Successful SoCal Smart Meter Public Forum brings together hundreds of residents

29 Nov

They came from near and afar, eager to hear and learn the truth about smart meters at our event, organized by concerned residents just like them.  The audience also took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions of our Guest Experts in an open, public, town-hall style forum environment, and freely shared and discussed their experiences and opposition to smart meters.

Our Burbank Action blog has been dormant for a while — we had a lot of catching up to do after the very successful SoCal Smart Meter Public Forum on Thursday evening November 10, 2011, in Glendale, CA.

Thanks to the 175-200 Southern California residents who came from communities throughout the Los Angeles and Orange Counties to attend our free, public and non-partisan event, and listen attentively to our panel of Guest Speakers:

NBC Los Angeles Reporter Rob Kovacik interviews guest panelist Cindy Sage on location prior to the event.

Cindy Sage, international EMF health expert based in Santa Barbara, co-author of the Bio-Initiative Report, who has done RF field studies on smart meters finding they can exceed the FCC public safety standard (see

Mindy Spatt, Communications Director of The Utility Reform Network, based in San Francisco, which is a consumer and utility watchdog group for Californians; TURN is opposed to costs and many problems associated with smart meters (see

Orlean Koehle, author of “Just Say No to Big Brother’s Smart Meters,” who lives outside of Santa Rosa, CA, and has spoken at national conferences on smart  meters and how they threaten our privacy and property rights; she is also the State President for the California Eagle Forum (see

Emcee was Ron Kaye, Sunday columnist for the Los Angeles Times community newspapers for Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and the Foothill communities, former editor of the LA Daily News, and community activist.

Ask away: Audience lines up for direct Q&A with experts (left to right: Orlean Koehle, Mindy Spatt and Cindy Sage, as well as Emcee Ron Kaye) Click photo to see larger version..

After the guest speaker presentations, Mr. Kaye  invited audience members to line up for an open-microphone Question and Comment with the speakers in a lively open town-hall style forum.

Many audience members, including a resident who had driven from Huntington Beach, CA, later informed event organizers and our guest speakers how the Guest Speaker presentations and Q&A  provided very helpful information, and invigorated them to take action, and inform others about smart meters.

During and after the event, many audience members also signed resident and TURN Petitions directed at opposing the smart meter programs of GWP, BWP, LADWP, SCE, the CPUC and So Cal Gas.

They also commented how they found the informational tables helpful that were set up by residents from Burbank/Glendale and the Los Angeles and Orange Counties,   Oram Miller of Create Healthy Homes, and the California Eagle Forum.

Audience memeber checks out one of the informational table set up at the event.

Audience members were also given informational flyers and hand-outs to help them learn more about the problems and hazards of smart meters, and what actions they could pursue in their communities and statewide to oppose them.

Organizers were extremely happy that this event succeeded in increasing public awareness about smart meters, and has inspired residents to join and support other residents in their communities taking action opposing smart meters.

There was an unintended side-effect from this event — because it took place in Glendale, where the smart meter wireless mesh network is active, the locale had ill effects on electro-sensitive persons, including some of the organizers of this event and Guest Speaker Cindy Sage.

SoCal residents have told us they would like to have more of these types of forums, and yet we’re finding out that our utilities, including LADWP and SCE, is installing more smart meters throughout their territories every day making finding the a smart meter-free location increasingly difficult.

NBC Los Angeles Reporter Rob Kovacik interviews Burbank resident Shane Gregory.

This event was originally organized by a Steering Committee of a dozen concerned residents from Burbank, Glendale, and the LA County area, who faced what could have been an insurmountable task of organizing a major community forum in six weeks.

Spending countless hours to organize the actual event were Burbank residents Shane Gregory and Kiku Iwata, Glendale residents Tony Passarella, Teri Schlatter, Betty Gustafson, Aram Kazazian, and Wayne Cook.  Also joining us to present Public Comment at City Council Meetings in Burbank and Glendale to promote our event and speak out against smart meters, and assist with media outreach on Armenian Broadcasting, was Burbank resident Michelle Safarian.

Very lucky for us, generous supporters throughout California embraced the idea of this forum, and immediately contributed, supported, and volunteered their resources, talents, experience, time and energy, to make this event possible and successful.

NBC Los Angeles Reporter Rob Kovacik interviews Burbank residents Michelle Safarian about higher utility bills.

Special Thanks go to our Major Contributors:  the EMF Safety Network who gifted us with major funding and assistance; Stop OC Smart Meters, which took on the task and challenge of raising funds to underwrite the expenses of guest speaker Orlean Koehle, and also coordinated media outreach in the Orange County and surrounding areas; our non-profit fiscal sponsor, the Ecological Options Network, for helping us to accept and process  tax-deductible contribution of more than $100.

We are also thankful for the many Supporters that helped us with outreach and publicity, including the directors and staff  from the Center for Electrosmog Prevention, Stop Smart Meters, The People’s Initiative, Consumers Power Alliance, and Stop Smart Meters Irvine.

Local vendors, area residents, and audience members also provided valuable contributions and donations that helped us meet the many expenses of this event.

In addition, we are extremely grateful for our Guest Speakers, who drove and flew hundreds of miles, and donated much of their time, energy, and resources to make this event possible, and also made themselves available to the media to increase public awareness about this issue and our forum.  (See media story links below.)

So Cal Smart Meter Forum Nov. 10-2011, Glendale, CA

Special thanks to Ron Kaye, who told us that he has often spoken and helped moderate at events for community organizations, and accepted our invitation to emcee our event.  He volunteered his time and emcee talents in order to assist his community in our need to have a professional emcee at an event that would inform the public about a major issue and problem facing them.

We also thank the professional area audio and video production personnel — Ed Cirino, Steve Rice, and Jesse Austin — who donated their time, equipment and services to help us document and edit this event (it’s currently being edited, and we’ll update you with links as soon as we have the video uploaded to a public site).

Special thanks to Al Garcia and Darlene Paige of the Glendale Moose Lodge for accommodating our community event.

Thanks also to local and area media, which responded to this event and helped promote it or wrote about it. As a result, their shows, news coverage, opinions and stories helped increase public awareness about why residents oppose smart meters being installed by our utilities:

1) “ABC TV Live” Armenian-American community television talk show about smart meters, hosted by Vrej Agajanian of Armenian-American Broadcasting Corporation in Glendale, CA (November 9, 2011), featured in-studio interviews with Glendale residents Tony Passarella and Mike Mohill.  Thanks to Burbank resident Michelle Safarian for volunteering to be interviewed and reach out to the Armenian-speaking television viewers.

2) KPFK Roy Tuckman interviews EMF health expert Cindy Sage Thursday morning (November 10, 2011):  (Scroll forward to 2:54:00-3:21:45.) KPFK can be heard at 90.7 FM in Los Angeles and most of Southern California, 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, 99.5 FM in Ridgecrest/China Lake and on 93.7 FM in Rancho Bernardo/North San Diego.  Thanks go to Los Angeles County resident Kathleen Sundmark for organizing this interview (bringing Cindy Sage and KPFK Roy Tuckman together).

3) KNBC-TV reporter Robert Kovacik report for Thursday’s 11 pm newscast (Nov. 10, 2011) and the next day (Nov. 11) at 5pm:!/on-air/as-seen-on/Critics-Say-Smart-Meters-Are-Not-Safe-or-Accurate/133674968 Thanks to Burbank resident Shane Gregory for making this story possible, helping coordinate reporter Kovacik’s interview and production requests, and thanks also to Joshua Hart and Amy O’Hair of Stop Smart Meters, and EON’s Jim Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan for assisting Kovacik with his media footage needs.

4) LA Weekly’s Simone Wilson’s story posted Friday (Nov. 11, 2011):  Thanks to Simone Wilson for writing about this issue, our forum, and providing a public service by informing readers about the SCE Delay list and phone number.

5) Glendale News Press’ Brittany Levine’s news story posted Friday, Nov. 11, 2011:  Thanks to  Brittany Levine for attending and reporting on our event.

6) Ron Kaye’s front page column in Sunday’s Glendale News Press-Burbank Leader, published Nov. 13, 2011:,0,1794632.story (or,0,7916054.story).   Our event Emcee Ron Kaye hits the nail on the head with his Sunday front-page opinion piece about our event and the smart meter issue with, “The Arrogance of Power.”

7) Sunroom Desk write up, posted November 14, 2011: Thanks to Sunroom Desk Editor Elise Kalfayan for attending and reporting on our event.

8) Media City Groove write up, posted November 15, 2011:  Thanks to Media City Groove Editor Fronnie Lewis for reporting on our event, and keeping on top of the smart meter issue.

And thanks to the Santa Barbara resident organizers of the Santa Barbara Smart Meter Town Hall Forum (April 2011) that inspired our area residents to organize a similar event for our SoCal residents here.   We encourage and recommend residents in other California communities and the nation to be inspired to do the same.

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