Community advocates from Upstream Public Health visited Portland City Hall last week to talk about one of Portland’s thorniest topics of debate: fluoride in drinking water.
And they had a noteworthy ally with them when they met Sept. 19 with Commissioner Randy Leonard, who is in charge of the Portland Water Bureau.
That would be Mark Wiener, the Portland political consultant to Leonard, Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Mayor Sam Adams as well as Portland City Council candidates Steve Novick and Mary Nolan.
Portland, of course, does not fluoridate its municipal water, as other U.S. cities do for dental reasons. Upstream Public Health has made oral health a priority for its group, and it hired Wiener as an adviser to assess the political landscape on fluoride not because the group is planning a large-scale campaign, said Raquel Bournhonesque, Upstream’s co-director.
As numerous stories have noted in recent years, “Oregon ranks 48th among states in percentage of residents with fluoridated water.”
But many anti-fluoride activists say that’s just fine. They’ve helped block state mandates to require cities to add fluoride to their drinking water, calling fluoride a false panacea.
Needless to say, the two sides have been at loggerheads for decades in Oregon. And before Upstream Public Health made the rounds at City Hall, fluoride opponents at Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water also met with city commissioners and the director of the Portland Water Bureau, David Shaff.
So are there plans underway for addressing this issue in Portland? Leonard told City Hall Watch he was just “listening.” But a representative for Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water said she’s doubtful Portland will tackle the issue, based on her conversation with Shaff in February.
“He made it pretty clear they don’t want to touch it,” said spokeswoman Kimberly Kaminski. “They have enough on their plate with covering the reservoirs and cryptosporidium.”