Sunday, November 16, 2014

“Nobody likes towers, apparently.”

T-Mobile US goes to the Supreme Court vs. City of Roswell, GA

by RCR Wireless News

You’ve heard of someone not taking no for an answer, but T-Mobile US took a city’s refusal to the highest court in the land. This week the Supreme Court began hearing the case of T-Mobile South v. Roswell. We first reported this was going to court back in May, but opening arguments began this week.

Here’s a quick recap of the case: T-Mobile US wanted to build an additional tower in Roswell, Ga. The city rejected their request, but only with a vague no. T-Mobile US believes this is a violation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996′s “Preservation of Local Zoning Authority.” In it, when a city rejects the construction or modification of a wireless structure or facility it “shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in the record.” The city never gave a specific reason with supported evidence, instead turning in meeting minutes that included a laundry list of reasons why they didn't want a tower. The city considers this sufficient reason, but T-Mobile US begs to differ.

The best quote to come out so far from a justice?

“Everyone loves cellphones, apparently,” Justice Stephen Breyer said. “Nobody likes towers, apparently.”

The highest court in the land is now acutely aware of what the rest of us have been aware of for years.

All jokes aside, this case is a big deal for the tower industry as it could set long-term precedent for determining the specifics of tower deployment and how it interacts with local authorities.

Click here for more quotes from the justices hearing the case. We’ll report on this story more as the case develops.

Verizon Wireless goes to federal court vs. Columbia County, GA

It seems it’s the season for carriers to go to court. Verizon Wireless will soon get its day in a federal court. Verizon Wireless is suing Columbia County, Ga., claiming it was denied the right to build a 160-foot tower in the city. The problem? The city didn't put the reasons for the denial in writing. Ouch. With the other case in the Supreme Court with another city in Georgia you would have thought this city would have been a little more careful about that, but alas no. More news on this case as it develops.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Another DeKalb Official Gets Tangled in DeKalb's Web of Destruction

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. from the AJC. — DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker says she will resign when she has finished her work for the year weeks after a flurry of activity in the DeKalb County schools corruption trial.

In a letter, Becker said she already intended to leave office before the end of her term, "not due to any pressure from anyone, but because I am engaged to be married in early spring 2015."

Last month, Becker overturned the convictions of Patricia Reid and her ex-husband, Tony Pope. Two days later, an appeals court judge halted their release from jail.

Both were convicted in a DeKalb County school construction scandal last year. Former Superintendent Crawford Lewis testified during the trial. In her order, Becker noted a “lack of complete and truthful" testimony in nine specific areas from Lewis.

Lewis was accused of knowingly signing off on a scheme in which DeKalb schools' Chief Operating Officer Patricia Pope, now Pat Reid, funneled work to her architect husband, Tony Pope. Prosecutors said the fraudulent payments totaled more than $2.3 million.

Lewis was sentenced to spend one year behind bars by Becker last year, despite striking a plea agreement that would allow him to avoid jail time and spend one year on probation.

At the time, Becker said she was not bound to the plea agreement, but the district attorney said Becker agreed to the terms. Lewis served nearly a week in jail before being released on bond after his attorney filed an emergency motion.

Since then, attorneys for both sides have argued to keep Lewis out of jail.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cell Towers Still Upsetting People Coast to Coast!

Some neighbors upset by church plan for cell tower
The Associated Press
November 9, 2014
Updated 4 hours ago

HERNANDO, MISS. — Hernando's historic First Presbyterian Church and some of its neighbors are at odds over a proposal to put a 160-foot communications tower on property leased from the 150-year-old church.

Tower foes hope that city aldermen, who heard comments over the past week, will stop the plan.

The Commercial Appeal reports ( that church leaders and members view the C Spire Wireless tower as a welcome source of income. Broadband advocates in Hernando want the improved cellular service.

Some neighbors, however, say the tower won't help the view or the property values.

Aldermen recently heard an appeal by C Spire of the city Planning Commission's denial of an application that would clear the way for the tower. Aldermen voted to send the issue back to the Planning Commission for reconsideration.

"This will not improve the value of my property," said Bruce Naillieux, who lives across the street from the church.

A neighbor, Shane Presley, showed aldermen a photo of the church in its serene setting: "This is a picture of small-town Southern America. Putting a tower here is encroaching."

First Presbyterian pastor Chip Hatcher said the tower would be more than 160 feet behind the church, obscured by trees. Church member Bill Bailey said, "We're for it."

John Wade, Jackson-based attorney for C Spire, and Jerry Skipper, site acquisition manager from Ridgeland, offered compromises that included a "sheath" design and site-elevation options that would lower the tower height by 10 feet or more. Also, they assured Alderman Gary Higdon, whose ward includes the site, that there would be no stormwater runoff problems.

Information from: The Commercial Appeal,

Read more here:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Judge’s conduct questioned in DeKalb corruption case

By Mark Niesse - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKalb County prosecutors say Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker knowingly tipped off defense lawyers before throwing out two convictions in a public corruption case, an action that could end her judicial career if found to be true.
Becker’s contact with the defense — without also informing prosecutors — has been reported to authorities, according to a court filing by the DeKalb district attorney’s office. The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission wouldn’t confirm or deny Friday that it has received a complaint.
Prosecutors suggested in their brief to the Georgia Court of Appeals that Becker’s communication may have influenced the case against Pat Reid and Tony Pope.
Reid, the ex-construction chief for DeKalb schools, and Pope, her former husband and an architect, were found guilty a year ago of manipulating school construction projects for personal gainbut they requested new trials. Reid is serving a 15-year sentence, and Pope got an eight-year sentence.
Pope’s lawyer withdrew his appeal after talking with Becker, clearing the way for her to overturn the jury’s guilty verdicts Oct. 27, prosecutors wrote. The Georgia Court of Appeals then stepped in to put her decision on hold.
Judges are prohibited from engaging in conversations with attorneys on one side of the case, but not the other, except to discuss administrative matters or emergencies, according to the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct.
“If it deals with anything relating to the substance of the case pending, then that’s inappropriate,” said A. James Elliott, associate dean at the Emory University School of Law. “It would be highly unusual for a judge to call a lawyer and say anything about a pending case. They’re generally very careful about that.”
Ashleigh Merchant, a Marietta defense and appellate attorney, said judges shouldn’t give either side a heads-up before issuing an order.
“That’s kind of a big deal,” she said. “Somehow Pope’s attorney got tipped off that they needed to withdraw the notice of appeal. When they withdrew that notice, it gave jurisdiction back to the trial court.”
Becker and Pope’s attorney, John Petrey, didn’t return phone calls seeking comment Friday.
Reid’s attorney, Tony Axam, said he was made aware that Becker was going to sign an order, but she didn't discuss key facts of the case. Becker wanted to know where Reid was incarcerated, Axam said.
“Lawyers talk to judges all the time,” Axam said. “I don’t know of anything the judge did that was inappropriate in her conversations with lawyers in this case.”
Ken Hodges, a former Dougherty County district attorney, said he doesn't see a problem with Becker’s contact as long as she didn’t discuss the merits of the case or give advice.
“She just informed him what she was going to do. If that is in fact the truth, then she didn’t do anything wrong,” said Hodges, who is now in private practice. “If she said, ‘Y’all might want to take this action,’ … that would be improper.”
Becker sought to reverse the guilty verdicts against Reid and Pope because she said she didn’t find the testimony of former DeKalb schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis to be truthful.
Lewis had reached a plea deal with prosecutors to testify against Reid and Pope in exchange for a sentence of 12 months on probation. Instead, Becker decided to sentence Lewis to 12 months in jail.
The Court of Appeals overturned Lewis’ jail sentence Oct. 23, and Becker then dismissed the convictions of Reid and Pope, ordering that they receive new trials.
DeKalb prosecutors made an emergency appeal to halt Becker’s action, and the Court of Appeals agreed to do so last week.
The Court of Appeals will decide the case in the coming days or weeks.

Monday, November 3, 2014


When Sen. Jason Carter was called upon to help parents and our local communities, he listened and took action.  He was concerned about our DeKalb County School Board LONG BEFORE the Governor ever got involved.
Sen. Jason Carter was sworn in to Georgia state Senate
in May 2010.  He recently joined the battle against cellphone
towers on public school properties in Georgia by entering
legislation Feb. 28, 2012, to require proper notification
of the public and the adherence to local zoning laws when
a governmental entity such as the school board is
leasing property for non-governmental purposes (such
as the construction and maintenance of a telecommunications
tower.)  Thank you Sen. Carter!

Here's a reminder of his actions to help the parents and communities affected by poor decision making by our local school board on the issue of cell towers:

No matter what you may read about  him in the media, those who have been involved in the school system here in DeKalb County can tell you FIRST HAND that Jason Carter was one of THE ONLY members of the General Assembly in Georgia who was willing to sponsor legislation to help us when our school system was failing and selling out our children and our neighborhoods for a fast buck from T-mobile.

If  you have been affected by the abuse that has taken place in DeKalb County's school system and would have been harmed by a cell tower being placed at your school, lowering your property value and placing children in harm's way, PLEASE VOTE TUESDAY, NOV. 4, 2014 for a change in the state of Georgia.  If you do not agree with letting big, rich corporations continue to dictate the policies and issues that our government is willing to discuss, while the issues affecting the people go without attention, please consider a vote for Sen. Jason Carter as the new Governor of Georgia.  

We cannot continue to let ALEC run our state into the ground.  Our children cannot continue to suffer from the lack of concern for their education and their future.  Sen. Carter has stepped up to listen  and take action in his own district, in our school system and has been willing to force ethical standards to the forefront of conversations at the Gold Dome.

He will be an education leader and will help keep a strong middle class in Georgia, just like his campaign ads say that he will.  We know this because he has done these things already, when it wasn't an election year and when no one else was reaching out to help.  He stepped up and will continue to step up because he truly cares about the future of our state and the people who live here right now.

For more information: