Sunday, December 17, 2017
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: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17