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Ethan A. Huff
December 19th, 2013
Things are heating up on the fluoride front as states and municipalities all across the country rethink their official water fluoridation policies.
According to the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), some 16 pieces of legislation across nine states were introduced or passed just within the past year to protect the public against this pervasive poison.
In Utah, for instance, the Safe Drinking Water Disclosure Act was passed back in April, requiring that all shipments of fluoride chemicals coming into the state be accompanied by certificates of analysis detailing the presence of any outside contaminants. The law reportedly took effect on July 1st, allowing local water utilities to end their fluoridation programs in the event that certificates are not provided.
Fluoride additives, as you may recall, are often laced with other poisons like arsenic, cadmium and even radioactive isotopes that persist from the waste liquids used by the phosphate fertilizer and aluminum manufacturing industries to capture pollutants. These pollutants, not the natural environment, are the source from which the artificial fluoride chemicals added to water supplies are derived.
Tennessee, a leader in anti-fluoridation legislation, introduced two similar bills earlier this year requiring fluoride manufacturers to disclose the full contents of their chemicals. House Bill 1215 and Senate Bill 1274 were also accompanied by HB 1186 and SB 1211, two bills that would allow local voters to decide whether or not to continue fluoridating their water supplies. Statewide, Tennessee also introduced HR 130, which would prohibit state employees or agencies from endorsing fluoride.
“In years past the dental lobby has been successful in getting pro-fluoridation bills introduced in state legislatures across the United States, including legislation that would mandate statewide fluoridation — a law 13 states presently have. But the tables are turning,” explains FAN. ” In 2013… instead of the introduction of pro-fluoride bills, we saw the exact opposite, with the introduction of 16 anti-fluoridation bills in 9 states.“
Five States Introduce Legislation to Eliminate Fluoridation Mandates
Concerning statewide fluoridation mandates, New Jersey successfully thwarted attempts by some legislators to require that its 9 million residents be forcibly medicated with fluoride poison. And at least five bills have been introduced, one each in South Dakota, Connecticut, Minnesota, Illinois and Arkansas, to end longstanding fluoridation mandates.
“With the exception of the Illinois bill, all of these proposals are still being considered and are expected to have public hearings in 2014,” adds FAN. “In preparation, FAN has been working with our point people and local groups within these states to organize grassroots campaigns in support of the legislation.”
Besides the aforementioned bills, a handful of other anti-fluoride bills were introduced this year in Kansas, Massachusetts and New York. HB 2372 in Kansas now requires that warnings about fluoride and its effect on IQ – a Harvard University study recently confirmed that fluoride exposure lowers IQ levels in children – be printed on water bills.
In Massachusetts, a similar bill would require an infant fluoride warning similar to the infant warnings currently issued in New Hampshire; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Austin, Texas. And in New York, A 141 has been introduced to require that all fluoridated communities lower their poisoning level from 1.2 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride to 0.7 ppm of fluoride, in accordance with new recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“It doesn’t take an expert to see that the tide has shifted, that state legislators are discovering the truth about fluoridation, and that the momentum is clearly on our side going into the 2014 legislative sessions,” concludes FAN.
Chinese investors stand ready to plow money into Wichita, Mayor Carl Brewer told The Eagle on Wednesday: Investing in commercial real estate, aviation businesses and – much to the mayor’s surprise – city projects like the Century II renovation or rebuild, water and sewer improvements, libraries and a ‘new water source’.
Editor’s Note: “Water and sewer improvements, libraries and a new water source.” ← What??
Fluoride Free Kansas will be monitoring this development very closely into 2014.
Sometime in 2014, two groups of potential Chinese investors – aviation investors and private partners with the city – will be in Wichita to examine opportunities. Then, a reciprocal trip of Wichita business people will be organized, said Brewer and Karyn Page, president of Kansas Global Trade Services.
City officials recently have been talking about the possibility of a public vote on a city sales tax next year to finance needed city projects.
Brewer offered no endorsement of the privatization idea, just ‘surprise’ at the Chinese interest. He said he “has absolutely no idea whatsoever” how Wichita taxpayers would view such a move.
“I’d be very interested in seeing how your readers react to the idea,” the Mayor said.
Limited early returns on the Chinese public-private partnership trial balloon weren’t positive in Wichita, and even drew a joking reference from a conservative Sedgwick County commissioner.
“I told you it was a Communist plot,” said Commissioner Richard Ranzau in jest. He has opposed county involvement in a federal sustainability grant in the past.
He said he didn’t know enough about the Chinese proposal to comment further.
“I can’t imagine that the people I represent would want to sell Wichita assets, assets that signify the city itself, to the Chinese,” council member Jeff Longwell said. “I’d be worried about when the debt comes due and losing control of the assets.”
The Chinese interest in Wichita came out of a summit attended last week by Brewer in Beijing: the U.S.-China Eco-Cities Mayoral Exchange, an energy-related sustainability summit including mayors from several American cities. The summit was originally arranged in 2008 by President George W. Bush and Chinese officials, Brewer said, and was endorsed by President Barack Obama.
They attended the summit along with Karl Zhou, the chief representative in Wichita’s Beijing aviation office. The partnership offers are proof that Wichita’s branding efforts in China – which is expanding aviation beginning in 2015 – are producing a variety of unexpected business opportunities, Page said.
City Council members said last month that the idea of a long-term sales tax increase to finance city projects was on the table, pending more public input.
The details of any prospective sales tax vote next year are unclear: There’s no consensus yet about the size of the sales tax, what it should build, how much it should raise or how long it should last before expiring. But several council members say that it is time to take the public’s temperature on the idea and the projects it could produce.
There is precedent in America for such public-foreign investor partnerships, depending on the financial form they take, said Ken Kriz, regents distinguished professor and director of the Kansas Public Finance Center at Wichita State University.
In the late 1990′s, Japanese investors bought up municipal bonds to help finance prison expansions in Kentucky, Kriz said, which was a very successful partnership for the state. Such a deal carried tax breaks for investors, lessening the importance of the profit and loss statement, he said.
More recently, in 2009, the city of Chicago leased its parking meter operation to J.P. Morgan for $1.2 billion. According to Internet accounts, parking rates immediately spiraled to as high as $7 for two hours, or 28 quarters.
What would be rare, Kriz said, would be the sale of an “equity position,” or actual ownership, of city buildings or infrastructure to outside investors.
“Typically, what’s in it for cities is an infusion of capital,” he said. Chicago shored up its budget with this.
“But the thing that makes this different is you’re talking some pretty fundamental city services. Indianapolis privatized their wastewater treatment operations, and there are companies that will run operations like that, but I haven’t heard of anything like this with drinking water systems.”
Like Longwell, Kriz said such a move raises control – and potentially security – issues, including water access at McConnell if the United States and China faced off militarily.
Contributing: Deb Gruver of the Eagle
Parsons city commissioners refused to back down from their decision to replace a fluoride injection system at the water treatment plant, and a group dedicated to stop fluoridation plans to force a public vote on the issue.
Janey Higginson, a leader of Parsons for Pure Water, told the commissioners Monday evening they have one last chance to change their minds on the issue before a petition drive to bring the matter to a public vote begins.
After weeks of discussion on the topic, the commission voted unanimously on November 4th to direct city staff to enter into a contract with CH2M Hill for engineering plans on moving the fluoride injection site outside of the plant. The engineering plans and construction work also will include moving the caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) injection point to outside of the plant.
Derek Clevenger, director of utilities, reported in mid-July that the city had not been adding fluoride to the public water supply for about two months because the injection point was leaking. Clevenger said the fluoride pump was too close to the injection site for caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). Fluoride is corrosive by itself but even more so when combined with caustic soda. The city staff decided to move the two pumps to outside of the plant building, allowing all of the water stored in tanks inside the plant to be completely treated before being sent to town.
While the city staff was waiting on word from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on whether engineering drawings would be needed for the work, Nora Winslow of Parsons told the commissioners in August they should not approve the relocation of the fluoride pump because of the health risks she said extra fluoride causes and because the public shouldn’t be dosed with medication without permission. Mayor Kevin Cruse then said the commission should study the issue.
On Monday, Higginson said she was making a final request for the commission to order a stop to plans to replace the “poison pump system” at the plant.
Earlier on Monday, Labette County Counselor Fred Johnson received a petition to be certified so that a committee can seek signatures to force a public election on the issue. The petition also states the commission is requested to repeal a resolution dated February 10th, 1953, adopting water fluoridation and instruct water treatment workers to cease addition of fluoride.
Higginson said Parsons for Pure Water will have six months to collect enough signatures to call for a public election, which would occur in a scheduled general election if one occurs within 90 days after the petition is deemed by the county to contain enough eligible signatures of Parsons voters. If no general election is scheduled for within 90 days after the petition is certified, the city will have a special election.
Higginson told the commissioners they were parroting a few agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association and refusing to look at more recent scientific findings. She asked the commission to error on the side of caution if they don’t believe the facts about fluoridation that she and others have presented.
Higginson also told the commissioners they have no right to decide for Parsons residents that they should be dosed with fluoride and that the dosage can’t be controlled. Higginson said the city should use the money to be spent on replacement of the fluoride pump on a dental health education program instead that would also aid low-income families with dental care.
In addition to asking commissioners to repeal the 1958 resolution, Higginson asked them to also order all fluoride at the plant to be disposed at their own expense and to quit working with CH2M Hill on future projects.
Higginson gave the commissioners a second choice as well. She said the commission could defer replacement of the fluoride injection system until the next scheduled election and order the question to be placed on that ballot.
Mayor Kevin Cruse said he appreciated Higginson’s input but that her requests were threatening. He also said he was elected to promote the health and well being of the community, and he puts that at the top of his list of priorities when making decisions for the city.
Commissioner Dan Goddard said if Higginson’s demands were designed to stir up emotions, they had fallen on deaf ears. Goddard said Higginson shouldn’t demand that the city no longer work with CH2M Hill and questioned her comment about the commission paying for disposal of fluoride.
“I find that outrageous,” Goddard said.
Commissioner Tom Shaw said roughly 64 percent of Kansans’ water is fluoridated, and the Pew Research Center gave the state a C on children’s dental health because of that number, which is lower than the 73 percent national rate. Had Wichita not ended fluoridation recently, the state would have received a better grade, Shaw said.
Higginson said the commission shouldn’t look at the percentages of people who have fluoridated water because there is a movement of people demanding that fluoridation end.
“I don’t want to be forced to drink it,” she said at one point.
“You don’t have to drink it. You can buy bottled water,” Commissioner Hogelin responded.
Higginson said she is done debating the science on the issue and would like to see what the people of Parsons want.
Goddard said if the issue comes to a public vote, the community should take the result of the vote as the final answer on the issue.
Shaw said if voters decide that fluoride shouldn’t be added to the water, that’s fine because that is democracy, but fluoridation won’t stop because he wouldn’t stand up for what he believes.