Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Editorials

Time for Brooksville to add fluoride funds

Brooksville City Council member Joe Bernardini now favors adding fluoride to the municipal water supply. The end of his equivocating is welcome, but Bernardini must go beyond public proclamations. He and council members Frankie Brunett and Joe Johnston must restore the fluoridated water program to protect city residents, particularly children, from dental decay.

A logical place to start is the upcoming budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The trio must ensure that, for a minimal investment of $7,000 in the utilities budget, the city can again provide optimal levels of fluoride in the city's drinking water.

It would reverse the September 2011 vote that killed the 25-year-old fluoridation program. That unanimous vote came, with no prior public notice, near the end of an evening budget hearing after just 78 seconds of discussion.

The public debate reopened earlier this year after the state Health Department discovered the fluoride program had been abandoned. Two months ago, the council spent three hours in a workshop discussing the merits of adding fluoride to drinking water and, at the conclusion, an undecided Bernardini emerged as the swing vote.

Earlier this month, Bernardini announced his new position supporting fluoride while also repeating his past suggestion to put the issue to a voter referendum. It brought an immediate challenge from the antifluoride mayor, Lara Bradburn, who inaccurately characterized Bernardini's past position as "steadfastly, without a doubt, 100 percent against fluoridation.''

Bradburn should refrain from the bullying and her disparaging commentary about those who disagree with her. Mischaracterizing a fellow council member's position on an imperative public health matter further erodes her own credibility.

Bernardini, meanwhile, should forget the referendum. He is elected to lead, and protecting the health, safety and welfare of his constituents shouldn't be a decision left to a ploy providing political cover. Besides, his new position endorsing fluoridated water puts him in good company that includes the federal Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The federal government recommends fluoride levels of 0.7 parts per million in a liter of water, while many of the studies condemning fluoridation focus on levels nearly six times higher. City utility department measurements showed levels within the safe range of the optimal amount before the council pulled the plug in 2011.

A three-person council majority now has the opportunity to made amends for that rash and ill-advised decision. This time they must consider the benefits of better oral hygiene and healthier children. For $7,000 annually, they shouldn't hesitate to again allow their constituents easy access to fluoridated drinking water.

Comments
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...
Updated: 4 hours ago
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

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Editorial: Progress on Tampa Bay graduation rates

Tampa Bay’s four school districts all reached a significant milestone last school year: achieving graduation rates over 80 percent. It’s believed to be the first time Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties all surpassed that threshold, a...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Take deal; build wall

President Donald Trump says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield "Dreamers," the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and t...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18