Friday, December 2, 2016

NJ Investigates what Montgomery County Loves, Getting Ripped off by No Bid Plastic Grass Vendor
How the leading maker of artificial turf fields in the U.S., FieldTurf, made millions selling faulty fields to taxpayers.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Munis Declare Cell Tower Moratoria

November 29, 2016 — Moratoria on cell towers in the public right-of-way have been declared in Southern California and Florida as municipalities struggle to cope with applications made by Mobilitie, according to reports in the Fresno Bee and the Palm Beach Post.
The wireless infrastructure provider proposed building 120-foot tall structures in three areas of Fresno County, California, and at seven sites in the cities of Clovis and Fresno, California. In response, officials declared a 45-day moratorium, which could be extended to 10 months as zoning processes are developed.
Mobilitie proposed installing wireless communication facilities at five locations in Boynton Beach, Florida, including two near residential areas.

SARASOTA COUNTY GOVERNMENT Planning and Development Services

TO: Sarasota County Commission
THROUGH: Thomas A. Harmer, County Administrator
FROM: Matthew R. Osterhoudt, Interim Director, Planning and Development Services
 Allen Parsons, Planning Division Manager
DATE: November 22, 2016
SUBJECT: Six-Month Moratorium on the Permitting or Construction of Communications Facilities Taller than Thirty-Five Feet in the Right-of-Way

(Public hearing) To adopt Ordinance No. 2016-080, establishing a moratorium on new construction or installation of communications tower facilities over 35 feet in the right of way for a period of six months, or until the County Commission rescinds the moratorium Ordinance, whichever is shorter.

Sarasota County recently received 11 permit applications as part of an alternative method of delivery of communications services known as “small cell” or “distributed antennae systems” (sc/DAS).  The proposed 11 towers range between 75 to 120 feet in height and they are located at various intersection locations in the public right of way throughout the unincorporated area of the County, west of the interstate (I-75). This new type of communications technology in public right of way (or otherwise) has not been previously approved by the County.

County staff’s initial review of the 11 applications has identified numerous safety, structural, legal, procedural, and permitting concerns. The implications of these issues are amplified given the location in the public right of way. Further, all 11 tower requests would require the processing of individual special exception petitions under the County’s Telecommunication Tower and Facilities and Zoning Ordinances as they are greater than 35 feet in height, all of which would be considered individually by the County Commission (Board).

A temporary moratorium on communications facilities over 35 feet in height in the public right of  way will provide the County the opportunity to review existing County ordinances, learn from what other communities have experienced, and ensure there is a regulatory framework that adequately considers and addresses the implications of these facilities.

RELEVANT PRIOR BOARD ACTION:   1. April 7, 1998 – The Board adopted Ordinance No. 98-001, Telecommunications Tower and Facilities Ordinance (5-0 vote).


2. November 9, 2005 – The Board adopted Ordinance No. 2005-047, updating the Ordinance to reflect current standards (5-0 vote).
3. June 5, 2013 – The Board adopted Ordinance No. 2013-001, establishing tower setback distances from residential property and roadways with scenic highway designations (5-0 vote).
4. April 21, 2015 – The Board adopted Ordinance No. 2015-008, establishing that towers that existed prior to the adoption of the 2050 Overlay may continue to exist provided they are shown on a Master Development Plan (5-0 vote).
5. November 8, 2016 – The Board approved Authorization to Advertise the public hearing for a temporary moratorium on the permitting or construction of Communications Facilities over 35 feet in height in the public right of way (5-0 vote).



The proposed sc/DAS tower permit applications involve the installation of new cell tower type technology referred to as Hybrid Transport System facilities. There are two basic types of outdoor DAS (oDAS) antenna nodes: 

• One type that attaches to existing structures (e.g. poles); and  • Single-monopole type towers between 75 and 120 feet in height. 

In regards to the 11 tower requests, all of them are the single-monopole type towers.  Specifically, nine of the proposed communication towers are between 75 and 78 feet in height and two proposed towers 120 feet in height. The locations of these proposed towers are at various intersection locations in the public right of way throughout County, west of I-75.  

At this time, there is not a clear understanding of how many of these towers will be proposed throughout the County as part of the communications system and where they will be needed.  When considering the numerous technical issues identified by staff regarding the 11 applications and the unknown scope of impact across the County, it is important for the County to consider interim oversight of the proliferation of these facilities.

Comparable Jurisdictions Staff has contacted several jurisdictions (both municipal and county) within the state to inquire whether they have received such similar permitting requests, and if so, how they have handled such requests. Staff also inquired whether they have regulations and/or procedures in place to handle such requests.  Most of the cities and counties contacted have few regulations or processes/procedures in place to


handle requests to install this technology within their jurisdictions, whether in public road right of ways or otherwise. 
Several jurisdictions have either had, are considering (or discussing alternatives in-house), or have placed moratoriums in effect on the acceptance of new telecommunication facilities applications for the Hybrid Transport System facilities. For example: • Manatee County placed a moratorium in effect on September 13, 2016; • City of North Port placed a moratorium in effect on July 26, 2016; • Miami Beach had a moratorium in place from October to December, 2014 and they now have regulations in place to process permits for the new hybrid technology; • Charlotte County is considering placing a moratorium; and  • Lee and Collier Counties do not have moratoriums in place.

The Board approved a waiver of the requirement for a Planning Commission public hearing at their November 8, 2016, meeting.

Staff is recommending a six-month moratorium to provide the minimum time period necessary for Planning and Development Services to complete an analysis of any communications facilities in the right-of-way in the unincorporated area of the County, and to make recommendations to the Board regarding an ordinance that regulates them.


Staff recommends the Board approve an ordinance placing a six-month moratorium on new construction or installation of communications tower facilities in the right-of-way, or until the Board rescinds the moratorium Ordinance, whichever is shorter.

ATTACHMENTS: 1. Ordinance No. 2016-080, Temporary Moratorium 2. Ordinance Impact Statement 3. Public Hearing Notice


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Local governments hide public records, face few consequences

Miranda S. Spivack, The Center for Investigative Reporting 

...During the legal fight, they also began learning about Maryland’s open records law. Used frequently by journalists and business interests, the state’s public records law allowed them to seek government documents — memos, officials’ calendars and other items — that might offer clues to how the deal was done or hints about who had been speaking with whom, when the plans were hatched and why.
But when residents asked for those documents, they hit a wall: Montgomery County government officials said they could not find many emails, letters and calendars related to their search.
This seemed preposterous, so the residents took the only route available to them — they went to court. A skeptical county judge urged the government to look anew for missing documents. Officials soon managed to find most of what the residents had sought.
The details weren’t pretty.
Documents showed that County Executive Isiah Leggett, a Democrat less than a year from his next election, had been pushing behind closed doors for the private soccer club to take over the site and attempting to pressure a reluctant school board, even though in theory he had no power over school system decisions.
The Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board also found that the school board had violated the state’s open meetings law by discussing the lease deal in closed session....

Monday, November 28, 2016

NBC-4 uncovers lavish travel spending by Montgomery College president

Presidential Perks: Students, Staff Complain About Spending at Montgomery College

The News 4 I-Team started investigating [taxpayer funded] Montgomery College after receiving multiple letters from staffers throughout the summer complaining about the school’s president, Dr. DeRionne Pollard, and how much she spends on travel and transportation, including an armed driver recently hired by the school to protect her.

Dr. Pollard spent more than $3,400 [of taxpayer and student money] on airfare and upgraded seats to fly both herself and her wife to Honolulu and then Austin, Texas, for back-to-back conferences.

They spent an additional $495 on luggage fees for their five additional bags.

After spending $2,776 for a hotel room at the Moana Surfrider in Honolulu, they spent another $2,753 at the Four Seasons in Austin, racking up $500 on room service, including an $80 breakfast and a $49 dinner on the same night Dr. Pollard submitted a receipt for another $127 dinner at an Austin restaurant.

Both Dr. Pollard and the Board of Trustees declined requests for on-camera interviews. Spokesman Raymond Gilmer initially said he would do an on-camera interview but later explained the president and the board went behind closed doors and decided no one from the college would speak about the spending.

Entire story and AMAZING VIDEO at:

Despite Failures, San Diego Unified Just Can’t Quit FieldTurf

San Diego Unified had at least six Fieldturf fields fall apart before the warranty was up, and two were replaced with the same defective product. Still, district officials have such confidence in the company, no other turf manufacturer has been allowed to compete for jobs within the district.

This is Part Three in our four-part series. Here’s where to find Part One and Part Two
Twenty artificial turf fields that once gleamed in the San Diego sun have quickly fallen apart over the last decade thanks to a defect.
The field failures have created dilemmas for school districts that tried to get replacements from FieldTurf USA under the manufacturer’s eight-year warranty. Often, schools were faced with the option of choosing a free replacement with the same defective material, or paying thousands of dollars more to upgrade to a non-defective product that would hold up as originally promised.
San Diego Unified – the region’s largest FieldTurf buyer – had at least two defective fields replaced with more of the same turf that failed...

Voice of San Diego scoured thousands of San Diego Unified documents and sought an interview with district officials to discuss the district’s FieldTurf history. Officials declined multiple interview requests and instead made defensive, misleading and at times outright dishonest claims by email.
For starters, Reed-Porter said district fields were replaced for free under warranty before they actually failed as a preventative measure.
“The FieldTurf fields in San Diego Unified did not fail. It would be inaccurate for you insinuate or report in your story,” she wrote Sept. 21. “According to FieldTurf at the time, the fields were beginning to show signs of wear, and might not last though (sic) the entire warranty period.”
That’s not quite what district and FieldTurf officials said in emails when $1.5 million worth of FieldTurf Duraspine turf installed in 2010 at Mira Mesa, San Diego and Morse high schools needed replacement after only four years...

 ...The district has had such confidence in FieldTurf over the years, no other manufacturer has been allowed to compete for the turf job. Public officials continue to argue FieldTurf’s superior product and warranty allows them to skip competitive bidding normally required by state law for public works projects.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Revised MCPS Regulation Would Allow Elementary Students To Have Cell Phones in School

From the Department of Unenforceable Rules:

The prohibition against private cell networks is to ensure students use the MCPS filtering that prevents students from accessing certain websites. Filtering is not available on the private cell networks. Therefore, students would be required to use the school system’s network for internet access, according to the revised regulation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Former MCPS Director of School Peformance chauffered around in $55,000 SUV

From NewsChannel 5 in Nashville:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A NewsChannel 5 hidden-camera investigation raises new questions about how Metro's new director of schools spends your money
We spotted him using district employees as his personal chauffeurs - even on personal errands. That's despite his insistence that the school system's budget is tight.

"We don't have a dollar to waste," Joseph told the Metro School Board recently.
But we watched as Metro Schools employees chauffeured Dr. Shawn Joseph around town in the brand new $55,000 Tahoe provided by taxpayers.
Watch the entire story here:

Social worker: Montgomery County Public Schools has a sex offender problem

- A concerned parent said Montgomery County Public Schools has a sex offender problem and she believes school officials are covering it up.
Jennifer Alvaro is a licensed social worker, certified sex offender treatment provider and a mother of a Montgomery County student. She believes the school system is dropping the ball and children are suffering.

 “I think there is a massive problem here and there has been for many, many, many years,” she said.

FieldTurf USA turned failure into opportunity when dozens of its artificial turf fields quickly fell apart at local public schools.

This is Part Two in a four-part series. Catch up with Part One here.
FieldTurf USA turned failure into opportunity when dozens of its artificial turf fields quickly fell apart at the region’s public schools in recent years.

Though customers paid $450,000 to $800,000 per field for “the best” and “the next generation of engineering excellence,” certain FieldTurf fields frayed, faded and shed after only a few football seasons, years before the eight-year warranty ran out.

The field failures – caused by a defect in the turf grass blades in the company’s popular Duraspine field – raised safety concerns for some schools and spurred districts to seek free warranty replacements from the Canadian turf manufacturer.
FieldTurf’s response came with fewer apologies than “offers” and “opportunities” for schools to upgrade their turf field to the latest and greatest for another $25,000 to $300,000, records show.
Some school districts took that offer to avoid getting more defective turf and to finally get a quality product. Schools like Carlsbad High, Fallbrook High, Valley Center High and Mesa College all paid FieldTurf a second time to replace defective fields that were still under warranty.
No one held the turf company line and wrung more money from local customers than regional FieldTurf salesman Tim Coury.
Coury also employed legally questionable methods to get new fields built, public records obtained by Voice of San Diego show.
The worst example was found in emails produced by Oceanside Unified...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

WBAL: Superintendent did not disclose income from 2 side jobs, panel finds

The Baltimore County School Board's Ethics Review Panel has found that Superintendent Dallas Dance failed to file financial statements about two jobs he has had on the side.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Superintendent Smith Proposes Busing Blair, Einstein, Kennedy and Northwood Students to Fill Woodward HS in Rockville

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack R. Smith is proposing a roundtable to evaluate how to ease Walter Johnson High School overcrowding by reopening Woodward High School.  As part of this evalutation, Superintendent Smith proposes that students from 4 out of 5 Down County Consortium high schools be bused to the re-opened Woodward High School.

Below is the response from the Down County Consortium PTA representatives to this proposal.

Friday, November 18, 2016

MCPS Wants $1,200 for Injury Documents on Students!

A reporter asked MCPS for the documents related to non-concussion student injuries.

MCPS wants $1,200 to produce this public information.  

Presentation to MD State Legislators on Documented Health Risks to Children who use Computers Daily

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Group Seeks Support of Montgomery County Businesses To Advance Early Learning

Group Seeks Support of Montgomery County Businesses To Advance Early Learning: Officials say preparing children to be productive workers as adults starts in the early years

Breaking: More Charges Going Back to 2000 at Cloverly ES, Sexual Abuse of Minor, Child Abuse Molestation Exploitation, 3rd Degree Sexual Offense

Additional charges have been filed against the teacher from Cloverly Elementary School that was previously arrested on sexual abuse charges.  This is the same school that cancelled Halloween.  

PBS: The Drug-like Effect of Screens on Children's Brains

Screens distract. Screens damage learning. Screens act like a drug in the brain. 
Why are schools bringing screens and cellphones into the classroom like wildfire? 

Special-ed student confined 617 times in 6 months despite state laws

The effectiveness of a law limiting how often school officials physically restrain or isolate students is impossible to judge because nearly half the state’s school districts missed the reporting deadline.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

WTHR News Investigates: Wireless Radiation Causes Cancer in NIH Rats

See the news report online here

Crossfield Elementary Students Don't Want a Cell Tower! Fairfax Virginia

Crossfield Parents and Children Are Calling For Safety First

The Fairfax Virginia Board of Education has a lease with Milestone
The Stop the Crossfield Tower Website is at

Mike Rowe, can you help? @mikeroweworks

"Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing" ~Mike Rowe

Read what Mike Rowe has to say about vocational/technical education in our schools at the link below. 

Let's ask Mike Rowe to speak up for MCPS students. 

Today, the Montgomery County Board of Education STILL allows principals to charge ILLEGAL CURRICULAR FEES to MCPS students who take courses at Edison High School of Technology (our one local vo/tech high school).  

Fees for public school classes discourage and prohibit participation and send a strong message that these classes are to be avoided.

The fees do not go into the MCPS budget, are not publicly accounted for, and create a slush fund for the principal. The practice has been going on for over a decade and our public officials will not speak up about this illegal practice. 

We have it in writing from the Maryland Attorney General's office and the Maryland State Board of Education that our children are entitled to a FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION under the Maryland Constitution. Yet, the charging of illegal curricular fees continues in Montgomery County. 

Mike Rowe, can you help? 


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Montgomery Co. schools to refine calendar with post-Labor Day start

 ...O’Neill said she saw three options: adhere to Hogan’s executive order; ignore the law; or challenge it in court. O’Neill said ignoring it was not responsible as they are sworn to abide by the laws. And she added that a court challenge could prove to be expensive for local school districts with an uncertain outcome...

School Board Votes To Start School After Labor Day Next Year

School Board Votes To Start School After Labor Day Next Year: Members agree to abide by Hogan's executive order

MCPS says attending a protest demonstration can be an excused absence

MCPS Releases Statement on Student Demonstrations

“Students who were absent from classes as part of [Monday’s] demonstration will be marked as unexcused; parents may send in a note to reverse the unexcused absence."

Petition: Tell Montgomery Co. Planning Board and County Council to Stop Unfettered Growth in North Bethesda

...Schools in the North Bethesda area are bursting at the seams. The demographic forecasts used by the County neglect the reality of younger families moving into the area, as well as the planned development. The current utilization percentage in the Walter Johnson Cluster justifies suspension of new construction. For complete details on the cluster, see the recent WJ Cluster Roundtable report.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Students discover racial slur at Md. elementary school

From Meghan Cloherty, WTOP:

Parents in Silver Spring, Maryland, are upset over what they call a delay in school officials’ response to a racial slur found written on a bathroom wall last week.

The three third-grade boys discovered the racial slur on the bathroom wall at Sligo Creek Elementary School on Thursday and reported it to their teacher.

“They all came out absolutely frightened and immediately went to their teacher, who they trust, to get some reassurance this problem would be taken care of and the teacher didn’t report it,” said mother Sarah Cohen.

Cohen learned of the incident on Facebook after the mother of one of the children involved posted about it online. Cohen said the mother said she waited to post the information, but she was frustrated she hadn’t heard back from the school.

For the whole story go here.