Friday, May 25, 2018
Editorials

Brooksville deserves debate on fluoride issue

The city of Brooksville should treat public health the same as it treats public relations. An egregious double standard emerged last week when Mayor Lara Bradburn stifled a requested council discussion on fluoridating water, saying the matter should be debated during budget season. But, later, Bradburn and the rest of the council agreed to a $25,000 unbudgeted expense, acquiescing to a pitch to sponsor the upcoming Florida Blueberry Festival.

Well, which is it? Is the city so cash strapped that it can't consider a $6,000 annual allocation from its utilities budget for fluoride? Or, is it so flush with cash that it can toss $25,000 from its reserves to festival organizers who made an oral presentation, but provided no written documentation to the council in advance of the meeting?

The hypocrisy further deflates Bradburn's contention that the 2011 vote killing the city's fluoride program was a fiscal decision. Far from it. She and a unanimous council pulled an end run on transparency by eliminating funding for fluoride with no public notice. It came in a budget hearing after just 78 seconds of conversation that included a motion, explanation and vote, but no discussions of savings to the utilities department.

Now, 18 months after the clandestine maneuvering, health officials are pressing for a chance to present scientific and fiscal information to the council as a precursor for a potential reversal of that vote. Except Bradburn is afraid of a public discussion, having come up short in 2008 when she also sought to remove fluoride from the municipal water system. The mayor's close-minded approach is a disservice to her constituents.

If she truly is concerned about fiscal matters, then let her try to refute the cost-benefit analysis of fluoridating public drinking water. Residents in a city the size of Brooksville should expect annual savings of $16 per person from avoiding the costs of cavity treatments and lost time to dental visits. Bradburn cites concerns about excessive fluoridation even though the city's own utility's measurements showed levels within safe range of the optimal amount before the council pulled the plug in 2011.

Brooksville residents are being denied a health benefit available to nearly 13.8 million Floridians, or 78 percent of the state's population. Most recently, Pinellas County and the city of Plant City added fluoride to their water systems. Elected officials there understand the advantages of preventing tooth decay via a minimal annual expense to achieve optimal levels of fluoridated water. Elected officials in Brooksville, meanwhile, subscribe to dubious science or libertarian theories.

If only dental health concerns could match council's attention to public image. Check the mayor's sentiment on subsidizing the blueberry festival:

"It sends a message that we're a strong, vibrant community that is doing positive things.''

Unless, of course, the topic is oral health. Then, the message is silence and the image is of an unsophisticated council intolerant of opposing views.

Comments
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyang’s nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Korea’s Kim Jong ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18