Monday, September 12, 2011

Transcript from the Briarcliff ES PTA meeting with Womack discussing the cell towers

Transcription of 8/31/11
Meeting with Paul Womack at Briarlake Elementary School
Womack = Paul Womack, elected again in 2008, having served for twelve years in the 1970s, currently District 4 Rep - School Board Vice Chair / Acting Chair During July 11 board meeting in which a contract was agreed to that will put cell towers at 9 public schools in DeKalb County. Womack is the district representative for 5 schools on the original list of 12: Lakeside, Briarlake, Brockett, Jolly and Princeton.
Interesting to note that this meeting was assembled on short notice within about two days time and 22 people attended, many of whom were not actually invited and the meeting hosts were unsure how they even found out about it. The meeting that was held in May regarding T-mobile’s proposal that Mr. Womack mentions in the transcript below, was supposedly highly publicized and every attempt was made to let the community know about it. That meeting had only 3 attendees from Briarlake. (The Lakeside meeting was held at the same time one mile away.) The Brockett meeting had 5.
===
Womack: You can use [the money from T-Mobile] for improvements, things for the school, room parties, things like that.  It’s up the community how you’re going to spend that $25,000. There has been no location so far. They have looked at a couple of sites, but I have been assured by T-Mobile that the community will be able to say yeah or nay as to the actual placement. Questions?
F1: The literature from the World Health Organization from December, 2010, mentioning the RF that comes from cell phones as inconclusive regarding damage as well as the RF from cell phone towers.  Five months later they came out with a major study that’s conclusive that long-term usage of cell phones can be (damaging). There’s also a study due out in 2013 about cell phone towers and exposure to those. Shouldn’t we consider waiting until… 
Womack: (Steps on speaker) The contract has already been signed. That’s a given. Uh, you get more radiation from your microwave than you do..
F1: But that’s not constant exposure.
Womack: I understand, but when you use this, that’s your choice.  That will not be your choice. (chatter) Excuse me, one at a time, please. One at a time. Uh, I can’t say that that study is right or wrong, but I know that the federal government says that it cannot be taken into consideration. But there is no concrete, proven fact. I haven’t seen that study, but I will ask the administration to look at it. I will get an answer.
F2: Will you take a look at this study of dairy cows in Germany? It shows a verifiable link between the RF emissions and the cow’s behavior. They were aborting their calves, not producing enough milk, and when they were removed from that range, everything went to normal.
Womack: Ok. Now you had a comment back there.
F2: Well, my point is, if this is such a controversial issue, why are we taking the risk with our children?  Aren’t we supposed to protect children?
Womack: Your name is…
F2: (Answers)  I’m just concerned that we are thinking “oh we’re going to get all this money, so that makes it ok”.
Womack: No.  It doesn’t.  We held a seminar here. We advertised it for a month. Put it on the website. The community was told, but everybody said, “oh it was the end of school, we didn’t have time”. We had about ten people that showed up for that presentation from T-Mobile.  And I only heard one question during that presentation that was anywhere in voicing a concern.  And the community over at Medlock voiced major concern and we took it off of the contract. But their voice was not from the safety, they were mad because Medlock had been closed.  They didn’t want any encroachment.  We’ve tried to follow what communities wanted and very frankly, I’ve only had 4 or 5 questions out of this community as to whether it was safe, why did you do it.  If the community does not speak up,  I can only support or not support what I’m hearing.
F3: I have a comment. Many people didn’t come, because they didn’t know.  Now that people know, I understand that this took place in the summer.
Womack: There was a presentation on May 3.
F3: There was a presentation but it didn’t discuss cell towers on this property.
F4: You’re right here in my neighborhood, in my backyard. I didn’t know anything about this. I’ve spoken with several of my neighbors and nobody knew anything about it.  Nobody let our neighborhood know anything about any possibility of there being any cell phone towers right in our backyard. It’s the first time we’ve known about it right after your vote.
Womack: I’m sorry.
M1: Well it looks like now, it’s a done deal
Womack: It is a done deal.
F4: Unless there’s a protect order.
Womack: That won’t happen cause the county has come to us to ask how we did it cause they want to do it too.  (arguing ensues)
F4: If you did it before we had a chance to know about it that was
Womack: It was on television before the vote, on all of the stations.
F4: What stations?
Womack: The television stations ma’am. It was out in the public. I can only do what I hear, not what I’m hearing after the fact.
F4: Well, if we didn’t know before the fact, then what could we say before the fact?
F5: I could find nothing online.
Womack:  Well, it was on our site. It was publicized through… We had sent notices to uh, I don’t know what to tell you on that.
F5: During the vote on July 11, during the meeting it was brought to your attention that the community was not aware of this. I am very involved in the schools and I was not aware of this.
Womack: I don't know what to tell you.
F5: I do know that you pushed the vote through.
Womack: Yes
F5: You opted. Your name in the meeting minutes opted to push the vote through.
Womack:  Yes
F5: And you say that the contract is now signed, but we’re saying that we didn’t know. You’re telling us we did, but I’m telling you that no, I did not.
Womack: Well, I don’t know how to get it out anymore than we tried. I don’t have the resources personally to do this. We asked the administration to post it on the site. I do know that we got it out the best we could. And I don’t care what issue it comes to a community, part is going to have it and part is not.
M2: I realize that, but at the same time, the procedures that have been used at least since the Roosevelt administration, whenever we have an issue of public necessity, vs the rights of private citizens affected by that alleged necessity, is that we have a period of adequate notice – sufficient to get the message to the members of the community that are affected. I’m just saying that if all you did was notify the PTA and you’re planning on putting a 150’ cell phone tower that’s 50 feet from my property line?  And it’s my property value that’s going to be affected, then you need to notify me and other members of the community that are affected.  I back up to the playground of this establishment.
Womack:  One of your neighbors, I discussed it with him because he, uh, came. And I asked him, “what’s your interest?”  And I said, “are you concerned?” and he said, “Oh, no. no.”  He said, “I’ve put cell towers up all over the country.  Now you may know who I’m talking about, somebody right around here.  I live, not quite as close as you are. I don’t know what to tell you.  I didn’t know why you didn’t know it because we tried to get the message out.
F6:  Well, I’m right next door. We have a neighborhood alert.  We have a newsletter. We have an email alert for the neighborhood.  Nobody in our neighborhood knows about it and we are immediately next door.  My property line is exactly next to the property line of this school.  Nobody in my neighborhood knew anything about it.  Not a thing.
Womack:  Well, I don’t know what to say to you.  We tried to get it out.
M2: Did you put signs up?  I mean, did you put any signs?
Womack:  No, no we did not.  We did not.  No.
F6: So, one meeting and that’s it?  You had like one meeting and pushed it through?  Is that what happened? I mean that’s what it sounds…
Womack:  Well, actually, yes, I would say that is the fact of the matter, yes.
F6:  That doesn’t seem right.
M3: I’d like to try to suggest a rationale for why what happened did happen.  We are at a time when our county is looking for sources of revenue to keep the schools open, not have to cut services while politically it’s the wrong time to be raising taxes and here was a chance to get a hold of a cool, free half a million bucks and if we went and got this thing done without making a lot of noise, it was gonna happen and the county and the school board was willing to take the risk that there wouldn’t be a couple of lawyers living next door that might somehow find their way there might be a rite of notice and run down to the courthouse.  And that’s what happened.
Womack:  Well, let me, let me respond to the taxes.  The school board does not raise taxes… since 2000.  Ah, I was chairmen of the Budget Committee we cut 104 million dollars out of the budget.  A lot of it was in the area that most people were concerned about.  And that was in staff. And we got rid of a lot of things that we shouldn’t have. That we know of.  This year the administration was pushing through another budget and I was able to stop it.  I’m vice chair. And we cut another 15 million.  We are not going into the classroom.  We have increased the number of students.  But we have, I think, as good of a fiscal record as any school system, probably better than most.  We did not do what the county did - raise property taxes, what? 28 percent? We didn’t do that.   But you know, I don’t really buy that the community did not know because Medlock and a couple of areas around the county found out.  They had to have knowledge because they came to the board and said, “No.” And the board said, “Ok.” We listen you.  But nobody came to, from this community and said “no.”
F7: I am new to Decatur, and I met a parent from Medlock.  And, I knew nothing about the cell towers at the school before I met her and she described to me a wooing relationship with T-mobile.  That they came several times and tried to tell them how good it would be, and this was before the school closed, how good it would be for the community, how, ah, they could make it look like a water tower and not like a cell tower, that it could have their mascot painted on it, and so they, in the process of wooing the community alienated the community.  And that’s what I understood from this parent.
Womack:  Well, that could very well be true.  Yes sir?
M4:  Just curious, I’m sorry.  I was a little late.  You may have discussed it earlier.   If it is not a good decision for the three schools that you pulled off the list, and I saw this in a report I recently read and the person in that article quoted a board member as saying if they heard anything at all, then how does the logic follow through that it is a good idea for the other schools?
Womack:  The, the, uh, answer to that, maybe, maybe.  It was that the community came forth and said we just don’t want it.  That was, that was before the vote, sir.
F5:  But, you can change the vote, right?  You can bring it back up?
Womack:  No, no.  The contracts have been signed.  I’m sorry.
F5:  Well, don’t you think if other schools were had a quite a lengthier notice because of T-mobile and..  and we didn’t have any interaction with the school so we didn’t have any notice.
Womack:  I can’t answer that.  I can’t give you an honest answer about that.  If I said “yes” it would be a lie, if I said “no” it would be a lie.
F5:  Well, just personally, I’m just amazed that those other schools were that together and were there at that meeting.  And were, you know, in the…
Womack: They voiced it to their, their, their local boards
F5:  And so, in this report of that meeting, you know, there’s all this stuff about how this school and that school went to the community and this school doesn‘t want it … and it says that cell phone towers especially near developing children could be a danger.  Is there a provision in this 15-year contract if there is something in there that is damaging to children?  Is there some sort of break off?
Womack:  I don’t know about that.  If you would make just a little note for me and I will try to get you an answer.
F5:  Okay
Womack:  But, I can assure you, just as one board member, if this thing proves to be detrimental, and not, uh, an eyesore, if this were detrimental to kids the board would move to break the contract.
(mumbled talking in background)
So, everything we’ve seen so far and I’ve told you the FC - the Federal Communications Act says health cannot be … it is updated… look, I can’t give you the answer.  Look either you are in FAVOR of this, or you are not.   Yes sir?
M5:  Then I have a question.  If this is a private company and it’s not a question of public perception.  And if a private company can go buy private property somewhere.
Womack:  Yes sir.
M5:   And it wasn’t a matter of money as you said so there in your speech a while ago, then what was so seductive about this particular proposal that you had to go for it and after there are three major objections and sneak it through as you did.
Womack:  We did NOT sneak it through, sir.  That’s your definition.  We did not sneak it through at all. The seductive part is we have poor cell service in here.  Over at Lakeside.  Over at Lakeside.  There is no police.  There’s no fire.  There is no cell service across from Briarcliff almost all the way down to Clairemont and back down a great degree down… (unintelligible name of a road).  And in the school last year they had a young lady that had a seizure.  And that community wants a cell phone.
F7: They don’t have a land line?
Womack:  They did, uh, it happened outside.  And it took them something like 10 minutes to get from where they were inside because they were trying to take care of her and the seizure she had. 
(His cell phone started beeping. - which was a little amusing since he was just making the point about no cell service in the area)
Excuse me. (He reaches into pocket, takes out phone and turns it off.)  
Yes sir?

M6:  Can, can you generally explain the electromagnetic spectrum and tell us why 120 towers isn’t sufficient for coverage?
Womack:  No sir, I can’t.
M6:  Because it doesn’t make any sense to have more.
Womack:  You have a cell tower right down here at, uh, at uh, Oak Grove and Lavista.
M6:  Here you can have the addresses. I’ll give this to, you can have the addresses of where all the towers are at.
Womack:  I’ve seen that.  And, I know we’ve got a lot of cells in here.  But the cells - break out.
M6:  How?
Womack:  Sir, that’s a technical question and I’m not prepared and I will not discuss it and I am not talking about it.
M6:  But, you made the decision to put the tower in.  Without knowing?  That doesn’t make any sense to me.
Womack:  That doesn’t have anything to do with…
M6:  (Angry)  It has everything to do with our children!
Womack: We have very limited cell service in this area.
M6:  Do you want me to tell you why it is that way?
Womack:  Why?
M6:  Because they’ve jumbled the airwaves with all the towers in.  You’ve got asymmetrical lines and you’ve got symmetrical lines.  Asymmetrical are for residential areas, meaning we take in…
Womack:  You’re the expert, sir.  I’m not …
M6:  Well then I should have made the decision!  And I would have said No!  Because, to me, 120 is pretty sufficient!
Womack:  Okay, sir, you’ve made your point.
M6:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.
F8:  … (unintelligible - lots of talking going on in background)… and when did the school system start making decisions about cell phone coverage?
Womack:  This started, I guess, last, um, about mid-last year, well, I guess.. And we, uh, discussed it in a couple of board meetings best I can remember… lightly, not heavy, but lightly.  And we said, “We have to go to the community.”  And, we did that as best we could.  I’m sorry we did not contact your association.
F8:  Well, I would like to know where did you go?
Womack:  Well, Maam’ I can’t… I can’t answer that.  I’m not gonna go knock on your door and say, “Hey, we gonna put.. 
F8:  I’m not asking you for that, but what I am asking is that you go to the neighborhood that is immediately next door and give us some kind of notice.
M7:  Mr. Womack, you could have done what’s standard for zoning issues, which is that..
Womack:  Post a notice out here?
F8:  Exactly!
M7:  You could have put up a large sign that everybody notices …
Womack:  Look, we relied on our website.  I’m sorry we didn’t do our job as well as we should.  But, let me tell you something, whether you like what I’m going to tell you or not, I really don’t care
M7:  Obviously!
(more mumbling from audience)
F9:  That’s the problem!
Womack:  That is not the problem.
F9:  That IS the problem!
Womack:  Ma’am, when you set in my seat and you’re pulled as many ways as I’ve been pulled since I came back on this board, you would run from this job.
F9:  (Angry) That was your choice! That’s not my problem.  I did not force you to do that!
Womack:  I understand, Ma’am.  And I’m not debate that with you.  You’ve got your life… I’m not, because I paid to get this job and the community asked me to do it. Now…
F9:  Then don’t complain!
Womack:  It is the most important job there is in the state.  The school board.  Because it’s charged with educating the future leaders of this country.  If we fall down, the community falls down.  I’m sorry that you did not get the notice that you wanted.
F9:  No notice.
Womack:  I said I am sorry you didn’t get it!  I’m not going to play on the words.    Yes, ma’am?
F10:  Um, I’m not going to say if it is right or wrong because it sounds like it’s already a done deal and really there is no sense arguing over it at this point unless you’re going to bring it to court.  From that vantage point, my question really comes to you is that if this was about money for the cell towers, is there any sort of written information as far as how much Briarlake is going to get for it?
Womack:  $25,000
F10:   And that’s it?  Out of that $250…
F11:  $450 (others also chime in with $450,000)
Womack:  $450.  Now if they put another cell phone, uh, carrier up there, you get an additional $25.
M8:  But, by law, don’t they have to fill the other 120?  Don’t they have to co-locate?  Or do you not know the laws on that either?
Womack:  Sir, I don’t know the answer.  You’re an expert in the math and things..
M8:  Yeah, I am, and I will be more than happy to tell ya… you’re skirting the law!
F11:  That’s right!
Womack:  You need to talk to our people.  I’ll be glad to open that door for you.
M8:  Oh yeah, I’d appreciate that. Thanks.

66 comments:

Cerebration said...

These minutes were sent to the blog via email and we posted them in their entirety. Mainly, we have an issue with the fact that they shouldn't have delved into this cell tower business whatsoever - they could hardly deal with the issues already on their plates. They should have been hyper-focused on the superintendent search, setting up schools for the new redistricting plan, streamlining costs and planning for more consolidation for future budget cuts and ways to improve learning in the classroom. The construction of these massive towers will disrupt the effected schools unnecessarily and have caused undue angst in the associated neighborhoods. These actions were completely unnecessary. The board should have walked away from the very first talks. They saw what is amounting to very small bucks ($25,000 per school as an initial PTA donation and a monthly collection to some kind of "general" slush fund) and they got greedy. The whole thing was a very irresponsible waste of time and a distraction from the very important tasks at hand. I am so disappointed that someone didn't encourage the board to take a step back from this. I will say, Donna Edler was right when she said that the school board should not be in the cell phone business.

Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter said...

Let's not forget that the meetings that no one knew about were held in mid-May, just before Summer Vacation. And the original vote was scheduled for the June 13 meeting as an item on CONSENT AGENDA! That means they considered it to be as simple to approve as something like the mintues from the last meeting or whether it is okay to correct the typo regarding the time of the scheduled bathroom break.

The only reason all 12 schools were not approved that evening was because of the parents from Brockett who showed up just a couple mintues before the board started the meeting to hand-deliver a petition of their neighborhood. They were promptly informed that the item would be pulled from the agenda "indefinitely." This means that even Ms. Elder appears to have only developed an objection to the issue between the June and July meetings and has milked it ever since. She's glad-handing all over the neighborhoods with money telling them that she is on their side. Don't let this board fool you. They are not smart enough to figure out all this stuff on their own. It is the finely developed live action theater that T-mobile has been directing from behind the scenes all across America. The ol' good cop / bad cop routine. And the ol' divide 'em into groups so they can't hear the reasons why the other ones are objecting. Or, give them improper notification so no one shows up, then use that in the media to appear like you have the masses on your side. Ms. Elder's eloquent comment about how the school board should not be in the cell phone business came straight off the notepad she used when questioned by Get the Cell Out. Her attempts to appease them were a little too transparent... we saw right through her! Meanwhile, Brockett's district rep. has apparantly disowned them. He spoke more about Medlock and how they managed to get their name off the list, but they are not even in his distrcit! Meanwhile, Brockett is the school that tried and tried to reach him without any luck. We were encouraged to attend the Medlock meeting when it was "discovered" by our principal and our PTA that the meeting we all missed was actually one we may have wanted to attend. Looking back, we can now see that even the grand attendance at Medlock on the last night of the meetings was part of their plan. It wasn't one community standing up to be counted. It was Medlock along with people from a lot of other schools who were there because they missed the meeting at their own school. But, we did not get a chance to talk about the towers because Medlock was being closed and they were more upset about that topic and we ran out of time. And, Mr. Womack, it was nice to hear what your voice sounds like after all these months. The first time we ever heard you speak outside of a board meeting was at this Aug. 31 Briarcliff meeting which was only AFTER the contract had been signed. And even on that date you never acknowledged Brockett as one of your own.

So, speaking of that contract that has supposedly been signed... has anyone actually seen this contract, yet? We've been asking for a copy since this topic was first forced upon us in May. And, as of today we have only seen what is titled "Final Draft." We would like to see the Final Contract please. You know, the one with all your signatures on it. How else do you expect us to figure out who we are going to sue?

Anonymous said...

Wow.
Reading this, it’s even clearer that this was just a small, vocal minority that was upset with the way the cell tower vote went. What was it, 22 people at the meeting? Out of a school with over 400 students? And this was a meeting that THEIR PTA scheduled?
If these folks weren’t aware of this issue, they had their heads in the sand. I’m no defender of the Board, or Womack, but this issue was out there. T-Mobile info has been on the Board’s website at least since May. T-Mobile reps were made available at meetings to go over their plans and answer questions about them.
Oh, and I think is Briarlake ES, not Briarcliff.

DeKalb Mom said...

Thank you for posting. This entire conversation is telling in so many ways.

- Our board members are so miserable that they really couldn't care less about the job they are doing.
- They are also delusional about the quality of the job they are doing.
- They are not putting children first.
- They do not bother to research items before they vote on them.
- They have nothing but disdain for the parents and community they serve.

I hope this transcript makes its way to SACS.

Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter said...

A parent at one of the cell tower schools told us that it was confirmed to her by a member of the Board of Education that the $25,000 gift to the PTA is NOT going directly to school OR to the PTA. It will be deposited into the county's general fund. If the PTA would like, they will have the opportunity to "direct" up to $25K in funds on building improvements this year. That is the sum total of what our schools will receive. Or, at least the ones we have heard from. Does anyone care to comment on what Lakeside has been promised out of all this because from what we can determine they are almost giddy in anticipation for their tower and big fat check while everyone else is looking for legal advice and calling their county commissioners. They have really gone too far this time. Do they not even see that they are turning our entire county into a wasteland of broken dreams and empty wallets? Of course they do, what was I thinking... (personal favorite... if I said "yes" it would be a lie, if I said "no" it would be a lie. So, um, what I think you are saying is that you are a liar? Is that accurate? Or don't you know the laws on that one either?

Atlanta Media Guy said...

I'm with you DeKalb Mom. There are a lot of people in DeKalb who have connecting property lines with DCSS properties and are NOT on school email blasts lists etc...

Mr. Womack, it's good that you met with these residents, however what kind of reaction were you expecting since it was already a done deal? If DCSS wants to get in this kind of business, they should do what DeKalb County zoning has to do by law. They place those ugly yellow signs that announce public meetings regarding zoning changes etc..

What Womack wants residents to do is check the school systems website for announcements. There are residents who do not have kids in the system and if DCSS had an ounce of respect they would place signs, like zoning does and be forthcoming in all aspects of PR. How difficult would it had been for DCSS to place announcements in the mailboxes of the folks who share borders with the school? Seems to me this would have quelled any anger that is out there now.

Mr. Womack, DCSS is famous for releasing PR announcements late Fridays. Just last year, DCSS wanted parents to react to one of those famous surveys, regarding the ethics policy. They released the info, along with 20+ pages of documents to review, late Friday and the deadline for the survey was less than 48 hours later, Sunday at midnight.

Mr. Womack you're getting "pulled in different directions" because DCSS has a history of trying to sneak things by the public. If you do not enjoy being pulled in different directions, then could it be time for you to resign from the BOE?

Sagamore 7 said...

Let's vote or sign a petition to put a cell tower in each of the school board member's back yard!

S7

Dekalb Father said...

Wow. Between corrupt school system officials, their shady replacements, schools cheating on tests, budget cuts, re-zoning and now sneaking some potential radiation into the schools for a buck - The Dekalb County School System is REALLY selling me on private school for my two boys.

Anonymous said...

It was not a meeting hosted by the PTA. It started out as a PTA board member only meeting. The word spread through the grapevine and the actual homeowners near the school got wind of it. These are people who do not have children at this school, but they are still entitled not only to be notified, but to be able to provide their input and expect that it be considered before any decisions are made.

Even if the entire school turned out for the T-mobile dog and pony show in May, it would not be considered fair notification because by that time the decision had already been made! They were not hosting a seminar to get feedback. They were setting us all up and exepcting us to believe that a no-show for an event you have never heard of is the same thing as agreeing with whatever random thought the host has in his head that evening.

It is a poorly executed attempt at fooling the public and using the media as an ally, but it didn't work this time. They will need to get some new game because this one has been worn out in too many other markets, like, oh let's see... try Cobb County just a short time before they pulled this same game on us.

I am sure you understand how obvious it is that you are working with the school board, annoymous. No one in their right mind would expect a homeowner without children to be diligently checking for any random page among the hundreds of pages on the DCSS website just in case the board one day got a wild idea to host a seminar on a topic that might adversely affect your health and your property value.

Give us a break. And if you love talking and texting with your phone so much, then let them rent a room at your Mom's house so they can put their tower next to your bedroom. Grow up and admit your defeat. We saw your T-mobile guy at the meeting, too, so don't think you are fooling any of us. Maybe he'll figure out something intelligent to say next time, if his boss doesn't cancel his corporate card when he reads this blog!

Anonymous said...

For $25,000 down and $2500 a month forever I would consider a cell tower in my backyard.

BhutrasGolly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BhutrasGolly said...

The conclusive World Health Study placed long term cell phone usage on the same level of risk as eating dill pickles.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous
"For $25,000 down and $2500 a month forever I would consider a cell tower in my backyard.

September 12, 2011 2:54 PM"

Are the schools getting $2,500 a month as well as the $25,000? That doesn't sound like what Womack said. He said only $25,000 one time. So where is the $2,500 a month fornthe rental going?

Anonymous said...

This is all about money. I can see Womack and Joe Reed sitting in his office brainstorming ways to fill the fundraising gap the Vahalla Project has failed to meet. Joe really wants that outdoor covered PE court, and we really need cell service at LHS and the surrounding area and viola the plan is hatched. We'll sell it systemwide though so it doesn't appear to be a fundraiser for only Lakeside. What a joke. I hate to tell the upset Briarlake folks but if you're not happy with the outcome of this just wait I'm sure you'll have lots more disappointments as your children progress through the system.

Anonymous said...

Come on folks the May meeting was well publized and you missed it. I have family in Breckenridge w/ no children in the school system and they were in the handful that showed up back in May. They commented at how surprised they were that there weren't more people present.

Anonymous said...

Why are the schools not getting the monthly rental? The eyesore will be on their campuses for all the years to come. What does anyone think the Central Office will do with the $270,000 a year?

Anonymous said...

Try only $400 a month and it goes straight to the school board general fund. And, so does that same $25K that is supposedly earmarked for the PTA. They will only be allowed to "direct" the equivalent in funds which could easily be taxpayer dollars they would have received anyway. And, t-mobile has an "out" clause every 5 years where they can decide to renew or not. The schools only out is to break the contract and pay off the remainder. Since most cancer studies take about 15 years to be considered a "known" carcinigen, that means T-mobile pays us for the first 15 years, then when we learn that cell towers really do cook people from the inside out just like a microwave oven only slower, we will want out and have to reimburse them the amount they just paid us so we will be allowed out of the contract for the next 15 years. Great deal, Womack and team. Glad you have all that big time corporate experience that apparantly taught you that it's okay not to read the find print before signing your life away... oh that's right, it our kids' lives, not your's, so what the hell do you care, right?

Anonymous said...

The Briarlake PTA needs to start a petition for the monthly fee to come directly to Briarlake.

Anonymous said...

I heard at Lakeside the money goes right to the Booster Club, the Lakeside Foundation, not the PTA at all. Anyone else getting that deal at their school?

And if all the folks at Lakeside knew, wouldn't it have been nice for them to have called their neighbors at Briarlake since it is right around the block?

Or, maybe they did do that and just told the PTA to keep it quiet like they did everywhere else. Great parenting decision ladies!

dundevil said...

@DeKalb father and others.

I have no love for the BOE, but the cell phone matter was discussed in great detail, at least on this blog, in great detail before the August vote.

Parents from three of the 12 schools originally "selected" to have the cell towers mobilized and appeared at the meeting when the vote took place. They all complained and then they were taken off the list of 12.

Mr Womack said that "it was a done deal". He is correct. In fact, it was a "done deal" when Dr. Walker said at the meeting that the people in his district wanted the cell towers (probably because they were not getting good coverage for their free cell phones). Dr. Walker was generous enough not to try to put the three who were removed back on list of 12. So it ended up with nine schools. So clearly there was notice.

Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter said...

The only petition they need is the countywise protest. We need to have everyone stick together and insist that this is not acceptable for any school or any child. Do not let T-mobile / AT&T or anyone else try to divide and conquer! This was a bad decision for ANY school, whether they realize it or not.
www.thepetitionsite.com/1/GTCO-ATL

Plus, you can't petition yourself into better contract terms. But, we can show opposition from the community when they allow us to speak at the special permit hearings. School board claims they are exempt. We will take issue on that.

Anonymous said...

@ dundevil,

Your statement about Dr. Walker's district wanting good coverage for their free cell phone is offensive and completely idiotic. I grew up in District 9. My mother has been a nurse for over 40 years (she'll be 70 this year) and she does not have a free cell phone.Her home is paid for and she takes care of her home. She has been a voter since she was 18. She never misses a vote. In addition, all of her exercise buddies are retired nurses and they also live in District 9.

FYI, Dr. Walker is not the brightest bulb in the bunch but the district that he represents is as important as yours.

BTW, she doesn't want a cell phone tower either but parents (like many of your shopping buddies Dundevil) didn't show up.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 5:04 pm

I think dundevil was referring to the free cellphones the BOE receives from the school system - according to a post before, Womack complained about the poor service he received because The Lakeside area didn't have a cellphone tower. Womack and Walker and ALL the other BOE members get free cellphone service.

Anonymous said...

Here's an analogy of what Womack's done. He found out his dog ate a diamond ring. He took his dog to his neighbors yard to do his deed. He removed the ring and left the rest of the pile in his neighbor's yard hoping that it would go unnoticed.

Anonymous said...

What do school board members need free cell phones for? I can understand Principals, area superintendents, superintendent and a few other administrators, but not the school board.

Shoot, being a school board member here is a great gig. A small salary, reimbursement for travel, gifts, all without having to make any good decisions for the children of our county. No wonder why we can't rid of some of the members.

Anonymous said...

I have a big yard and I want a cell phone tower. I have college tutition to pay. How do I sign up for one?

Cerebration said...

For Immediate Release
September 12, 2011

Lt. Gov. Cagle to Launch New Health and Wellness Partnerships, Programs at Vanderlyn Elementary School

(DUNWOODY)---In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle will visit Dunwoody’s Vanderlyn Elementary School on Tuesday, September 20, to announce the school is launching a series of new initiatives intended to improve the health and wellness of Vanderlyn students and the Dunwoody community.

Cagle is expected to formally congratulate Vanderlyn on partnering with Georgia’s “Healthy Kids Program” and the national Alliance for a Healthy Generation to increase physical activity and improve nutritious eating for children. The Lt. Governor’s announcement at 7:20 a.m. will follow a special “walk to school day” for Vanderlyn’s 700-plus students and their parents.

During his visit to the school, Cagle also will help school officials kick-off a “Virtual Walk Across Georgia,” a new health and wellness program designed to raise student awareness of exercise and making healthy choices, along with increasing the students’ knowledge of Georgia cities and landmarks.

“We’re excited to have Lt. Gov. Cagle here to support all the school’s great initiatives and programs that empower kids with the knowledge and skills needed to help them make healthy choices, live healthy lives, and reach their true potential,” said Coach Kelly Dwyer, Vanderlyn’s physical education and health teacher.

“Vanderlyn is a healthy place to learn,” said Dwyer. “But, we can’t be 100-percent effective unless we also have teachers, parents, and the community serve as role models of healthy living to the children. Our new partnerships with the “Healthy Kids Program” and the Alliance, along with the school’s existing and new health and exercise programs, will help Vanderlyn make a difference for everyone.”

For more information on Lt. Gov. Cagle’s announcement and on Vanderlyn, visit
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/vanderlyn

The Issue

Childhood obesity is one of the nation’s leading public health threats. Nearly one in every three of Georgia’s children is overweight or obese. In addition, many Georgia children are “undernourished” because they don’t consume enough foods containing the nutrients needed for proper growth and development.

MedlockMama said...

Folks, I attended the Medlock meeting. I have to take issue with Mr. Womack passing it off as a room full of pissed off people over the school closure. It was also a room full of parents with safety concerns, whose children are growing up on streets near the school. And a room full of residents in sight distance of the school, who had legitimate concerns about effects on property values. Nice play, but there were a lot of reasons in the room that night.

Cerebration said...

The Medlock cell tower was apparently pitched before the school was closed (according to this article in the Patch dated June 20).

http://northdruidhills.patch.com/articles/mcchesney-still-no-set-plans-for-medlock-elementary

Rumors of a cell-tower at the vacant location are also worrisome to the new father. While he said he doesn’t see much evidence on the scientific side that the towers would cause physical harm, he feels that just the idea and talk of it may keep potential buyers away from the building.

“The cell towers are a disappointing idea because we want to keep great users of that building in place. Be it schools or a church, all of those people-oriented ideas, I believe, are less salient if there are cell towers there," Kelley said.

T-Mobile submitted a proposal for cell towers at the school to the DeKalb County Board of Education with paperwork dating before its closure in May. The school board has held various meetings to discuss the issue in which residents have opposed the towers due to safety, property values and use of space. Nothing has been decided.


Also to see a diagram of exactly how large and imposing these structures are, go to this link:

T-Mobile - Medlock Proposal

In the drawing, you can see that the plan was drawn to place the 60' x 60' base near the street, with a 20' access/easement and a 12' wide gravel drive in the middle. There are three areas labeled "future tenants" as well. The monopole is 150' tall with a 4' lightning pole at the top.

I haven't seen similar plans for any other schools.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for publishing this very enlightening transcript!

Womack’s ignorance about the cell tower issues as well as his distaste and lack of concern for his constituents comes through loud and clear.

If Womack & Co. and the IT department at DCSS would join the 21st Century, they would know that there is another way to handle problematic cell phone coverage besides ugly cell phone towers that negatively affect property values in residential neighborhoods (where DCSS schools are located). These same cell towers may be a health issue for children (not limited to the children in schools where a cell phone tower is located, but including all children who live in the homes in the cell tower’s vicinity.)

I am talking about femtocells (also known as microcells) -- a little box that plugs into your home Internet connection and acts as short-range, personal AT&T cell tower of sorts. Sprint also makes these available to its customers. T-Mobile probably does, too. Just ask nicely.

Read more: http://techland.time.com/2011/01/21/poor-att-reception-you-might-get-a-free-signal-booster/#ixzz1XlugAPUi

Womack’s lack of due-diligence research and preparedness to vote (on a matter that should never have come before the BOE because it has nothing to do with successfully educating children) comes through loud and clear, as well.

Even if Womack doesn’t care about the children – which he obviously does not – he should realize that deteriorating property values means less tax money for DCSS.

Oh, wait. Womack probably doesn’t care about that, either.

Womack, as a BOE member, oversees a multi-million dollar budget for DCSS and votes on how much citizens will be taxed to pay for the muck-and-mire-money-pit that is DCSS. Meanwhile, Womack takes the H4 Senior Exemption (perhaps illegally; see below) on his property taxes while he decides how much the rest of us should pay.

On his house (2809 Woodland Park Dr.) valued at $539,520, Womack pays property tax of $2,832.
For purposes of comparison, Womack’s next-door neighbors:
●2817 Woodland Park Dr -- Valued at $433,702; property tax of $6,149
●2801 Woodland Park Dr -- Valued at $428, 280; property tax of $6,042
Womack’s across-the-street neighbor:
●2814 Woodland Park Dr -- Valued at $537,100; property tax of $7,625

Per the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s website: “If you are 65 years of age or older on January 1st and the Total Georgia Net Income of both you and your spouse does not exceed $10,000 (based on previous year's tax return) excluding Social Security benefits and most retirement income up to the maximum allowable under the Federal Social Security Act ($55,752 for 2011), then you may be entitled to a Senior School Exemption. (H4)”

Womack receives $23,400 for sitting on the DCSS BOE. You do the math.

Anonymous said...

Womack complained about how difficult the job on the school board is but didn't he learn that lesson the first time he served?

http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F3/118/118.F3d.727.94-8204.html

Anonymous said...

Womack Complains About BOE Job

Actually, Womack knew exactly what he was getting into. No one held a gun to his head to make him qualify to run for the BOE ... or to campaign ... or to spend $50,000 of his own money (per Womack) on the campaign.

Sorry, Womack. That's not going to fly. It's a pity party of one.

Kim Gokce said...

If you search the transcript, you will noticed that the words, "teach," "learn," "educate," or "education" occur exactly zero times. The word, "student" occurs exactly one time (in plural form).

Enough said. Our Board, system leaders, and our community dialog is far, far a-field. The leadership sets the agenda and that is why thinking citizens are very, very angry.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Kim, you're amazing! You are exactly right. It's amazing how the leadership at DCSS is more concerned about their jobs, sororities, fraternities, churches and cars, instead of following the very mission of DCSS. Educating our children.

The fact that a BOE member is more concerned about how many bars he gets on his cell phone is very telling. Tells me nothing has changed at DCSS. DCSS = Epic Joke!

Good luck Dr. Atkinson, you're going to need a ton if it, if you think you're going to make a difference at our current joke of a school system.

Anon said...

Quit bashing the Briarlake PTA and principal. Briarlake sent out the cell tower meeting info to everyone on the email distribution list in April. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to be on the email list. Parents either have chosen not to be informed or chose not to attend - probably didn't think it affected them...now they find out it does.

Wake up folks! We will continue to fail if we are stuck in the mindset that things in DCSS only matter if it impacts our school...we have to care about all the kids in the county, be informed advocates, and fight for what is best for all children....if more were paying attention years ago, we wouldn't be in this mess... Where are all the redistricting folks? They seem to have gone back to sleep now that they have what they want in their little piece of the world.

Sagamore 7 said...

Kim & AMG,

Here is the cut and paste off of the National PTA website. You see the word education once. It is not the main focus or goal of the PTA. Your point exactly!

PTA Purposes: Historical goals of PTA
To promote the welfare of the children and youth in home, school, community, and place of worship.
To raise the standards of home life.
To secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
To bring into closer relation the home and the school, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of children and youth.
To develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for all children and youth the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual education.

I think times may be changing in DeKalb PTA, we are starting to focus on education and accountability.

S7

SHS said...

@ Atlanta Media Guy, 8:36 AM

"Good luck Dr. Atkinson. You're going to need a ton if it, if you think you're going to make a difference at our current joke of a school system."

But Atkinson wasn't hired to make a difference at DCSS. Atkinson was hired to:
(1) give Elgart and SACS (who are complicit with the wrongdoing at DCSS) the just-in-time cover needed to DO NOTHING.

(2) MAINTAIN STATUS QUO to keep the gravy train running for the Bowen/Edwards/Tyson/New Birth Friends-and-Family Plan.

fedupindcss said...

Anon 9:12--the school distribution list doesn't go to the neighborhood. That is why when the county is going to do something that impacts the neighborhood (say, speed bumps), they post signs at the intersections around the affected area. Clearly T-Mobile used whatever squiffy rules there are pertaining to school property to bypass that sort of notice, and the Board was happy to play along to get the money. Sure, you could argue that those people should monitor the school website, but realistically they won't if they don't have kids in the school.

Heck, Briarlake puts up signs to advertise their Fall Festival to the area. They don't rely on their website. I would think the school system would do the same (if they really wanted people to know).

DeKalb Mom said...

One very important point about the "notice" for the May meeting (the only prior-to-the-vote community meeting) was that the flyer that advertised the meeting did NOT state where the cell towers were going to be located. It only said that meetings would be held at a list of schools. So, I'm sure a meeting about cell towers with very little explanation, no idea of the timeline, and in the middle of crazy May, did not raise a lot of red flags. They were purposefully vague in a (successful) attempt to get this approved quickly and quietly.

AND they are also successful at doing something else really stupid so that people will be distracted from judging them on their performance as a board. Cell towers have NOTHING to do with education. DCSS's problem is NOT lack of funds - it is lack of scruples and brains on the BOE.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Sandy, I know my sarcasm can sometimes get in the way. One can wish that Dr. Atkinson will make the difference and tell the current bunch of "leaders", at the Palace, that their days are numbered . One can wish! Right?

Why would Dr. Atkinson want to keep Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Tyson, Turk, Ramsey, Tucker, Beasley, and especially our Office of "Improvement" head? These are the folks that got us in this current mess along with our indicted former Super and COO. Why would any new leader want to continue down the same path of failure?

Like I said Sandy, one can wish. However, you're most probably and most sadly correct with your two points.

Not Buying It said...

Yawn. Wake me up when the antis trot out their World Health Organization study suggesting cell towers have been linked to third eyes in newts. I'm sure that research is out there. After all, Googling is such a ... reliable research methodology.

Anonymous said...

Not buying it... go back to sleep if we are boring you. Just don't expect anyone to be aroiund when they put a cell tower in your back yard.

Dundevil, you're a bit incorrect. "Parents" did not "decide to mobilize and have their school take off. For Brockett, it was one set of parents who had to go to the community at large for the majority of thir signatures because of the hush money promised to the PTA. For Medlock, it was an already organized group of retirees who were already fired up about the school closing so they were already organized and have a lot more time on their hands than most parents who work. As for Meadowview, Cunningham and Walker seem to thy they actually wanted a tower.

Not Buying It said...

@Get the Cell Out Sept. 12 4:33 p.m.
"This was a bad decision for ANY school, whether they realize it or not."

Sorry to burst your bubble, but local school communities can think for themselves just fine.

Anonymous said...

Not buying it.

How about this idea.

How about the local school communities thinking about improving education for the children of the community instead of a patnership with a cell tower company?

Refreshing isn't it?

Now the school board has rescinded it's mandate for a whistleblower hotline and left it on the table for the new administration to implement.

What are you "Not buying" about that?

Do tell.
That's a southern saying.

Dekalbparent said...

I want to get clear on this: The Medlock group is not mostly a bunch of retirees who have more time - it's an extremely well-organized neighborhood of close-knit people willing to work hard for the good of the neighborhood. They saw a problem, polled he neighborhood and took action very quickly. It is an example of how we can get something accomplished if we work together for the good of everybody - what we are trying to do here on DSW.

The Medlock group includes retired people, working people, stay-at-home-parents, self-employed people, ... the same kinds of people you find in any neighborhood. They worked hard to keep their school open and are now working hard to support the schools their kids have been assigned to, and find a good use for the closed school.

BTW, I don't live in the neighborhood, but friends of mine do, and I admire the group very much.

sayno2celltowers@yahoo.com said...

NotBuyingIt: "but local school communities can think for themselves just fine."

I absolutely believe that people can think for themselves. That's why we have nearly 400 people who have signed a petition. They are more than willing to tell anyone who will listen how their rights as taxpayers are being ignored, how T-mobile is building without getting permits or paying attentin to current codes and how the school board has not shown a final copy of the lease to anyone... are they afriad to put their names on it?

Anon said...

@ fedup, I didn't suggest neighbors monitor a school website although some community members do sign up for their neighborhood school's newsletter. Briarlake is a community school - presumably the 400 neighborhood kids that go there have parents who, if they felt it was an issue, would bring it to the attention of their neighborhood associations - all the neighborhoods around Briarlake have one.

If DCSS spent money and manpower going around putting up signs about everything they do, everyone would find fault: too expensive, waste of personnel resources, "littering" the neighborhoods, not "green", etc. Maybe you think this was the appropriate way to advertise for this issue but you likely wouldn't support it as their standard "advertising" for all things. Think about it.

Cerebration said...

I think communities are very used to the yellow signs that announce a zoning request and community meeting. Unfortunately, the school system is not bound by these local zoning laws and do not have to post these yellow signs. They think an announcement on their website suffices as they do not have to follow the zoning protocol we are all accustomed to. However, we feel that this is a stretch. Schools are not bound to zoning laws for SCHOOL construction, however in this case, the school system is abusing this exemption and using it to sub-lease space to a for-profit corporation. It's all just a little unseemly to me.

fedupindcss said...

I agree with Cere: this seems like a go-around to me. And yes, if it is something that is not school related that will have a neighborhood impact, I would expect better advertising.

DeKalb Mom said...

Does anyone know how quickly the tower technology will be obsolete? Seems like in a few years, there will be a smaller, better way to transmit, and these towers will have all been a big waste of time and effort anyway. In other words, not worth installing now.

Kim Gokce said...

It is a subject of some debate even within the technology sector. There are existing technologies that take the "footprint" requirements in terms of energy and square footage way down. That said, there are issues still with height above the ground. New tech will work nicely where there's lots of existing tall buildings - not so great elsewhere without being on a raised tower. Also, the smaller devices have to be protected - the obstacles to destroying/vandalizing the devices installed on large towers are many, smaller and more accessible devices are targets.

Hard to say but I think there are at least many years to go (minimum 10-15???) for the existing tower technology.

Anonymous said...

The only petition I have seen opposing cell towers at DeKalb Schools has only 238 signatures as of today so there must be another one with 400 making the total for all of DeKalb County 638. I do not think it is a priority or concern for most people or the numbers would be much higher.

Ella Smith said...

I went to the Lakeside meeting and I spoke out in opposition to the cell phone towers being on any school property as the reseach indicates there may be some serious dangers.

I emailed each school board members and I stated what the research indicates. I had to do a major research project with other members of my class while working on my Administration Degree. The teacher of the class had a real issue with putting cell phone towers on school property. I was shocked at the reseach I find that indicated a problem existed.

I can assure you I informed each school board of the research I had done and my concerns for the students.

I got back an email from the county office giving me the Cancer Society's current statement. Other county's reseach does question the position of groups like this in the US and questions where their contributions come from. I thought that was interesting.

IMO, the meetings may have been deliberately posted late. I remember getting the announcement in my PTA newsletter on Sunday or Monday and the meeting was shortly afterward. I also remember there was all kinds of other important activities going on in the community that same night. There were other extremely important meetings I wanted to attend. However, I went to the cell phone tower meeting. As a Lakeside High School Parent I am curious how much money the Vahalla Project got out of the deal. I also am interesting in knowing if any of the school board members have personnel connections regarding this transaction. I remember exactly who try to get this through the board several years ago and I remember the school superintendent then said, "No, as this might possible be dangerous to the students and it has no impact on students and it will be taken off the table to vote on." I was at that school board meeting. The same person may have just went through a different board member who got it through for the Lakeside community so they could get the funds. These few dollars are not worth the possible chance of danger to our students.

There is evidence also that microwaves could be move dangerous than previous thought. I just read a recent article on this.

Why take the chance? I strongly disagree with the decision of the school board.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the ONLY way to get this solved, permanently is to vote these son's a bitches out. You must turn your attentions to making sure the board member for your district, since we vote this way, is gone. This dude needs to hit the highway!!!But the only people who can make this happen are the folks in his district. We all have to suffer for the ineptness of these district elected board members. The entire county suffers. Get organized and get him the hell out!

Anon said...

@ fedup: It was advertised beyond the schools. Google it for yourself but here are 4 articles that include ajc, radio, internet news, and community paper...And not only was it advertised via numerous communication tools over 3 months but the BOE delayed a vote on it. You can't sleep on the job people!! You have to stay awake and be informed - it is your responsibility to do that!

May
http://championnewspaper.com/news/articles/938residents-oppose-cell-towers-in-dekalb-schools-938.html

July 11: http://eastatlanta.patch.com/articles/dekalb-board-of-education-to-discuss-controversial-cell-tower-plan-at-meadowview-elementary

June
http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-considers-new-cell-941656.html

http://www.wsbradio.com/news/news/dekalb-schools-vs-cell-phone-companies/nCxYq/

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice that the Lakeside and Briarlake meetings were on the same night? Good way to split a community and make each meeting look like it had low attendance.

Anon said...

Anyone really want to try and explain why both Briarlake and Lakeside need towers? They are about 1.5 miles apart and the cell service at Briarlake is actually pretty good with other towers near by... Also, Lakeside is on a significantly larger parcel of property and holds a student population of nearly grown bodies -- kids aged 14-19 (who in many nations around the world are old enough to be drafted, married off and enslaved) so they are "grown" more or less and are only supposed to be there for 4 year. Briarlake, on the other hand has some physically and mentally 'challenged' and 'impaired' "babies" who are 3 years old and the "normal ed" populaltion begins at age 4 and they remain there until age 11 ... these are the bodies of very young children who are growing. They are on site from 8 in the morning until 2 or 3 the afteroon for 6 or 7 years while the brain and bodies are really developing. Once upon a time both cigarettes and power lines were considered to be absolutely safe and cocaine was being used as a mixer for soda... is it really worth the money for a 30 year long term lease (entered into by a board on 4 year terms) to subject these growing bodies to this contanst low-dose, low-level radiation when we really do not know what the medical consequences will turn out to be 10 years down the road? Is DCSS really that willing to undertake that potential legal liability? It makes no sense to me.... I understand that the tower at the high school may be different and that the exposure may be different (although I sitll have an issue with the amount of money going to each school and the fact that the 4 year term board members are executing a 30 year lease... something is not quite right about that).

Cerebration said...

PRESS RELEASE:

Parents & Homeowners from the schools located at Jolly Elementary, Narvie J. Harris Elementary, and Briarlake Elementary have agreed to work together with a unite front to stop the construction of cell towers at their local schools.

To the applause of the attendees, Mayor Emanuel Ransom of the City of Clarkston who gave the welcome at the Informational Town Hall meeting stated, “You have my full support”. Mayor Ransom educated everyone on the fact that the DeKalb County Board of Education denied the approval of a cell tower at the Clarkston Community Center years earlier.

Together, they are working on an action plan to educate more parents and homeowners on the cell tower on school grounds issue that decreases DeKalb’s quality of life, increase health risk, and decrease property values.

Dekalbparent said...

Wow.

Carol said...

I live in Medlock. It is completely untrue that Medlock residents had issue only with the school closing. We had many issues including safety as a major concern. The school board absolutely did NOT publicize these procedings. I found out about it accidentally due to signs posted one or two days prior to the meetings. The topic alarmed me so I went to the meeting. The info leaked to someone in our neighborhood who put the signs up. People were very upset at the meeting and voiced strong opinions regarding the cell tower project. One of the MAJOR
concerns was safety. So...that one is a lie or a gross oversight. What's new?

Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter said...

To keep up to date on this issue, please visit the new website: www.getthecelloutatl.org and keep the signatures coming for the petition: www.thepetitionsite.com/1/GTCO-ATL.

We were encouraged by the support of Mayor Ransom in Clarkston and are encouraging Jolly parents and reisdents to mention their school in the comments section of the petition to ensure it is represented. We were not thrilled to hear that rather than a standard Special Use Permit, T-mobile is claiming it has rights to use a special "Administrative Permit" process that apparantly is being exercised for some or all of the 9 schools still on the list.

This Administrative Permit is essentially a closed-door meeting to hash out details where the public is not invited to attend or comment. Everyone should be very concerned when a school board has authority to place any building or structure on any piece of property it owns, regardless of the local zoning laws, and can get it approved in a closed door meeting.

Public input as to what we want or do not want to see in our very own neighborhoods or in our own back yards is not just being ignored... it is being systematically and intentionally denied and shut out. We did not elect any of these people to these positions so that they could bring harm to our own neighborhoods, lower our property values and line their own pockets.

And, the issues of the cell phone industry in getting a clear signal or an upgraded 4G network to the Lakeside High area should not be something our school board is charged with solving. And, it should not be something that this many schools should have to pay for. With a school choice option in place, a cell tower could place the enrollment numbers at some of these schools low enough to place them on a cut list.

We are now reachiing out to MLK Jr. High, Flat Rock, Princeton and Narvie J. Harris elementary schools. These schools are in residential areas that will trigger public hearing and input before the Community Councils and the DeKalb Board of Zoning Appeals.

Anonymous said...

so

somehow, a tower 500 feet away is bad

yet a cellphone doing the same thing, 0.5 inches from your brain is OK?

wle

Cerebration said...

I don't see elementary school children walking around with cell phones next to their ears all day.

Also - on the idea of using school properties for commercial use to earn money (due to the fact that schools are not held to the same zoning standards) - check out how far one school has taken this in Miami:

Parents say Miami charter school doubles as nightclub

MIAMI, FLA. — Parents of children attending the Balare Language Academy are seeking answers after learning of party fliers advertising bashes featuring booze and scantily-clad women on the school's campus.

The Miami Herald (http://bit.ly/oTh3jf ) reported Friday that school officials say they don't know anything about parties taking place at the campus on Quial Roost Drive in Miami.

The school district received complaints from parents last week wondering about empty beer bottles and the lingering smell of smoke at the school, as well as the promotional ads. Deputy Superintendent Freddie Woodson sent the school a sternly worded letter, warning that the building is zoned for a school, not a night club.

Attorney Marlon Hill says the school's plans to visit the site over the weekend to see if unapproved activities are taking place.


http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state/parents-say-miami-charter-school-doubles-as-nightclub-1812637.html

Cerebration said...

For Immediate Release

Notice from Get the Cell Out - ATL

Anyone who lives near Flat Rock Elementary School or has a child who attends school there needs to be alerted to take action as soon as possible! We have information that we believe indicates that T-Mobile has filed its application for a cell phone tower on the school's property as of 9/19/11. This action means that anyone opposed to a tower at this school has only a few short weeks by which to state their objections.

Our specific concern for Flat Rock students is that there is already another new cell tower that is currently going up directly across the street from their school at the Methodist church. With a tower so close that is already in the works, it is likely that T-mobile cannot prove they have an existing need for this second tower less than .2 miles away.

Representatives of GTCO-ATL would like to speak on behalf of the residents or parents of Flat Rock Elementary School. However, we need more of the parents and residents concerned about this issue to sign the county-wide petition and specifically MENTION FLAT ROCK in the comments section. In doing so, we will have the authority we need to speak on their behalf. Once we have found a way by which the public can give comment and input, we will also inform them so that they can also speak on their own behalf if they choose to do so.

If you know anyone who lives near Flat Rock Elementary, please impress upon them the importance of signing our petition at www.thepetitionsite.com/1/GTCO-ATL.

For more details, please visit our brand new website at www.getthecelloutatl.org. You can also "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/get.the.cell.out.atl.

To request a paper petition to sign, please send an email to: sayno2celltowers@yahoo.com.


Thank you!

kevin lynch said...

Great to know they did all this for the money and yet they dont even know what they are going to do with the money once they get it,
No Cunningham believes the towers are needed for wireless and the schools have wireless devices they cannot use because they do not have towers. Search on YouTube for the meeting at MLK High School where this is discussed with him. The Flat Rock PTA President made the same statement. They have technology they dont think they can use unless they get the towers; someone has sold them a bill of goods (likely Womack as he is the one who pushed this onto the agenda.

lauren maftel said...

If the school board or T-mobile or any of the alleged "pro-cell tower" folks would have stepped forward to explain why these towers were a good idea, perhaps they would be worth defending. But, the very fact that they crafted a memo that was designed to garner low or no attendance at their so-called public meeting should let everyone know that even they know that there is something that the people would have objected to if they would have been permitted to actually provide input with advance knowledge of the subject matter. If they can't look us in the eye and tell us why we should not be concerned, then that speaks volumes all by itself, doesn't it?