Wednesday, August 29, 2012

McMahan finished with 65 percent of the vote, compared to Womack's 35 percent.


McMahan Defeats Womack In District 4 School Board Runoff
Reprinted from the Tucker Patch
with permission
click headline to view full story

By Timothy Darnell
August 21, 2012


Brighter Days
Jim, Jim, He's our Man! Our McMahan, that is!
District 4 was placed into capable hands and released from the
clutches of evil on August 21 when the voters elected Jim McMahan, a
stay-at-home Dad and active parent involved with school council and PTA. 
McMahan also has a Financial background and believes in transparency!  And, he is on the side of those
against the cell towers due to the sneaky way his opponemt tried to slip them by so many people last year.
 


Jim McMahan defeated district 4 incumbent Paul Womack on Tuesday night in the DeKalb school board runoff.

With all 26 precincts reporting, McMahan defeated Womack 65 percent to 35 percent.  During the campaign, McMahan sent Patch a clear message about where he stood, saying:

"For the fourth year in a row the school system has spent more money than the school board approved. If you feel like the school system is on the right track for academic success, vote for the incumbent. If you want your board member to get your school a cell tower, then vote for the incumbent. But, if you want the school system to focus on the students first, vote for Jim McMahan!"
Womack, the District 4 incumbent, told Patch:

"I've spoken to a great many people and found that while there is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the school board, very little of it is aimed at me. The issues creating the most concern are the school finances and the property tax millage rate. Most voters know that my record is one of cutting the budget responsibly, and opposing all property tax increases."
He added that it's important for people to turn out for Tuesday's runoff.

"If they stay home, the board members who want to continue to drag the school system down will be given free rein to spend tax dollars however they want. Nobody will ever be held accountable, and the ones who will suffer the most will be the kids we are trying to educate."
The two other District 4 challengers in the July 31 primary were Tom Gilbert and Jim Kinney, both of whom endorsed McMahan.

"It's my sincere opinion that he will do a substantially better job advocating for education than the incumbent he will replace," said Kinney.
He added Womack "played the District 4 Republicans like a cheap fiddle and they are still foaming at the mouth for more of him. The money-bags behind him must have all of their kids in private school and all of their workers in China. His call for a 'criminal investigation' was perfectly timed to catch maximum election coverage."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

T-mobile Cannot Justify a True Market "Need" for More Towers

Hey T-Mobile... It Doesn't Pay to Mess With DeKalb, Does It?

(click headline for details)

Angry, but well-behaved, parents and residents in DeKalb County, GA,
stood outside a T-mobile store in Tucker, GA, late last year to show
their disgust with the way the company and the school board worked together
to deny citizens the right to know what was being planned behind
closed doors.  The group marched up and down busy streets in the suburbs of
Atlanta and got the attention of local lawmakers and politicians.  This past July a referendum on the
ballot showed at 62% "NO" vote to cell towes on school grounds.  T-mobile is
expected to back out of its contract with the school system if its applications
for special land use and building permits are denied.



BAD NEWS (if you are T-mobile)

(click headline to read portions of this story, originally found on:  http://www.ajc.com/business/t-mobile-brings-back-1503999.html)
By PETER SVENSSON; The Associated Press:  NEW YORK — Unlimited wireless data is back. After sliding off the menu of cellphone plans, data plans with no caps are making a comeback at smaller wireless companies trying to compete with AT&T and Verizon.

Bargain basement discounts available soon
because, according to this article by the Associated
Press and printed in the Aug. 25, 2012, edition of the AJC,
T-mobile has capacity on their
network to sell... (aka, they do not have
a justified 'need' for any more towers!) 
Markus Schreiber, Associated PressFILE- In this Wednesday Sept. 19, 2007 file photo, an iPhone is displayed next to a T-Mobile sign, in Berlin. Unlimited wireless data is back. After sliding off the menu of cellphone plans, data plans with no caps are making a comeback at smaller wireless companies trying to compete with AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile USA, the nation's fourth-largest cellphone company, said Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, that it will start selling an unlimited-data plan again on Sept. 5, (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)
 
T-Mobile USA, the nation's fourth-largest cellphone company, said Wednesday that it will start selling an unlimited-data plan again on Sept. 5, after stopping sales of such plans early last year. A day earlier, No. 5 carrier MetroPCS cut the price of its unlimited-data plan as a promotion for a limited time.

...

T-Mobile's new plan will cost $5 less than a regular data plan with 5 gigabytes of full-speed data. The advantage of the limited plan is that subscribers can turn their phones into "mobile hotspots," linking tablets and computers to the Internet through the phone. That's not allowed under the unlimited plan.
T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS may have room on their networks, giving them some leeway, at least for now, in offering unlimited data.

...
 
"The bottom line is they have capacity available to attract quite an influx of subscribers without pulling down the network," said Steven Crowley, an independent network engineering consultant.
T-Mobile USA is a unit of German phone company Deutsche Telekom AG and has 33.2 million subscribers. MetroPCS has 9.3 million.
___
August 25, 2012 03:31 AM EDT

AND... then there is this GEM...

T-Mobile losing more lucrative subscribers

T-Mobile continues to struggle to keep valuable customers, losing more than a half-million of its long-term subscribers in the three months ending in June, the company reported Thursday.
(Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)
(Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Competition from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint for long-term subscribers and rivalry from smaller competitors for prepaid mobile customers continue to put T-Mobile in a bind when it comes to growing its most lucrative customer base – those signing up for long-term contracts, who also tend to have the highest monthly bills.

T-Mobile, the country’s No. 4 cellphone company, said it lost 557,000 contract customers during the period but the loss was offset by gains in prepaid and wholesale customers, leaving it with a net loss of 205,000 customers overall. In the same period a year ago, T-Mobile lost 50,000 customers.

While T-Mobile’s top three competitors increased revenue from monthly fees for contract service, T-Mobile saw a 9 percent drop from the same period a year ago.

T-Mobile, however, reported its customer turnover rate fell during the quarter. The company managed to report a nearly flat second-quarter profit of $207 million, compared with $212 million in the same period a year ago. Revenue fell 3 percent to $4.9 billion.

U.S. regulators last year blocked AT&T’s buyout of T-Mobile, which is a subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG.

Letter to our U.S. Congressional Leaders: H.R.6358 - Cell Phone Right to Know Act

(click headline for full text)

TO USE A SIMPLE FORM TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT:  http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h6358/show  click the blue "SUPPORT" box on the right-hand side of the page and just follow the instructions from there.  It's easy and only takes a few minutes of your time!!

You are sending this message to: Sen. John Isakson [R, GA]
Vote on Passage of H.R.6358: Not Voted Yet
Sen. Saxby Chambliss [R, GA]
Vote on Passage of H.R.6358: Not Voted Yet
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rep. Henry Johnson [D, GA-4]
Vote on Passage of H.R.6358: Not Voted Yet

We are writing as your constituents in the 4th Congressional district of Georgia.  We support H.R.6358 - Cell Phone Right to Know Act, and are tracking it using OpenCongress.org, the free public resource website for government transparency and accountability.  We are informing our members and followers of the outcome of this bill, including our efforts to contact you and ask for your support.

We want to please draw your attention to the matter of cell phone towers on school grounds as it has been in the news in DeKalb County for the past year.  We recently sent a message to our local officials and school board by a 62% "No" vote on the non-binding advisory referendum that asked if the school system should place telecommunications towers on school grounds. 

We gathered more than 1,500 signatures from all parts of the county, doing what politicians seem to be unable to do here - we united the county on this issue.  It is bipartisan, mutli-national, does not matter the economic class, the race, the connection to one particular group, religion or otherwise - those with and without children, with and without cell phones - were all against the idea of a cell phone tower near our homes, schools and especially our children.  We had three hours of public comment during three days of public hearings at the state capitol and all who showed up were wishing to speak against the cell towers.  Not one person who was not a paid lobbyist or otherwise connected to the industry showed up to speak in favor of the cell towers and many cited credible research to back up their concerns.

Our concerns regarding are largely addressed by H.R. 6358 as it calls for more local zoning control and the much needed research to address the concerns and reported effects of non-thermal, low level yet long-term radiation exposure.  Thank you for looking into how you can sign on and support this effort.  It has been two decades since the FCC has looked at its standards and much has changed in the world of technology since then, including the way we use wireless devices.  Let’s not put the financial motives of a few cloud our better judgment of what’s right and wrong, especially where children are concerned.  The World Health Organization has classified RF radiation as a possible carcinogen.  Other governments across the globe are responding with measures and precautions much more strict than our own.  Shouldn’t we look into measures of precaution and protection for the safety of our own people rather than blindly forging ahead amidst warnings from the medical community that there is much we do not know here?

All of our county commissioners penned a letter in support of our efforts to the DeKalb CEO.  And 16 of our 18 DeKalb delegation and Senators Jason Carter and Steve Hensen stood up in support of our efforts to keep the towers off school grounds.  We need your help, too.

Sincerely,

www.GETtheCELLoutATL.org

Response from The Burrell Ellis Team

From: Burrell Ellis[mailto:burrell@burrellellis.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 10:10 PM
To: GTCO-ATL
Subject: Even the DCSD board says they do not want the cell towers!

(GTCO-ATL),

We are in receipt of your email and a copy has been sent forward for review, We appreciate that you have taken the time to share your thoughts. Again, thanks for your time.

Sincerely,
Ivory Dearing
The Burrell Ellis Team

GAO to FCC: It's time to solve the mystery of cell phone radiation


(click headline for full story)

Time to readdress EM radiation, say the US Government Accountability Office.

Reprint from Gears and Gadgets website:  http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/08/gao-to-fcc-its-time-to-solve-the-mystery-of-cell-phone-radiation/
by Casey Johnston - Aug 7 2012, 5:35pm EDT
Government
Mobile Computing


The US Government Accountability Office has recommended that the FCC formally reassess its limits for radio frequency exposure from cell phones, according to a report publicly released on Tuesday. The limits created in 1996 were based on data that is now two decades old, and while hundreds of studies have been conducted on the subject since, not many are useful or conclusive.

More than just ugly... could these towers be the reason for the
increase in cancer cases in the U.S. over the past 10 years?
The debate over the relationship between cell phone radiation exposure and human health has raged for over 16 years. For every seemingly solid, definitive study proving that cell phones have no appreciable effect on human health under current limits, a new batch of people would come out of the woodwork claiming debilitating radio frequency sensitivity (a psychosomatic condition, according to other studies). For every subject matter expert's attempt to reassure the public that cell phones don't cause brain tumors, a political entity would introduce legislation capping the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of consumer mobile phones. The council of Europe and World Health Organization declared cell phones to be possible carcinogens in May 2011, and the devices continued to sell at incredible rates. Since the FCC's limits were introduced, reason and action have failed to shake hands again and again.

On Friday, Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced a bill requiring cell phone manufacturers to "examine, label, and communicate adverse human biological effects associated with exposure to electromagnetic fields from cell phones and other wireless devices, and for other purposes." The problem is, there's little agreement on what the "adverse human biological effects" are, in part because no one has really created a workable definition of normal usage yet.

The GAO writes in its report

"Studies we reviewed suggested and experts we interviewed stated that epidemiological research has not demonstrated adverse health effects from RF energy exposure from mobile phone use, but the research is not conclusive because findings from some studies have suggested a possible association with certain types of tumors, including cancerous tumors."

The GAO also points out that it is difficult to separate the effects of cell phone RF radiation from other sources of ambient radiation. Furthermore, there's no precedent for the effects of low-level long-term exposure; cell phones simply haven't been around that long.

Likewise, the way we use cell phones has changed significantly since 1996. Now, we text more than we call, so phones spend less time sitting adjacent to our brains. Furthermore, in 2012 we're far more likely to keep our phones in our pockets than in 1996, when many a portable phone made cars, purses, or bags their permanent home. While some studies make a point of being absolutely clear about usage and proximity, too many rely on self-reported usage or assume usage patterns out of sync with the modern day.

Because of all these factors, GAO has formally requested that the FCC "reassess and, if appropriate, change its current RF energy exposure limit and mobile phone testing requirements related to likely usage configurations."

Maybe, finally, we'll get to the bottom of this.

What You Can Do

Communicate your support of the Cellphone Right to Know Act by contacting your Congressional leaders.  Here's how:

 
• Send this suggested letter to all members of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee.

•  Use this suggested letter regarding HR 6358 to send to your Congressional Representative.


•  Show your support for the bill at http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h6358/show 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Welcome Jim McMahan and Melvin Johnson Into the Inner Sanctum





 

RUNOFF RESULTS:

Shocking Only to Him,

H. Paul WOMACK is OUT,

Jim McMAHAN is IN for District 4

 

In District 6,

Voters Forfeited by a "No Call / No Show" Strategy

They Put Melvin "Know the Roles" Johnson

Ahead of Parent Activist Denise McGill

 
This adds some new twists to the same old story.  The other victors this election year were Marshall Orson in District 2 who defeated incumbent Don McChesney after leaking a torrid email to the press on the heels of his outright lies to the media about the rules and outcomes as related to the SPLOST IV vote last November.  As a lawyer with a huge smirk, this will be a slippery character to keep our eyes on, for sure. 
 
And, in District 8... we know, we know, you didn't think there was going to be a District 8, right?  Well, apparently the Superdistricts still exist because Dr. Eugene Walker is now the board's chairman and he hasn't finished updating his resume, yet.  So, as we were saying... District 8's Dr. Pam Speaks barely edged out some other woman whom no one really knows and whom no one reported ever seeing or hearing.  She didn't show up for any of the forums and a computerized voice machine made all her campaign calls.  Strange, but true, is that she nearly won, but Speaks will be around for the next two years or until Dr. Walker decides to rewrite the rules again.  Stay tuned...
 
It's the start of a new day in DeKalb County, GA.  At least that is what we would like to believe.  After yesterday's school board runoff elections, we're just not sure what the next two years will be like exactly. 
 
Like all good suspense novels, the story about education, civil rights, political battle lines, corruption and scandal has been unraveled for the past several decades here in DeKalb County, GA.
 
This particular thriller, however, is non-fiction and the innocent victims are the poor, under served, mostly minority and handicapped children who do not know about the price tags being placed on their heads or the reasons why so many venture capitalists and other investors are suddenly turning attention their way.   
 
We will have more of the behind-the-scenes analysis coming up in the next week, so check back with us.
 
Don't forget that the Crawford Lewis trial will begin soon.  We will be covering that story as well.
 
You can "subscribe" to Get the Cell Out - Atlanta by selecting the email option on the right hand column of our home page.  (Hover over to reveal the toolbar.)
 
Comments are welcome.... if you see a link that says comments, below, then we would love to hear your take on this election and how your family is handling this most unusual start of the school year. 
 
 



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vote! Vote Like You've Never Voted Before!

Sing like no one can hear you!
Dance like no one is watching and...
Vote like you have never voted before!  We really mean it! 

No, really, it's true... even if you have never voted before, but you are registered, there is no better time than the present to get started.  Your voter card has the name of your polling loction.  Take your Driver's License or other ID, show it when you walk inside, push some buttons to vote, remember to vote for the "Mc" in your district school board race as we have directed you to with the illustration below. 

Then, get your sticker and you're done!  It's that easy!  You have just fulfilled your civic duty and it is not even noon, yet!  Now, don't you feel better?


WHAT:  Nonpartisan Runoff Election for DCSD Districts 4 and 6

WHEN:  TODAY!  Tuesday, August 21, 2012

TIME:   7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (But, make it a priority and arrive early!)

WHO:  ANYONE WHO IS REGISTERED TO VOTE IN GEORGIA

WHERE:  at Your Regular Polling Location



 If you do not want a cell tower at your school:

Lakeside, Briarlake, Sagamore, Northlake, Montreal, Brockett, Tucker (DeKalb)
School Board 4 http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/Maps/School04.pdf  VOTE JIM MCMAHAN


Idlewood (Tucker), Smoke Rise, Stone Mountain, Stephenson, Redan
School Board 6 http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/Maps/School06.pdf  VOTE DENISE MCGILL

Monday, August 20, 2012

DCSD Score Card for Your Feedback... You Know, Because if They Let You Vent, They Think You Might Feel Better

School System Seeks Feedback
(please click headline for full details)

The DeKalb County School District has released a draft of its balanced scorecard and is seeking feedback from the community. The scorecard outlines the measures used to gauge progress in each of the five areas of the district's five-year strategic plan.

 Well, for the percentage of the population that believes in psycho-therapy or self-help, then perhaps the DeKalb County School System's new "scorecard" will be a way to relieve stress.  Don't worry, if you are not sure how to answer, we are pretty certain you can ask for help from other members of your family and they will not really consider it cheating.

Just have them cough once for A, twice for B and so on.  If it sounds complicated, just ask your kid to teach you how it's done.  You didn't think they wasted ALL that Title I fund money, did you?  Some of it had to pay for a few after-school tutors so that there were not any eyebrows raised.  Or, should we say any MORE eyebrows raised.  Let us know when we are allowed to lower them, okay?  We are afraid ours might be stuck this way!

The message from Dr. Cheryl Atkinson regarding the scorecard went something like this:

"Blah, blah, blah, accountability.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.  Blah, blah, transparency," said Dr. Cheryl Atkinson, Superintendent of DCSD who could not be reached at press time to let us know if we were going to be leaving her middle initials in or out with this press release.  "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, we know.  Blah, blah, blah-blah-whatever."
Atkinson also stated, "When is my driver going to get here?" and then "I have a standing appointment to have my hair done once a week and he knows how I hate to be late for important matters of that nature!  Now, where was I?  (dramatic pause, and then...)  Oh yes! Blah, blah, victory in every classroom."
 The scorecard, available here, includes measures for content mastery at the elementary, middle and high school levels, as well as measures for personnel, operations, school safety and communication.   

And no, they do not care that the file is still called "draft" in the naming convention.  They probably do not even know what a naming convention is, but they will plan to use plenty of expense account dollars planning to attend one if we tell them where it is being held this year!


Feedback from the DeKalb County community is encouraged.  Biting off your own hand to prevent yourself from typing nothing but expletives is not recommended, but may qualify the school district to a few extra state or federal grants if you will report it to them promptly. 

Comments may be sent to bsc-feedback@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us.   Yeah, good luck with that.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Get Out the Vote! It is Super Tuesday This Week for DeKalb Schools!




DISTRICT 4 - if you live here, your vote is NEEDED on Tuesday, August 21st.   Return to your polling place that morning and vote again, this time you will vote only for the runoff candidate in the Board of Education races whom you wnat to represent you for the next two years.  And,  yes, YOU CAN VOTE in this election EVEN IF you missed the last one.



(click headline for full story)
Dear Get the Cell Out - Atlanta followers:


If you live in the School District #4  (see map) or even if you know someone who does, please make a note that this coming TUESDAY (Aug. 21) is a very big day.  It is the date of the RUNOFF election between two candidates for the Board of Education.

Here are the area voting precincts:  Briarlake Elem, Brockett, Brockett Elem, Dresden Elem, Embry Hills, Evansdale Elem, Hawthorne Elem, Henderson Mill Elem, Hugh Howell, Lakeside High, Livsey Elem, Midvale Elem, Midvale Road, Montreal, Northlake, Oak Grove Elem, Oakcliff, Pleasandale Elem, Rehoboth, Sagamore Hills Elem, Skyland, Smoke Rise, Tucker, Tucker Library, Valley Brook, Warren Tech.


From Briarlake to Smoke Rise and the very large voting district that includes Tucker and Brockett, here are a few reasons WHY this RUNOFF ELECTION is even MORE IMPORTANT than the last election you just voted in. 


1.  THIS election on Tuesday is all about YOU... YOUR AREA.  Your friends, neighbors, children, parents - everyone you know who lives near you or has children at your neighborhood school is counting on you to get this vote right!


2.  The value of YOUR home can rise and fall as a result of the decisions made by the Board of Education.  And, mostly, they have been falling.

Read what a Real Estate professional in Tucker, Jessica Crocker, had to say recently:

 
"According to the National Association of Realtors, 75% of buyers consider the quality of neighborhood schools either 'somewhat important' or 'very important.'
The proof is in the pudding. If you research home sales statistics in neighborhoods with 'preferred' schools, you'll see homes that sell quickly - and for great prices."


This should be of particular concern to the residents of Tucker (the DeKalb County side) including the areas from Brockett to Livsey and Evansdale, Smoke Rise in Stone Mountain (very near the border of Tucker) and those of you who live near Briarlake Elementary School in unincorporated DeKalb portion of Decatur. 

Why?  Because one of the candidates, H. Paul Womack, who is the incumbant, has already tried to harm your area as he seeks to help his political friends and big business lobbyist buddies affiliated with Lakeside High School's booster club.  By aiming to help T-mobile place cell phone towers on the campuses of Brockett Elementary School, Smoke Rise Charter School, Briarlake Elementary School and even Lakeside High School itself were among the 12 schools originally on a list to receive huge 60' x 60' cell phone towers that extend 150' in the air.

Womack does not seek to service his district, he seeks to help the business interests and public utilities whom he owes many favors.  He plans to retire after this two year term.  There is no telling what damage he can do in this time frame if he is re-elected. 


3.  Schools will be closed in favor of mega schools that cost less, and provide an impersonal approach to school.  This idea of corporate running of our schools flies in the face of what has always worked well in the past - caring, concerned teachers who are able to find what works for each child so they can help them tap into their inner strength.  We've never met a bubble sheet capable of doing that, yet. 

If you do not vote for Jim McMahan, the involved parent running against Womack in District #4 or if you simply do not vote at all, there is a very good chance that many of our historic public elementary schools, in the middle of our neighborhoods, will be closed.  Womack has already worked with the current board members in an attempt to close Livsey, Brockett, Idlewood and others. 

If you agree that a cell tower in your neighborhood would drastically reduce your property value, then think about this:  try having a cell tower that leads to your school getting closed, to.  The harm something like that would bring to a community has never been considered.  The loss in revenue to the school system from the further decline in property values would negate any benefit that could come from the very little money that Womack negotiated the deal for in the first place. 


4.  Current decisions made by the BOE have simply wasted our money.  Womack's own involvement in the cell tower issue created a diversion by the board when they should have been focused on finding a new Superintendent of schools.  It even distracted Womack from doing his own job, as he reported that $104 million was cut from the budget in the year 2010 when he was the head of the Budget Committee, yet in 2011 when he was focused on the cell tower issue, he failed to notice that the school administration was not carrying out any of the cuts that had been ordered. 

This failure to oversee the administration and failure to sanction the Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson (and instead reward her with a huge bonus) is what directly led to the buget crsing the board was presented with this year.  The para-professionals, teachers, librarians, security and other resource personnel who lost their jobs can thank Mr. Womack for failing to keep an eye on the day to day operations of the school system.  Since Womack has already announced his plans to retire, before changing his mind and running for re-election another term, he is much less likely to be connected to the real people and real concerns in his district. 

GTCO-ATL members can tell a variety of personal stories that would back up this claim.  Mr. Womack, it has been said, does not return phone calls, emails or even address concerns directed toward him during the public comments portion of many board meetings.  He does not acknowledge or understand the damage his lack of ethics and concern has caused many children and many schools.

Womack's cell tower plan even included a school, Margaret Harris, for disabled children who are in one of the most vulneratble populations with regard to harm that can be caused by a cell tower.  Instead, he got his local school, Corralwood, a pre-school that is not even required education under federal laws, a 10.5 million dollar upgrade while Margaret Harris will get next to nothing and a cell tower on campus.

5.  The school board is a non-partisan race.  There are people of both major parties as well as the DeKalb Green party who have all come fortward to state their objection to cell towers and the process by which the lease for school grounds was approved. 

You have a choice about the type of person whom you want to represent you - the values of this part of the county that you call home.  Will your elected board member make you proud, or will you be embarassed to tell people where you are from?  Is this the type of person you would like to see your district attract?


5.  The children of DeKalb have been dropping out or failing at an alarming rate.  The schools are in disarray and teachers are being forced out.  Our school system has even been ranked as low as the worst performing district in the entire U.S. and we are frequently the largest district at the bottom of the list in graduation rates and test scores in Georgia.  We cannot afford two more years of the harmful decision making that the current District #4 representative has been involved with, supported and defended.


TUCKER - BRIARLAKE - BROCKETT - SMOKE RISE - LAKESIDE - SAGAMORE


YOU HAVE A CHOICE

and we think it should be a pretty simple one: 


Jim McMahan - a refreshing change, an involved parent, a business background combined with stay-at-home parenting skills, accessible, accountable.  This is the candidate who has the qualities most people want to see on that school board, representing them proudly!  He has spent several years working with school councils, the PTA and other activist groups in his neighborhood and has a plan that would expand that program to include all schools in District #4 and potentially al schools in DeKalb.  He talks about ways that the Board of Education can improve their transparency and has made a vow to remain loyal and easily acessable to the families he serves. 


His opponent (the incumbant) - three decades in the school system with ties to the folks who have nearly caused it to completely collapse.  This would be more of the same, which no one wants.  H. Paul Womack and some of his supporters believe his years in the DeKalb School administration is what makes him the best person for the job.  They do not understand that his lack of understanding or compassion for all the children and his insistance on funnelling resources only to one small area of the district IS a major contributor to the overall educational declnes in the entire county.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Make the Effort that will Make the Difference! Get Out and Vote on Tuesday!

THIS IS SCHOOL DISTRICT 6.  If you live here, then please return to your polling place, even if you did not vote in the last election.  You can take part in the RUNOFF ELECTION.  Please help elect Denise McGill for this very critical position to ensure our schools are safe from cell towers and our children get the educaiton they deserve!

(click headline for full story)
Dear Get the Cell Out - Atlanta followers:

If you live in the School District #6  (see map) or even if you know someone who does, please make a note that this coming TUESDAY (Aug. 21) is a very big day.  It is the date of the RUNOFF election between two candidates for the Board of Education.

From Stone Mountain to Redan and *now including the Idlewood Elementary School area* here are a few reasons WHY this RUNOFF ELECTION is even MORE IMPORTANT than the last election you just voted in. 

1.  THIS election on Tuesday is all about YOU... YOUR AREA.  Your friends, neighbors, children, parents - everyone you know who lives near you or has children at your neighborhood school is counting on you to get this vote right!

2.  The value of YOUR home can rise and fall as a result of the decisions made by the Board of Education. 

From the electronic appraiser:




"Some of the other pieces of data that are likely to be examined by the Stone Mountain appraisal may include items such as appearance of a property, the neighborhood, the location and quality of schools and shopping in the areas surrounding the property in question."

So, if you get the wrong person and your local school starts to slide in terms of performance or even gets closed because the board member does not really care, your property value can be harmed. 

3.  A cell tower in your neighborhood would drastically reduce your property value.  A failing or abandoned school would do the same.  We compiled a lot of information to prove this point in an earlier article, found here.  But, what about a shuttered and boarded up school with a cell tower?  The harm something like that would bring to a community has not even been factored. 

4.  Current decisions made by the BOE have simply wasted our money.  You have a choice about the type of person whom you want to represent you - the values of this part of the county that you call home.  Will your elected board member make you proud, or will you be embarassed to tell people where you are from?  Is this the type of person you would like to see your district attract?

5.  The children of DeKalb have been dropping out or failing at an alarming rate.  The schools are in disarray and teachers are being forced out.  Our school system has even been ranked as low as the worst performing district in the entire U.S. and we are frequently the largest district at the bottom of the list in graduation rates and test scores in Georgia.

STONE MOUNTAIN - REDAN - IDLEWOOD ...

YOU HAVE A CHOICE
and we think it should be a pretty simple one: 

 Denise McGill - a refreshing change, an involved parent, an honest business background, accessible, accountable.  This is the candidate who has the qualities most people want to see on that school board, representing them proudly!  She comes from a family that values a good, honest education and she can plainly see, just like you and I can, what needs to be fixed.

Her opponent - three decades in the school system with ties to the folks who have nearly caused it to completely collapse.  This would be more of the same, which no one wants.  Marvin Johnson believes his years in the DeKalb School administration is what will make him a decent board member.  He does not understand that the administration IS what is wrong with the system.  

Please review the announcement below from Ms. McGill and remember to
VOTE VOTE VOTE on TUESDAY, Aug. 21
Go to your regular polling location.
It's open 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
but plan to go first thing in the morning as
you never know what might pop up during the day
... traffic, meetings, phone calls, you know the drill.
If you make the vote the first priority of the day then you can forget about it
for the rest of the day.  Then, you can sit back and listen for the results later that evening.

Hopefully you will hear good news and
you will know you made the effort that made the difference!

It's time to right this sinking ship! 

****    *****    ****   ****  EVERY VOTE COUNTS!    *****     ***  ****   **** 

"Sucess is not final; failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts."
                                                   -- Winston Churchill



THANK  YOU EVERYONE FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF THIS CAMPAIGN.  YOU HAVE BEEN A GODSEND AND THE KEY TO KEEPING ME IN THIS RACE.

WE COULD NOT HAVE COME THIS FAR without  friends, family, and supporters like you- We ran a lean campaign during the first election. Our total expenses through the first election  were a mere $4,930.64.  That's Unheard of and is an INCREDIBLE accomplishment considering our competition as well as the amount of funding it takes to have a successful campaign!

WE HAVE FOUR DAYS BEFORE THE CONCLUSION OF THIS RUN OFF ELECTION-  AND WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT- CAN WE COUNT ON YOU FOR THIS LAST DITCH EFFORT OF SUPPORT?

Please ask your friends, canvass your neighbors, or kindly help us by making a contribution through our website. We are utilizing every dollar earned towards notifying voters about the importance of this vote.

Donations may be made at:
http://www.thepeoplefordenisemcgill.org/Contact-Us.html

Thanking you in Advance!

VOTE

Denise E. McGill
DeKalb County School Board District 6

TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2012
Early Vote and Absentee Vote Options Available

Cell Tower Blog Trolls... Take Heed! (Now THIS is Funny!)

 
After the success of the "No" vote on July 31 to the cell tower referendum question, we thought the next steps in this process would be fairly simple: 
 
1.  Advocate for the best quality school board members who will not put other parents or taxpayers through the same nightmare we have endured for the past year. 
 
2.  Work with an alliance of other protest groups in the U.S. to support national legislation to protect our children and everyone else from the unknown dangers associated with RF radiation.
 
3.  Keep a close eye on the school cell tower sites and be ready to jump into action if any construction begins, esp. without a valid zoning or building permit.
 
What we did NOT expect was an opportunity to engage in more meaningless debate with a real life cell tower blog troll.  But, that's exactly what it felt like to read this article on the DeKalb School Watch Blog.

You will notice that anytime there is someone who is trying to warn others about the dangers of RF radiation, it is usually a regular person, not someone who works in the industry.  They will usually give you their real name and a way to contact them directly.  But, who exactly is it that is speaking up in favor of the cell towers? 

We will look into this question in more detail once we have completed our review of the recent cell tower referendum question that landed on our last election ballot.  But, we can tell you from personal observation that those who come out in favor of a cell tower are usually the people who work for the industry or someone who can expect to profit as a result of the tower going up.

This recent walk down blogger memory lane gave us a big laugh as we recalled one of the best "rants" we have ever, ever, EVER read on the subject of cell towers. 
It is written by someone called "Dr. DeKalb" and was posted on the Tucker Patch in July 2011 in response to a early cell tower article
Just to bring you up to speed, these comments started after at least 100 or more had already been posted.  After a long, drawn out debate between multiple people across the country, it seems Dr. DeKalb had simply had enough.

He not only called out "Neil" for his blog troll comments, but also tried to make sense of all the false logic that was being presented. 


********************************************************************************
 
From The Tucker Patch....
 
6:13 pm on Saturday, July 2, 2011
 

7:08 pm on Saturday, July 2, 2011
Dr. DeKalb comments...
 
"And, just to make sure we are all following your logic, Neil... let me summarize it for you...

  1. Towers emit radiation.
  2. Fear of tower radiation is ridiculous and should not be tolerated.
  3. Science should tell us that our phones (the ones that the adults carry around near the local school when they should be at work) are far worse for us unless we build more towers.
  4. We should not be afraid of towers at schools.
  5. Instead we should buy more phones and a bigger cell plan so that our children who currently do not carry phones, but will soon have a tower, will finally have the very thing (the phone) that you just said was the more dangerous of the two.
  6. Now, once we have the right amount of phones and towers, if that state of balance will ever be something we can obtain, then we will rejoice because we will finally be permitted to fear them both equally.
  7. And, most importantly, there are other threats that we should fear more and we should teach our children how to respond in these non-specific emergencies in a way that is contrary to the emergency procedures they practice at school.
  8. And, while the cell tower radiation is the least thing to fear, we should be reassured that if it falls over or catches on fire that our children will be able to make a call for help.
Ooops, that's right, they probably will not be able to make a call if the tower has fallen over, will they??"


Remember, if you are involved in a fight to keep a cell tower away from your home or school, do not let these "blog trolls" get you too angry or take those whom might be reading your blog too far away from the subject at hand.

 In a rational debate between mature adults who want what is best for the educational system, and the children in their community, each side would be willing to listen to the other and work toward a consensus. 

If you suspect a blog comment is from someone paid by the industry, the best thing to do is just try to call them out on their role and refuse to engage them in a tit for tat debate unless they will give you their real name and state their professional connection to the issue.  If the industry bias is out in the open, then those who read the comments can take that aspect of the conversation into consideration.

When dealing with a blog troll, you will never, ever win.  Except this once...  We definitely think Dr. DeKalb got some "closure" in his hilarious post and we are thankful to him for his comments and for giving us a much needed laugh!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: The Cell Phone Right to Know Act

Federal Bill HR6538
"The Cell Phone Right to Know" Bill
  Is Safer Wireless on the Way?
Federal Bill Introduced
to Mandate Radiation Warning Labels
on ALL Cell Phones in the U.S.
(click headline to read full story)
 
We are very excited to inform you that U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced new, groundbreaking legislation Aug. 6 to address concerns about the public's health from cell phone radiation.

This announcement comes just days after 62% of DeKalb County, Georgia, residents voted "NO" on a phone tower referendum that asked whether the school board should place or operate telecommunications towers on any independent, public or charter school. 

The federal bill is something that our group (Get the Cell Out - Atlanta) and others, including The Center for Safer Wireless, The Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, the Mount Shasta Research Center, Get the Cell Out of Here, Moms of Merrick, and Get the Cell Out (California) have been anticipating.   

DeKalb County Schools are still awaiting the final decision by the county's CEO regarding whether or not to place cell towers near them.  They are holding out hope that this major announcement, together with the results of the referendum will be enough to convince him that any attempts by T-mobile to file for administrative permits should be denied.  To add your voice to those who have already expressed concern, please email:  burrell@burrell.ellis.com

According to a press release from Congressman Kucinich's office, the bill calls for:

  1. Placing warning labels on cell phones,
  2. A national research program, and
  3. A scientific investigation into the adverse health effects reported by cell phone users. 

Read HR 6358, introduced and referred last week to the US House Energy and Commerce Committee.

  
What's in the Bill? 
HR 6358 directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to work together to develop a research and public information program to determine whether there are biological and health effects from wireless digital products. 

The bill language seeks to protect against conflicts of interest by participating federal agencies and within the scientific community. Importantly, wireless device usage data would, for the first time in the U.S., be used in performing scientific studies and would result in more accurate and reliable findings.
The bill would also charge the EPA with setting the maximum permissible safety limits, governing exposure to radio frequency radiation. When reviewing research, the EPA would be required to take into account whether the study was funded by an organization that could stand to profit from the research outcome, so it allows for independent research.  EPA would also be required to consider health-specific health outcomes such as insomnia, anxiety, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, tremors, dizziness, visual disturbances; longstanding concerns raised by the Federal Interagency Work Group; vulnerable sub-populations, including children, developing fetuses and persons who are functionally impaired due to electromagnetic hypersensitivity; non-thermal mechanisms and effects; effects of modulation and pulsing, etc.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be responsible for implementing and enforcing human exposure standards.  The FDA would issue regulations requiring local retail and internet based sales operations to provide labels on mobile communication devices. Labeling information would compare each device's exposure rating to the maximum permissible safety limit. These changes would help consumers made informed choices when purchasing wireless devices.
With the EPA acting as the lead federal agency, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would increase the number and size of grants for scientists interested in exploring how electromagnetic fields affect human health, including $15 million dollars to be available in research funds during fiscal year 2013 and each subsequent year.

Finally, the bill would remove the federal preemption provision enacted with the Federal Telecommunication Act of 1996 and restore state and local government's traditionally held authority to consider the health and welfare of the people in the siting and management of wireless antennas and towers.

Follow Up to Core Message from
The 2011 Wireless Safety Summit

 Rep. Kucinich's bill incorporates many of the actions we recommended in 2012, as outlined in the Core Message to Congress we generated (as part of the national group known as The Center for Safer Wireless) during the Wireless Safety Summit in October 2011, such as: 
  • Initiate a federally sponsored, sustained and independent EMF research program
  • Direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to adopt lower, interim Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) standards
  • Direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop lower, interim electromagnetic radiofrequency human exposure guidelines for radiofrequency transmission antennas
  • Direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the radiological properties of consumer products that emit microwave-level radiofrequency radiation
Another key request in the Summit's core message was to ask the U.S. Surgeon General to review research and issue a report on cell phones and wireless radiation devices. Through our efforts, Senator McCain's office sent a letter to the U.S. Surgeon General asking for the review and report. However, Dr. Benjamin declined to initiate the review. Perhaps the introduction of this legislation will bring her to re-evaluate her decision. 
 What You Can Do

Communicate your support of the Cellphone Right to Know Act by contacting your Congressional leaders.  Here's how:
  
  • Send this suggested letter to all members of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee.



Reading Rack
Representative Dennis Kucinich's press release about the Cellphone Right to Know Act - August 6, 2012
US General Accountability Office Report issued August 6, 2012 that recommends that the US Federal Communications Commission review wireless safety standards established 15 years ago
   
Cellphone Exposure Limits Should be Reassessed, GAO Recommends- Washington Post blog, August 7, 2012 
 Health Risks from Cell Phones Needs Review, US GAO Says - Bloomberg News, August 7, 2012   
Cell Phone Safety Advocate Hopes Congress Forces the FCC to Update Its Regulations- Washington Post - August 4, 2012
 
Will the GAO Report for the FCC Follow the Fate of NAS Report for the FDA? blog  by Dariusz Leszczynski, Washington Times Communities, August 8, 2012 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The AJC Gets It Right!

 "Phone Tower Referendum" Shows Off New Name,
with Same 62% Total Against the Towers!
Well, it may not come as a surprise to you if you have been reading this blog, but in case you are new or just want to see it for yourself, the DeKalb County election results for the July Primary held July 31, 2012, have been certified! 

And, even though our attempts to get the official headings changed of the state and local documents that summarize the results, we at least got the attention of one major publication, The Atlanta Journal Constitution!

They are ACCURATELY reporting results here:  http://projects.ajc.com/election-results/2012/07/31/dekalb-county/

And please note that our "non-binding referendum" which is actually code for "cell tower," was much more appropriately named in the AJC's final list, which can be found here.

And looks like it does here: 



credit:  Atlanta Jounal Constitution


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Check Out Our Sidebar




To SEARCH, just type in a key word in the blank space at the top right of the page and hit enter.  A list of results will then appear.


To SUBSCRIBE, just use your mouse pointer to "hover" over the "hidden" toolbar, which is located on the upper right-hand side of the home page.





Look at the top right of the home page.

The SIDEBAR will pop up to reveal the SUBSCRIBE link and you should see something like this:





Follow the instructions and you will soon be able to keep tabs on the towers, with a variety of news readers and web-based news feeds sites. 


Don't use a news reader or RSS subscription?  Here's an article from CNN that explains what they are and why you might want to try this new, faster way to get your news all in one place!


http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/03/15/new.web/index.html

Monday, August 13, 2012

Early voting starts for Aug. 21 runoffs.

Keep an eye out for any signs of construction at the DeKalb County schools listed above and report it to
Get the Cell Out - Atlanta at:  sayno2celltowers@yahoo.com.

Early voting: is now underway for the runoff elections for four seats. The polls are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays now through Aug. 17 only at the DeKalb Elections office, 4380 Memorial Drive in Decatur. 


Absentee voting:  requires an application (found at bottom of this page), but can be taken care of over email or via standard mail, postmarked no later than THIS FRIDAY, August 17.



Runoff day:  On TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, you can return to your regular polling location during the same hours as the election, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The seats included in the runoff are: 
DeKalb School Board Districts 4 and 6,
the Georgia House District 92,
and Georgia Senate District 44.

Incumbent school board member Paul Womack is facing Jim McMahan for the District 4 seat.  GTCO-ATL fans are reminded that Paul Womack is the board member who brought the idea of cell towers to DeKalb County AFTER watching the Cobb County School Board go through the same process with major fallout from angry citizens.  Womack chose to give it a shot anyway.  (See more about McMahan's credentials below)

In District 6, Melvin Johnson is facing Denise McGill.  Johnson is affiliated with the near-defunct New Birth church and has sat on the school board once before.  He has been associated with many of the problems facing our district today that has led to a downward spiral of our education system.  (See more about McGill's credentials below.)

In House 92, its Tonya Anderson and Doreen Williams.

In Senate District 44, Gail Davenport and Gail Bucker are facing each other.




DeKalb County, GA, Application for Absentee Ballot Aug. 21, 2012 Runoff Election, Schools

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Quality Life For DeKalb - No Cell Tower On School Grounds


Viola Davis (RNwhocares@gmail.com) wanted to share this with you.

Please send CEO Burrell Ellis a message to unify with DeKalb BOC and uphold our local laws and ordinance by denying a permit to construct cell towers on school grounds.

In the Northlake / Tucker area back in Januay, residents protested outside T-mobile's store to show their anger at
the decision to put cell towers at 9 local schools, next to homes and without the input of the community.
Quality Life For DeKalb - No Cell Tower On School Grounds
by RNwhocares

Memo
To:        CEO Burrell Ellis
From:    Viola Davis
CC:       Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter, Get The Cell Out Atlanta, Concerned Citizens of South DeKalb, Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment, DeKalb NAACP, No Briarlake Tower.org, Briarcliff Heights Community Action Group, No Cell Tower Fund.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

One DeKalb Lives ... restore neighborhoods and build hope.  One DeKalb Works ... create jobs and also build hope.  These are the 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 Comm issioners 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

Copy (Optional) to:
For extra assurance your letter of support
reaches the right people, you may wish to send a copy to:

The Director of Public Works
The Director (or Interim Director) of Planning & Sustainability
The Chief of Staff for the Office of Community Relations.

Phone Numbers:
404-371-2881 Executive Office
404-371-2521 Neighborhood Empowerment
404-371-6301 Scheduling Line


Contact Your County Commissioners
Please send an e-mail/letter thanking the entire Board of Commissioners for their stand and letting them know that we are making our concerns known to Burrell Ellis.

Tell your district representative (or all of them) you are taking the next step to ensure the CEO knows the letter they penned is also backed by the wishes of the people of DeKalb County.

Contact details can be found here: http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/boc/contact.html.
Attend a BOC Meeting
If you have not already, please take a morning, attend and speak at one of the BOC meetings which occur twice a month. They are held beginning at 9:00 AM on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month.

This is an important opportunity for you as a citizen in DeKalb County to participate in the county’s operation. These meetings have been extremely educational and experiential for all who have taken the time. 

BOC Meetings are held at the Maloof Auditorium at 1300 Commerce Drive in Decatur.