Saturday, November 23, 2013

Decision to Replace Traditional Books with E-Books Called a "Disaster"

One school in Ireland is seriously regretting its decision to buy tablets from HPIreland’s Independent reports that Mountrath Community College has admitted that its decision to replace traditional books with HP ElitePad tablets has been an “unmitigated disaster” after the majority of tablets the school bought experienced a variety of problems including “failing to switch on, tablets spontaneously going into sleep mode, devices looping while performing automatic repairs, system board failures and issues with Wi-Fi.” The school has had to reorder paper books to give its students, who were simply unable to learn as long as they had to depend on malfunctioning HPtablets. HP has said that it’s made providing working tablets for the school a major priority.

Friday, November 22, 2013

GUILTY: Racketeering Charges Proven Against DeKalb School Employee and Ex-Husband

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A DeKalb County jury convicted former school district chief operating officer Pat Reid and her ex-husband, architect Tony Pope, of stealing from the school system by manipulating millions of dollars in construction contracts.
The jury found the former couple guilty of racketeering. Jurors also found Reid guilty on one of two theft charges and found Pope not guilty on a theft charge.
Reid, who oversaw the district’s vehicle fleet as well as its construction, had been charged with theft for buying her county-owned Ford Explorer at one-third its value. She was found not guilty on that charge. But jurors found Reid guilty of theft for having county employees fix the vehicle before she purchase it. Jurors declined to convict Reid and Pope of another theft charge for billing the district for an attorney for Pope.
The jury reached its decision after deliberating over most of three days.
It has been more than three and a half years since Reid, Pope and former Superintendent Crawford Lewis were indicted on charges concerning things that happened as far back as 2005. All three were facing the possibility of decades in prison.
But 10 days before jury selection began on Oct. 28, Lewis pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction for interfering with the District Attorney’s Office investigation of him and Reid and is now looking at only 12 months probation because he kept his agreement to testify for the prosecution. He is to be sentenced later.
Prosecutors say the former husband and wife manipulated contracts for school renovations so that Pope received more than $1.4 million that he should not have received.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Proposed City of Lakeside Takes the Next Step

If the county is not a part of the new plan
to create various cities, then doesn't that mean
that a lot of money is being wasted for
a new direction and new zoning plan for
Dekalb that will not take the city idea
into consideration??  Or, are they potentially
working together to bring about the same
changes and simply distract the voters
across the county, to stop them from working together?

Here's the breaking news about the proposed city of Lakeside, roughly based on the Lakeside High School attendance zone and backed by many of the same players in the cell tower game, those who pushed to get the tower in their own community and then somehow forgot to get their own contract signed when the deal came through.

The good news is that there appears to be very little support for the city from the perspective of the general public. The downside to that is it never stopped this particular group from pushing forward their agendas in the past, so why would it stop them now. Truly, this city of Lakeside is like your worst PTA nightmare come true.  (No disrespect for anyone in the PTA, but even you likely understand what we mean by that statement.)

 There is a board of people who are so far removed from the actual community they believe they represent that they utter offensive remarks at every meeting and keep straight faces because they do not understand how the "citizens" would not be begging them to rule over them, control their money and then recycle the same ideas over and over again with little change other than the venue of their next big retreat. They really believe that they will be applauded for their commitment to their community, even as they plot to make their area viable financially by literally taking commercial areas from neighboring communities WITHOUT TAKING THE RESIDENTS who actually shop there and live nearby!

The scary part is that there are people who will vote without understanding how their own home might be affected as a result because they trust their politicians blindly. There are others who will not vote because they will not even find out until it is too late that they are affected at all. And there are those, like us at Get the Cell Out, who will be attacked if we try to speak up and warn anyone about what is actually taking place.

We know this effort is about money, power and control.  We know that the cell tower companies play a role after we learned that several of them in the effort at a city of Tucker are connected to the telecommunications industry and, specifically, T-mobile.  We have found it an odd coincidence that the schools proposed for the towers literally dot the borders of the proposed Lakeside city.  We also find it baffling that after all our time and effort on bringing this cause in front of the public, there are still questions about the contracts and permits that have not been answered.

Lately, the subject of cell towers has seemingly disappeared, but don't think for a moment that it will not pop back up when we least expect it.  The city movement in central DeKalb is focused around zoning, yet we are a fully built-out, urban county by most people's standards.  If you have been at any of the city meetings, you have likely heard the question, "Why do you want to control zoning?" or some variation of it.  But, you didn't hear an answer, did you?  Zoning is probably the one issue that has prevented cell towers from going next to homes.  And, so far, the county has sided with the residents.  Why tempt fate and give a new group a shot at zoning now that we finally have most of the county's residents on our side as well as many elected officials in writing stating they agreed as well?

The best we can hope for is that the communities and neighborhoods in DeKalb are waking up, as evidenced by many of the changes we have collectively brought about recently. They are voting carefully and showing up in greater numbers to meetings and to the polls. We are holding out hope that the legislators will hear the facts from their constituents and will make the right decision about whether or not to bring this city map, or any city map, to the voters in the near future.

A city that is not based on the will of the people will surely fail. If it is a top-down decision, the citizens will know and will not support it. If the community is not on board, the city will have trouble collecting taxes for services that only they had in mind all along.

Our county government is oddly silent. Either they are responding to the complaints and hoping that will suffice, or they are somehow going to benefit from the continued separation of our various areas into smaller pockets of taxpayers who might be easier to control.  Whatever the reason, we hope our communities will remain calm and carry on.  And, when the time comes that we are asked to vote, we will remember the strength that has come from sticking together.

Now just doesn't seem to be the right time for more upheaval, just when the voice of the people was finally starting to be heard.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cancer Takes Another Victim: Donna Edler, 52, Former DeKalb School Board Member

A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at Carswell’s The Covenant Church, 1700 Corey Blvd., Decatur.
Donna Edler, Rest in Peace.
Photo Credit:  Crossroads News.

One of the two dissenting votes on the issue of cell towers on school grounds in July 2011 in DeKalb County, has now passed away from breast cancer complications after being in remission.  She publicly criticized the board at the time saying, "the school board has no business trying to provide cell service to DeKalb County."  And, if it isn't good for one school, then it isn't good for any school."   
Ms. Edler contacted us even when our own board member would not.  She cared.  She listened.  She wanted the children in DeKalb to have something better and she knew that the school board was not focused in the direction it should be.  If she had more time on this Earth, we are certain she would have found a way to continue helping the children, her community and even the school system.  She cared about others.  She rarely spoke of herself and her own struggles or that she was battling cancer. She remained strong in the public's eye at all times.  We are saddened to hear the news of her passing as she had many of us convinced that cancer was just an inconvenience for her and she would beat it.  Our prayers are with her and her family. 
We at Get the Cell Out - ATL send our condolences to Ms. Edler's husband and children during this difficult time.  Ms. Edler was one who was willing to swim upstream against a heavy tide and take whatever criticism was necessary if she knew she was doing the right thing.  We appreciate the fact that she was able to see through the poor planning and decision-making that was taking place at the time of the cell tower vote and that she voiced her concerns both to us personally as well as to the public during the meeting.  We appreciate the fact that she was willing to see beyond dollars and cents and understand that no child should have to face a potential health hazard at his/her school simply to satisfy a business deal that will help a business get ahead or a few investors make more money. 
 A human life, be it that of a child or an adult, is precious and deserves protection.  One man's risk should not lead to another man's peril, or worse, to the demise of an innocent child.  Thank you Donna Edler for understanding, listening and trying your best to make a difference.   Your strength of spirit will surely be remembered.
Below is an article from the AJC about Ms. Edler's recent passing:

Former DeKalb school board member Donna Edler dies
By Ty Tagami
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Former DeKalb County school board member Donna Edler died Tuesday of complications of the cancer that she had battled since her run for office three years ago, her husband Darryl Edler told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
When this photo was taken during
Donna Edler's reinstatement
 hearing on July 16, 2013, she
 was undergoing chemotherapy.
Photo Credit: Johnny Crawford, AJC

Edler was a strong-willed and outspoken member of the board that governs Georgia’s third-largest school district. She was known for standing her ground, and she wasn't shy about discussing the cancer that she thought she’d beat with a mastectomy several years ago.

Earlier this year, she publicly disclosed that the cancer was spreading again. It didn't temper her resolve to fight, though.

Edler was among the half dozen school board members removed by Gov. Nathan Deal. She died before hearing the outcome of a Georgia Supreme Court case over the constitutionality of the governor’s action. A decision, that might restore the removed members to office, is expected next month.

After unsuccessfully petitioning the governor for reinstatement, Edler filed another lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court, challenging her removal, in a case separate from the one before the high court. Edler, 52, was awaiting her day in the Fulton courthouse on Nov. 19, Darryl Edler said.

“She still believes there was an injustice done her,” he said.

Edler had three children, two grown and one in high school. She attended the University of Kansas on a track and field scholarship, and displayed the same kind of endurance in seeking public office.

She was drawn to politics by Barack Obama’s run for the presidency, joining his campaign and eventually becoming a paid member of his ground team. Darryl Edler said she was so successful at door-to-door campaigning that she was given a “golden clipboard” award.

She deployed that same enthusiasm when she ran for school board in 2010, unseating an incumbent with handmade yard signs. Even then, she was battling cancer. “She would take four days recovering from the chemo and then she would be in the street campaigning,” her husband said.

Her pastor, Bishop Quincy Carswell, was impressed with her energy, and rallied the support of his congregation and of other pastors. “She was a renegade,” he said. “We hadn't seen anything like her in DeKalb County. She had a great concern for people.”

A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday at Carswell’s The Covenant Church, 1700 Corey Blvd., Decatur.