Opinion

Muster solidarity needed to defeat cell tower threat | Point

By Steve Ludwig

The name of the game is “Beggar Thy Neighbor.”

You sign a lucrative contract to put a cell tower on your land and let the people living around you suffer the consequences: The health effects from around-the-clock electromagnetic radiation, loss of property value, loss of the enjoyment of your land and the sight of the ugly tower itself.

Thousands of people in North America are in this situation — stuck in a house they can’t sell, often with radiation-caused sickness. If you’re caught in this trap, do you think you’ll get a property tax reduction or compensation from the cell phone company? Fat chance.

San Juan County residents have been protected from these horrors by one of the best cell-tower ordinances in the U.S. since 1997 (San Juan County Code Chapter 16.80). It’s not perfect, more protection is needed for people in our so-called “activity centers,” but it’s pretty good. This ordinance came about through years of effort by perhaps as many as 100 people from Lopez, Orcas and San Juan islands (This is a LOT of solidarity for this county).

The effort involved a federal lawsuit, training and practice in non-violent civil disobedience, too many meetings and hearings to count, several petitions filled with signatures, a protest camp and even a flock of sheep that were conscripted into the struggle. I know it’s difficult for most, essentially rootless, San Juan County residents to understand the need people have to protect their land and neighborhoods and the idea of place as home, indeed, as your only home, but it exists, and it is the only effective form of resistance to the radical evil of rulers and their stooges.

Now the newly-formed Cell Phone Task Force and the prosecuting attorney are busy writing a new ordinance to strip away all the protections the old ordinance has. The setbacks and the requirements for public hearings, conditional use permits and radiation monitoring, are considered by the task force to be “onerous” because they impede the industry! As if it was the duty of local government to assist rapacious corporations to plunder their jurisdictions rather than protect citizens from this very thing.

The task force is made up entirely of cell phone enthusiasts, nearly all employees or ex-employees of the telecom industry. It’s a lot more force than task force.

We’ll never be told the real reasons for this sudden rebirth of the adolescent fantasy of 100 percent cell phone coverage. The stated purpose: to improve emergency medical services, is obviously bogus. Why would they expose thousands to hazardous electromagnetic radiation for such a purpose? That would mean that “health care” is the enemy of “health.”

The question now is: Can we muster the solidarity to defeat this latest threat from local government? It won’t be easy. County officials just love things that pit neighbor against neighbor. “Divide and rule” is still the prime directive for those in authority.

— Steve Ludwig is a Lopez Island resident and secretary of the Green Party of San Juan County. He can be contacted at deathtodevelopment@yahoo.com

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