Monday, October 20, 2014

What is the DeKalb County School System Trying to Hide From You?

The parents, property owners, residents and other citizens who are concerned about the impact of technology on the education system have been led down many paths, depending on what is most convenient for the school system to have you believe at the time.

We were once told that cell phone towers were necessary for some schools so that they could provide wireless Internet access and bring their education into the 21st century.  Well, guess what?  They didn't get the towers, but somehow they became wireless anyway and we've  been living in the 21 century for a while now.  So, the towers were not really needed for an educational purpose at all.  If they had been intended for that use, it would not have been an initiative started by the "Finance, Budget and Audit Committee" committee which was chaired by Paul Womack and vice chaired by Dr. Eugene Walker, both notorious for their roles in dragging out the north/south divide of DeKalb County.

We were also told that the digital revolution in our school system would bring children experiences that they could have never had in other way, connecting them to other countries and cultures and taking them to places like the depths of the ocean or outer space.   With rare exception, that is not how computers are being used most of the time.

Smart boards were going to get students more engaged in the learning experience.   Nevermind the expense, the technology would be a way to get kids more involved. Teachers would be encouraged to "think outside the box" as they would have a new tool to get children excited about learning.  In reality, the "new" has simply been a very expensive purchase that replaced the chalkboard, the white board, the overhead projector and the screen that you used to pull down in front of the chalkboard when the teacher had a filmstrip to show in class.

Truth be told, many kids used filmstrip time to fall asleep at their desks anyway, so it's not necessarily a proven fact that  using video/audio presentations in school were ever a good idea to begin with.  One downside to "smart boards" which are now in every classroom is that they also  removed a very effective punishment that was once available to teachers  -  the dreaded "cleaning erasers" chore which was the practice of making kids pound two erasers together outside of the classroom in order to remove the excess chalk.  To clear the display these days, it just takes a click of a button.  But, how is that a benefit worth the expense when everything else was something we could always do?  The information isn't new, but we are all paying for a lot of new ways of getting that knowledge from the teacher to the student.  If the schools are not performing any better, then it isn't about the hardware OR the software.   The system itself is broken and yet, in DeKalb, what has been done to change it?  We have a system wide failure.

The system is broken because the leaders are not focused on the most basic and primary of goals:  educating children.  They were busy spending the windfall sums that came their way when times were good and now they are busy trying to maintain their same levels of spending when times are tough.  Their focus is on themselves.  Instead, they have made promises to the poor to bring federal dollars in while making excuses to the rich about why their demands were not being met when they were paying such a large amount for a system they were being driven out

 So,  the schools are improving, according to Michael Thurmond, the Superintendent who made an Interim position into a real, yet short term, position that required the diplomacy and tact of an international peace keeper.  But, what about the concerns of the taxpayers that led to the complaints to SACS and eventually led to the removal of the board members?

Did the concerns raised by parents ever become something that the new, appointed board was apprised of?  Do they know the actual content of those complaints or were they just appointed because it was the belief of the selection committee and the Governor that they could do a "better" or decent job than the ones who had been elected and therefore they would not create an atmosphere of infighting that could lead to a loss in public confidence?

Well, if you were here during the time of the SACS report (released Dec. 2012) then  you may recall what was going on at the time.  Teachers were upset about furlough days and the firing of media specialists  and paraprofessionals in order to make ends meet financially.  Some magnet school and theme schools were upset because of a threat to end the free transportation for them (even though application to these schools is voluntary).  No one likes classrooms that are overcrowded and no one was very fond of the "balanced" calendar idea or the countless "redistricting" process.  But, those issues come up in other areas, too, and they don't end with a complete removal of an entire board of elected officials.  It is popular to hate standardized testing in schools right now or to dislike a cheating scandal or bookkeeper with sticky fingers.

But, which one of those issues actually caused parents in DeKalb County to throw their differences aside and start working together for a common goal?  Which of those issues caused people to look around and see how the children in other schools were  being treated and start to recognize the pattern of abuse that were taking place?   Which of the above issues actually caused parents and taxpayers to band together in protest so that they were gathered together in an actual march, demanding that a poor decision be reversed?   Which issue resulted in an actual ballot referendum that was supported by nearly every legislator in  the DeKalb delegation, won a referendum vote by a landslide, AND took three full hours of hearings at the Capitol simply for the citizens to voice their demands?

What issue was it that exposed an attempt of a corrupt board to abuse the public's trust by skirting the laws requiring public notification and input?  And what was the one issue that actually had people from both ends of the county finally holding their elected officials to a higher standard of conduct  - one that was truly about fair treatment of all who live here?  What one issue made it perfectly clear that the problem was NOT the people, but the way the people were being represented to one another and the way they were NOT being represented in government decisions?   The problem was with the politicians who were using their positions to gain political power and advantages for their political party, despite the fact that the school board seats were deemed to be "non partisan."

For the first time, parents were understanding that the school system should NEVER be about doing whatever it takes to give your child an UNFAIR advantage over others.   That's not a good lesson for children to learn and  we, as upstanding citizens who want something better, should never allow a benefit to be thrown our way if it will bring harm to someone else.  Education and its policies should NEVER been about harming others.  That's not a goal of education and therefore it should not be the goal of anyone hired or elected to use the schools in that manner, either.


So, you probably know what that ONE ISSUE is that we are referring to, don't you?

Cell towers on school grounds as a viable consideration for "alternative revenue" when tax dollars fall short.
To  seek out agreements that would lease the ground right out from under the tax payers who have already paid for that property and take it away from the children who are already using it for the purpose it was originally intended (education) is not really a subject that requires much thought to the average person.  It's clearly wrong.  When you add in the fact that the normal procedures for notifying the public and for gathering their input about the benefits vs. the costs were not followed, it becomes even more offensive, even if it was not happening to you directly.  The fact that it could happen at all is something that we should all be concerned about because that means that is isn't just a school's property, but maybe even your own that you should be worried about.

Cell towers are large structures that do not conform whatsoever to an area of residentially zoned homes or the small space that has been set aide for the education of young children.  They are clearly incompatible with every possible stretch of the imagination of what one would expect to see visually in a residential area.  They are also high enough on the list of possible carcinogens from the World Health Organization that the last  person one would expect to be in favor of placing them near young children would be a school board member.

This issue made a lot of people very upset in DeKalb County.  Many people stuck with the fight month after month after month.    Yet, somehow the newly appointed school board nor the Superintendent has not viewed this particular issue as one worthy of being addressed.

 In fact, Get the Cell Out - ATL, a group started by some of the very first parents who were faced with this issue in the DeKalb County School System, has attempted to remind the board, very respectfully, that this issue remains out there and they need to place it on their agenda before their tenure on the board has ended.

We spoke at the public comments portion of Michael Thurmond's very first board meeting, before the appointed board was put in place.   Many parents have spoken up at a variety of times since Michael Thurmond's arrival, to voice their concerns about this subject and the fact that they do not want to see this practice of skirting public input  to come up again.  And, we spoke again at two subsequent board meetings as well as to our individual  board member, super district board member, surrounding area board members and not only are we essentially ignored, but the ballot referendum was a complete waste of time as it resulted in no action whatsoever.

But, worse than that ...  the video that is normally made of every board meeting so that those who live here can watch the meeting even if they are unable to attend it in person ... is not posted on the school system's website.  And, in fact, that video is being intentionally withheld from the public domain by people who do not want you to know that this issue is being "buried."

Get the Cell Out - ATL has been very polite and non-threatening in the way we have approached these public officials. We have patiently waited for them to deal with the issues most important to restoring the accreditation of the school system.   But, this board, as it exists today, only has TWO MORE MONTHS in office as a whole.

Their work will hopefully continue even as elected members eventually replace the appointed ones.  But, what have they done to address this issue and why are they okay with the fact that the staff of the school system is trying to prevent you from hearing about the suggestions we have presented?

They have options available to them that do not have to be a complete ban.  They could easily adopt a resolution that would discourage future school boards from engaging in negotiations that would require the leasing of school grounds to commercial entities without the full disclosure of their intentions.   If they did not want to try to provide such a recommendation to a future board, perhaps they could create a thoughtful and effective policy to adopt that would outline a specific set of steps that the board would follow and the administration would respect.


To avoid this subject altogether is a failure on behalf of this school board.  It is a failure to truly understand that issues that led to the downfall of the system and it is a failure to protect the system from falling prey to the exact same scenario from repeating itself in the future.  It is a failure to address the fact that there must be a trustworthy link between the schools and the communities that support them.

 Two months left -  will your board member or the Superintendent ask for an item to be added to next month's agenda to address the fact that the school system has no written procedures or policy to address a very volatile issue that could easily come up again?

If not, what will you do to remind them that this issue is still out there and isn't going away?  How will you hold this board accountable?   How can you make sure that what almost happened to some can not happen to you?


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Johns Creek Fights 400 ft. Monster (of a Cell Tower)

Neighbors object to 400-ft. city-owned cell tower
by Joan Durbin
jdurbin@neighbornewspapers.com
July 18, 2013 03:05 PM | 1
Johns Creek is 

A plan to erect a 400-foot cell tower across the road from an east Roswell subdivision has engendered strong opposition.

The tower is one of three judged necessary to implement the North Fulton Unified Radio System project, which will upgrade and enhance public safety radio capabilities for Roswell, Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Mountain Park and Milton.

As currently proposed, the towers would go on city-owned land at Roswell Fire Station No. 6 on Cox Road, on Fouts Road and at the fleet/transportation yard on Hembree Road.

It’s the Fouts Road location that has the Twelvestones community seeing red. The tower would be directly across the street from them.

“Keep in mind that we're not opposed to improving safety, but we just believe that this project was hastily put together under the radar,” said resident Bob Richardson. “No one here knew about the Fouts Road placement until your article in the [June 19] Neighbor.”

An online petition against the tower at twelvestones.info had more than 100 signatures by midweek. On July 16, around 50 citizens attended an informational meeting about the tower to ask questions and express concerns.

One of those attendees, Twelvestones resident Joyce Ross, said several neighbors pointed out the fact that, with this project, the city is in violation of its own ordinance.

“There are strict guidelines in place regarding the height of a tower and proximity to homes and neighborhoods,” Ross said. “Roswell code states a tower ‘must be set back from the nearest residential lot line a distance equal to the height of the tower.’ This 400-foot tower is slated to be located 138 feet, measured off by two neighbors, from the street.”

One of the residents, Susan Booth, pointed out there are locations inside the adjacent East Roswell Park where city industrial equipment is being stored. Moving the tower to an industrial area inside the park would be in keeping with other the sites proposed, she said, and the tower would be much less of an issue in that area of the park.

In the June 19 story, City Administrator Kay Love said all three towers are needed to make the new unified system work. “Optimal coverage means towers must be strategically located at sites that provide the highest elevation and coverage of the local terrain,” she said.

And according to the city, the Fouts Road site is the best in that area, considering the elevation and the fact that they own the land, Richardson said. “They conceded that a larger tower on a lower elevation or two or more smaller towers at multiple locations would be acceptable, but they appeared determined to build the tower at the site they just purchased.”

Mayor Jere Wood, who was at the July 16 informational meeting, said the “I think the majority of the neighborhood acknowledges the need for a public safety radio system, but they had a lot of questions about this site for the tower, and I don’t think the city did a good job of explaining why we couldn’t put it somewhere else.

“And I have some questions myself about our options. An alternative that was mentioned but not discussed was why not move it to another location inside the park.”

Wood said he would like input from the recreation and parks department on that issue. The city council is slated to vote on sites for the three tower sites on Aug. 12.

“I believe the council has an open mind. They have not yet made a decision on this site,” the mayor said. “It’s a done deal that were going to put up the towers, but I’d like to hear more explanations as to why this is the best location. I anticipate objections to the tower wherever it goes.”


Read more: Neighbor Newspapers - Neighbors object to 400 ft city owned cell tower 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New Group of Parents in Maryland Fight Cell Towers

From:  The Washington Post
 September 30 at 8:43 AM 

A new group, made up of residents and activists from across Maryland, has formed to help Prince George's County residents who are fighting the county school system’s plan to build cellphone towers on school property.

The Maryland Coalition Against Cell Towers on School Grounds is the most recent evidence of a coordinated effort by those who oppose the construction of the towers. Last month, Safe Schools for Prince George’s County began collecting signatures on an online petition calling for the school system to stop construction of the cell phone towers.

During a recent school board meeting, numerous speakers voiced concerns about children’s exposure to radiofrequency radiation.

Some of the speakers live in the county. Others are residents of Montgomery, Anne Arundel or Baltimore counties. One was from the District.

“I find it quite shameful that you would put our kids in danger,” said Percie Rutherford, who several years ago successfully fought the placement of a tower near his subdivision in Upper Marlboro.

The board does not respond during the public portion of the meeting.

But Board Chairman Segun Eubanks and schools chief Kevin M. Maxwell have previously defended the school system’s decision to lease property to Milestone Communications, and they gave little indication that things would change.

“The board and the administration did considerable homework when it came to the issue of public safety regarding the cellphone towers,” Eubanks said previously. “There is no reason to believe that the cellphone towers are more dangerous than any other technology that we are exposed to on a regular basis.”

Under the agreement with Milestone, the school system would receive $25,000 for each site and 40 percent of the gross revenue from the towers on its sites. The school system estimates that the agreement could generate $2.5 million over five years.

Before the meeting, members of the new group held a news conference to share the experiences they have had in their own jurisdictions.

Thea Scarato, a member of Safe Schools for Prince George’s County, said she didn't know many of the people who are a part of the group but found that “the lack of transparency in these deals” was something that they all had in common.

In a joint statement, the Maryland Coalition Against Cell Phones on School Grounds, offered 25 reasons for a moratorium.

Among the reasons listed was that schools should in the business of education, not radiation. The group said students and staff should not be constantly exposed to cell tower microwave radiation and put at risk of adverse effects from cumulative long-term radiation exposure.

For months, residents have spoken out against the construction of the cell phone towers. The number of residents testifying has increased with each meeting.

The new coalition is focusing its efforts at the local, county and state level, combining a grassroots campaign with a legislative initiative, according to its press release.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Driving while Texting 6Xs More Dangerous than Driving Drunk


Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),

The federal agency reports that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent -- when traveling at 55 mph -- of driving the length of an entire football field while blindfolded.

Texting while driving a vehicle has now replaced drinking while driving as the leading cause of accidents and deaths of teenage drivers.

Texting in traffic isn't simply a problem among teens and 47% of adults admit that they text while driving. Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than non-texting drivers.

Read More Here

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Georgia Power Still Using Smart Meters From Company That Admits to Faulty Meters That Cause Fires!

SaskPower says smart meter company will pay back $24M in cash

This is the SAME company that is supplying Georgia Power with Smart Meters!  One might be installed on YOUR house right now!
SaskPower says it will replace 105,000 smart meters,
a process that is expected to cost $47 million. (CBC

If you are concerned and want your meter changed BACK to an analog meter, you can contact the power company and request an ANALOG meter.  There is a monthly charge associated with reading the meter the "old way" by a meter reader monthly, but the fee is about equivalent to the amount your bill probably increased when the Smart Meter was added.

Fire risks on top of radiation risks?  They simply are not worth taking in exchange for having a meter that provides zero benefit to you as a homeowner and only helps the power company get more data on you, your household and how you use your power while eliminating jobs and creating a greater need for cell towers to be put up in the middle of residential areas to transmit the data.  NO THANKS, Georgia Power!  Take this DUMB METER OFF my house! Thank you to Stop Smart Meters Georgia for calling this one to our attention!

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskpower-says-smart-meter-company-will-pay-back-24m-in-cash-1.2760793

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It CAN be done - San Francisco School Board Votes to Cancel Current Cell Tower Contracts!

Posted on Wednesday, September 10 at 7:45am | By Michele Ellson
 Parents at this San Francisco school have waged a
battle to keep cell towers off their school grounds - and they
won!  Congratulations from Get the Cell Out - ATL!  We
KNEW that cancelling existing contracts really IS something
that a school board CAN do, if they want to.
The school board is preparing to cancel contracts that put cell phone antennae on top of a pair of Alameda schools.
In a closed-door session, the board opted to direct school district staff to notify the owners of cell antennae installed atop Maya Lin School and Will C. Wood Middle School that their contracts will be terminated, board president Margie Sherratt announced at the start of Tuesday’s school board meeting.
A vote to terminate the contracts – both held by AT&T – is set to take place on September 23, Sherratt announced. She said the contracts would be terminated in a year.
Families at Maya Lin School have waged a months-long campaign to rid the school of the cell antennae, which they fear could impact the health of students and staff at the school. Some Maya Lin parents also questioned whether the contracts were entered legally.
CONGRATULATIONS to the parents of the Maya Lin School in your victory in this battle.  You have accomplished something very difficult - getting your school board to admit to a bad decisions and then motivating them to take the necessary corrective actions. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

NAACP Speaks Out Against Cell Towers

UPPER MARLBORO – Parents and activists—including the head of the Prince George’s County chapter of the NAACP—continued their fight against cell phone towers being placed on school property.

At the Prince George’s County Board of Education’s first meeting for the 2014-15 year several parents spoke out asking the Board to not allow cell phone towers to be placed at Benjamin Tasker Middle School and Charles H. Flowers High School.

The Board of Education previously 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, including Tasker and Flowers, according to the leasing agreement.

Bob Ross, president of the Prince George's County Branch of the NAACP also spoke out against cell phone towers, compared the cell phone tower issue to Love Canal, a neighborhood in upstate New York where tons of toxic waste was buried without the public's notice.

"The same thing could happen with cell phone towers," Ross said.

Ross went on to further tell the board that they should do their due diligence in researching the effects these proposed cell phone towers could have on students.

"I love technology," Ross said. "But if there's a possibility of harm to our children, we shouldn't do it."

Charlene Bearisto, a mother of a child at Bowie High School was one of the most vocal parents at the meeting against the cell phone towers. She is part of a coalition which has generated a petition with more than 1,000 signatures.

“There are significant health concerns that concern me and other parents about the proposed cell phone towers,” Bearisto said “I don’t want my child, your child or any child to suffer from Leukemia.”

Lynn Beiber, another Bowie resident, also expressed concern about the unknown effects the cell phone towers would have on the health of students.  Read more

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

October 6, 2014: Deadline to Register to Vote

As Americans, no right is more precious than the constitutional right to select our leaders. Yet many eligible Georgia citizens are not even registered to vote. We need your help to reach out to DeKalb citizens who are not yet registered.

Learn the when, why, and how of voting. This training will provide information on the following topics:
Summary of changes in voting laws  Information and Instructions for Voter Registration Events (formerly known as Voter Registration Drives)
  • Voter ID requirements
  • Absentee voting 
  • early voting
  • and many more!

When
Wednesday September 3, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM EDT

Where
DeKalb County Registration and Elections Office
4380 Memorial Drive
Decatur, GA 30032

Contact
ONE DeKalb
404-371-3689
onedekalb@dekalbcountyga.gov

A voting booth will also be set up during training to enable trainees to become familiar with its usage. Training materials will be provided. 


October 6, 2014: Deadline to Register to Vote

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.