




CONTACT: DeKalb Schools Communications Office, 404-486-3710

DeKalb Schools to Appoint Citizens SPLOST Oversight Committee

June 1, 2012 – The DeKalb County School District invites members of the public to volunteer
their services for a 12-member Citizen’s SPLOST Oversight Committee. The advisory
committee, expected to begin meeting in August 2012, provides for citizen review of the voter approved SPLOST project list.

Interested DeKalb County residents who want to be considered for the committee should provide
their information online at no later than Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.  Only online applications will be accepted.

Qualified candidates must be citizens who reside within the boundaries of the DeKalb County
School District, may not be members of the Board of Education or employees of the School
District, and may not have any economic interest in any of the District’s projects.

Experience in accounting, architecture, auditing, construction, engineering, finance, K-12
education, legal, planning, project management and/or real estate is desired.

Members must be volunteers who can dedicate at least two hours each quarter to meeting,
generally in the evenings. Members must pass a background check and sign a non-disclosure

Questions about the Citizen’s SPLOST Oversight Committee may be emailed to

For more information about the DeKalb County School District, visit


1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083-1027

Board of Education
Dr. Eugene P. ‘Gene’ Walker, Chair
Mr. Thomas E. Bowen, Vice Chair
Ms. Sarah Copelin-Wood
Mr. Jesse ‘Jay’ Cunningham, Jr.
Ms. Donna G. Edler
Ms. Nancy Jester
Mr. Donald E. ‘Don’ McChesney
Dr. Pamela A. Speaks
Mr. H. Paul Womack, Jr.

Superintendent Dr. Cheryl L. H. Atkinson
(bold names are up for re-election on July 31, 2012)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sample Ballots Posted; Telecommunications Tower Referendum Needs Your NO DeKalb!

The Sample Ballots are Now Posted! 

Above link is the non-partisan election.  You can also see the Republican and Democratic ballots by going to

Please read and get familiar with the candiates in your area today! 

Your local school and your local community need your NO vote on a very important issue: 

Nonbinding Advisory Referendum
(Vote for One)

"Should the local or independent school system of DeKalb County or a charter school in DeKalb County place or operate a telecommunications tower on any elementary, middle, or high school property?"
There are so many things wrong with this ballot question that we don't even know where to begin.  You can thank Rep. Karla Drenner (D - Avondale) and Rep. Chuck Sims (R - Ambrose), who does not even live in DeKalb County, for negotiating this little gem of a question without even discussing its merits with those of us whom they were supposedly trying to help.  (Yeah, right!)

First, this ballot question is actually asking all voting residents, many of whom have no idea what a telecommunications tower nor have they heard about any of the controversy surrounding the school board's vote to place cell phone towers at schools against the wishes and/or knowledge of the surrounding communities.  So, in light of all the budget talks, you have a potential for a lot of uninformed people to vote in favor of something that is actually against our own DeKalb County ordinances and against the warnings of all seven of our county commissioners.

Second, this question does not apply to the actual situation as we have been told exists today.  The school board voted on and approved cellular transmissions towers for 9 schools in DeKalb County, and have only delivered 8 signed contracts under the Open Records Request Act.  T-mobile is supposedly the company that will be doing the "placing" and the "operating" of the towers for a commercial purpose, not the school system itself.  Or, at least that's what we have been told.  But, they have misled us before and so we are prepared for almost anything at this point.

If the board is foolish enough to rely on the verbiage of a "non-binding" referendum as a way to justify placing towers anywhere in DeKalb County, then there is likely a cell tower company out there who is likely to go along with their plan. 

However, that does not mean that we cannot work together to protect our communities and be diligent at keeping a watch over our public property for any signs of constuction. 

At Get the Cell Out - Atlanta, we have remained involved with this issue in hopes of helping to keep these towers off any of our school properties because we do not believe the numerous dangers that come along with them are worth any amount of money.  We also do not believe that a cell tower is the only way for the telecomms or the school or the county's 911 services to improve their products or services.  It is just the cheapest for them, and the most costly to us. 

While we do not have the power, the influence or the money to sway a large number of voters, we do have this blog and the ability to tell a few.  If you share our concerns and think the BOE might look to your school next (or possibly in the very near future), spread the word in your community about this referendum and urge everyone you know to vote NO. 

You may also wish to take a good, hard look at your property tax assessment and appeal it if it is wrong, either way.  The only way to truly weed out corruption is to not get sucked into it.  If your property is estimated too low, you can likely afford to pay a tiny bit more and help us ensure the schools are well funded and can avoid tax hikes and cell towers.  If your estimate is too high, and you can afford it, consider letting it ride.  If a tower goes up and you have appealed for a lower value, you are locked in for three years. 

That means that after the tower, you will not have another county assessment to prove that the cell tower lowered your property value.  You will not be able to recoop any damages or sue to have the tower taken down.  And that will be the end of the story for the next 30 years. 

Help our county rise above the greed of those who seek to keep us all down. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Copper thieves cut service to AT&T customers in south Fulton

GTCO-ATL Comment:  Copper theft continues to be an out-of-control problem for police in Atlanta and elsewhere in the country.  Cell phone towers are a common target for these criminals because they are frequently located away from the roads and highways far enough to provide good cover and even have their own access roads and parking.  And, they contain the copper that can be turned in for ready cash, handy for any thief or druggie who needs a quick fix.

Cell towers are serviced by contractors, often in unmarked vehicles and with no uniform to identify their employer.  It is not unusual to see different people arrive to service a single tower as there are often a variety of co-locators on each tower.  Base stations rarely are secured with more than a standard padlock, often reported to even be left unlocked.  And, they are typically serviced at any time of day or night, seven days a week, rain or shine.  

Our T-mobile towers will be no different.  Our Board of Education COULD have asked for stipulations in the contract that contractors be limited to servicing the towers to times when school in not in session and not after a particular time in the evening in order to respect the privacy and safety of the immediate neighbors.  But, they didn't. 

Our Board of Education could have required that any contractors doing work on our T-mobile towers be required to sign-in at the principal's office if they plan to access the property during school hours.  That's not any tougher of a requirement than what we, as parents, are expected to do when we want to visit our child's classroom or if we show up to volunteer.  But, they didn't. 

No records will be kept.  No uniforms required.  No background checks or drug tests.  Just random contractors in pick-up trucks driving on and off school grounds, into and out of our neighborhoods, at any time of day or night to do whatever it is that they are paid to do.  And, it is likely that before too long, a copper thief or two will sneak their way onto the cell tower grounds, too. 

We have to wonder what else they might decide to do once they see how easy it is to gain access to our public property while children are in schoool.  We have to wonder how many homes they can "stake out" from their new vantage point and whether they will be able to determine if the homeowners are at work at the time. 

Does it sound like a good idea to you if we start placing these towers at our children's elementary schools, when we are already in overcrowded situations and will now be losing many of the resource officers?  Do you feel safe knowing that a big carrot is being dangled in front of a known criminal element that not only leads them right to the copper they are seeking, but also turns them loose in the middle of our quiet residential communities, where we used to know all the faces and names and be able to detect a vehicle or a person who appears "out of place."

There are many reasons to oppose cell towers on our school grounds.  You don't have to agree with them all.  But, the more time you stop and think about exactly what it is that our school board is attempting to do to our neigbhors, their schools and their children, the more you will want to show up on July 31 to make sure they get the message loud and clear that the residents here will not support their plans.  We do not want to harm the sanctity of neighborhoods and allow T-mobile to skirt our county commissioners and our local ordinances that were written specifically to deal with the subject in order to protect us. 

We did not elect our school board members because we thought they would be good at zoning laws or understanding the effects of cumulative and constant exposure to RF radiation.  We did, at one point, hope they might know something about educating children, but it isn't clear if they are able to do that, either. 

We will be voting on July 31.  And we will answer the telecommunications industry and their bogus, ballot question.  And, from one end of DeKalb to the other, and everywhere in between, we will be voting "NO."  Because the school board members might be able to play games with our money, but when it comes to the health and safety of our children, we have to draw the line. 

Even the corruption will surely take a backseat on this issue.  If not, we will likely see a lot of areas who may vote in favor of something they do not truly want.  And, all bets will be off when they learn that they will really be the ones who end up with the towers instead.


By Mike Morris

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
12:20 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An AT&T outage affecting customers in south Fulton County Wednesday was being blamed on copper thieves.

“Our crews are on site and working to restore services,” AT&T spokesman Joe Chandler told the AJC late Wednesday morning. Chandler did not know how many customers were affected, but said service should be restored by Thursday.

“The outage was caused by someone stealing copper cables that provide service in the area,” Chandler said.

He said such outages caused by copper thieves are occurring “with too much regularity.”

Find this article at:

Don't "Cell" Out Our Children! Vote NO to cell towers on July 31!

Many people have asked me about the short speech I gave at the DeKalb Board of Education meeting in November of 2011 during the public comments portion of the meeting.  So, I'm reprinting it here as a reminder to everyone that the school board elections are right around the corner.

If  you do not know whether or not a candidate or incumbant would vote in favor or against a cell tower at your child's school or next to your home, I suggest you find out before deciding whether or not that person should be able to represent you.

My wife and I have been speaking out against cell towers on school grounds since one was proposed for our child's school last year.  After it was removed from consideration, we remained involved because we felt it was not right for these towers to be placed at any school in any part of our county.

Unfortunately, efforts made to ban the towers completely left us with a "non-binding advisory referendum" on the upcoming ballot.  While they call it an "advisory" referendum, you know that means it will likely be used to determine which areas of DeKalb will be the best places for them to try putting up the next round of towers once the first 8 go up. (Smoke Rise, Briarlake, ML King High, Princeton, Narvie J. Harris, Margaret Harris, Jolly, Flat Rock.)

There will be a question on the July 31 ballot about this issue.  It will ask you if the DeKalb School system should "place or operate telecommunications towers" at any public or charter school.  WE hope you will agree that putting children at risk from a health and safety standpoint should never be an option, no atter how deserate the county is for money.  You are urged to vote NO!

Please vote NO to "telecommunications towers" at any public school and warn others aabout the importance of showing up to vote July 31, or your school or neighborhood might be next!

Norcross 2011 cell tower fire (courtesy CBS Atlanta).



I would be cordial and greet you here tonight, but I know you guys don’t want to hear from me, but here it goes again.  It makes me sick that I even have to come up here and talk about cell towers.  As a father, it makes me sick to tell my daughter that her life would be at risk, whether you guys believe it or not.

You guys seem to think that it doesn’t show any risk factors.  But, I’m also a physical therapist and I work in a bone marrow unit and I work with leukemia patients every day.  Come in to my work if you don’t  think something like this exists.  Picture one of your loved ones sitting in that bed.  They can’t do anything, frail and weak.  They didn’t ask for it.  But, for some reason you guys think it is okay to expose children to this? I don’t get it.

I was also a boxer.  I have been in hundreds of fights.  And every time I think of what you guys have done, it feels like someone sucker punched me from behind.  And. I feel that way every day I have to think about this.

I got in my truck the day we found out.  I got in my truck and went to my neighbors with pen and paper and got signatures.  I said, “Did anybody tell you that this was going on?”  Not a single person knew.  Not a single one.  And we came and we told you guys that and you said, “Oh we haven’t seen any factors that we would think it would be dangerous.

B.S.   There is a dirty little secret and we are going to uncover it.  You are not going to get away with it.  I promise you that.   Again, it makes me sick that I even have to bring this up.  The fact that we’ve been lied to by our principal.  Let’s just talk about notification.  Our principal said, “We didn’t know anything.  We were just told to put the information in the children’s backpacks…. in my three year old’s backpack, isn’t that pleasant?  That’s a sweet thing in pre-K.

SO…. We go to the principal and she says, “We didn’t know.”  So we go to the PTA and they say “We didn’t know.”  And at first they are all up and arms about it and then they say, “We can’t take a stand on issues like this.”  So we are left in the dark.  So, we have to continue to seek the answers.

Not a single person has told me, not a single person, a positive that is coming out of this.  Except, “Oh, the schools are going get money.”  $25,000 hush money for the PTA?  That’s not acceptable.   The cost of somebody’s bone marrow transplant doesn’t cover the cost of a single payment that we will ever get.  I don’t get it.  

And, God forbid…  (pause)…  I don’t ever want to wish any illness on anybody, but again, come in to my work, step one foot in the bone marrow transplant unit and I guarantee you will rip those cell towers out of there.

(to the board) Bad people...  It’s not nice.

******************************************  end public comment

To watch the video of this and other protesters from the School Board Meeting last Novemer, go to:

For more details, go to:  And, to learn about school board candidates who oppose cell towers on school grounds, you can also "like" us on Facebook.

Read more: CrossRoadsNews - entry Don t 34 Cell 34 Out Our Children Vote NO to Cell Towers on July 31

Saturday, June 9, 2012

YOUTUBE VIDEO: The Trashy Side to Lakeside

The housing market in Atlanta has taken a hit, like most areas of the country, but the pricey homes near Lakeside High School have managed to maintain their value and, in some cases, even increase. Ever wonder how?

Real estate agents might tell you that it is due to their well-known high school, Lakeside.
But, as this video suggests, perhaps the inflated home values are the result of "McMansions" being built on lots far too small for them.

It's a builders way of preserving a declining home market in a bad economy. The high priced homes infused into reasonable priced neighborhoods makes every home value in the area go up, whether the actual buildings next to the McMansions are actually worth it or not.

The home buyers are told the school is the reason. But when construction plans fell short due to abuse of taxpayer funds, the boosters devised a plan to "finish the dream." It involves claiming to want a cell tower while knowing they would never get one. Then sticking 8 other nearby schools with them, thus lowering the appeal of those neighborhoods while you rake in all the money through an agreement you've made with your school board member and the cell tower company.

It appears there is one thing that is available on a more "equal opportunity" basis in Atlanta than education - is the corruption.  Thankfully, the trials of Crawford Lewis, Pat Pope Reid and Tony Pope are expected to begin this September.  Perhaps the outcome could signal the end of an era, and the beginning of something better.

Before anyone provides feedback, please understand that this video is not intended to offend anyone who lives near Lakeside or attends school there.  We love the area.  We have friends who live nearby.  We think they should feel the same way we do. 

In fact, even the folks at the Yahoo news group must have similar questions.  Check out this story, titled "The American Dream is a Myth."

We don't want to harm anyone's neighborhood.  And, we don't think the ordinary citzens who live near Lakeside would want that, either. 

Instead of allowing corruption to ruin our schools, which harms everyone's property values, we need to vote the most responsible school board members into office and weed out the ones who are pitting us against each other.

Let's take matters into our own hands.  We can apply for the SPLOST oversight committee!  We can encourage responsible people to run for the school board (in two years) and we can vote for the best choices availabe on July 31.  We can vote NO on the cell tower question.

We can speak up at board meetings, but not just for our own schools.  Let's start speaking out for the sake of ALL our schools and ALL our neighborhoods. 

We can encourage others to vote.  Talk about the important issues.  Make a difference.  Do the right thing instead of trying to help those who are digging themselves in deeper, we should take a step back and look at our own behavior.  Let's be role models for our children and show them the way things SHOULD work. 

Let's leave a legacy that will make them proud of us!

[ ] YES             “Should the local or independent school system of DeKalb County or a charter   
                          school in DeKalb County place or operate a telecommunications tower on any
[ ] NO                elementary, middle, or high school property?"


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Score 1 for the Kids: Public Schools in Montgomery County, MD, Ban Cell Towers From School Grounds

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 (click headline for full story)

From our friends in Montgomery County, Maryland comes this encouraging story:

On November 21, 2011, a Hearing Examiner for the Montgomery County Board of Appeals issued an Opinion in Case No. S-2818.  On page 40 of that Opinion, at Footnote number 19, we learn that MCPS is no longer placing cell phone/telecommunications towers on elementary school playgrounds. 

This change in MCPS standard operating procedure comes too late for Daly Elementary School (shown below), but benefits the the other 130 elementary school sites that were ripe for the picking by cell tower companies.

Daly Elementary School playground /cell tower compound
Since the Board of Education has never taken a public vote to place a cell tower on any public school site, decisions to let a private company build a cell tower transmission facility on public school land have been made behind closed doors with little or no public notice or input. 

From this Opinion, we now know that cell phone companies are no longer free to make behind closed door deals with MCPS to build cell tower facilities on elementary school playgrounds.
Score 1 for the little kids that get to keep their playground space!


Cell tower compounds have already been installed on playgrounds/fields at the following Montgomery County Public Schools:

Northwood HS - Silver Spring (pictured at right)
Blake HS - Silver Spring
Einstein HS - Silver Spring
Kennedy HS - Silver Spring
Wheaton HS - Silver Spring
Springbrook HS - Silver Spring
Blair HS - Silver Spring
Watkins Mill HS - Gaithersburg
*  Daly Elementary School - Germantown
Magruder HS - Rockville
Tilden Middle School - Rockville
Sherwood HS - Sandy Spring

Woodwards Road ES site - Gaithersburg

*  The Daly ES PTA and community said no to this cell tower and Superintendent Jerry Weast signed the lease and placed the tower on the playground anyway.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Congress Asked to Investigate Marketing of Mobile Phones to Children

Children's Advocates Ask Congress to

Investigate the Marketing of

Mobile Phones to Kids

In 2005, privacy, consumer and childrens advocates sent letters today to key Members of Congress, asking them to investigate the marketing and sale of mobile phones to children, and their effects on children’s privacy, education, safety and health.

The letters were written and organized by Commercial Alert, and sent to all members of the commerce committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The letter follows.

It is important to note that after this letter and other forms of protest were heard across the country, Sprint and Walt Disney backed away from its children's line of phones.  But, today the industry may begin pushing the envelope again as the proliferation of cell phone towers at schools makes the children who are inside those schools tempting targets for marketing efforts as they already have a technology-ready facility and simply need someone to place the products in their tiny hands. 

We, as parents, teachers, guardians and responsible adults need to stand firm in our efforts to protect the children and not allow ourselves to fall victim to the persuasive messages that are everywhere in our own environment.  We need to remain alert to the messages the children are seeing and help them understand the difference between perception and reality.

July 16, 2005

Dear Members of Congress:

On July 6th, the Walt Disney Internet Group and Sprint announced their intention to offer wireless telephone service to children 8-12 years of age.

This was just the latest in what is emerging as an industry trend. Earlier this year, Firefly Mobile enlisted 100,000 children for their mobile phone service. Enfora has announced plans to offer mobile phone service targeting children as young as six years of age. This fall, Wherify is planning to offer a “Wherifone” for children with built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) location tracking. In August, Mattel is expected to market Barbie-branded mobile phones. Hasbro is preparing its own mobile phone for children, too, called “Chat Now.”

The targeting of young children as the next growth market for the telecom industry is one of the worst ideas to appear in the American economy in a long time. Does anyone really believe that kids today lack sufficient distractions from their school work, that there are insufficient disruptions in the home, and that child predators and advertisers lack sufficient means of access to kids?

If the Disney Corporation and the others just wanted to give children a way to contact parents in emergencies, that would be one thing. The telecommunications companies—to parents at least—are playing up this angle. Telecommunications lobbyists in Washington will harp on it as well.
But despite the industrys rhetoric, Disney and the telecommunications companies really want to use children as conduits to their parents’ wallets. And marketers want another way to bypass parents and speak directly to the nations children.

Already, marketers are leaping to send advertisements via mobile phones. For example, Advertising Age reported on July 11th that many corporations, including McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Timex, are moving “from small [mobile phone advertising] tests to all-out campaign[s].” Children already are bombarded with too much advertising. They don’t need more advertising through their mobile phones, whether it is telemarketing, text message marketing, adver-games, or any other type of commercial messages.

Before the telecommunications industry declares “open season” upon the children of this country, we urge you to investigate and make absolutely certain that the industry has answers to the following questions.

Child Predators. Will adults other than parents be able to contact children through these phones, without the permission of parents? What about sexual predators, convicted criminals, etc.?

Disclosure of Children’s Whereabouts. For mobile phones to work, telecommunications companies must know where their customers̉’ phones are. Will anyone other than the childs parents, law enforcement officials and telecommunications companies be able to track the physical location of the child’s mobile phone?

Interruptions in School and Church. Will the mobile phones cause disruptions and distractions in church and school, or will they be designed not to function in such locations? The potential for disruption here affects not just the individual child, but every child in the group in question.

Runaway Billing. Will parents have absolute control over billing and charges, so that no charges can be incurred without the parents specific prior consent? This includes charges for regular and special services, 888 numbers, and the rest.

Children’s Health. Children are vulnerable in ways that adults are not, physically as well as emotionally. In January, the British National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) issued a report, titled “Mobile Phones and Health,” which warned about the possibility that mobile phones could cause benign tumors of the ear and brain. The NRPB recommended that parents not give mobile phones to children under eight years of age, that older children should limit their use of mobile phones, and that “the mobile phone industry should refrain from promoting the use of mobile phones by children.”

Upon release of the report, NRPB Chairman Sir William Stewart said,I don’t think we can put our hands on our hearts and say mobile phones are safe.

He also said that If there are risks, and we think there may be risks, then the people who are going to be most affected are children, and the younger the child, the greater the danger.

How has the U.S. mobile phone industry factored this warning into its service plans? Can it guarantee that children will suffer no adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones? If not, then why is it offering mobile phones to children? Is the industry willing to take full responsibility for the effects of its phones upon childrens' health?

The move to put mobile phones into the hands of children as young as six years old is not a decision to take lightly. It opens up a plethora of problems, not just for the children with the phones but for schools, churches, families and classmates as well.

Now is the time to pause, investigate and consider. Once the phones are in classrooms, playrooms, and in children’s bedrooms, it will be too late. Already we read with grim regularity of children molested by predators who contacted them over the Internet. We read of children who cannot focus their own attention even for short times. We hope we will not now read about children abducted by adults who seduced them through mobile phones, and of school rooms that cannot function because of mobile phones that ring constantly, just because Congress did not stand up and act.


Joan Almon, Coordinator, Alliance for Childhood
Michael Brody, MD, Chair, Television and Media Committee, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Brita Butler-Wall, PhD. Executive Director, Citizens’ Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools
Angela Campbell, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center
Raffi Cavoukian, D.Mus., D.Litt., founder of Child Honoring, singer, author, ecology advocate
Nathan Dungan, author, Prodigal Sons and Material Girls: How Not to Be Your Child’s ATM
Leon Eisenberg, MD, Professor of Social Medicine Emeritus, Harvard Medical School
Henry A. Giroux, PhD, Waterbury Chair Professor in Secondary Education, College of Education, Pennsylvania State University; author, Stealing Innocence: Corporate Culture’s War on Children
Susan Grant, Vice President, Public Policy, National Consumers League
Nicholas Johnson, Former Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
Carden Johnston, MD, FAAP, FRCP, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, University of Alabama School of Medicine
Tim Kasser, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology. Knox College; author, The High Price of Materialism
Jean Kilbourne, author, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel
Diane Levin, PhD, Professor of Education, Wheelock College; author, Remote Control Childhood?: Combating the Hazards of Media Culture
Susan Linn, EdD, Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Co-founder, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood; author, Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood
Robert W. McChesney, PhD, Research Professor, Institute of Communications Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Founder and President, Free Press; author, The Problem of the Media
Bob McCannon, Founder and Executive Director, New Mexico Media Literacy Project; Vice President & Co-founder, Action Coalition for Media Education
Ken McEldowney, Executive Director, Consumer Action
Jim Metrock, President, Obligation, Inc.
Ed Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG)
Mark Crispin Miller, PhD, Professor of Media Ecology, New York University
Diane M. Morrison, PhD, Professor & Associate Dean for Research, University of Washington School of Social Work
Peggy O’Mara, Editor and Publisher, Mothering Magazine
Alvin F. Poussaint, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Faculty Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Harvard Medical School
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Hugh Rank, University Professor Emeritus, Governors State University; author, Persuasion Analysis and The Pitch
Gary Ruskin, Executive Director, Commercial Alert
Phyllis Schlafly, President, Eagle Forum
Juliet Schor, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Boston College; author, Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture
Remar Sutton, Founder, The Privacy Rights Now Coalition
Victor Strasburger, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine; co-author, Children, Adolescents, & the Media

< ------------letter ends here----------------->

For more information about the marketing of mobile phones, see our web page on mobile phones.
Commercial Alert is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon. Our mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy. For more information, see our website at:

SPLOST "Oversight" Committee Accepting Volunteer Applications (no pun intended)

DeKalb Schools to Appoint Citizens SPLOST Oversight Committee

June 1, 2012

The DeKalb County School District invites members of the public to volunteer

their services for a 12-member Citizen’s SPLOST Oversight Committee. The advisory

committee, expected to begin meeting in August 2012, provides for citizen review of the

voter-approved SPLOST project list.

Interested DeKalb County residents who want to be considered for the committee should

provide their information online at:

no later than Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.

Only online applications will be accepted.

Qualified candidates must be citizens who reside within the boundaries of the DeKalb County

School District, may not be members of the Board of Education or employees of the School

District, and may not have any economic interest in any of the District’s projects.

Experience in accounting, architecture, auditing, construction, engineering, finance, K-12

education, legal, planning, project management and/or real estate is desired.

Members must be volunteers who can dedicate at least two hours each quarter to meeting,

generally in the evenings. Members must pass a background check and sign a non-disclosure


For a review of the SPLOST IV program and projects: 

Questions about the Citizen’s SPLOST Oversight Committee may be emailed to:

For more information about the DeKalb County School District, visit:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DeKalb County's Budget Woes: What Gives?

(click headline to read what board member Paul Womack, District #4, said last August about the state of the school system's budget.)

DeKalb County Schools say they have a $74 million shortfall in their budget this year and have been hearing public comments about what things might be cut or kept. 

Here's the AJC article:

And here is a link to a play-by-play of the citizens' comments:

But, the elephant in the room is the question of "how did we get here?"

Since the school board does not have an online check register or any other way for the public to see how they are spending our money, we can only take their word for it.

That would be fine if we had folks on the board that we felt we could trust.  But, in District #4, less than a year ago, Paul Womack, the incumbant for this area told a room full of parents that everything was fine.  He even said we might be one of the best in the state in terms of fiancial stability right now.  Here's his direct quote from August 31, 2011:

Please don't
vote for H.
Paul Womack,
District #4,
Womack:    "Well, let me, let me respond to the taxes. The school board does not raise taxes… since 2000. Ah, I was chairmen of the Budget Committee we cut 104 million dollars out of the budget. A lot of it was in the area that most people were concerned about. And that was in staff. And we got rid of a lot of things that we shouldn’t have. That we know of.  This year the administration was pushing through another budget and I was able to stop it. I’m vice chair. And we cut another 15 million. We are not going into the classroom. We have increased the number of students. But we have, I think, as good of a fiscal record as any school system, probably better than most. We did not do what the county did - raise property taxes, what? 28 percent? We didn’t do that. But you know, I don’t really buy that the community did not know because Medlock and a couple of areas around the county found out. They had to have knowledge because they came to the board and said, “No.” And the board said, 'Ok.' We listen you. But nobody came to, from this community and said 'no.' "

Friday, June 1, 2012

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich: Statement to the Wireless Safety Summit

(click headline for full text.) 
Kucinich (D - Ohio)

October 6, 2011

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to talk with you about wireless technology. It is an honor to be in a room with people who are so ahead of their time when it comes to thinking about the effects of widespread wireless technology. This is an issue of great interest to me. Many of you know I held a hearing on the topic – the first in at least a decade if not the first ever – on the effects of cell phones on human health. My hearing was followed by a hearing in the Senate which also generated some interest.

I walked away from that hearing thinking the evidence that cell phones could cause brain cancer was fairly compelling. It was far from being authoritative but it was compelling. At a minimum, the current lack of research in the US is not at all justified, especially since some estimates are that half of the world population uses a cell phone. One of the most important areas we discussed at my hearing was the mechanism.

The wireless industry likes to claim that the only way a cell phone could cause harm to a human being is by heating tissue directly – the so called thermal mechanism. This is the way a microwave oven works. But we heard some evidence that a non-thermal mechanism is at work. It is certainly feasible since there are many existing therapies using electromagnetic radiation to induce some effect in the body using non-thermal mechanisms.

It is an important conversation to have because this belief - that there is no non-thermal mechanism - is preventing some influential agencies from being open to the possibility that cell phones and other wireless technologies are a real public health problem. I’m talking about the National Cancer Institute mainly, who is in turn influencing the Federal Communications Commission and the Food and Drug Administration.

These agencies are using this conversation about thermal and non-thermal mechanisms as a red herring, effectively claiming that we can’t move forward with any kind of precautionary action until we know the mechanism. Let me explain.

When trying to link any given environmental exposure to a health problem, scientists like to know exactly how it is happening at the 10,000 foot level and at the micrometer level. In other words, they like to be able to look over vast numbers of people and compare who was exposed and who was not exposed and show that there is a link there. But before they conclude the link is rock solid, they also like to know what, exactly, is happening at the cellular level – how are the molecules changing in cells to make this happen? That is called the mechanism. Scientists are hesitant to say with certainty there is a link until that mechanism is nailed down. And the mechanism is usually the last thing to be discovered – usually years if not decades after epidemiology first uncovers the problem.

That’s fine for scientists. But The NCI, the FCC, the FDA, and Members of Congress are not scientists. We are policy makers. And we have to look at things the scientists don’t. For example, we have to consider that we knew tobacco was killing people in the 30s. The Surgeon General didn’t even weigh in until the 60s. And there was no substantive action on cigarette bans until the mid 90s. In fact there are many places in the US where you can still smoke in public places even though it is well established that people die from exposure to it. It is not an accident that almost 70 years have passed and we’re still fighting to protect public health from tobacco. That was the result of a sophisticated campaign to manufacture doubt in the mind of the public about the link between cigarettes and health. What we have to consider as policy makers, not scientists is this: How many people died between the time we knew tobacco caused cancer and dozens of other major lethal health problems and the time policy makers took real action to protect the public and educate them?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking."

So, yes, let’s talk about what the non-thermal mechanisms are. But let’s not let that discussion get in the way when millions of lives are at stake. If we see a danger or even a potential danger to human health, we must act to protect health before acting to protect profits.

I announced that I would be introducing a bill that would do three things. It would reestablish a research program in the US to look at the health effects of cell phones. Almost all meaningful research in the field is now done overseas, save for a few selected pockets at places like the University of Washington and Cleveland Clinic.

Second, the bill would call for a real measure of exposure to replace the inaccurate, misleading, and downright false numbers used now to depict exposure levels. You know this measurement as the Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR, and it is mostly only accessible in places that are invisible to the consumer as they shop for phones. The SAR has multiple problems; among them is that they are designed for adults, not children; they ignore the fields created by phones that use increasing amounts of power, which smart phones do; and the science has developed significantly since the standards were set, mostly by engineers, not by people with medical training.

The third thing the bill would do is call for a label on cell phones, using the new measure of exposure that is created under this bill. Until we can say with greater certainty whether this is a link between electromagnetic radiation and various health problems, the consumer should be able to decide what they want. But markets are not truly free when the consumer has inadequate information. As it stands, the consumer cannot practically know what a particular phone or smart meter would expose them to. First the SAR is obsolete, as I mentioned. Second, even if it were useful, the SAR can’t be readily accessed when buying a phone. We need labels.

The bill has already accumulated cosponsors and I am awaiting the right moment to introduce it. It will not be easy to make legislative progress because of the enormous financial resources the industry has at its disposal. They have already tried a few tricks to get us to pony up information about the bill’s contents, timing and strategy. But I am convinced we can make legislative progress anyway. We just have to be very strategic about it.

I am also keeping a close eye on the other uses for wireless technology. Certainly there are a lot of questions about the dangers posed by towers. Increasingly, we’re seeing popular resistance to smart meters as well because of the additional exposure they cause. And the wireless spectrum is being sold off to make room for more wireless gadgets like keyboards.

The use of the radiofrequency spectrum is one of three emerging technologies that are proof for the maxim that we are developing technology faster than our ability to manage it. Another textbook case is nanotechnology, which is proliferating by leaps and bounds while research on the effects on the environment and health is slowly lumbering along. What little research we have seen to date is deeply concerning. The third case, of course, is genetically engineered food; another topic which I have held hearings on.

In each of these cases, any progress that has been made has only come as a result of the efforts of a thoughtful, dedicated few who have raised the hard questions for industry and for policy makers. It is a privilege to join you in your efforts to put public health over private profit. Thank you again for the invitation to be with you today.

Reprinted thanks to the Center for Safer Wireless