Two COINS from the mayor
By Linda Bentley | March 4, 2009
Fulcher’s use of town’s information notification system cause for alarm
CAREFREE – Following the Feb. 25 COINS Public Information Alert regarding “Sales Tax,” placed by Mayor Wayne Fulcher to publicly berate and advocate against council candidate Doug Stavoe, Sonoran News learned the second item wasn’t so innocently placed in the COINS Alert either.
That segment regarding cell towers states: “We have been in receipt of e-mails that have asserted that the town council is actively soliciting communication cell towers in order to generate rental income for the town. This is simply not true. We have been approached by a communications company about possibly entering the Carefree market. Your town council and staff have major concerns with the configuration, location and overall benefit to our residents of these towers. As always with any issues of this type staff has directed the potential applicant to meet with citizens who would be immediately affected. Our citizens will tell us which way they want us to go when and if the application is formally submitted.”
The alert was prompted by a flyer being distributed by Gary Zalimeni, who first learned of the proposed cell towers to be installed in his community after receiving a postcard about neighborhood meetings, which were conducted this past Friday and Saturday by Jim Todaro and Patrick Inkmann, representing NewPath Networks, LLC of New Jersey, but headquartered in Seattle.
Zalimeni organized a neighborhood coalition called the Carefree Preservation Committee, to oppose installation of cell towers in close proximity to their homes, and printed up a flyer stating: “The town of Carefree has approved the proposal to install cell towers in close proximity of, and in Carefree, AZ.”
The flyer goes on to say, “If the proposed towers are allowed to be built in our community there will be consequences,” and lists property devaluation, detrimental health effects from chronic radiation exposure, unnatural appearance of the faux cactus towers, ecological concerns as well as the coalition’s desire to preserve the Carefree lifestyle.
Signatures were collected on a petition opposing the cell towers, which Zalimeni stated was even signed by former Mayor Ed Morgan, who lives in the same community.
His flyer urged citizens to contact Fulcher and council members with their objections. Every person who signed the petition was provided a flyer, which clearly states the Carefree Preservation Committee is not a political action committee but “made up of Carefree residents who truly care about our way of life.”
Zalimeni also provided everyone given the opportunity to sign the petition another document explaining “Health Effects from Cell Tower Radiation,” citing a review of 188 scientific studies by biophysicist Neil Cherry, Ph.D., who concluded, “The electromagnetic radiation causes cells to change in a way that makes them cancer forming … It can increase the cancer rate two to five times.”
According to Zalimeni, once a cell tower is erected, there is no way to ensure the towers are not emitting higher radiation levels than legally allowed.
Zalimeni’s name and phone number are clearly printed on both handouts and, so far, approximately 150 people have signed the petition.
Apparently Fulcher called Zalimeni to say he was unhappy with the way the flyer was worded and asserted the town had not approved the cell towers.
Nowhere did Zalimeni state Carefree approved NewPath’s application for a special use permit to install the cell towers.
Nevertheless, on Monday afternoon, Fulcher, under his own name as mayor, sent out a COINS “Public Information Alert,” as a “Cell Tower Update” stating: “Town officials were alerted over the weekend to efforts by an individual representing himself as chairman of a “Carefree Preservation Committee,” and attempting to obtain signatures on a petition claiming that the town had previously approved a proposal to install cell towers in close proximity of, and in Carefree. This individual was advised by the town that this is not true and the town issued a Public Information Alert to our citizens on Wednesday, Feb. 25, to further clarify the allegation. We do not know who this individual actually represents as there is no record of such an organization being registered with the town, so please be aware …”
Fulcher’s alarmist warning about Zalimeni’s petition or who he represents is unfounded. Had NewPath’s project already been approved, Zalimeni wouldn’t have been collecting signatures on a community petition just to express opposition to the proposed cell towers; he’d be collecting signatures for a referendum. However, Zalimeni is being proactive in hopes there will be nothing to refer.
In any event, there is no legal requirement for Zalimeni to register his neighborhood coalition with the town in order to exercise their First Amendment rights to disseminate information and collect signatures from citizens on a petition that has nothing to do with an initiative, candidate or referendum.
NewPath sued the city of Irvine, Calif. in 2006, winning a ruling that permanently enjoined the city’s ordinance regarding cell towers. However, the U.S. District Court dismissed NewPath’s state claim, requesting the city be ordered to issue NewPath a conditional use permit. Irvine has appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it is still pending.
Around the same time last year, NextG Networks filed suit against NewPath in federal court for patent infringement. That case is still pending.