Sunday, June 24, 2018
Editorials

Welcome reversal on fluoride

It took nearly 14 months, an election and the clarion voice of Pinellas County voters to persuade county commissioners to correct a serious error in judgment. It will take until March to carry out the commission's order to resume adding fluoride to the drinking water. For 700,000 water customers, the benefits should last a lifetime.

Tuesday's 6-1 vote to add fluoride back into the drinking water caps a long public controversy that reaffirms the centrist judgment of Pinellas voters and their embrace of sound science and sensible government. New commissioners Charlie Justice and Janet Long decided to run for office in part because the commission voted 4-3 to stop adding fluoride in January. The Democrats defeated two Republican incumbents who fell for the scare tactics and the tea party political pressure, and they pledged to reverse the decision upon taking office. Long and Justice were joined by commission chairman John Morroni, who changed his vote, and the three commissioners who have been on the side of public health all along: Republicans Susan Latvala and Karen Seel, and Democrat Ken Welch. Only Republican commissioner Norm Roche still voted against the common good — and he will be on the ballot in 2014.

Tuesday's fluoride decision transcends partisan politics. It means Pinellas water customers will rejoin more than 200 million people nationwide who drink optimally fluoridated water. It means those customers will once again benefit from the most effective, cost-efficient method of reducing tooth decay even with the widespread use of fluoridated toothpaste. And it means less frustration and expense for Pinellas families who have spent this year scrambling to make up for the commission's misinformed decision to stop adding fluoride to the drinking water.

For Sue Sasko, Tuesday's commission vote should save the $120 a year her Palm Harbor family spends on fluoride tablets for their children. For Beth Palubin, it should save her Clearwater family more than $72 a year on fluoridated bottled water for their young son. For Julie Opsahl of Clearwater, who waited hours this summer at the county health clinic for dental care for her two sons, it should mean no longer giving fluoride drops to her youngest child.

There were the predictable hysterical warnings from fluoride opponents about "forced mass medication,'' poisoning the population and government conspiracies. There were the misrepresentations of academic studies of the negative effect of fluoride in countries where the levels far exceed the recommended level in the United States. There were references to God's will, lead pipes in ancient Rome and Hitler's Germany.

Those sorts of scare tactics and political threats worked in 2011, but the voters demonstrated this month that they are more sensible and expect better from their elected officials. The new commission voted to resume adding fluoride into the drinking water at the revised level proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "The majority of this commission believes in the science and in the facts,'' Welch said.

That change in direction is good news for the dental health of hundreds of thousands of Pinellas residents and for the future of the county.

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
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...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
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...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
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