Saturday, August 24, 2013

Final Review and Approval on New County Zoning Code Expected to Take Place Sept. 16

After many discussions from the group, we have narrowed down the next VERY important meeting for all communities in DeKalb who are concerned about a cell tower going up in their residential area.  

The date is Monday, September 16.  We will post the time and location once it is announced.  

Tom Bowen pulled the cell tower issue off the June 2011
consent agenda for "further legal review," after seeing
our first petition from the Brockett community.
How much longer will this fight continue?  
This is a special meeting that will discuss the new zoning code, and from what we can tell, public comments will be welcomed.  Kathie Gannon addresses this in more detail on her website (   

Jay Vinicki, Director of Policy Research, was at the August 20 meeting and we’ve been told he has a handle on the cell tower issue. He says it is VERY important that we continue our emails and phone calls to interim Chief Executive Officer, LEE MAY. He needs to know how important of an issue this is to the neighborhood residents.

Contact Information
Mr. Lee May - Interim Chief Executive Officer
DeKalb County Government
Manuel J. Maloof Center
1300 Commerce Drive, 6th Floor, Decatur, GA 30030
404-371-2881 Executive Office
404-371-2521 Neighborhood Empowerment
404-687-2411 - Fax

Please include your home and/or business postal mailing address in order to receive a response. Thanks everyone for all your continued support in this fight.

Additional comments for consideration:

Together we can accomplish the impossible.  Please remember to include your concern for ALL the children at DeKalb County schools when discussing the policy about cell towers on school grounds.  If the tower companies are able to place a single tower at a single school, a different set of rules could come into play under the FCC Telecommunications Act of 1996.  Since it is a federal law, they could require that all schools be open to the potential for a cell tower as the Act prohibits discrimination among providers.  So, if we allow it at one school, we could be allowing it at every school and for every provider of cellular service.

Remember, there are certain zoning issues that are acceptable objections to towers.  They are usually centered around aesthetics and public safety (such as from the falling debris or from the strangers allowed access to your neighborhood on a regular basis as a result of a tower and parking spaces being place there), but they also revolve around the traffic issues, wear and tear on the roads by the large vehicles and your evidence that your property values will be harmed.  If you know a Real Estate agent who will write a letter or come to the meeting and speak about his/her experience with the local market and how they either have trouble selling homes near towers or how they avoid it or drop the price - these are all very helpful for Lee May and the commissioners to hear.  The more "experts" you can bring to speak on  your behalf, the better.  And if you cannot get the experts there, you can source or quote them and submit paperwork to document your statements. 

Get the Cell Out will continue to look for ways we can help and support this effort.  But, please contact us if you have any specific questions.  Contact us with any questions:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Georgia school shooting: Antoinette Tuff hailed as hero

Everyday Heroes Do Exist!  

Thank you to Antoinette Tuff and the other staff members at McNair Elementary for keeping the children safe and treating the gunman as a human being who was in need of help, not a monster who had a fate already determined.  

This woman put herself between the gunman and the children and when she had the chance to run, she stayed.  She stayed calm and saved the lives of herself, the gunman and likely many, many others.  We are grateful to the teachers and police officers and families for handling themselves so well and keeping the kids from being harmed that day. 

One tough man with a gun met his match ... One "Tuff" woman with a brain who cared!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Zoning Code Update Comments from June 18

Here are some of the comments that were made during the June 18 Board of Commissioners Meeting. Cell tower comments dominated the overall agenda and the board determined it was best to defer 30 - 90 days before making a vote to adopt the new county zoning code.

The final vote on whether to adopt the new zoning code was scheduled to take place Tuesday Aug. 20. We have not heard the outcome of this meeting, yet.

NSA surveillance reach broader than publicly acknowledged

The National Security Agency's surveillance network has the capacity to spy on 75 percent of all U.S. Internet traffic, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Citing current and former NSA officials for the 75 percent figure, the paper reported that the agency can observe more of Americans' online communications than officials have publicly acknowledged.

The NSA's system of programs that filter communications, achieved with the help of telecommunications companies, is designed to look for communications that either start or end abroad, or happen to pass through the U.S. between foreign countries. However, the officials told the Journal that the system's reach is so broad, that it is more likely that purely domestic communications will be intercepted as a byproduct of the hunt for foreign ones.

The NSA defended the program in a statement to Fox News.

"NSA's signals intelligence mission is centered on defeating foreign adversaries who aim to harm the country. We defend the United States from such threats while fiercely working to protect the privacy rights of U.S. persons. It's not either/or. It's both," the statement said.

The system works by using algorithms that act as filters, designed to let high-value information through amid more benign chatter. However, after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, a former to intelligence official told the Journal that the government changed its definition of "reasonable" intelligence collection, enabling the NSA to widen the holes in the "filtering" system.

The details are the latest to emerge about the NSA's operations and capabilities, as authorities in the U.S. and other countries try to stop the release of more information about the elaborate surveillance network. Members of Congress on the intelligence committees, as well as past intelligence officials, recently have spoken up in defense of the agency, particularly after a report showing the agency had broken privacy rules and overstepped its authority thousands of times.

The NSA programs described by the Journal differ from the programs described by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in a series of leaks earlier this summer. Snowden described a program to acquire Americans' phone records, as well as another program, known as PRISM, that made requests from Internet companies for stored data. By contrast, the Internet monitoring systems have the capability to track almost any online activity, so long as it is covered by a broad court order.

Read more:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Possible BOC Vote on Adopting New Zoning Code: August 20

Get the Cell Out - ATL has caught wind of a possible vote before the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners that will finalize any proposed changes that were made to the county's new zoning codes and ordinances.  An updated copy has not been located, however the original document can be found  here.

The unconfirmed date for a vote is August 20.  We are not sure if public comments will be permitted, but if you have a cell tower planned for your community or school, we suggest you start organizing your talking points now so you will be ready to go.

As soon as we have more details, we will post them here.  Thank you to the many communities who contacted us to ask about this meeting.  If you learn anything that should be shared with the larger group of countywide opposition, please email and we will post your information here.

We have had a lot of progress by working together and showing our elected officials that this is an issue that politics will not be able to divide us over.  The children of DeKalb are too important to take a back seat to money, greed or corruption.  They deserve the best shot possible at a healthy childhood and an educational environment free from potential safety hazards or commercial

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Smoke Rise Residents Reach Out to DeKalb's New Interim CEO on Cell Tower Issue

8/17/13:  Note to Our Readers:  Dr. Johanna Stamper is a research scientist in mathematical biology. She has been trained in cancer research and is very concerned that there would be any possibility of cell towers being placed at schools, especially elementary schools, in our county. She says that once she explains the science, the concerns of the people in her neighborhood became much more elevated.  

If you share the concerns of Dr. Stamper and Get the Cell Out, please take a few moments to email or call, at a minimum, the following people who are critical to this struggle:

  • Director of Public Works, DeKalb County:
  • Director of Planning and Sustainability, DeKalb County:
  • Interim CEO of DeKalb County:
  • Interim Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools:
  • And your county commissioner, school board representatives and state legislators.


Dear Smoke Signal Editors,

Thank you for printing the Letter to the Editor in your August 2013 newspaper edition.  It was from a new Smoke Rise family that recently learned about the former school board's vote to approve cell towers for several schools in DeKalb County, including one at Smoke Rise Elementary School.  We applaud your publication for helping to educate and inform your community on this issue.

Thank you to Robert Stamper and Dr. Johanna Stamper for stepping up to inform your new community of Smoke Rise about what you learned about the dangers of cell towers and encouraging them to contact their elected officials!  We have reprinted a letter to the editor written by Dr. Stamper which was published in the August 2013 edition of the Smoke Signal, a local newsletter for the residents in the Smoke Rise community.

We also thank the Smoke Rise Homeowners' Association for sending Virginia Reece as their representative to the Tucker Parent Council meeting at Brockett Elementary School at the end of the last school year.  We appreciate her comments and efforts to educate the Smoke Rise community and others in DeKalb who heard her dialogue with the Interim Superintendent Thurmond.

We have listed some contact details here in order to assist your efforts.  As Dr. Stamper noted, it is very important for the residents near any of the proposed school cell tower sites to voice their concerns to Commissioner Lee May as he is now the acting CEO of our county.

The county commissioners have all stated they would uphold the codes at the time, but those codes are now in a review process.  Don't let the cell tower companies slip changes past you that could lead to a tower being built without community input.

We hope you will visit our website,, to keep up to date on this issue.  We want to remind your readers that when they email or speak to their local government officials, it is important to mention concern for ALL the schools in DeKalb County and ALL the children.  The safety of the children must come as the highest priority above anything else.  Our leaders need to know that this is one issue that cannot be used to pit communities against one another.  On this topic, we will not be divided.

Thanks Smoke Rise residents for being GOOD NEIGHBORS!

--- Get the Cell Out Atlanta

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Death by Charger; Apple Buy-Back Program is One-Time Only Deal

Posted: 7:27 AM
Last Updated: 5 hours and 22 minutes ago
By: John Matarese,

If you have a charger for an iPhone or iPad that's not made by Apple, the company wants you to trade it in, as soon as possible.

Apple is offering chargers at half price to anyone who turns in a third party charger. 

This comes after a flight attendant in China was electrocuted, according to Chinese news reports, while picking up an iPhone that was plugged into the wall, charging. 

Apple believes her death is the result of a faulty third party (non-Apple) charger.  It is also investigating whether it may have been a counterfeit Apple charger, as counterfeits are widespread in China.
Apple wants non-Apple chargers.  So the company is offering brand new Apple chargers for $10, half the normal price, to anyone who turns in a third party charger during a 2-month period.

There is no "recall," as Apple cannot recall other brand chargers, and does not want to accuse legitimate 3rd party companies of making faulty devices.

The program starts August 16 at all Apple stores and authorized iPhone retailers, such as AT&T and Verizon company stores.  This program may not be offered at phone kiosks.

The $10 charger offer is valid through August 16 - October 18, 2013.

Apple points out that there are no reports of any third party chargers sold in the US causing a fire or shock.

And despite alarmist web postings to the contrary, no one has ever been electrocuted in the US while picking up a cell phone that was on a charger.
A Hong Kong apartment was destroyed earlier this summer when a Samsung Galaxy S4 reportedly exploded, though some reports say that phone or charger may have been counterfeit.

But the company is taking no chances, so it might be a good idea to turn in your 3rd party charger so you stay safe and don't waste your money.

Read more:

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Submit Your Comments to the FCC Regarding RF Radiation Limits by Sept. 3

From the Center for Safer Wireless:

The Federal Communication Commission is examining its current limits for radio frequency radiation. It is deciding "whether its regulations should be more restrictive, less restrictive, or remain the same."  This is an opportunity  for the public to tell them how the radio frequency radiation (RFR) from the cell towers and wireless devices has affected their health and quality of life. A summary of the Notice of Inquiry was published in the Federal Register:, beginning at paragraph 47. 
The complete Notice of Inquiry is here, beginning at paragraph 205:

It is apparent that FCC does not think there is any reason to lower its exposure limits. We need to let them know that our health is the reason to change the regulations. It has been 17 years since the FCC reviewed its regulations we must act now. We have no idea when or if we will have another opportunity to do this. If your or your child's health has been impacted in any way by RFR describe to the FCC what occurred and what the symptoms are. Tell them if you had to leave your home because of the wireless technology. Inform them if you had to quit your job because of the RFR. They need to know every impact this is having on our lives. Every comment sent will be on public record. This means the Members of Congress will also be able to see it.  The more comments they receive the better our chance will be to have the limits lowered.
Tell the FCC how wireless technology has impacted
your physical or mental well being.

The comments are due by September 3, 2013.  It is critical that we tell our stories about what impacts RFR has had on us and continues to have on us. 

When you tell your story say, "The current RFR exposure limits have impacted my well-being and caused me to experience health problems." Then describe what it has done to you. Tell them if you feel better when you eliminate the wireless technology. If all of us who have been impacted by this use this opportunity to comment we can make a difference.

(Click on "Submit a Filing" if the filing page does not immediately open). Type in "13-84" in the box for "Proceeding Number." Write "Comments on Notice of Inquiry, ET Docket No. 13-84" at the top of your attached comments. You can attach Word, PDF, or Excel files.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Appointed DeKalb County School Board Still in Tact

Here are a few updates regarding the DeKalb County School System
and where things are today:

First, the AJC is reporting that Gov. Nathan Deal's overhaul of the Atlanta suburbs is nearly complete.  His appointed school board has proven to him that they are the more likely group to be able to save the DeKalb School System from losing its SACS accreditation.  As each of the 6 board members, minus Nancy Jester of District 1, made their cases individually for reinstatement, former chairman Dr. Eugene Walker presented his case in front of a state judge.  Walker has challenged the constitutionality of the law that allowed the governor to remove the board members based on the criteria set by a private accrediting agency. 

Outcry from the parents and taxpayers in  DeKalb County over corrupt politics and
the resulting decline in student achievement played a role in the removal of
the school board.  But, will their removal stand up in the Supreme Court?  Time will tell.
In the meantime, there are actual lines being drawn on maps as groups aligning with
various self-appointed groups of would-be leaders are trying to start their
own cities based on school attendance zones.  (But they say it has nothing to do
with the schools.)  The battles are still being waged here, don't fool yourself into
thinking the worst is behind us.  Pay attention, DeKalb.  And, make sure you and
your neighbors show up to vote and learn the issues, or you may find yourself
waking up in a newly zoned community with cell towers on every street corner
and city taxes that might force you out before you are ready to give up.  Get the Cell Out
will still be here, trying our best to keep the county informed and helping others
who are just learning about similar problems in their own communities.

The judge in the cases of Donna Edler, Pam Speaks, Jay Cunningham and Sarah Copelin-Woods upheld the suspensions made by the Governor.  Walker is having his case heard before the state supreme court, the final battle which may end up being a mute point regardless of whether or not it goes in his favor since elections will be held in July or November 2014.  Have we finally reached that "historic moment" when "all board members will have to stand for re-election" that current board member Marshall Orson was telling us about back when he helped to run the "Friends of DeKalb" group that printed signs, held meetings and practically forced the school administration to come up with a description and criteria for an oversight committee that they later came close to forgetting about completely.  (We contacted Board Member Nancy Jester who promptly took care of things once we realized that the board was about to start spending SPLOST money and had not started the committee selection process.)

Here are links to some of the stories regarding the board's removal:
Deal's Overhaul of the DeKalb Board Complete
DeKalb School Board Members Formally Removed

And, here is a reminder about the SPLOST IV vote and what both sides had to say on this issue:

Some irate parents attended a meeting
at Livsey Elementary School in Tucker
the same night the SACS report was
released to the pubic last year. 
Caroline Lord, far right, and Michelle Penkava,
second from left (face blocked) are two
who have stepped up to support their
own communities, using different approaches.
One is helping the Tucker community learn
more about becoming a city; the other has
decided to advocate for a city of Lakeside.
City schools will be a future issue to debate
and it could bring more turmoil to the
already struggling district.

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Dr. Walker Loses Round One; Holds Out Hope with Supreme Court

Dr. Eugene Walker becomes the third of the suspended DeKalb County Schools’ Board of Education members to learn that an Administrative Law Judge is not giving them their jobs back.
Walker told All News 106.7 that he is disappointed in the decision, but not surprise. Walker still believes O.C.G.A Section 20-2-73, the Georgia law that allowed Governor Nathan Deal to suspend the six board members, is flawed. Walker went on to say, “Judge Wood was fair in allowing us to present our case, but he was also clear that he was bound by that law”. At this point Walker says he will just have to wait on the outcome of the constitutionality challenge of the suit that’s now in the hands of the Georgia Supreme Court.  Chief Administrative Law Judge Maxwell Wood ruled Thursday against Walker’s reinstatement request to be reappointed to his elected seat.
Last week Judge Wood ruled against suspended board members Sarah Copelin-Wood and Dr. Pam Speaks. Two other board members, Jesse “Jay” Cunningham and Donna Elder still await the Judge’s decision. The sixth board member, Nancy Jester, resigned her seat in February and was not a candidate for reinstatement.
In February Governor Nathan Deal suspended six of the nine school board members after the district’s accreditation was placed on probation by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SACS over governance, financial and student performance issues.
Since then, the remaining three board members, Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond, and the six new governor appointed members have been in place working hard to save the district’s accreditation. Their efforts were reviewed in May.
In July the DeKalb County School system received a report from AdvancED, the parent company of SACS, stating that the district has made “recognizable progress” in addressing the issue raised by SACS late last year. At that time there were 11 required actions that have to be corrected in order for the district to regain unconditional accreditation.
While AdvancEd is remaining cautionary in its views, right now the district appears to be making progress.
However, Eugene Walker maintains that since he was elected by the people, the Governor’s board suspension actions was illegal.
So one question on the minds of many DeKalb residents now is: What kind of impact, if any, could the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision have on the new DeKalb board and its progress?
DeKalb County students return to school on Monday, August 12.

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