Saturday, August 9, 2014

How Cell Towers Avoid Paying Property Taxes

Montgomery County, MD, parents and taxpayers took a good look at  a special exception application filed by T-Mobile in 2005 to build a cell tower on the Julius West Middle School playground.  Here is what they learned:

From the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County:  
 "Look at the box (circled in red) that calls for the applicant to write in a tax account number. The numbers on this application are for the property owner, the Montgomery County Board of Education. The Board of Education is exempt from paying property taxes, T-Mobile is not.  
"By using the Board of Education's tax account number cell tower vendors have avoided paying property taxes on cell towers erected on public school land."

Isn't that nice to know?  The BOE is interested in helping out a huge company so that they do no have to pay a property tax bill.  Will they do that for you?


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stop Paying For Crammed Charges on Your Mobile Bill!

A helpful bit of information from your friendly FTC:

July 29, 2014
by Cristina Miranda
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC


If you are budget-conscious, you’re probably great at tracking where your money goes every month. You pore over receipts, take advantage of sales, and even research prices on big-ticket items to save the most. So how often do you review your mobile phone bill for fraudulent charges that could be draining your wallet?

As part of ongoing enforcement actions to stop alleged mobile crammers, the FTC recently charged MDK Media, Inc., Tendenci Media, LLC, Mindkontrol Industries, LLC., Anacapa Media, LLC., Bear Communications, LLC., and Network One Commerce, LLC., text message content providers, with cramming unauthorized subscription charges onto consumers’ mobile phone bills for random texts to the tune of up to $9.99 a month. The texts included daily horoscopes, romance advice, quizzes or ring tones that consumers never knowingly asked to receive – or agreed to pay for.

How did the s-crammers do this? The FTC alleges they tricked consumers two ways:

  1. by getting people to enter their mobile phone number into deceptive and fictitious websites with fuzzy usage terms in exchange for collecting freebies, playing games or taking quizzes;
  2. by purchasing lists of mobile phone numbers and automatically entering the numbers into subscription services without contacting consumers or letting them know.

Here’s how to spot charges crammed on to your mobile bill:

  • Read your monthly phone bill – every page, every month. Regularly review your phone bill to catch charges that are tacked on without your knowledge or consent. Cramming charges can be buried deep within the pages of your bill, making them tough to find or understand. Contact your carrier directly if you have questions about a charge.
  • Strange or unsolicited text messages that suddenly appear on your phone could be signs of a cram. If you suddenly get a text offering any type of daily advice that you never signed up for, consider it a red flag that you’re being charged for something you didn't authorize.
  • Think twice about entering your mobile phone number or personal information on any website. Certain websites exist to serve as collection baskets for mobile phone numbers; they trick you into providing your number with free offers or access to online entertainment. This can put your money – as well as your privacy or identity – at risk.
  • Delete text messages you don’t want and never click on the links. Text messages that ask you to enter special codes, or to confirm or provide personal information could lead you to spoof sites that look real but could steal your money and identity.


Report spam texts to your carrier. Copy the original message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM) free of charge, if you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint subscriber.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Woman dies retrieving cell phone from house fire


Posted: Jul 29, 2014 8:36 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 29, 2014 8:41 PM EDT

BARTONVILLE, IL (WHOI/CNN) – An Illinois woman is dead after escaping a fire then going back into her burning home to get her phone.

Crews were called to the fire after calls that a person was trapped inside.

Police say an officer tried to rescue the woman, but had to retreat because of thick smoke.

When firefighters arrived, they were able to get her out.

She was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. Her name has not been released.

An officer was also taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Copyright 2014 WHOI via CNN. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DeKalb's School Board - Like It or Not


From Crossroads News:  Only two of Gov. Nathan Deal’s six appointees to the DeKalb School Board – Dr. Michael Erwin and Joyce Morley – will on the new board when it is sworn into office on Jan. 5.

In the July 22 runoff elections, two appointed board members – Dr. Karen Carter and Thad Mayfield – lost their seats. Two of the appointed board members – John Coleman and David Campbell – did not seek election.

Morley, who represents District 7, won her seat in the May 20 election.

They will join Stan Jester, District 1; Marshall Orson, District 2; and Dr. Melvin Johnson, District 6, on the new 2015 School Board. Jester was unopposed in District 1.

Erwin, a college professor, was the only victor among appointees in Tuesday’s School Board runoffs. He won his District 3 seat with 59 percent of the vote over challenger Atticus LeBlanc.

On his Facebook page, Erwin extended “heartfelt gratitude” to everyone who supported his first run for elected office.

“I look forward to serving as your representative to continue building upon the momentum created over the past 17 months,” he said.

Because of redistricting and the reduction of the School Board to seven seats from nine, Carter was pitted against elected incumbent Jim McMahan in the District 4 race. McMahan took the seat with 58 percent of the vote.

In the District 5 race, Mayfield lost to private school founder and operator Vickie Turner, who got 59 percent of the vote.

Turner said it was a long and very hard-fought race.

“I’m grateful to my campaign team for its counsel and to my family, but most of all, the voters of the 5th District,” she said.

The current board members’ terms expire on Dec. 31, 2014.

Deal appointed the six board members in March 2013 after removing six elected members for governance issues after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the district on accreditation probation in December 2012.

Scientists Call on Government to Protect Public from Wireless Radiation Exposure



More than 50 scientists from 18 nations called on government to minimize the public's exposure to the radiation emitted by wireless devices including cell and cordless phones, Wi-Fi, smart meters and baby monitors.


PRLog - Jul. 9, 2014 - BERKELEY, Calif. -- Today, fifty-four scientists from 18 nations who study the effects of radiofrequency (RF) radiation submitted a declaration to Health Canada calling on government's need to minimize the public’s exposure to this pollutant which is emitted by wireless devices including cell phones, cordless phones, Wi-Fi, broadcast antennas, smart meters, and baby monitors.

The scientists signed a public declaration in which they raise serious concerns regarding Safety Code 6 guidelines finding them obsolete and inadequate to protect the public from RF radiation. The regulatory standards based upon these guidelines allow for wireless devices that emit RF radiation at levels that have been found in many studies to cause cancer, DNA damage, stress responses, and other harmful effects in humans. The document notes that the World Health Organization classified electromagnetic fields at both extremely low frequency in 2001 and RF ranges in 2011 as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Currently, RF exposure guidelines in four countries. China, Russia, Italy, and Switzerland, based on biological effects, are 100 times more stringent than Canadian (and U.S.) guidelines.

Unfortunately for their citizens, many nations do not adhere to the Precautionary Principle which is employed when serious risks to the public or to the environment exist but scientific consensus has not yet been established.

Epidemiological studies in humans show links between RF exposure and cancers, neurological disorders, hormonal changes, and symptoms of electrical hypersensitivity (EHS).  Laboratory studies show increased cancers, abnormal sperm, reproductive risks, learning and memory deficits, and heart irregularities.

People who suffer from functional impairment due to RF exposure are increasingly unable to find places where RF exposure is minimal. The medical community in North America is largely unaware of the effects of RF exposure and does not know how to treat those who become ill. Moreover, the typical methods to alleviate symptoms and promote healing are no longer working, in part, due to increasing levels of RF exposure everywhere.

The scientists urgently call upon Health Canada to intervene in this emerging public health crisis, to establish guidelines based on the best available scientific data, and to advise the public to limit their exposure and especially the exposure of children.

For more information about electromagnetic radiation safety, see my EMR Safety website at http://www.saferemr.com/.

In addition, twenty Canadian physicians signed a statement today calling on Health Canada to raise awareness about microwave radiation impacts and minimize exposure in schools and other places where children are commonly exposed.

Further information about these declarations is available from Canadians for Safe Technology (C4ST): http://www.c4st.org/.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why children absorb more microwave radiation than adults: The consequences


L. Lloyd Morgana, , , Santosh Kesarib, Devra Lee Davisa

Open Access funded by The Saudi Society of Microscopes
Under a Creative Commons license
To read the full report, click here.

Highlights
•  Children absorb more microwave radiation (MWR) than adults.
•  MWR is a Class 2B (possible) carcinogen.
•  The fetus is in greater danger than children from exposure to MWR.
•  The legal exposure limits have remained unchanged for decades.
•  Cellphone manuals warnings and the 20 cm rule for tablets/laptops violate the “normal operating position” regulation.

Abstract
Computer simulation using MRI scans of children is the only possible way to determine the microwave radiation (MWR) absorbed in specific tissues in children. Children absorb more MWR than adults because their brain tissues are more absorbent, their skulls are thinner and their relative size is smaller.


  • MWR from wireless devices has been declared a possible human carcinogen. Children are at greater risk than adults when exposed to any carcinogen. Because the average latency time between first exposure and diagnosis of a tumor can be decades, tumors induced in children may not be diagnosed until well into adulthood. 
  • The fetus is particularly vulnerable to MWR. MWR exposure can result in degeneration of the protective myelin sheath that surrounds brain neurons. 
  • MWR-emitting toys are being sold for use by young infants and toddlers. Digital dementia has been reported in school age children. 


A case study has shown when cellphones are placed in teenage girls’ bras multiple primary breast cancer develop beneath where the phones are placed. MWR exposure limits have remained unchanged for 19 years.

All manufacturers of smartphones have warnings which describe the minimum distance at which phone must be kept away from users in order to not exceed the present legal limits for exposure to MWR. The exposure limit for laptop computers and tablets is set when devices are tested 20 cm away from the body.

Belgium, France, India and other technologically sophisticated governments are passing laws and/or issuing warnings about children's use of wireless devices.

Why isn't the U.S. keeping pace with the rest of the world on this issue?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

GEORGIA POWER CUSTOMERS: You Can Now Opt Out of Your Smart Meter!


Click this link for details about how you can Opt Out (for a fee) of your Smart Meter Today!  http://www.georgiapower.com/residential/products-programs/smart-meter/

We have GREAT news for every customer of Georgia Power!  

You can now CHOOSE to have a Smart Meter or CHOOSE to Opt-Out of the program, even asking for your old analog meter to be reinstalled and your (Not-so)-Smart Meter REMOVED!

Thank  you to the hard work of  www.stopsmartmetersGeorgia.Org .  



These meters emit RF Radiation, a growing concern in the medical community for its possible link to a variety of forms of cancer.  

We are sharing the good news with you, our Get the Cell Out readers below:

*******************************************************************************
Dear Get the Cell Out - Atlanta,

Hope everyone had a wonderful, safe holiday.  Safety is usually a big concern in this country, and around the world.  But we here in America are especially used to laws protecting us from unsafe products.
 
Not so in the case of "smart" meters.  These dangerous devices, untested for human safety, continue to cause fires, ruin property, and devastate lives (in addition to emitting cancer-causing radiation, possibly raising your electric bill, and being completely hackable).  There is a video out that shows why "smart" meters are so prone to starting fires, and why you should get rid of yours immediately.  It is posted below.
 
You can now kick your "Spy and Fry" meter to the curb and get a safe analog back on your home by contacting Georgia Power, and paying an extortionate fee of $19 a month.  Here is a link where you can find out more (the info is at the bottom of the page, and is in answer to the last question posted there):  

 
Please share this information with your friends, family, and neighbors.  Fires - and "smart" meters in general - put everyone in a neighborhood in danger!
 
"Smart Meter Fires Explained":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBDgZjR4qHQ
 
Thank you and God bless!

Terri
 
Terri Keller, M. A.

 
P. S.  What do the British know that we don't?  

Check out this quote from a June article in the Telegraph: 
 
"Fewer than half of British households want an energy “smart meter”, research has shown, raising doubts over the Government’s £11bn plan to install them in every home by 2020. 
"The Smart Meter Central Delivery Body (SMCDB), the organisation set up to drive public support for the devices, found that while 84pc of people had heard of smart meters, just 44pc expressed interest in having one installed in their home."
Word's getting out, and people everywhere are just saying "NO" to these (not-so)-smart meters! 

 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10885122/Homeowners-reject-energy-smart-meters.html

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Slimy T-mobile Now Cries to a Judge About "Proper Notification" While Still Refusing to Follow the Rules Themselves

GTCO-ATL Notes:  We find it interesting that T-mobile is taking up the issue of "proper notification" with the Supreme Court of the United States.  All across the country there have been citizens who have seen their rights trampled on by T-mobile.  The company is known for skirting local laws, especially the one that requires proper notification of the property owners near the area where they plan to build.  
Locally in Central DeKalb County - the business ethics of T-mobile have proven time and time again to be highly questionable and never on the side of doing what is right for their customers.  Those choosing to enter contracts with T-mobile should be looked at closely as these stories are often reported and well known.   No longer can a government or other official claim to "not know" what T-mobile is capable of doing.  No longer should anyone be surprise to find that, yet again, this company is in court, trying to get around the law and use loopholes in their own favor.

High Court To Hear T-Mobile's Appeal Of Cell Tower Denial

Law360, New York (May 05, 2014, 3:53 PM ET) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review a T-Mobile USA Inc. unit’s appeal over whether a state or local government document denying a zoning permit to build cell phone towers without providing any specific reasons satisfies the Communications Act’s “in writing” requirement.

The Supreme Court granted T-Mobile South LLC’s petition for certiorari appealing a decision by the Eleventh Circuit that upheld a Georgia city's denial of T-Mobile South’s zoning permit application to construct a cell tower in the municipality. The City of Roswell sent the telecommunications company a denial letter without explanation two days after a lengthy city council meeting on the application.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 amended the Communications Act to say that a state or local government's denial of "a request to place construct, or modify personal wireless service facilities shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record.”

The Eleventh Circuit held that a denial letter is sufficient to satisfy the “in writing” requirement where explanations or reasons are embedded in the administrative record, according to the petition.

T-Mobile South argued that there is a circuit split on the issue of what satisfies the “in writing” provision with the Eleventh and Fourth circuits breaking from the other courts. T-Mobile South' petition said the high court’s “review is urgently needed to bring uniformity to the law, and this case is the perfect vehicle for doing so.”

The telecommunications company argued in its petition that the Eleventh and Fourth circuits’ interpretation of the “in writing” requirement “not only badly misreads the statute but also, if left to stand, will seriously impede the prompt deployment of wireless services to consumers.”

“In particular, under the Eleventh Circuit’s approach, applicants will be forced to engage in the costly and time-consuming process of filing suit to ferret out the underlying reasons for permit denials; and judicial review will be vastly complicated as courts are required to sift through sometimes hundreds or thousands of pages of hearing minutes, transcripts and correspondence simply to discover the threshold question of the grounds of the local government’s decision,” the petition said.

However, Roswell argued the “in writing” requirement is merely a procedural issue, not an important federal question that deserves substantive review, and that there is not a true circuit split as many of the circuits are reaching a consensus on the "in writing" requirement, according to its brief against the petition.

“Indeed, the telecommunications industry has nothing to lose in this alleged conflict, but it undoubtedly has everything to gain,” the brief argued. “If the court granted the petition and decided that the Eleventh Circuit was wrong as to the interpretation of these four words, it is the local governments who would be harmed, as they would be forced to allow cellular towers based upon a mere technicality, without regard for the merits of their decisions.”

T-Mobile South had sought to build a cell tower disguised as a pine tree on a 2.8 acre, vacant parcel of property in Roswell and applied for a zoning permit, which was granted by the city planning commission pending the city council's approval, according to the petition.

The city council held a meeting in 2010 on the application that lasted more than two hours and resulted in 108 pages of transcripts, and at the end of which, the council voted to deny the application, according to the petition. The city sent T-Mobile South the denial letter two days later.

T-Mobile US Executive Vice President and General Counsel Dave Miller said in a statement Monday that the company "applauds" the Supreme Court's decision to hear the case.

“We believe local governments should clearly state ‘in writing’ the reasons why an application to build new or modify existing wireless infrastructure is denied," Miller said. "Building and improving mobile infrastructure is critical for consumers to fully benefit from our broadband economy.”

Counsel for the Roswell was not immediately available for further comment.

T-Mobile South is represented by Thomas Scott Thompson and Peter Karanjia of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

The City of Roswell, Georgia, is represented by Richard A. Carothers and Regina Benton Reid of Carothers & Mitchell LLC.

The case is T-Mobile South v. Roswell, Ga., case number 13-975, in the Supreme Court of the United States.

--Editing by Emily Kokoll.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How T-Mobile Added Millions in Bogus Charges to Cell Phone Bills

By Brian Slupski, Patch National

The Federal Trade Commission alleges that T-Mobile USA added hundreds of millions of dollars in charges to cell phone bills for purported "premium" services that customers never authorized.

The complaint filed by the FTC states that  $9.99 was added to people's cell phone bills for premium SMS subscriptions for things such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip. T-Mobile would get between 35 and 40 percent of the added third-party charges.

The FTC alleges that in some cases T-Mobile continued to bill people for years even after becoming aware that the charges were fraudulent.

“It’s wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “The FTC’s goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges.”

"Cramming" is a practice of placing a third-party charge on a person's bill without the customer authorizing it.

Previous FTC complaints outlined how charges would end up on cell phone bills. The FTC has taken action against companies such as Tatto, Inc., Jesta Digital and Wise Media. T-Mobile was billing customers for the services of some of these and other companies.

In the FTC case against Jesta the company settled agreeing to pay consumers a refund and pay $1.2 million to the FTC.

Jesta would use ads telling consumers a virus was detected on a person's mobile phone. The FTC stated that if the ads were clicked on people were sent to a series of screens that included language about protecting Android devices. The screen contained a subscriber button, but if a person clicked anywhere on the screen they were signed up for a $9.99 monthly charge on their mobile phone bill for ringtones and other content.

The FTC complaint against T-Mobile states that the company had refund rates of 40 percent some months for various services. The FTC states that T-Mobile should have known that many of the charges were not authorized by customers because of the high number of complaints.

"The refund rate likely understates the number of consumers who have been crammed," the complaint states. "Only those consumers who successfully identify the unauthorized charge can even attempt to dispute it."

The FTC complaint points out that T-Mobile did not show consumers that they were paying a third-party charge on bill after bill. Instead, the charge was listed as "Usage Charges." The FTC states that the crammed items were itemized under "Premium Services." A partial sample bill attached to this post shows the Usage Charges on page one with the itemization on page 123.

And the itemization usually still masked what the charge was for with abbreviations such as “8888906150BrnStorm23918.”

In some instances, T-Mobile did not provide a refund to customers even after becoming aware that they were being charged for services they had not ordered. T-Mobile told some customers to seek refunds from the scammers, the FTC complaint states, without providing accurate information for the customers to do so.

In other cases T-Mobile claimed customers had ordered the services when the company had no proof to back up the assertion.

The complaint asks that a federal court enter an injunction against T-Mobile to "prevent future violations of the FTC Act." The complaint also asks that consumers receive refunds related to the charges.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Early & Absentee Voting For Runoffs Begins Monday

DeKalb County, GA – The DeKalb County Board of Registration & Elections announces that Early Voting in DeKalb County for the General Primary, Nonpartisan and Special Runoff Elections will begin Monday, June 30 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Voter Registration and Elections Office at 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA 30032.  There will be no satellite voting locations for this election.
DeKalb County Sheriff: Incumbent Sheriff Jeff Mann will face former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones in the runoff for DeKalb County Sheriff.
State School Superintendent: Former Decatur School Board member Valarie Wilson and State Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan will compete in the Democratic runoff for State School Superintendent.
Board of Education District 3: Incumbent Michael Erwin squares off against Atticus LeBlanc for DeKalb County Board of Education District 3.
Board of Education District 4: Two incumbents, Jim McMahan and Karen Carter are in the running for DeKalb County Board of Education District 4.
Board of Education District 5: Incumbent Thad Mayfield and newcomer Vickie B. Turner will face each other in a runoff election for the DeKalb County Board of Education District 5 seat.
Early Voting and Absentee Mail Voting will end on Friday, July 18.  There will be no Saturday voting and the office will be closed on July 4 in observance of Independence Day.   Sample ballots are available on the VR&E website: www.dekalbvotes.com under “Current Election Information.”  The office is currently accepting absentee by mail applications.  Application forms are also available on our website.
The runoff elections will be held Tuesday, July 22, 2014.  To find your polling place and see your sample ballot, go to My Voter Page at www.sos.state.ga.us.  Applications and other information may be obtained at the website www.dekalbvotes.com or by calling the Voter Registration & Elections office at 404-298-4020.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Privacy Wins Over the Need to Investigate

WASHINGTON -- Cellphones and smartphones generally cannot be searched by police without a warrant during arrests, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday in a major clash between privacy and technology.

Ruling on two cases from California and Massachusetts, the justices acknowledged both a right to privacy and a need to investigate crimes. But they came down squarely on the side of privacy rights.

"We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. "Privacy comes at a cost."

The court struck down an extensive smartphone search in California that had been upheld by the state Court of Appeals, as well as a more limited probe of an old flip-top cellphone in Massachusetts that a federal judge already had thrown out.

The result was a ruling that police cannot seek what they believe is relevant to the crime without getting a warrant. Currently, police can search the person under arrest and whatever physical items are within reach to find weapons and preserve evidence.

The justices noted that vast amounts of sensitive data on modern smartphones raise new privacy concerns that differentiate them from other evidence. They reserved for police the right to claim "exigent circumstances."

In the past two years, the court has ruled that police can swab a suspect's cheek for DNA to put into an unsolved crimes database, as well as conduct strip searches of prisoners without reasonable suspicion.

But the justices also have said police need a warrant to attach a GPS device to a suspect's car, to obtain blood from a drunken driver who refuses a breathalyzer test, and to bring a drug-sniffing dog up to the door of a suspect's house.

The cellphone cases may be just a precursor to more expansive and potentially explosive high court inquiries. Among them: an examination of the National Security Agency's phone and computer surveillance methods, on which two federal district courts recently diverged.

The two cellphone cases, heard back-to-back in April, involved different crimes, different responses and different lower-court rulings. What joined them was the fact that police searched cellphones without first obtaining warrants.

A California court upheld David Riley's conviction on gang-related weapons offenses that police uncovered after stopping his car for expired tags, finding guns under the hood and then discovering incriminating photos and video on his smartphone. The justices overturned that ruling.

In Massachusetts, a federal appeals court threw out Brima Wurie's conviction after a specifically targeted search of his old-fashioned flip-phone following a street arrest led police to find a cache of drugs and weapons at his home. The high court upheld that ruling.

Because the California search was extensive and the Massachusetts search aimed only at incoming calls and addresses, both cases had appeared ripe for reversal. But with appeals courts divided on the issue of cellphone searches, the justices also were being asked to devise bright-line rules for police to follow -- something Roberts emphasized in his opinion.

That's particularly true because technology is advancing, creating new Fourth Amendment puzzles for police to solve. Nine in 10 adults in the U.S. own cellphones, more than half of them smartphones. Eight in 10 use those phones to send text messages; more than half send or receive e-mail, download applications, or access the Internet.

Combine that data with the estimated 12.2 million arrests made nationwide in 2012 — not including citations for traffic violations — and you have a potential perfect storm of cellphone searches.

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Roswell's Cell Tower Case


Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter's peaceful protest, which combined the efforts of multiple communities throughout DeKalb County into one march to show unity against the issue of placing towers on school grounds, was recently featured on Channel 2's news in a story about a nearby city, Roswell.  They have taken their fight against T-,mobile all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. 
http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/roswell/2014/05/05/cell-tower-wars/8737651/

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court is taking up a dispute over what kind of explanation local officials must provide when denying an application to build a cell phone tower.


The justices agreed Monday to hear an appeal from T-Mobile South, which claims the city of Roswell, Georgia, did not adequately justify its refusal to allow construction of a 108-foot tall cell tower.

Federal law requires denial of a cell phone tower permit to be "in writing" and supported by substantial evidence. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that Roswell satisfied that requirement by issuing a general denial letter and a transcript of hearings.

T-Mobile says the written decision must include the specific reason for denial. The company wants the high court to resolve a split in circuits on the issue.

Friday, June 20, 2014

ALEC: Now Coming To A City Or Town Government Near You

Hey, at least it will be more convenient to protest!

They're like zombies. They never die, and they never give up:
The rightwing group Alec is preparing to launch a new nationwide network that will seek to replicate its current influence within state legislatures in city councils and municipalities.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, founded in 1973, has become one of the most pervasive advocacy operations in the nation. It brings elected officials together with representatives of major corporations, giving those companies a direct channel into legislation in the form of Alec “model bills”.
Critics have decried the network as a “corporate bill mill” that has spread uniformly-drafted rightwing legislation from state to state. Alec has been seminal, for instance, in the replication of Florida’s controversial “stand-your-ground” gun law in more than 20 states.
Now the council is looking to take its blueprint for influence over statewide lawmaking and drill it down to the local level. It has already quietly set up, and is making plans for the public launch of, an offshoot called the American City County Exchange (ACCE) that will target policymakers from “villages, towns, cities and counties”.
The new organisation will offer corporate America a direct conduit into the policy making process of city councils and municipalities. Lobbyists acting on behalf of major businesses will be able to propose resolutions and argue for new profit-enhancing legislation in front of elected city officials, who will then return to their council chambers and seek to implement the proposals.
In its early publicity material, Alec says the new network will be “America’s only free market forum for village, town, city and county policymakers”. Jon Russell, ACCE’s director, declined to comment on the initiative.
Alec spokesman Wilhelm Meierling also declined to say how many corporate and city council members ACCE has attracted so far, or to say when the new initiative would be formally unveiled. But he confirmed that its structure would mirror that of Alec’s work in state legislatures by bringing together city, county and municipal elected officials with corporate lobbyists.“As a group that focuses on limited government, free markets and federalism, we believe our message rings true at the municipal level just as it does in state legislatures,” he said.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Parents STILL Fighting School Board's Decision in Montgomery County (Sound Familiar?)

11 Jun 2014 Written by  Melanie Balakit

Parents and residents are still fighting the construction of a cell phone tower on Benjamin Tasker Middle School land, expressing concerns about adverse health effects and a lack of policy transparency.

The Board of Education approved the construction of cell phone towers on public school grounds on Nov. 11, 2010, during a public meeting. The leasing master agreement between Prince George’s County Public Schools and Milestone Communications, the cell phone tower provider, was signed on Feb. 7, 2011.
Milestone selected 73 potential school sites, according to the leasing agreement. For each tower, Milestone would have to pay the Board a one-time fee of $25,000 and 40 percent of gross revenues generated from each tower built.  ( Note:  In DeKalb County, our school board did not even negotiate a good deal on the revenue side, agreeing to place towers for only a small lease amount that they are not allowed by contract to even attempt  with options to renew ONLY for T-mobile every 5  years.  Taxpayers were left on the hook for 30 year deals for what will be outdated technology at, most likely, closed schools that do not even need it for anything education-related now. )

No towers have been built yet, but the application process for individual school sites is already underway. Green Valley Academy of Temple Hills, Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, and Charles Carroll Middle School in Carrolton are among the first schools to be approved as sites for cell phone towers.
According to the county planning department, Milestone has not applied for a special exception because the county’s zoning ordinance does not require a special exception for monopoles built on public property standing less than 199 feet high. The tower proposed for Tasker Middle School will be 151 feet.
Deborah Lumpkins, director of Mothers Raising Sons and Daughters, said the Board of Education did not do enough to inform the community about the towers.

Lumpkins has three grandchildren at Benjamin Tasker Middle School. Lumpkins said she feels the Board of Education doesn’t have the public’s best interests in mind anymore.

“It’s all about their pockets,” Lumpkins said. “This is a sellout for them to make money for the school.”
According to the lease agreement the Board unanimously approved on Nov. 11, 2010, the Board gets paid $25,000 and 40 percent of the revenue generated from the tower. The school system declined to comment on how much the school itself will get. The leasing master agreement between the Board and Milestone was signed on Feb. 7, 2011, by former Superintendent William Hite.

Janis Sartucci, a member of the Parent’s Coalition of Montgomery County who has been assisting parents in Prince George’s County, said the Board of Education is still the land owner and must have the final approval on land use decisions.

“The Board of Education is trying to stay out of these decisions,” she said. “They want to hide. They are public officials and they don't want their names on these decisions.”

According to the 2010 Board policy, the Board had final authorization and approval for cell phone towers on public school grounds.  But in 2013, the Board of Education amended the policy and deferred authorization to the school system chief executive officer.  According to the 2013 policy, “the Board directs the CEO to implement and administer an administrative procedure governing the process for selection and authorization of sites for the location of wireless telecommunications facilities.”

Milestone gave a presentation about the proposed cell phone towers on public schools in Bowie in front of the Bowie City Council in early February. The council did not object to the project.

Bowie Mayor Frederick Robinson said the health threat “was not significant enough” to affect the decision. The installation of more cell phone towers is determined by consumer demand, he said.
(Exactly what criteria is he using to determine what is "significant enough" of a health risk in this case?)  

“It comes down to do you want a product or service?” Robinson said. “Then capacity has to be increased.”
Councilmember Diane Polangin said the construction of more cell phone towers is practical.

“Everybody wants to be connected,” she said. “People don’t want their calls dropped. Dear Lord, even elementary school kids have cell phones.”

Polangin said the location of the towers does not really matter.

“You don’t really notice them,” she said.
The invisible cell tower at Daly Elementary School in Germantown, MD

Ultimately, building cell phone towers on public school grounds is a school board issue, Robinson said.
“We reviewed the matter and deferred it to the school board – it’s their property, their issue,” Robinson said.

Eric Martin, a board member of Mothers Raising Sons and Daughters, said he strongly opposes cell phone towers on school grounds because of health concerns. Martin has a 12-year-old son who attends Samuel Ogle Middle School in Bowie, one of 73 potential schools in the county for building a cell phone tower.

“If they put a cell phone tower there, I may have to enroll my son in private school,” Martin said.
Lumpkins and Martin said they plan to raise awareness about the issue and petition against it this summer.
“If people don’t start talking, don’t start saying something, they’ll just make decisions without us,” Martin said.

Greenbelt resident Thea Scarato said she has similar health concerns.

“Schools should be a safe place, a safe learning environment,” said Scarato, a mother of a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old.

“I think every parent needs to be informed about this issue in order to make an educated decision or have an opinion on it,” Scarato said.

Scott Peterson, spokesman for County Executive Baker said Baker supports the school system’s decision.
“(Baker) is confident that the decisions the system is making are being made with the utmost concern for the safety and health of the students, faculty, staff as well as the surrounding community," Peterson said.


Get the Cell Out - ATL followers know very well about the nightmare being experienced by the parents and communities in this story from Maryland.  We have been going through the exact same thing in DeKalb County and we do not have much in the way of answers, either.  

Is the Mayor in the article above, who stated that there were no "significant risks" to the health of the children, now an authority in the medical field?  Has he relied upon independent research on the effects of RF on children?  (hint:  there are none.)  What studies did he read before he concluded that the risk was not significant because the World Health Organization's task force on this same issue reached a different conclusion.  The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging schools to use precautionary approaches to their decisions before switching to wi-fi networks.  Did the Mayor review anything from these authorities  or did he do exactly what the school board did in DeKalb County and simply rely upon industry-funded studies that will tell you whatever you want to believe?   

Is his statement going to be an acceptable answer to the child who develops leukemia as a result of his/her exposure to constant radiation, detected years from now after the Mayor and the School Board are no longer in their same seats, making claims that the risk is worth the benefits?  When we trade off a child's health as an acceptable risk in exchange for fewer dropped calls and a nice tax break for a commercial business, we can clearly see how education has gone downhill in this country.  

When  you cannot trust your school board to keep Possible and Probable Carcinogens from going up at a school, how can anyone expect you to trust them to make sound decisions on education?  Children must get an education in order to insure our society continues to grow and prosper.  Parents must make the best decisions for their children's needs at all times, based on what resources they have personally available and what public resources are available to them.

What other options do parents have in cases like these when their own elected school board members have determined that they will value money over health, and are willing to throw a  landmine into the path of the children who live in particular area or attend a particular school? 

As a parent, this trend of taking a risk for the "greater good" of the financial stability or, worse, for the restocking of the local slush fund account, is a disturbing one.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dangling Tower Worker In Gwinnett Left Unconscious Until Help Could Arrive - Just Like Our Taxpayers Are Left Dangling by the DeKalb School System, Waiting For Answers

From the AJC:

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga — A worker suffered a shoulder injury after a partial fall from a cell tower on Norcross Parkway Monday night.    (GTCO-ATL comment:  partial fall?  No, it was a real fall.  He was just fortune to have been wearing the proper safety equipment to prevent him from hitting the ground.)

Firefighters responded to the call and upon arrival, they said the man reportedly lost his grip on a climbing peg approximately 125 feet up the tower. He fell approximately 15-20 feet, hit the tower and was knocked unconscious. Witnesses say he eventually regained consciousness and was able to lower himself a short distance to an elevated platform on the tower.   (GTCO-ATL:  How long did it take for 911 to arrive and how much longer till they could reach him?)

A worker suffered a shoulder injury after nearly falling a
100 ft. from a cell tower on Norcross Parkway Monday night.
Officials say the man was part of a contract crew that was doing maintenance work on the tower. Two other workers on the ground called 911.

When firefighters arrived they were able to lower the victim to the ground with a harness. The man was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center for further evaluation of non-life-threatening injuries. The identity of the victim has not been released due to federal patient privacy law.  

(Is there a law that is preventing the family and co-workers as well as the worker from being able to tell the media about the dangers involved in this industry?  Is this type of emergency, potentially traumatizing to onlookers, not just to the worker, something young children should be exposed to by their own school simply because of a small amount of funding it might provide to an undisclosed fund back at the school board's main administrative office?  Contracts that could last for as many as 30  years, with the only out-clause being for the actual tower company and not the school system, are STILL in play with the DeKalb County School Board.  Even though it was two school boards ago and after a major upheaval in the system with the Governor having to remove the sitting board at the time, there are elementary and high schools in DeKalb County that STILL have no clue about their future because a loophole written into ONE contract could be forcing them to wait and worry without any answers.)

If you are concerned that YOUR neighborhood or YOUR child's school may be on a list being kept confidentially by the current school board and administration, please contact your current board member, or email the entire school board along with the Superintendent to inquire.   (EMAILS ARE BELOW.)  Copy us as sayno2celltowers@yahoo.com so that we can help track and consolidate the responses.  We will never make your name or email address public unless you give us specific permission to publish your email.  Our children and our taxpayers who support these schools deserve to know what is really going on.  It  has been nearly THREE YEARS since the original contracts are signed.  

Why can't we have answers about whether or not cell tower contracts with T-mobile, which has stated publically that it is no longer in the tower business at all, will ever be put into full effect?

Don't your friends and neighbors deserve to know whether there is any further legal merit by which to keep them dangling, just like the worker was left on his own in this story until help could arrive?

melvin_johnson@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; jim_mcmahan@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; john_w_coleman@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; marshall_orson@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; michael_erwin@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; david_campbell@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; joyce_a_morley@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; karen_carter@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; thaddeus_mayfield@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; michael_l_thurmond@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; sayno2celltowers@yahoo.com

Monday, June 9, 2014

Man falls to death from cell tower in Charlotte’s midtown area


By Steve Lyttle and Rachel Adams-Heard
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com
rheard@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2014

Davie Hinshaw - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.comCharlotte-Mecklenburg police appeared to be focusing
attention on this cellphone tower. Police said the body
was discovered near the base of this tower,
at a construction site off South Kings Avenue.




Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are investigating the death of a man who fell from a cellphone tower Wednesday morning in the midtown area near uptown.

Police said the body was found shortly after 7 a.m. by construction workers at a site between South Kings Drive and Cherry Street. That is near Charlottetowne Avenue.

Officer Jessica Wallin, a CMPD spokeswoman, said the case is a “death investigation.” Authorities at the scene said there was no sign of foul play.

The body was found near the base of a cellphone tower, inside the fenced-in site where an apartment building is under construction. It is unclear whether the man who died was working on the tower.

Police have not released the man’s name.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/06/04/4953732/body-found-in-charlottes-midtown.html#.U5XhGvk7uM4#storylink=cpy

Friday, June 6, 2014

Who Saw This One Coming? Oh Yeah, We Did.


On Monday the proposal to increase graduation rates in DeKalb County will be revealed. Let’s see what the new school board has to offer. Here’s the Press Release:

ATLANTA – A press conference is scheduled in Atlanta Monday, June 9, to announce a public-private sector effort to increase graduation rates among students in the DeKalb County School District.

The press conference will be held at 2 p.m. at the Georgia Department of Labor’s (GDOL) state office building at 148 Andrew Young International Boulevard, N.E.

Among those scheduled to participate are DeKalb County School Superintendent Michael Thurmond, State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, and Beth Shiroishi, President of AT&T Georgia.

Parking for news media will be provided in the ground level parking lot behind the office building.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hidden Danger Planned for Candler Park!

AT&T rep details planned Epworth cell antenna
Posted by Ken Edelstein
FEB 28, 2014

If you live in the area described in this article and are opposed to the cell tower, contact your City Zoning Board (?) to register your complaint.  Inquire about the use of a Special Administrative Permit which typically does NOT allow for citizen input.  Why is the city or county not requiring a Special Land Use Permit?  That would be the normal process for land disturbances that require a non-approved use of land in a manner that it is not currently zoned to accommodate (or at least that is how it is supposed to work in DeKalb. 

Cellphone antennas inside a new, taller Epworth Methodist Church steeple could be completed and operational in as little as six months, according to the contractor who’s representing AT&T on the deal.

But the telephone giant is taking the process more slowly now that some community members have expressed concern about the facility, said Carolyn Gould, project manager for RETEL Services, a company that navigates siting and regulatory issues for cell antennas.

The larger image is a rendition of the Epworth steeple (with antennas inside) as it might look when complete. Current view is in the upper left corner. Image provided by RETEL Services. Gould agreed to appear with AT&T officials at a CPNO monthly  meeting to answer questions and receive input, but the date for that appearance hasn't yet been set.

“If it can work out, it can be beautiful,” she said of the project. She argued that the Epworth antennas would improve cell coverage within Candler Park, while at the same time relying on relatively low power and also being placed inside a tower that would be architecturally consistent with the existing church. “If you’re moving into a home and you have five bars of coverage, and you can’t see an  antenna nearby ... I cannot imagine that not being a benefit.”

The new steeple would rise approximately 100 feet from street level. It would house antennas for AT&T and possibly one or two other providers inside a special building material that allows the radiofrequency, or RF, waves to be transmitted. Ground-level equipment, which doesn't emit radio waves, would be housed behind a new brick wall adjacent to the rear of the church building.

Before construction starts, the project must complete a Federal Communications Commission registration process, which already has begun. That process includes a review by the state Historic Preservation Division to ascertain the impact on historic structures or districts.

The extended tower also would require a Special Administrative Permit for zoning through the City of Atlanta. The application for that permit requires an opportunity for Neighborhood Planning Unit review and comment, which appears to be the most likely route for public input from Candler Park residents.

From there, the project would need a building permit to proceed, and construction could be completed in as little as two months, Gould said.

“We’re almost ready to submit for zoning,” Gould said, “but I think we’re putting that on hold right now [because AT&T officials] want to solicit input.”

Gould said the lease negotiated between the Epworth board and RETEL includes an option allowing AT&T to back out of the project.

Meanwhile, some Candler Park residents — including parents at Epworth’s preschool — expressed anger Wednesday and Thursday that they hadn’t been consulted on the church’s plans earlier. They were particularly upset because reports of the lease broke just as parents were re-enrolling their children for pre-school. Epworth Dayschool Director Amy Zaremba did offer Thursday, however, to refund any enrollment fees to parents who were pulling their children out because of the antenna project.

At the heart of the parents' concerns are the positions of some researchers and activists that radiofrequency waves from cell towers pose health risks. While mainstream science and regulatory organizations do warn of possible cancer risks from RF waves emitted by mobile phones, they regularly note that even people who live near cellphone antenna are exposed to tiny fraction of waves compared to those emitted by normal usage of the phones themselves.  (GTCO-ATL Note:  Preschool students do not use cell phones.  This notation is completely irrelevant in terms of calming the nerves of concerned parents and is infuriating to some who would like to be treated fairly yet deal with typical canned responses such as this one that addresses nothing other than the degree of harm.  If the phone is MORE dangerous, then don't allow children to use the phone.  That doesn't mean the harm from the tower is an acceptable amount of harm - there simply is no such thing.)

The FCC, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the American Cancer Society, the International Agency for the Research on Cancer, and other mainstream groups have not classified cell antennas as a cancer or health risk.   (GTCO-ATL Note:  The FCC is a technology driven agency, not experts in the field of medicine.  They simply determine if the tower emissions are low enough to not cause immediate heating of tissue. Most scientists now agree that heating tissue is not the only way it can be affected by RF and not the only mechanism that can cause harm.  

The FDA does not deal with RF as it was determined early in its commercial introduction to not fall under the typical food or drug categories as it is not something ingested.  They screen for known toxicants; they do not look outside of their jurisdiction and tell the FCC or EPA what to do.  

The EPA should claim control over this issue as it has become an environmental  concern, but that has not happened to date.  Groups such as the Center for Safer Wireless are active in lobbying for such a change right now.

  The IARC, under the direction of the World Health Organization can and did classify cell tower radiation (RF) as a class 2b carcinogen.  That is the same category as lead based paint, engine exhaust and the pesticide DDT.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics is a "mainstream" group and they have warned parents not to allow their children to use cell phones held next to their heads and to not expose them to the signal from wi-fi transmitters  or other sources of RF.  

Children are more susceptible to the risks as their bodies are still growing, their skulls are thinner and they will be exposed against their will to the highest levels of RF in their daily environment than any other generation of human beings for many more years than any adult making these decisions.   The greatest risk is being place on the segment of our population who have absolutely no voice in the decisions being made - the children.)


Opposed
Submitted by Tania Wolf on Tue, 03/04/2014 - 11:01am.
We moved to Candler Park just last August and chose our house because of the proximity to the Church Preschool, Park, and Mary Lin elementary. It seemed like a family friendly neighborhood full of kids.

I am beyond disappointed that AT&T would target a church that houses a Preschool. And saddened that a Church would agree.

From what I understand, those who live within a 1/4 to 1/2 mile are at greatest risk of having potential health issues (this is based on field correlation studies – please let me know if you would like the link to them). Epworth Preschool, Mary Lin Elementary, Candler Park Playground, and many of our homes will be within this radius (and note there are still risks outside of this radius).

There is a ton of information available on the risks/safety of cell phone towers/antennas. For every study out there that shows they are safe, you can find a study that says they pose a health risk. Across the board, you will often find the studies reference data gaps or inconclusive results.

Cell phones (and cell phone towers) are still a relatively new technology. From what I have read, the long term health effects of living in close proximity can take up to 20 years to manifest themselves. This makes replicating the impacts in a laboratory study difficult, and also provides for limited field studies to date.

Given that the broad body of scientific evidence is still inconclusive, and that we just don't know enough about the long term impacts, I don't feel that we can definitively say that cell phone towers/antennae are safe, especially over the long term.

The AT&T Rep states that the tower will increase coverage. However, If you look at the AT&T coverage map, you will see that our community currently has adequate coverage.

http://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html#fbid=UJOafAXtUn3

In addition, if you look at the map of current cell phone towers, you will see that there are already several in close proximity to our community.

http://antennasearch.com/

As an Epworth Parent, and Candler Park resident/homeowner who lives less than 200 yards from the Church, I am very concerned about this and would love to have it resolved so that everyone in the community wins. Not just AT&T.

Tania Thiele

GTCO-ATL Note:  Great job Tania!!  Ask the county commissioners about the use of a Special Administrative Permit as it is not a common process for tower construction. Good luck!

For more on this subject:  http://www.candlerpark.org/content/epworth-cell-phone-antenna-and-bias-presidents-messenger-article

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Election Results for DeKalb County's School Board

DeKalb County School Board Elections held May 20 left some races determined (in yellow below) and others to sit on hold until a runoff (highlighted in blue) can be held on July 22.

For updates on these and other races throughout Georgia, click here.

Here are the results so far (from WSB-TV):   

DeKalb County School Board

DeKalb County School Board District 1


                     Stan Jester (unopposed)


DeKalb County School Board District 2

WonCandidateVotes%
Marshall OrsonIncumbent4,25361
Don McChesney2,70439
Precincts Reporting - 25 of 25

DeKalb County School Board District 3

WonCandidateVotes%
Michael ErwinIncumbent3,60337
Atticus Leblanc2,02421
Willie Mosley Jr.1,62617
Jarrod Jordan1,61117
Jerrie Bason8108
Precincts Reporting - 30 of 30

DeKalb County School Board District 4

WonCandidateVotes%
Karen CarterIncumbent3,38935
Jim McMahanIncumbent2,82429
John Oselette1,74418
Ella Smith1,61817
Precincts Reporting - 26 of 26

DeKalb County School Board District 5

WonCandidateVotes%
Thad MayfieldIncumbent4,40436
Vickie Turner3,43428
Jesse Cunningham3,36828
R. Alexander Fitzhugh5474
Pia Bhatti4604
Precincts Reporting - 26 of 26

DeKalb County School Board District 6

WonCandidateVotes%
Melvin JohnsonIncumbent6,99478
Bridgeman Bolger1,94122
Precincts Reporting - 24 of 24

DeKalb County School Board District 7

WonCandidateVotes%
Joyce MorleyIncumbent4,69162
Kim Ault1,58821
Lee Dukes1,34018
Precincts Reporting - 24 of 24