Sunday, April 28, 2013

BEWARE: Local Scammers Using False Information as Excuse for Gaining Your Personal Data

This message was received by GTCO-ATL from one of our followers who lives near the Margaret Harris Comprehensive School in Atlanta.  Please read carefully and report any such attempted scams to law enforcement or call 9-1-1.  Remember that 9-1-1 works faster and better from a LAND LINE, not a cell phone!

Fiber Optics at the schools are not in place so you can get
residential Uverse, according to what ATT told a recent
resident who had been approached by someone saying
they needed personal data.

Hey everyone, BEWARE: FALSE AT&T UVERSE REPS without credentials blanket our neighborhood collection personal information.

I just wanted to let you know that there are people going door to door in our neighborhood saying they are with AT&T Uverse starting out by saying "I don't know if you've noticed the installation of fiber optic cables in your neighborhood but...." then go on to try and collect personal information from you. The last step of this guise is to make a call to set up installation which the person calls on their cell phone to their 'manager' or 'installation office' to check to see if you have any outstanding utility bills...then they ask for social security number and credit card information. 
(... cont.)   The girl who came to my door is very nice, early 20's with auburn hair. 
After the incident, I called AT&T and spoke with several managers and they confirmed that they do not do door to door for anything. Their computers showed that they don't even service this area. So, unless all of the people I spoke with were dead wrong, then the people running around are scammers. 
I think someone is hitting the areas around these (proposed) cell towers.  Please circulate to others...I was under the impression that the fiber optic cables that were popping up around the schools was due to SPLOST money and their new technology. 

And this article ran recently in the Tucker Patch:

Elderly Women Tricked by Scammers(Two similar incidents occurred within days in the same area.)

A woman of 83 had jewelry stolen from her Tucker home by thieves who were pretending to help her.
Construction in the area is not a reason to give out
personal data to anyone going door to door.  Get the
name of their company and call them directly if you have
any doubts about their legitimacy.
 The victim's daughter, Linda Trotter, recounted the events in an email. "Thursday afternoon about 2:30 a lady came to the door and told mother she needed to show her the property line as they would be cutting some trees and limbs on the property behind (her house)," Trotter wrote.
"She... went with the lady through the gate and the woman proceeded to tell her about trimming her bushes and (that) they would pick up the debris and mess. After several minutes the woman walked with her back to house, thanked her and got in the passenger side of a black truck parked halfway up the drive and left saying they would be back about 3:30 to do the work." They never returned. 
Trotter says her mother did not know anything was wrong until later that evening when she realized jewelry had been taken from her bedroom. "Her Rolex watch, her oval diamond ring, a heavy gold necklace, all from my daddy, and her retirement diamond faced watch," she said.
The woman who tricked her is described by Trotter as being white and in her late 30s. Her mother is devastated and "feeling very vulnerable... and violated," Trotter said.
 Fox 5 is reporting a similar incident happened to another elderly woman in Tucker a few days earlier.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Crossroads: Five of Six Replaced School Board Members Seek Reinstatement

Five ex-School Board members petition for reinstatement
byKen Watts
a day ago | 164 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Five of the six replaced DeKalb School Board members are seeking reinstatement.

On the eve of the April 26 deadline to petition Gov. Nathan Deal for reinstatement Thursday, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, Donna Edler, Dr. Pamela Speaks and Dr. Eugene Walker had all submitted reinstatement petitions.

Nancy Jester, the former District 1 member, told CrossRoadsNews in an e-mail that she will not petition for reinstatement.

Jester said she sent a resignation letter to the governor’s office a month ago via DeKalb’s liaison, but at press time Thursday, the DeKalb School System’s human resources department said it had not received a required resignation letter from Jester.

Deal suspended and replaced the majority of the nine-member DeKalb School Board in March – under controversial state law 20-2-73, enacted in 2011 – after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the district on accreditation probation last December.

In her April 21 petition, former District 3 board member Copelin-Wood said she is duly elected and that her continued service on the School Board “is more likely than not to improve the ability of the DeKalb County School District to retain its accreditation.”

“By utilizing and participating in this statutory process, I do not waive any rights I have to challenge both this proceeding, as well as any other action that has been taken against me during this suspension and removal process,” she wrote in her letter to Deal.

Edler, whose attorney E. Brian Watkins filed her petition on April 22, said she is seeking reinstatement because she took office on Jan. 3, 2011, and was only on the board for 26 months and that the issues that led to the State Board of Education’s suspension recommendation “were longstanding and arose prior” to her joining the board.

Edler, the displaced District 7 board member, told CrossRoadsNews on Monday that improving student achievement on standardized tests is her top priority and that she pushed to change the board’s cash-based accounting to an accrual system to help the board better track big expenses and supported a policy requiring that the board be debriefed on the results of state audits.

“It didn’t help that we had high turnover in a short period – five new members in two years,” she said.

Walker’s petition had not reached the governor’s office on Thursday, but he said he mailed it on April 24 and expected it to arrive by the deadline.

In the copy he shared with Cross­Roads­News, Walker wrote: “As you are aware, my belief is that only the voters can elect and recall their elected officials. And the law that gives a governor the authority to remove Board of Education officeholders is unconstitutional.”

Walker, a former board chairman who represented District 9, is challenging the constitutionality of the law in the Georgia Supreme Court.

He said Thursday that he feels obligated to serve out his term.

“So, until such time as the [legal] matter can be resolved, I request reinstatement on the board to which I was twice elected by the voters of DeKalb County,” he said.

In his April 24 petition, Cunningham raised the voting rights issue and said he understands the importance of board governance to keeping full accreditation.

“I have a proven track record of working with other members on the DeKalb County Board of Education, and I believe that I would be an asset,” he said.

Speaks, the displaced District 8 board member, was the first of the group to petition the governor on April 7. She pointed out that she was elected twice – in 2009 and 2012.

“I asked AdvancEd and the State Board of Education to inform me if I am personally guilty of any infraction contained within so that I can begin the process of correction,” she said. “To date, I have not received any feedback.”

Read more:CrossRoadsNews - Five ex School Board members petition for reinstatement

Friday, April 26, 2013

Can a Cell Tower and a School Just Be Picked Up and Moved?

Here is a recent 2013 WSB-TV map of cell tower schools.
Note the location of Narvie Harris.

DeKalb residents voted yes on SPLOST IV.  Are we facing the same issue that has been reported in Fulton County? (see Patch article below)  Does this mean our Atlanta-area school systems be working together on a "master plan" that has not been revealed to homeowners and taxpayers?

Or is it a coincidence that schools approved in the Fulton SPLOST are now being torn down and rebuilt elsewhere and a recent WSB-TV maps shows a school (Narvie J. Harris Elementary) suddenly appearing in a new location?

Here is a map from a 2011 WSB-TV report  on cell towers.
Note the location of Narvie Harris.
DeKalb approved money in SPLOST for "demolition" without any clear indication of what exactly will be demolished.  Are they planning to tear down schools, homes, businesses, or more?  Will Fernbank, Smoke Rise and other schools we thought were going to be rebuilt in their current locations actually going to be moved elsewhere?  The same name but a totally new school in a new location?

Has this plan already started with Narvie J. Harris Elementary School?

Homeowners Fight Fulton BOE in Eminent Domain Claim
From the Sandy Springs Patch:

Twenty-one members of Riley Place Homeowners Association sent a letter to the Fulton Board of Education to protest possible relocation of Heards Ferry Elementary to their neighborhood on the southern end of Riverside Drive. The site is across from St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.

“We’ve already been threatened with eminent domain.” said Herb Carter, one of the homeowners refusing to sell his property.

Fulton County BOE makes threats to take
over homes that residents don't want to sell.
The homeowners' letter said in part: “The site on the southern end of Riverside [Drive] would require condemnation of at least two homes which homeowners do not want to sell…This is very valuable property made up of minimum 2 acre tracts, and the cost of land per acre, even after condemnation, would be about as high as any residential land Fulton County could consider acquiring.”

On Wednesday, more than 100 residents attended a public meeting at Riverwood International Charter High School on the relocation of Heards Ferry Elementary. Most at the meeting said they are opposed to moving the school to any new location.

Patrick Burke, Deputy Superintendent of Operations, said that by voting for the SPLOST referendum in November 2011, Sandy Springs residents approved moving Heards Ferry. He later added, “We’re studying what it would take to build on this site and keep things on this site.”

More on the SPLOST vote below.
During the meeting Burke said eminent domain is rarely used. “That’s not to say that we won’t use it,” he said.

The Riley Place homeowners represented in the letter do not have confidence in the Fulton County Board of Education. They complained in the letter that two previous meetings this year, on moving Heards Ferry, were not adequately announced to nearby residents and the general public.

Chris Clark, head of Riley Place HOA, said residents learned the Fulton County Board of Education was interested in their neighborhood about two months ago. “Out of six pieces of property that they need, [owners of] four have been approached by a mystery realtor,” he said. “We have not heard anything from [those property owners]. We assume they made a deal.”

Did you know the 2011 SPLOST referendum approved moving Heards Ferry?
Several residents say they now realize that they didn't understand the SPLOST referendum approved in November 2011.

Linda Gold's children attended Heards Ferry and Riverwood. “[Burke] kept saying that the voters voted for us to replace the school. I didn’t vote to replace the school,” she said.

Gold added, “I wouldn’t have voted for the SPLOST had I known they were going to rip Heards Ferry down. I thought that the money was going to build a new place on the site or repair it. I had no idea and neither did any of my friends.”

Did you misunderstand the 2011 SPLOST referendum? How do you feel about homeowners possibly being moved out by eminent domain?

See also: Residents Strongly Oppose Moving Heards Ferry Elementary

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Is it Time to Finally Call Our Children Home?

What is in a name?  DeKalb residents fight.  Some call for
a new day.  Is it time to call our children home?

GTCO-ATL Editorial content follows:

Even though many residents in DeKalb County know that it isn't fair for one school to claim to be "the best" in a system that was falling apart at the seams, Lakeside High has enjoyed that reputation for a long time in Central DeKalb.  Dunwoody's schools are viewed by many as just that -  Dunwoody's schools.  But, even in Dunwoody there have been concerns raised by parents at the meeting held with the new superintendent that there are kids coming up in the ranks of DeKalb or from elsewhere that are in greater need than our schools are equipped or prepared to handle.  Dunwoody's solution may be to form its own school system, but that will be a tall order as most rural counties in the state are not in favor of splitting into smaller and smaller subsections because they risk losing funding in a time that the economy is already hurting.  

Even though a lot of people are saying that Lakeside is a school that attracts kids from all over the county and has been the school of choice for the well-connected, there are also many, many kids there who are great all on their own.  That's likely because "greatness" comes from within.  You can't "make" a kid great.  Parents know very well that as they get older, it is hard to "make" your kid do anything.  Greatness comes from giving your child inspiration and good role models to look up to.  We have to give them something to aspire to that will help them find their own drive and determination to get there. 

No matter where the kids come from and no matter what kind of money their parents make or whether they come from a broken home or one straight out of Mayberry, the kids in DeKalb County deserve to have an education system that is truly about them.  Wouldn't it be great if ALL the kids in DeKalb could have bragging rights about their school, regardless of whether or not it is an elementary school, theme school, charter school, middle school or any other type of school we have today?  Wouldn't it be amazing if the adults in this county could stop allowing their differences bring harm and division to the next generation and, instead, if we could find a way to work together to raise our entire county up to a higher standard of living?  

A higher standard would mean more jobs.  How will we get them?  By offering an educated workforce and by insisting our politicians are fair and reasonable when planning the future so that there are no surprises for the small business owner or the large corporation that is considering a move to our attractive slice of suburban Atlanta.  

Have you ever met a star student from Lakeside?  Then you will likely note they are polite, intelligent, ambitious and concerned about the future.  Have you ever met a star student from Tucker Middle School?  The same qualities exist.  Stone Mountain?  Fernbank?  Decatur?  Look around you.  Not for the problems, but look around for the assets we have here, as Superintendent Thurmond calls them.  

"Our children are 20% of our population, but 100% of our future," Thurmond said to a group at Brockett Elementary last evening.  

We have families all over the district who were managing to squeeze onto the already full roster at Lakeside pushing classrooms to capacity.  The number of children who do not attend their own school is staggering.  Thurmond mentioned it was something to the tune of 15,000.  

So, Lakeside has slipped in the rankings, but should we be celebrating a loss of prestige? What was it that put them on top to begin with?  Was it a combination of attitude, procurement of top teaching talent, finally getting a world class appearance for its school and making a great partnership with the Fernbank Science Center.  Speculation can twist ideas in all kids of directions and turn emotions on both sides of an issue into fierce camps of opposition.  

So, let's stop the speculation.  Let's find a way to come to the table together and fix DeKalb.  
Lakeside will bounce back.  Let's just hope their bounce up doesn't leave a giant shadow over the rest of the schools that were built to serve our children.  Let's raise the bar for all our schools and call the children to come home.  
More on this issue to be included in the Tucker Patch

Lakeside High - Is It Still Worth Leaving Home For?

Here's a note about Lakeside from DeKalb School Watch Blog Two:
Posted on April 23, 2013 by dekalbschoolwatch

Congratulations to DeKalb School of the Arts, Arabia Mountain and Chamblee High School (all with magnet programs) for making the list of top high schools published annually by U.S. News.

For many years, Lakeside retained bragging rights as one of the top schools in Georgia to make the US News top list. But now, they aren’t even a contender. Surely this is a sign of the falling achievement levels or at least an imbalance in success in our traditional schools. Those that can have fled to private, charter or magnet schools, which have all done well having absorbed our best and brightest—and provided excellent teachers with low student to teacher class ratios. (#2 ranked DSA: 13:1, #6 ranked Chamblee: 15:1 and #14 ranked Arabia: 17:1)

Click here to see the Georgia ranking list showing class size and relevant data. All schools are listed and have data for your review. To their credit, Lakeside, shown as larger than the average GA high school and with a student-teacher ratio of 18:1, tested 70% of AP students with 39% of them passing the AP exam. DSA tested 100% of AP students with 75% passing the test, Chamblee tested 68% of AP students with 48% passing the test and Arabia tested 100% of AP students with 19% passing the test.

Click here to see how the rankings were calculated.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

DeKalb Announces Wireless Plan That Appears to Be Behind Schedule

In an email to the entire district, here is an update on Technology:  (GTCO-ATL comments are in bold)

The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) has undertaken a fast-paced technology plan to make 123 schools and centers wireless by the end of November.  With a total price tag of $4.5 million, the project is funded through the Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Is this all of them, some of them, half of them?  We thought the goal was 100%.  Is that still the goal or has it changed?  If parents are concerned about the potential effects of round-the-clock exposure to RF radiation while their children are at school, will there be a list of schools that intend to be kept "wired" instead of "wireless?"
How are we supposed to know if this is a good or a bad number since most people do not know anything more than what is going on in the schools in their immediate area?  And that is only if they have a child attending that school.  The Technology Department stated at a School Board public meeting that they were putting a website together that would let parents and the community know the roll-out schedule for the technology conversion.  Did they do this?  Is there a list?  a schedule?  Why is it so hard to get basic information??

Currently, 14 schools and centers are completed, with an average of one access point per two classrooms.  

They have been working on this project since at least January and they have only completed 14???  Doesn't sound like we are on track to reach 123 before November at a rate of about 3 schools per month.  And, by the way, what is a "center?"  Is that a vocational school?  How many of those do we have?  What does this announcement even mean??  What is an access point?  A router shared between two classrooms?  Is this a good ratio?  Is it in line with the other schools in the district that SACS said we were behind?  What are we providing?  Simple access to the Internet?  Access to the school system's secure network?  How will children be accessing the Internet?  Who is monitoring the security of their data or what sites they are seeing?)   

The completed schools are Cedar Grove High, Chamblee Middle, Clarkston High, Coralwood Diagnostic (we placed a priority on a school that will be torn down and rebuilt?  OR was this one just getting an addition?  (We placed priority on making a pre-school / kindergarten school over our high schools?), International Student Center, Kittredge Magnet School, Lithonia High, Lithonia Middle, Margaret Harris Comprehensive School, Miller Grove High, Peachtree Middle, Redan Middle, Tucker Middle and Warren Technical School. The cost for the 14 so far is $487,556.  

(Just a few months ago, there was talk that Tucker Middle needed to be demolished, so why would we be putting in infrastructure here and putting it at the top of the priority list?  Does anyone ever remember hearing anything about a Clarkston High? Is there a Lithonia High and Lithonia Middle?  Are these new names for existing schools? What is the International Student Center, is that the International Community School, previously Medlock, or do we have a new entity in DeKalb called a community center that is providing education??)

“We are pleased with the results so far of our aggressive technology plan,” said Chief Information Officer Gary Brantley. “With their vote in support of SPLOST, the citizens of DeKalb County made a sound investment in their children’s schools. Through this program, our students will learn in 21 st century environments that reflect their changing needs.”

An update of all SPLOST technology projects can be found here . In addition to providing wireless access for all classrooms, DCSD is using SPLOST funding to update hardware, provide 21 st century classroom technology including interactive white boards, upgrade technology infrastructure, distribute digital content and upgrade telecommunications infrastructure.

Are we using the old acronym DCSD again?  Does it matter?  (District vs. System)  Does anyone know if teachers are using their interactive white boards?  Does anyone recall ever hearing the plan that we would now be "distributing digital content" as a mission of SPLOST?  Does this mean we are going to be evolving into virtual classrooms or are we distributing our coursework elsewhere?  Or will we be receiving classroom content from an unknown, unannounced content provider that the board has not voted on or agreed to finance?

Don't you wish they would quit reminding us about the "sound support of voters" when the SPLOST vote took place at a time when we had very low voter turnout and misinformation being spread about the SPLOST being necessary for the removal of the board and the reduction in number of board members?  

AND, during a time of HIGHer voter turnout GTCO-ATL and others in the county who were in favor of stopping cell towers from being built on school grounds were relieved to receive the exact same 62 % on the NO vote for the cell tower referendum, but no one has told us a thing about the outcome.  

Hmmm... makes one wonder why we bothered with that referendum at all, doesn't it??  Oh yeah, THAT'S RIGHT ... we didn't!!  We wanted a total ban and the STATE morphed it into something else.  Then when it still went in our favor, they just disregarded it entirely.  Nice, huh?

First the state said we should reduce our board from 9 to 7 or 5 for better results.  Now, with the sudden contagious push to form cities and then push other areas to become cities, too, they are telling us that we need to have a representative who knows us and lives within 2 miles of our homes so we can have someone closer to "wring their necks" when they don't do what we tell them to do???  Isn't this exactly what we were doing to the school board and SACS has now removed them for it?  

Why is the state advocating for a city system to be set up by which they will govern over us in the same, irrational, unproductive manner by which the school board was removed for doing?  Why are Republicans, who did not even challenge the Democrats on the ballot for many of the county commissioner seats or the office  of the CEO, now pushing for more government in a time when residents are being taxed at a rate higher than anywhere in the state, and likely among the highest in the nation?

Why are we more concerned with technology than we are about the problems that exist here between human beings?  If we cannot communicate clearly with each other or treat each other fairly regardless of race, why are we bringing more and more people here from other countries and leaving them with virtually nothing?  How can the children we bring here learn and grow in the spirit of realizing the American Dream if we haven't figured out how anyone is expected to do that without access to a free, basic quality education?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Individual School Accreditation for DeKalb High Schools

Urgent Action Request per Nancy Jester, former DeKalb board member:
Pursuant to state law (O.C.G.A. § 20-3-519) accreditation by SACS (AdvancEd) or The Georgia Accrediting Commission (GAC) satisfies the HOPE scholarship eligibility requirements.  Many DeKalb high school communities are asking the Superintendent for permission allowing their school to pursue GAC accreditation with the provision that the school community will pay for it.  So, the budget impact to DeKalb is zero dollars. 
Unfortunately, to date after several requests and meetings, the Superintendent has not agreed to allow high schools and their communities to move forward on this matter.  Sadly, the Board of Education has remained silent as well.  Surely our school system and board members can permit the pursuit of GAC accreditation by any school that wants to seek it and is willing to pay the cost. 
Dual accreditation is not uncommon.  Columbia County has district accreditation from AdvancEd/SAC and each of their schools is also accredited through the GAC.  Henry County High School is accredited by both Advanc-ED/SACS and GAC.  Ditto for Lanier County High School, North Clayton High School and more. 
If you agree with me that the Superintendent and School Board should allow schools to pursue GAC accreditation, please write an email telling them you support this.  We don't have much time to make this a reality so please send your email as soon as possible.  I've listed the board's emails below.  Feel free to copy me.  I'll place this email as a blog on my website so drop me a comment to show your support as well.  (Click here to go to this blog post.)

Are We Suffering "Present Shock" in DeKalb?

Here is an interesting article  about a phenomenon called "present shock" which speaks to the need today for everything to be immediate, fast and all about "us."  We don't like to wait in line, sit on hold or listen to other people talk when we think we have all the answers.  We're losing our empathy and so are the children of this generation.  Children are being taught with screens and "interactive" DVDs, but even the best in technological advances does not replace the learning that comes from interacting with another human being.

DeKalb County could be suffering from "present shock."  The schools are changing, indeed our entire county's governance structure appears to be changing whether or not we wish to go along with it.  The wheels are in  motion,  but where are we headed?

As this narrative is being  written, police and SWAT teams are working to find the suspects in another terror bombing, this one in Boston.  An entire city of more than a million people is quite literally locked inside their own homes, waiting for safety and order to be restored.  The rest  of us watch the news in shock.  We have been here before.  This is not progress.  But, what can we do?

Every moment we spend behind a keyboard, looking at news on our phones, tweeting, texting and basically trying to remain "in the loop," we are also missing opportunities to actually talk to others, to smile and have someone smile back, to listen to the ideas of others rather than read them from a screen, to shake hands, to compromise, to hug, to care.  We are in jeopardy of losing our humanity and our empathy for others if this trend of replacing real relationships with ones created behind a facade of screen names.

The entitlement generation is quickly becoming the demanding one as well.  Children are easily bored, often overlooked or barely tolerated by those who do not have any of their own.  The way these children are being raised today will affect all of us one day if we do not reach out and help shape the future for them.  In fact, the uncle of the suspects in the Boston bombings said they were "losers" who had trouble finding their way, getting settled, being productive and one of the young men wrote that he had "no American friends."

Why are we losing touch with each other amid all
the technology that is designed to keep us in touch?
We can lock our doors, turn on our video cameras and security systems, but who are we trying to protect ourselves from?  Children?  Parents?  the Poor? the Elderly?  What's next? Will we soon be afraid to look in the mirror?

Will we allow technology to change us, rule over us, make us shut-in's in our own homes?  Or will we learn to harness it, use it, but also control our own urges to be constantly connected to our devices?  Can  we remember the importance of connecting with others in a real way?

Sincerity, commitment, concern - these things can be misunderstood if we have any doubts or mistrust of others in our minds.  We may believe the author is insincere, self-serving, or hiding something because we do not trust those whom we cannot see and do not know.  Does this mean "local control" is the answer?  What do we want to control if we do not feel in control of our own lives?  Do we need more government to feel safe or is our government making us feel more afraid?  Do they want us to be protected or do they simply want to ensure that we still believe we need them?

Our schools in DeKalb have struggled with the issue of placing cell towers next to children and homes.  But, this is not the core of the problem.  It did not have to be a cell tower that raised concerns here.  It could be an unexplained amount of money missing from a budget, no signs of books when they've been bought and paid for, refusal to act when records are requested, refusal to return calls or emails when constituents are trying to reach the person whom they were told was elected to represent them, closed door meetings that go on day after day, a system that operates in a way that  is not explained to the public, legislation that passes and is later retracted, media reports with inaccurate information or friends and families who suddenly move away without warning and without looking back or telling anyone how they managed to sell their home so fast.

These are all things that have happened and while the issue of a giant cell tower can motivate people to get involved, the answers they seek can sometimes lead to more questions and more issues that need to be resolved before we can trust, move forward and have our faith restored.  These are the things that have added to the unrest in our community.  Little things can turn into big things when there is "no plan" for the future.  It is made worse when you know that there is plan for some people that will help them get ahead, but you and the ones you love are not part of it.

We do not want to live in a reactionary world.  We don't want our home values to suddenly surge any more than we want them to suddenly plummet.  We don't want to leave our elderly parents and grandparents to fend for themselves just as much as they do not want to see their children  and grandchildren struggle to find their place in the world.  We do not want to live in a community that showcases how the rich have much when next door the poor have lost everything.  What happened to the neighborhoods where were were all doing okay?  We all contribute and pay our taxes, so why are we not all getting the value back that we are expecting?  Why are we making issues about ourselves instead of about those who are not as fortunate?

When the world begins to operate in ways that are extreme, it tells us that something is wrong.  We naturally resist change as a species, but when change comes at us fast we become even more concerned because we do not have time to adapt and change our own paradigm for viewing the world.   How can we do right by our children when we do not understand the events going on around us any more than we know how to make the "right" choice among a sea of endless choices being offered?  If no one knows what is "right" then too many of us are bound to choose the option that is "wrong."  And lately it seems there is trouble everywhere because no one understands how to determine the difference between right and wrong.  Everything is a matter for debate and speculation,  interpretation and spin.

Creating a system of trenches with further and further divides will only create problems that have no middle ground.  With the events taking place in Boston, we are reminded of the friends we have made throughout the Northeast and hope they are safe.  Many of the schools in Maryland have gone through the same struggles we have even though their demographics and economics and politics are completely different.  When we talk about wanting what is right for the children here, we also want what is right for children everywhere.

At the end of the day, we are all people.  Instead of focusing on our differences, we need to focus on the things that make us all the same.   We all want what is best for our families.  We want to feel safe.  We want to be able to trust our leaders to do the right thing and our businesses to create jobs and contribute to our local economies.  We want to reach  out to others without losing our own identity in the process.  We don't want to be labeled as "afraid" or "illogical" or "extreme."

Most people just want to be happy and to get along with others.  To be safe and secure and enjoy their lives and their children.  We all  want to love and to be loved in return.  We want a better future, but we never seem to find the time to sit down and plan a course for how we are going to get there.

If you do one thing today, take a moment to think about the families in Boston and what they are suffering as well as the people all over the world who suffer every day.  We may not know the answers, but we know that we have to start somewhere and listening, not talking, just listening is where learning begins.

People Would Rather Imagine a Zombie Apocalypse Than Their Future: Rushkoff

By  | Daily Ticker – 22 hours ago

In the 1970s, future shock was a huge issue. Theorists feared that technology was progressing so quickly that people would soon be unable to keep up or even cope. Today, Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock and head of Code Literacy at Codecademy, argues that the future is here and what we’re faced with is present shock.
Because of technological advancements, we have a new relationship with time where there is a persistent need for immediacy. Rushkoff claims that we live in “an always-on 'now' where the priorities of this moment seem to be everything.” As a result, our sense of the future, direction, and goals are lost.
“You can go into a shock about it,” Rushkoff tells The Daily Ticker, “where you’re just chasing the moment and responding to every Twitter feed and kind of acting like an air traffic controller.”
We are constantly on our phones, trying to figure out if anything better is happening somewhere else. We expect political action immediately. We want answers before they even exist. The idea of a slow, linear life is all but gone.
“How do [governments, people, businesses] respond to this kind of crisis-oriented world we’re living in?” Rushkoff asks.  Read more here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Letter to Rep. Hank Johnson Re: FCC's Inquiry into Cell Phone Standards

The following information has been submitted to 
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson on 4/16/2013:

Message Subject: FCC Launches Investigation Into Radiation Effects of Cell Phones and Towers

Message Text:

Now that the FCC's notice of inquiry is official, the public has 90 days to comment on the limitations to RF radiation and whether or not they should be changed. The FCC's guidelines, which have not been updated since 1996, set a maximum limit on radiation exposure levels based on how much heat is emitted and absorbed by cell phones. But, new research has come to light that shows RF radiation may have an effect on DNA even at low-levels that are non-thermal if there is constant, long-term exposure. This constant and increasing level of "background radiation" is a concern for children who are expected to be protected from harm by using the same standards the FCC originally published based on the size and stature of a grown man. 
The Government Accountability Office has urged the FCC to revise its 16-year-old cell phone radiation standards. In a 46-page report, the GAO noted that the FCC has laid out its cell phone radiation limits based on the recommendations of federal and international health organizations, but that many of these bodies have since updated their standards based new research. Rep. Johnson, if you are able to provide your constituents' input to the FCC, please alert them to the large controversy that is still ongoing in DeKalb County as we were the first school district to be approached by a wireless company to place cell towers on our school grounds after the Worth Health Organization's announcement in May 2011. To date, we are still being kept in the dark on whether these contracts are valid and if the towers will or will not be built here. 
The citizens of DeKalb voted on a non-binding advisory referendum in July 2012 regarding this issue and 62% returned a "no" when asked if we should place cell towers on public school grounds. That's more than 75,000 voters and in some areas in South Dekalb the vote against cell towers was as high as nearly 80% even though their own school board member had said he was in favor of it. We wish to express to the FCC that we are not against progress and we are not against technology, but we do believe that the telecom industry makes a significant amount of money off the proliferation of cell phones in this country and that they most certainally should be able to find suitable locations for their towers without infringing on the rights of the citizens. We believe they have the technology and skill available to make cell phones safer, but until we are able to enforce fair regulations, there is far too much profit incentive for them to continue ignoring the research being done in other countries that shows that non-thermal effects do exist with even low level exposure. 
The telecoms should not be allowed to simply ignore the valid concerns of the medical community and researchers who have found evidence of these effects in thousands of independent and epidemiological studies. Other governments are taking measures to protect their children, even in Germany, the world headquarters for T-mobile, one of the biggest abusers of our cell tower emissions standards. T-mobile has been know to far exceed what is considered safe. And they ignore or even sue local officials who are only trying to zone fairly. German regulations do not allow towers near adults, children or even cattle. But here in the U.S., they ask to put the towers next to our youngest of children, the future of our country, and so many of our own representatives who are sworn to protect us will simply say yes because the money is there and the research is incomplete. 
The standards for cell phones should be clearly labeled and explained. And the cell towers in this country should be reviewed and tested to determine if they are within the limits already set and especially if tougher standards will be imposed. Self-regulation of this industry is not working and now that we are in the business of providing basic medical insurance to all our citizens through Obama Care, it's time we make sure we are eliminating known carcinogens from our everyday environment so we can live safer and healthier lives. 
Thank you for your time.

To send your own email on this subject to your Representative, use the links below:
Member Name                                            DC Phone            DC Fax  
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R- GA)               202-224-3521     202-224-0103

Senator Johnny Isakson (R- GA)                 202-224-3643     202-228-0724

Representative Jack Kingston (R - 01)        202-225-5831     202-226-2269  

Representative Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D - 02)     202-225-3631     202-225-2203

Representative Lynn Westmoreland (R - 03)       202-225-5901     202-225-2515

Representative Hank Johnson (D - 04)    202-225-1605     202-226-0691

Representative John Lewis (D - 05)          202-225-3801     202-225-0351

Representative Tom Price (R - 06)            202-225-4501     202-225-465

Representative Rob Woodall (R - 07)       202-225-4272     202-225-4696

Representative Austin Scott (R - 08)        202-225-6531     202-225-3013      

Representative Doug Collins (R - 09)        202-225-9893     202-226-1224

Representative Paul C. Broun (R - 10)     202-225-4101     202-226-0776

Representative Phil Gingrey (R - 11)        202-225-2931     202-225-2944       

Representative John Barrow (D - 12)       202-225-2823     202-225-3377       

Representative David Scott (D - 13)         202-225-2939     202-225-4628       

Friday, April 12, 2013

GTCO-ATL Writes to Crown Castle for Answers

April 12, 2013

Hi there,

I am just writing to inquire about whether or not Crown Castle took over the contracts that were signed by T-mobile and the DeKalb County School System in 2011?  We have several communities that are concerned because no one has alerted them to any format for public notice or a zoning hearing which they would normally expect by law.

T-mobile did not provide notice to those residents that would be affected and they did not secure permits during the contracted due diligence periods. We believe the contracts with all except possibly one school are now invalid.  The last school did not have T-mobile sign the deal, so we believe it is not valid either.

Can you provide any information regarding whether or not these sites are now under Crown Castle and, if so, what you plan to do with them?  There was considerable controversy in DeKalb County over this issue and the corruption of the school board was exposed more recently which led to the Governor of Georgia actually removing them from office and replacing them with appointed temporary board members.

We just wanted to advise you of the sensitivity to this issue in hopes that your company will be more upfront in the way you elect to handle the public relations issues.  The public would simply like to know the truth and the process that will be followed under the correct due process of law.

Thank you for your time in looking into this matter,

xxxx (name) xxxx
Get the Cell Out - ATL

From Crown Castle:

Thank you very much

Thank you for contacting us. 
We’ll respond to your inquiry promptly.

Are Taxpayers Quietly Footing the Bill for Cell Towers on School Grounds?

Pay Attention DeKalb County... could the increased electricity use at some of our schools be in advance of cell towers?  Budgets have been set to the new, higher rate without explanation.  Schools were closed in 2010 supposedly to save money, but why has the electricity costs stayed the same?  Why do some schools continue to waste electricity, even after being called out on CBS Atlanta's "Tough Questions" segment?  Are there schools that are being told to run all their lights all the time in an effort to keep their electricity costs high?  What else can we learn from the deception that has cost other communities thousands? 

Gaithersburg fails to bill Sprint for nine years of electric costs
Company recently paid off the $65,781 due
It takes a lot o electricity to run a cell phone tower.  Will you end up footing the bill if one goes up near you?
From the, Maryland

By Sylvia Carignan Staff Writer

Sprint has gotten free electricity for nine years for cell towers perched within a flagpole on city property because Gaithersburg failed to bill the company.

The two cell towers accrued $65,000 worth of electricity costs over nearly a decade since being installed on top of a structured parking lot in Olde Towne Gaithersburg.

Three cell phone towers of four in the city are located on top of the structured parking lot at 112 Olde Towne Ave. Phone service provider Sprint, which operates two of the towers on the parking garage, entered into a deal with the city of Gaithersburg to pay the towers’ electric bill.

The city had been paying the master bill for the garage, without billing Sprint separately, for nine years. Sprint has now paid the $65,781 bill, according to Olde Towne Coordinator Cindy Hines. Sprint declined to comment on specific details of its contract with the city.

Sprint made the deal with the city instead of PEPCO because the cell towers’ electric bill was part of a master bill that included the entire parking garage, City Comptroller Tina Smith said.

Smith first noticed the discrepancy earlier this year. City Manager Tony Tomasello notified the public at a mayor and city council meeting Feb. 4 that the city comptroller had made arrangements for repayment.

Hines said Sprint is now being billed monthly.

The two cell towers operated by Sprint are located within a flagpole on top of the parking garage. The third tower on the parking garage is operated by Cricket. Hines said there are no outstanding billing issues with Cricket. The city’s fourth cell tower is located at Kelley Park, operated by T-Mobile and billed by PEPCO.

DeKalb schools superintendent to speak in Tucker

From the AJC:

    Michael Thurmond
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    Interim DeKalb County schools superintendent Michael Thurmond is scheduled to speak to parents in Tucker on April 23.
    Thurmond will meet with the Tucker Parent Council at Brockett Elementary School, 1855 Brockett Rd., Tucker. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
    The public can ask spontaneous questions or e-mail them in advance to
    More DeKalb School Board coverage

Monday, April 8, 2013

FCC launches inquiry into cell phone radiation effects

Originally printed on April 1, 2013
By Phil Goldstein

Nine months after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the FCC might launch an inquiry into whether its cell phone radiation emission standards need to be changed--amid concerns that mobile phone radiation may cause brain cancer--the commission actually opened the inquiry.

The FCC formally opened a notice of inquiry into the issue, but also said that at this point it is comfortable with the current limits on RF radiation exposure. "We continue to have confidence in the current exposure limits, and note that more recent international standards have a similar basis," the FCC's initial report said. Additionally, the FCC report now defines the outer ear as an "extremity," meaning it can absorb considerably more radiation without breaching FCC guidelines.

Now that the FCC's notice of inquiry is official, the public has 90 days to comment on it. The FCC's guidelines, which have not been updated since 1996, set a maximum limit on radiation exposure levels based on how much heat is emitted and absorbed by cell phones.

The FCC's report came in response to a report last summer from the Government Accountability Office, which urged the FCC to revise its 16-year-old cell phone radiation standards. In a 46-page report, the GAO, which is the investigative arm of Congress, noted that the FCC has laid out its cell phone radiation limits based on the recommendations of federal and international health organizations, but that many of these bodies have since updated their standards based new research.

The CTIA has long maintained that cell phone radiation does not cause cancer or other adverse health effects. Studies on the issue have been inconclusive, and the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, has said there is no consistent evidence that radiation from cell phones increases the likelihood of cancer.

"As the GAO stated in its July 2012 report, 'Scientific research to date has not demonstrated adverse human health effects of exposure to radio-frequency energy from mobile phone use, but research is ongoing that may increase understanding of any possible effects,'" John Walls, vice president of public affairs at CTIA, said in a statement. "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health have reached similar conclusions about the state of the science. As this review proceeds, it is important to recall the FCC's Director of Communications has said, 'We are confident that, as set, the [FCC's] emissions guidelines for devices pose no harm to consumers.'"

In May 2011, the World Health Organization said electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones is "possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use."

For more:
- see this FCC page
or the full article here.
For the newest list of 1,800 studies worldwide that show a link of RF to cancer, click here.