A Brooksville Council majority wants to hear the facts about fluoride. Good for them. Too bad the close-minded mayor remains an obstructionist to an open dialogue about the health and financial benefits of fluoridated water.
Last week, council members Frankie Burnett, Joe Johnston and Joe Bernardi said they'd like a public workshop to listen to the pros and cons of fluoridation, the widely available drinking water additive that prevents tooth decay. The conversation came because Mayor Lara Bradburn, who calls fluoride a health risk, blocked a prior health department offer for a council briefing.
"I think its absolutely ridiculous that they (public health officials) want preferential treatment. I'll just say that out loud.'' Bradburn told her council colleagues.
Bradburn's indignation should be no match for public exasperation. The Hernando County Health Department had to ask for an audience because it just recently learned Bradburn led the charge 18 months ago to kill the city's fluoridation program.
The mayor wasn't done with the obfuscation. Scheduling a public workshop could take a while, Bradburn said, because anti-fluoride advocates may need as long as a couple of months to prepare their own presentation.
"It isn't financially simple. Certainly, it's not simple scientifically or health wise,'' Bradburn said.
What hypocrisy. If only Bradburn had been so concerned about due diligence in September 2011. That is when council took 78 seconds to hear a Bradburn motion to remove fluoride from the city drinking water, ask a single question and vote unanimously for approval. The back-door maneuver came with no advance notice of a fluoride discussion. Removing fluoride from the drinking water saved the city $6,000 and Bradburn defends the vote as a budgetary decision.
That, too, is disingenuous. The 2012 city budget included $774,619 in its reserve contingency account for water and wastewater spending. The additional $6,000 savings did not affect the city's general fund, property tax rate or the rates charged to its water customers.
This isn't about dollars and cents, this is about paranoia and Bradburn's fears of a repeat of 2008 when she was on the losing end of a vote to remove fluoride from the city drinking water. The health department isn't asking for preferential treatment. It's asking for a chance to provide sound information to council members prior to consideration of a public health matter.
Why is that so ridiculous?