Residents of Mesa and the Southeast Valley are getting to see history relived.
As reported by The Republic’s Gary Nelson, Mesa Councilwoman Dina Higgins, who chairs the sustainability and transportation committee, gave Mesa resident Virginia Salas the floor recently to discuss what she called “the awful truth” about fluoridated drinking water.
Really? This is the same issue we thought Mesa voters settled — overwhelmingly — in 2000, when a ballot proposition aimed at prohibiting fluoridation lost 62 to 38 percent.
Higgins said it was time to revisit the issue, noting that it has recently surfaced in Phoenix and Gilbert, where city officials failed to properly fluoridate the water supply for a year, and saying the meeting was for informational purposes only.
Actually, the meeting seems to have been staged for political purposes, with Higgins trying to court a far-right segment of the electorate.
Council committee meetings usually draw a sparse audience, but the lower council chamber was nearly full for this show.
As reported by Nelson, Salas delivered a detailed PowerPoint and a 15-minute lecture, alleging that fluoride is a toxic waste being pumped into public supplies at the behest of public-health groups under the influence of big-business money.
“Fluoridation is a violation of the individual’s right to informed consent to medication,” she said. “It’s time for our city to stop fluoridating our water.”
The fluoride flare-up is a case of paranoia vs. established science. Fluoride has been called one of the 10 great public-health achievements of the 20th century by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gary Jones, a Mesa dentist who led opposition to the 2000 initiative, defended the practice, saying: “I have looked at all sides of the issue. If you look at the respected scientific studies in this United States, throughout the world, they continually recognize the benefits of dental fluoridation.”
Jack Dillenberg, former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said, “I have been in public health my entire professional life. … There is no way on this Earth that I would promote anything that I felt would injure, damage or hurt any citizen, any child.”
Mesa long has been a big city, one that should have moved way beyond fringe issues decades ago.
The city is fortunate to have a visionary mayor and a City Council dominated by competent people who are dedicated to the public interest.
Higgins should join them.