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Permit for McCain Cell Tower Still Active

POSTED: 05:28 PM ET, 10/16/2008 by The Editors

By James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writer

Verizon Wireless's permit to build a permanent cellular telephone tower on John and Cindy McCain's Arizona ranch is still in effect, Yavapai County officials said today, as the wireless company keeps its options open for the previously shelved plans for the site.

In a statement, Verizon's spokesman Jeffrey Nelson labeled as "wrong" a story about the cell phone coverage at the ranch in Thursday's Post. McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers told the Associated Press, "This story is a disgrace. The McCains went through the process that is available to anybody who subscribes to one of these cell phone companies to inquire about getting service."

The Verizon statement said, "Verizon received a request [for cell service on the ranch] from Mrs. McCain, but declined. Subsequent to that, the Secret Service made a legitimate request for a temporary tower for its work and Verizon complied as is required by our contract with the agency."

But interviews and public records filed in the Yavapai development services offices indicate a different timeline. In early 2007, Cindy McCain's staff first requested coverage, according to the McCain campaign. Over the course of the year, Mrs. McCain offered land for a permanent cell tower and gave Verizon authorization to act on her behalf to seek permits from the county. In late 2007, a firm was hired by Verizon to produce an environmental impact assessment, that eventually ran to 200 pages. Verizon also hired contractors to prepare blueprints for a cell tower. Cindy McCain signed a contract with Verizon in early May.

After a regulatory hurdle delayed the permanent tower, Verizon received e-mails in late May from a Secret Service technology manager imploring Verizon to rush cell coverage for the area. Verizon's contractor then petitioned the county to permit a portable "cell site on wheels," known as a COW.

The wireless company began the county permitting process last year after Mrs. McCain filed an online request to Verizon Wireless for cell coverage on her ranch, located in a canyon southwest of Sedona. The permit, issued May 29, expires in December. "If someone hasn't contacted us to ask us to withdraw it [the permit], then we leave it in effect until it expires," said Kathy Houchin, customer-service manager for the development department.

But Verizon spokesman Nelson said it has no plans to build the permanent cell site and instead has installed a temporary cell site on wheels following a request in May from the Secret Service.

"We have no plans to build a permanent cell site on this property, but are keeping the permit active as a prudent business planning measure, in the event the Secret Service's needs change over time," Nelson said.

AT&T also installed a portable tower in July, but had not received any request from the federal agency assigned to protect presidential candidates.

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said the agency has had nothing to do with Verizon's process for seeking a permanent tower. "It would be premature for us to look at long-term solutions down there," Zahren said last week.

The COW was installed in June. Two months later, Verizon abandoned its effort to install a permanent tower, Nelson said, because it would be "an inappropriate way" to build out its network. "It doesn't make business sense for us to do that," Nelson said.

Records filed with the Federal Election Commission show that Verizon and AT&T are the top wireless services used by McCain campaign workers. McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, have used the ranch to practice for the debates and strategy sessions have been held there.

Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president, external affairs, said in a statement that the company would have done the same for Obama. "We made a temporary accommodation to Senator McCain, who is a presidential nominee," Cicconi said. "Should a similar need arise, we would make the same accommodation for Senator Obama."

AT&T's Cicconi noted in his statement that portable towers were provided at the Democratic National Convention. "In Denver when the venue of the democratic nomination acceptance speech was moved to Invesco Field we rapidly enhanced our wireless coverage in that area by using temporary cell towers."

But telecommunications experts told the Post that installing portable towers for major events with thousands of people is a money-maker for wireless companies because the heavy traffic would generate income.

By The Editors |  October 16, 2008; 5:28 PM ET Post Investigations
Previous: Financial Crisis, Stevens Trial, White House Politics | Next: Voter Fraud Probe Becomes Campaign Issue


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Can I get one in my back yard because Sprint is not very good where I live?

Posted by: Can you hear me now? | October 16, 2008 6:20 PM


Posted by: NETHERLANDS ANTILLES | October 16, 2008 6:42 PM

Ha! John McCain - aka Joe Plumber's candidate.

Sure john, you keep feeding us that "populist" "I'm your guy, line!"

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2008 6:56 PM

Since Ted Stevens got into trouble for not reporting freebies and gifts to congress, would not John McCain have been required to report any free services of transmission and mobile cellular tower services as a gift to congress. If McCain has not he might have some explaining to do to congress and the public.

Posted by: emgcor | October 16, 2008 7:17 PM

I think it is called a kick back! Hummmm

Posted by: Steve | October 16, 2008 7:41 PM

We need a tower in a community that serves about 100 people. If we can't get one, then something stinks. We all know that ATT is a Bush/Cheney cohort, so none of this is surprising.

Posted by: Mark VanGelder | October 16, 2008 7:43 PM

No like Cindys McBush.

Posted by: JC | October 16, 2008 7:45 PM

Red and white, blue suede shoes, I'm Uncle Sam, how do you do?
Gimme five, I'm still alive, ain't no luck, I learned to duck.
Check my pulse, it don't change. Stay seventy-two come shine or rain.
Wave the flag, pop the bag, rock the boat, skin the goat.
Wave that flag, wave it wide and high.
Summertime done, come and gone, my, oh, my.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2008 7:47 PM

Why are Democrats so blinded by anger? The article clearly states that:
1 The tower is probably not going to be built.
2. The application process for a cell tower is available to everyone.

Posted by: Tom | October 16, 2008 7:53 PM

So, IF McCain wins, Verizon wants to have the option to install a permanent tower. But if he loses, there's no point in spending the money.

Posted by: Jon | October 16, 2008 7:54 PM

This isit?

The list is incredible regarding Obama.
Begin with use of taxpayer money to run around kenya in a political campaign for his cousin to demand sharia law. (Odinga too lost his race)

The "friends and associates whose intent is to attack America" like Ayers etc.

The banished girlfriend Vera Baker

The Odd knowledge that there are anywhere from 57 to 60 states proclaimed in an Oregon speech.

The Obama tee shirts with Palin's name and the C word on them.

Mc Cain is letting a cell company place a very needed tower on his ranch, that benefits the entire Community.....and what???

Maybe a trip to beautiful Sedona and the wine Country near Mc Cain's ranch, would improve the intellect on the subject for critics.

Posted by: dottydo | October 16, 2008 7:55 PM

I live in a canyon and cannot get cell coverage. I'm ordering a COW today!

Posted by: Mugwamp | October 16, 2008 7:58 PM

Since when did Bush Bashing become such the Fad? Golden Rule... Golden Rule!

Posted by: Big Daddy | October 16, 2008 8:02 PM

John and Cindy decided they'd prefer to have iPhones and are now negotiating with AT&T...

Posted by: Woogie | October 16, 2008 8:05 PM

This is like the cell phone tower to nowhere!!!!

Posted by: Nathan | October 16, 2008 8:07 PM

Big effing deal. Why would the Washington Post waste ink on this lame ass story. I would think that these headlines would be more important...

Intelligence Official: Obama Would Endanger Us

Ex-FBI Agents Outraged at Obama-Ayers Ties

Posted by: SteveJJ | October 16, 2008 8:10 PM

Can Obama/McCain donate some money to the charity which needs money? These charities provide free food to the people.

Posted by: JM | October 16, 2008 8:12 PM

Hey , John not voting for you.
(nerdy looking guy with glasses talks pointlessly into cell phone)

Posted by: joe the shill | October 16, 2008 8:14 PM

I can't believe this is a Washington Post "investigation." You guys are really digging deep for anything negative on McCain. We're a long way from Watergate now. Pathetic. Truly pathetic. Go McCain!

Posted by: Joe | October 16, 2008 8:14 PM

Obama is a Muslin plant. Can't you guys SEE IT.
How manny knowledgable people have to tell you so.
I pray, vote Mccain

Posted by: SteveJJ | October 16, 2008 8:16 PM

John McCain owns a ranch?! Do all Republicans own a ranch??! I see no one saying anything about immagration until you bring up the "ranch".

Posted by: DMM | October 16, 2008 8:17 PM

Tom: Democrats aren't blinded by anger. People who shout "Kill him" and call Obama a "Terrorist" are blinded with anger. Those people seem to be voting Republican. Facts are facts even if your rhetoric (i.e. blinded by anger democrats) is irresponsible

Posted by: Califas | October 16, 2008 8:18 PM

During Clinton's tenure: Lied about sex with an intern.
During Bush's tenure:
9/11 (3000+ casualties)
Katrina (many casualties)
Iraq War (4000+ American casualties, 100,000+ foreign casualties) and he lied to get us into war
Gas prices sky-rocket
Economic Crises/Homes lost/DOW plummets/Suicides
Gay Marriage legal in three states
No Like Bush!

Posted by: Julio | October 16, 2008 8:19 PM


Posted by: Jebb Crumpwell | October 16, 2008 8:20 PM

Stevejj: You are a racist. I venture to guess that you are uneducated as well since no one properly educated would use such liberal language without solid evidence.

Posted by: Not a racist like stevejj | October 16, 2008 8:20 PM

Oh, so I guess the Arizona ranch is one of McCain's properties that he remembers he owns.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 16, 2008 8:22 PM

I forgot, Vote.

Posted by: Jebb Crumpwell | October 16, 2008 8:22 PM

For the guy that again brings a dead horse up ,Nancy Regan and the RNC have more ties to Ayers than OB .But I am sure that your pastor sees it differently .Won't matter shortly as OB will win and then my state gets Mcsame back

Posted by: jeff barron | October 16, 2008 8:27 PM

This is the most pointless article of all time!

Posted by: Dan | October 16, 2008 8:31 PM

Obama has apparently confused hope for change with hype for change. Unrealistic spoon fed hype that so many people eat up. What a shame that desperation for change is going to drive our economy into a full blown depression.

Posted by: IA_CW | October 16, 2008 8:31 PM

10xcsn? a new radio station?
Go Mcaine

Posted by: Hillard dutton | October 16, 2008 8:38 PM

"Mc Cain is letting a cell company place a very needed tower on his ranch, that benefits the entire Community.....and what???

Posted by: dottydo | October 16, 2008 7:55 PM"

I wonder if you have ever been near Page Springs. There's not much community to benefit, especially since the terrain is very uneven and the signal probably wouldn't reach the majority of the few homes that there are nearby.

Posted by: sveeb | October 16, 2008 8:46 PM

So this is what the newspaper that famously broke the Watergate story all those years ago allocates resources to these days? Katherine Graham must be spinning in her grave.

Posted by: deepspace | October 16, 2008 8:51 PM

First, a cell tower is not a gift or free-bee. It provides services coverage to an area and users must pay for that coverage. My friend was paid to allow a cell tower on his property, so , if anything, McCain donating land for a cell tower could be a free-bee to the cell company.
To the dumb analyst who says the convention was different because it was a money maker, cell companies make money by "having customers", they get customers, to a great extent, based on the extent of their coverage. So closing holes in coverage is always a money maker. That is why my cell works when I am out in the country side to begin with.
It is crazy for a news story to use permit dates and such to try to discredit statements made by the company president. He said the decision was made not to build a permanent tower, but he did not say they rejected the option to build one in the future so going ahead with permitting is natural course of business, especially when permits for cell towers are so hard to get these days.
For those who complained about not getting cell towers in your neighborhoods, talk to your local government first, many areas suffer because cell tower permits are blocked due to all the NIMBYs out there. (Not In My Back Yard - NIMBY - someone who doesn't want something built close to their home even though they would benefit from whatever it is.) In your case, your local government may be blocking or making it very difficult to acquire permits for cell towers because people in your area don't like the large metal towers effecting the view, etc.. Or just because NIMBY is so rooted in their mindset they complain about everything.
Lastly, blaming Bush for Katrina or 9/11, get real. The economic crisis was triggered by poorer people who were given access to loans, when they probably shouldn't have been, who subsequently were unable or unwilling to improve their situation prior to their rate increases. The "claim" that if poor people just had a leg-up, they could get out of poverty, was proven wrong and we are paying for it. Low interest loans were provided to poorer people with a known deadline for when those rate would return to normal. It was a "chance" for them to get their own home and improve their situation. They did not improve their situations. Many thought they would be able to resell the homes for higher prices if they couldn't afford the payments, expecting win-fall cash from the sell. They didn't realize that selling takes time and when too many people sell the prices go down or that they have to make payments they can't afford while they try to sell. - Short end of the stick, the people who pushed for making these loans available (Democrats and some Republicans in DC - as well as local community leaders) and the people themselves who were given a leg up and showed they deserve to be where they are, those are the people who are to blame for this crisis.

Posted by: rtaylor | October 16, 2008 9:06 PM

I guess it's true that 1/4 of the American people who still believe in Bush (the self-righteous conservatives) are truly idiots.

Posted by: julio | October 16, 2008 9:37 PM

the article was pointless, these comments are pointless, and it doesn't change the fact that McCain would SUCK as president. While you all are throwing crap at eachother, there are real issues that need solving. And Obama is the guy to get things done, PERIOD.

For all you racist conspiracy theorists... do you honestly think a guy connected to terrorists would be let into the highest levels of our government??? Oh, wait a minute... they let Bush in the White House even though his family has business ties to the BIN LADENS. My mistake. Why aren't you kicking and screaming about that you dumb ass lemmings...


Posted by: sick | October 16, 2008 10:36 PM

Since the Bin-Laden family are NOT terrorists it is unfair to label them as such, at least not any more than those dumb people who say Obama is Muslim or Islamic or whatever. Nor is it fair to claim Bush has links to terrorism because he has/had business with the Bin-Laden family. Each of us who drive cars, take the bus, ride the train or use many other forms of energy also have a business connection to the Bin-Laden family and worse yet we all are financially supporting terrorism. Yes, if the Bin-Laden family, who get their money (at least a large amount of it) from oil are terrorist (which is not true) and since Osama Bin-Laden got/gets financial support from many Billionaire families of oil money we could easily say that when you use oil based products, you have financially supported terrorism.
I honestly don't support either candidate nor Bush but I think we need to be fair. This article is not fair, it is absolutely pointless.
Bush is not the blame of the nations woes he is the inheritor, as will be whomever wins.
I honestly hope that the previous 2 comments are struck and removed for violating the comment posting policies, this is also fair.

Posted by: rtaylor | October 16, 2008 11:00 PM

10xcsn,,,blew my donuts

Posted by: wilma fartus | October 16, 2008 11:28 PM

i think they'll need one after they loss the election. When all of McCain friend's call to ask him why he lost the election.

Posted by: DSS | October 17, 2008 12:20 AM

rtaylor -

Quite a bit of difference between "knowing someone who committed some stupid acts when you were 8" (Ayers) and "your best friends brother blew up the world trade towers".

Yes, I can criticize Bush for being on the board of the Bin Laden corporation - especially since he funneled money to Osama during the Russo-Afghan conflict.
Since the Carlyle board meeting was happening WHILE the terrorist were attacking.
Since "W" has been bailed out 8 times by Bin Laden family assets.

Face it people - if you couldn't get cellular service because you lived to far out of town, the phone company would laugh at you and tell you to move. This is a freebie. Just like Stevens house in Alaska.

We have a class in this country that think they are owed something. They expect hand outs for votes. They have no loyalty to you, or your family, unless you make 5 million dollars a year or more.

Is Obama a better choice? Since th PSL don't have a national ticket, he is the best we got.

Posted by: Sabazio | October 17, 2008 7:56 AM

Hey AT&T we need a cell phone tower on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii so that the cows here and in Cornville, AZ can talk to each other. They also have Speilberg in that little cow town, but we have Roxanne does that count?

Posted by: alohaakamai | October 17, 2008 12:01 PM

Cell phone companies would like to only install cell towers where they think that there is a big profit potential. What about the need for towers in places that have poor service or no service. These places could be the spot where your car might decide to crap out and leave you stranded with no way to request some help where due to there remoteness could be a life or death situation. There should be some some requirement to install these pieces of infrastructure for the good of the public weather the McCains live there or not. The secret service request should not have been the only reason that service was improved. Seems that profitability is the driving force for tower location. If not for government mandate there would be no electrical power to a big percentage of rural customers. If you want to be a phone service supplier then you should be willing to cover areas that are not quite as profitable in order to provide service for the good of the public for safety reasons After all isn't technology supposed to be used to help humanity.

Posted by: Richard | October 17, 2008 5:58 PM

FISA bill. Both McCain and Obama voted for telecom immunity.

That is all.

Posted by: Franklin | October 18, 2008 11:18 PM

FISA bill. Both McCain and Obama voted for telecom immunity.

That is all.

Posted by: Franklin | October 18, 2008 11:21 PM

I have to say your "posting standards" are honored at the same level as the Geneva convention. Why are you allowing these personal attacks? Perhaps it's too much trouble to enforce the law - as we've been seeing a lot of lately.....

Posted by: dick brandlon | October 19, 2008 1:52 AM


Posted by: Helen Munoz | October 20, 2008 11:49 AM

Graft, corruption... The typical hallmark of Republicanism. These fat cat corporate criminals and the politicians they purchase have ZERO idea what it's like to live in the real United States.

We have parts of the United States where temporary high density populations come and go due to vacation seasons and holidays, places where cell towers are needed to provide access to medical and law enforcement assistance.

Some parts of California get 20,000 visitors to Federal recreation areas on some week ends, all without cell telephone coverage -- and yet some criminal fat cat fascist pig with treason in his ideologies gets handed two cell towers all for his little fascist self.

Amazing. Isn't Democracy wonderful? We have Chriostofascist Socialism for the wealthy, Capitalism for the poor and middle class.

Posted by: Fredric L. Rice | October 20, 2008 4:43 PM

10xcsn is goddah...
I luv ya 10XCSN !!!!!!!!!

Posted by: 10xcsn | October 21, 2008 1:00 AM

Eho ?

Posted by: NOT 10XCSN | October 21, 2008 1:03 AM

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