Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Restore fluoride to Brooksville's water

The Brooksville City Council should focus on public health and established science this week, stand up to the voices spreading misinformation and fanning unfounded fear, and vote to resume adding fluoride to the city's drinking water. This battle has been fought and won in Pinellas County, and it can be won in this Hernando County community if residents insist that their elected officials act in their best interest.

The City Council already has added $10,000 to its utilities budget to cover the fluoridation program costs for the coming year, but council members have not formally reversed their ill-advised vote two years ago that stopped fluoridation.

That September 2011 clandestine maneuver — coming late in a budget hearing with no public notice or debate — was portrayed disingenuously by Mayor Lara Bradburn as a cost saver. Some savings. It meant 77 cents per resident added to the Utilities Department's reserve account and no reduction in water rates charged by the city. Meanwhile, a University of Georgia and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study estimates fluoridated drinking water in a city the size of Brooksville would generate annual savings of $16 per person in reduced cavity treatment costs and lost time for dental visits.

City finances have been overshadowed by the mayor's balderdash. Bradburn disparaged the medical credentials of a fluoride advocate, chastised a fellow council member who changed his position, and recently stifled public participation at a council workshop that was little more than an uninterrupted hour of irresponsible rhetoric from an out-of-state fluoride critic misrepresenting academic studies. The scare tactics play well to the libertarian crowd pushing conspiratorial hysteria, but they fail to refute peer-reviewed studies showing optimal fluoride levels in drinking water are a sound part of oral hygiene, particularly for children.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department recommends 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, while many of the studies condemning fluoridation focus on levels nearly six times higher and are focused on fluoride use in other countries. Brooksville's own measurements showed levels within the safe range of the optimal amount before the council pulled the plug two years ago.

The Centers for Disease Control, U.S. surgeon general, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dental Association and dozens of other organizations representing health professionals recognize the public health benefits of community fluoridation — a benefit available to nearly 13.8 million Floridians, but not to Brooksville residents.

The Pinellas County Commission made a similar mistake and voted in 2011 to stop adding fluoride to the drinking water. But voters demanded better, ousted two commissioners in November who had voted to stop adding fluoride and elected two replacements who helped reverse the decision. The Brooksville City Council has an opportunity to learn from that experience and act in the best interests of the city's residents by restoring fluoride to the city's drinking water.

Comments
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18