Majority of Hillsborough County School Board rejects plea to end contract with cell phone tower company

White also said that he was hoping the board could take more responsibility for their actions and have the application for a tower at a particular campus come before the board on a case-by-case basis, and take it out of the hands of the school principals, who have the power on their own to decide whether to install such a a tower.


Certain schools in the district have rejected such towers since the contract began in 2006, after local neighborhood opposition coalesced in opposition.


But despite all of the controversy, you'd hardly have known it by watching the board debate the issue on Tuesday night - because they didn't. Debate that is.


Board member Susan Valdes said she was struggling with her vote, but ultimately came down on the side of re-upping the contract, saying she had serious concerns about inequities with different schools. Collier gives a direct payment to schools that agree to hosting towers on their campuses. Board member Jack Lamb agreed with Valdes, saying "We've allowed principals to reflect their communities," and said that students at those schools were able to have some material things that "never would have happened without the towers."


The vote came after ten different people spoke before the board, all in opposition to renewing the deal. White said that he had received "numerous" phone calls, emails and texts from citizens all opposed to the contract renewal as well. "I haven't had a single constituent say they like this," he said, adding, "the more I dig into this, the more it smells bad."


White also discussed what has virtually been a verboten subject over the years regarding the towers - the potentially deleterious health effects those towers could have on children.


There have not been that many studies on the issue -certainly nothing long term, as such towers have only been in existence for about 15 years in most communities in America.


The American Cancer Society has said that limited epidemiological evidence suggests no link between cancers and living or working near a cell phone tower. But as we reported in a story in CL nearly a year and a half ago, there are reputable organizations that disagree.

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Despite the fervent pleas of their newest member, the Hillsborough County School Board Tuesday night voted to give Collier Enterprises II a brand new five year contract to continue to lease cell phone towers on school property.

The vote was 6-1, with board member Stacy White the sole member to oppose the renewal.

Unlike the other board members, who have mostly dismissed concerns by parents and other members of the community about the safety and placement of such towers, the just elected White over the course of several meetings has become the voice for the anti-cell tower movement. White had suggested that the board reject an automatic renewal of the Collier contract, but he was hardly radical in his opposition. Instead he suggested that the board should then re-open the entire bidding process, instead of awarding an exclusive contract with Collier, which is owned by Stacy Frank, an attorney and daughter of longtime Democratic politician Pat Frank, Hillsborough County's Clerk of Court. Stacy Frank herself ran unsuccessfully for a state House seat last fall, where her ownership and advocacy of cell towers became a campaign issue.

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