Santa Fe Zoning Hearing Draws ‘Soul Sucking’ Theories on RF…and Ali MacGraw


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Last week’s long city council public hearing in Santa Fe, NM, was more than some bargained for—from objections over the WiFi to a worry over future towers “littering the landscape and ruining the city’s charm” to a celebrity (one Ali MacGraw) speaking unexpectedly.

During the meeting, which lasted until after midnight, residents complained they were suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, according to the Albuquerque Journal. The meeting was held regarding amendments to an ordinance limiting telecommunications usage although, ironically, City Hall administrators noted that WiFi was turned on during the hearing. Complaints from two dozen locals centered on the negative health effects of electromagnetic fields.

The subject steered back to WiFi of the present, with Katherine Greer, a member of the Santa Fe Alliance for Public Health and Safety, saying “the city’s decision not to turn off the WiFi and subject her and others with electromagnetic hypersensitivity to frequencies for more than three hours was ‘cruel.’” Greer said it “caused her to not think straight, lose her orientation and her ‘whole soul.’” She said that citizens have diseases, but they are in hiding “because they can’t leave their house.” Another group member said since the city did not turn off the WiFi, it was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

Turning back to the telecommunications ordinance, some stated any amendments would “lead to a proliferation of telecom towers in the city.” Actress Ali MacGraw, a 23-year citizen of Santa Fe, also spoke opposing the ordinance, adding she was “absolutely flabbergasted when [she] read the proposition.” MacGraw asked for more public input, along with anti WiFi activist Arthur Firstenberg, who said “the new provision to charge companies a franchise fee amounted to an illegal gross receipt tax and that customers end up paying, not telecommunication companies,” the Journal reported.

Assistant City Attorney Marco Martinez said the amendment would “cure sections of the ordinance adopted in 2010 that a federal court struck down after Qwest, now doing business as CenturyLink, challenged the ordinance on the grounds that the franchise fee was a disguised tax and effectively limited telecommunication services in violation of the federal laws.” Qwest dropped the claim, but the city had an ordinance that didn’t allow for a fee to be charged.

Councilor Peter Ives, who introduced the proposal, said he was open to more citizen concerns and public comment, after more than an hour of commenting at this meeting. The council unanimously approved the ordinance amendments and a rider that will form an advisory committee. This committee, the Journal noted, will include members of the public who will help address how to manage towers on public rights-of-way.

November 14, 2016

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