Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: In killing fluoride, ignorance prevails

The Hernando County Commission sided with ignorance and scare tactics over established science and public health Tuesday, killing an effort to add fluoride to the county's drinking water without even taking a vote. Only Commissioner Diane Rowden saw the wisdom of trying to provide better dental health for county residents and particularly to low-income children who don't have regular access to dental care. Fluoride supporters should continue to educate Hernando commissioners and voters about the benefits of fluoridated water and its wide acceptance in the scientific and health care communities.

Rowden's motion to add fluoride to Hernando's drinking water was met with silence from her colleagues, who already had let fluoride opponents dominate the public discussion. "I don't want to sit here and listen to this,'' Commissioner Nick Nicholson volunteered before Palm Harbor pediatric dentist Dr. Johnny Johnson began his presentation in support of fluoridated water. At that point, 17 fluoride opponents already had addressed commissioners. They repeated much of the misinformation previously presented to the Brooksville City Council and to the Pinellas County Commission during their fluoride debates: fluoride lowers IQ, the Nazis used fluoride in World War II concentration camps, fluoride consumption is a danger to the elderly or adding fluoride violates the U.S. Constitution.

What nonsense. The federal government recommends fluoride levels of 0.7 parts per million in a liter of water while the studies warning of serious health issues focus on fluoridation levels many times higher in other countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. surgeon general, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Florida Department of Health strongly endorse fluoridating water to prevent tooth decay. Commissioners' willingness to stand on the sidelines told thousands of children — the U.S. Census Bureau estimates more than 7,500 Hernando County children live in poverty — that their health isn't worth a modest investment.

Fear and lies won Tuesday, just as they did in 1990 when Hernando commissioners approved fluoridating drinking water but retreated after critics pointed to a study citing a possible link between high doses of fluoride (up to 79 times higher than the recommended level for water supplies) and a rare form of cancer in laboratory animals.

Twenty-four years later, different commissioners still lack the political will to act in residents' best interests when it comes to matters of public health. Elected officials and voters saw the light in Pinellas County, when voters in 2012 ousted two county commissioners who voted to take fluoride out of the water and replaced them with two who immediately voted to resume adding it last year. They also saw the light in Brooksville, where the City Council has voted to start adding fluoride to the city's drinking water.

Established science, public health and common sense eventually win the day when the public debate turns from baseless accusations to informed discussions and elected officials stop fearing those who yell the loudest. In Hernando County, that day is still off in the future.

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Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18