Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Editorials

The real cost of the fluoride fiasco

Pinellas County commissioners did not just ignore established science when they voted 4-3 to stop adding fluoride this year to the county's drinking water. They also cost families plenty of money and unlimited frustration, because dentists are now advising parents to give fluoride to their children to prevent tooth decay. Two of the Fluoride Four are on the ballot Tuesday seeking re-election to their countywide seats: Nancy Bostock and Neil Brickfield. Their challengers, Charlie Justice and Janet Long, support restoring fluoride to the county's drinking water. It only takes one new commissioner to reverse the backward decision — and save Pinellas County families time, money and frustration.

The Sasko family: $120 a year

Even for dental hygienist Sue Sasko, it's a hassle making sure her son Alex, 4, and daughter Lauren, 8, take their proper daily doses of chewable fluoride tablets. "It's a nuisance," said she said, and she criticizes commissioners who voted to stop adding fluoride to the drinking water for caving to uninformed political pressure.

Sasko and her husband, Alex, live in Palm Harbor and now spend about $10 a month on fluoride tablets for their children. The misguided fluoride decision, she said, is "absolutely" the deciding factor for her decision to vote against Brickfield and Bostock. Sasko said removing fluoride "was a mistake. Cost effect-wise, it's a no-brainer."

"I just feel very strongly about this issue," she added. "It's a public health issue."

It's also $120 a year out of the family's pocket.

The Palubin family: $72.80 a year

Beth Palubin of Clearwater can't explain what fluoridated Nursery Water tastes like. But it doesn't taste very good. Just ask her 2 ½-year-old son, David, who resists drinking two 8-ounce glasses a day. "Getting two glasses into him is a challenge," Palubin said. Since fluoride was removed from the Pinellas County water supply, Palubin and her husband, Jeremy, have struggled to get David and 1-year-old daughter Olivia, who requires one 8-ounce glass mixed with formula, to drink the fluoridated bottled water.

Palubin spends only about $1.40 a week on the fluoridated water. But she resents the expense when compared to the county's per person cost to add fluoride to the water supply: 30 cents a year. "It's a disservice to our children," she said.

She will not vote for Bostock and Brickfield, who voted to stop adding fluoride to the drinking water. "I would like to change that," Palubin said, and she's not alone.

The Hull family: $97.14 a year

When fourth-grade teacher Tina Hull was told by her dentist that she would have to start providing fluoride tablets for three of her four children, she thought he was kidding. But now she and her husband, Roger, rely on their health insurance to cover the cost of the tablets for their children, while also paying a co-payment out of their own pockets.

The frustration doesn't end there for the Clearwater couple. Their three younger daughters — ages 12, 5, and 3 — require varying dosages of fluoride, further complicating the challenge of providing proper dental care for the girls. "I guess I'm in the dark as to why the decision was made," Hull said.

"As a parent, as a family, we never had to do anything" when Pinellas County added fluoride to the water, Hull said.

Now, thanks to the commission's Fluoride Four, the Hulls and their insurance carrier bear the cost of fluoride, a combined $97.14 annually, compared to the roughly 30 cents per person the county spent to maintain fluoride in the water supply.

   
Comments
Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott says he is considering requests to order an independent investigation of how Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office screens applications for concealed weapon permits. It’s a reasonable request, and the governor h...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Maggy Hurchalla joked this spring that all she could offer a billionaire who won a $4.4 million judgment against her after she exercised her free speech rights were "two kayaks and an aging Toyota.’’ The billionaire didn’t laugh. This week, Martin Co...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/18/18
Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

In one of the most surreal news conferences of our time, President Donald Trump actually stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday and called the federal investigation into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election "a disaster for our coun...
Published: 07/16/18
Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

The St. Petersburg City Council made the appropriate but difficult decision to reject a contract with renowned artist Janet Echelman for one of her aerial sculptures. It would be wonderful for the city to have one of her signature works, but Spa Beac...
Published: 07/13/18

‘Everybody needed to know what happened’

The brutal murder of Emmett Till, a black Chicago youth, in Mississippi nearly 63 years ago went unpunished, but not forgotten. A decision by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, to allow an open casket at Emmett’s Chicago funeral represented an act of def...
Published: 07/13/18
Editorial: Personal bias taints Florida’s clemency system

Editorial: Personal bias taints Florida’s clemency system

A recent exchange between the governor and Cabinet and a felon seeking to have his civil rights restored underscores the arbitrary unfairness of Florida’s clemency system. A long waiting period, a ridiculous backlog of cases and elected officials who...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/13/18

Trump should work with Congress on immigration

Donald Trump’s resounding victory in the 2016 presidential election came at least in part because the New York businessman grasped the disconnect between how millions of Americans and the political establishments of both parties felt about immigratio...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/13/18
Editorial: Trump’s trade war hurts American consumers

Editorial: Trump’s trade war hurts American consumers

Voters who looked to Donald Trump to make America great might want to look at their wallets. The president escalated his global trade war this week, threatening new tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports — everything from seafood, beef and ...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/12/18
Editorial: Rays stadium cost should be fairly shared

Editorial: Rays stadium cost should be fairly shared

The imaginative Ybor City ballpark proposed by the Tampa Bay Rays fits nicely into the 21st century vision of a sophisticated city and would secure major league baseball’s future for the entire region. It also carries an eye-catching cost that will h...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/12/18
Editorial: Supreme Court pick qualified, but confirmation process should be vigorous

Editorial: Supreme Court pick qualified, but confirmation process should be vigorous

For the second time in less than 18 months, President Donald Trump has nominated a well-qualified, conservative federal appeals court judge to the U.S. Supreme Court. That does not mean Judge Brett Kavanaugh should get an easy pass through Senate con...
Published: 07/10/18
Updated: 07/11/18