Nick Bulaich’s column about Cinco De Mayo is need of some clarification. Not all council members are in agreement that we should fluoridate our city water.
I am not at liberty to speak for other council members, but I have taken exception and even took it a step further. On April 27, I wrote an email to Mayor Daniel Dodge requesting that we place the fluoridation matter on the agenda in light of Andrew Young asking Georgia legislators to repeal the state’s mandatory fluoridation law.
Dodge replied: “The City Council has held numerous Public Hearings on the Fluoride Issue over the last decade. The previous City Council voted on this matter and the contract has been signed. Therefore there is no need to bring back the matter before the City Council at this time.”
Dodge is of the assumption that he decides what items are placed on the agenda but the City Charter, the city protocols, and city attorney Alan Smith disagree with him, and so do I. Any council member has the right to have a matter placed on the agenda. Thus, I have, again, requested that we place the fluoride issue on the agenda but have yet to hear from either Mayor Dodge and/or City Manager Carlos Palacios, both of whom preside over agenda review meetings.
Councilman Manuel Bersamin, a staunch defender of fluoridation, has repeatedly used the excuse that children in Watsonville do not have access to a dentist because we are mostly a poor community. And, he continually brings to our attention that Watsonville has a very young population. I agree with Bersamin that our city does have a very young population, but I am also of the opinion that it is most likely because of the high rate of teenage pregnancies. What Watsonville also has is the highest rates of juvenile diabetes and juvenile obesity in Santa Cruz County.
Civil rights leader Andrew Young and Dr. Gerald Durley have cited, correctly, that baby formula cannot be mixed with fluoridated water, that diabetics should not drink fluoridated water, and that the effects of fluoridation to the poor black communities of Georgia have proven detrimental to their health.
Young was quoted: “I am most deeply concerned for poor families who have babies: if they cannot afford unfluoridated water for their babies’ milk formula, do their babies not count? Of course they do. This is an issue of fairness, civil rights and compassion. We must find better ways to prevent cavities, such as helping those most at risk for cavities obtain access to the services of a dentist.”
Now, if we could only get Young to convince Bersamin and Dodge to reconsider their positions, maybe we can get this matter on the agenda before it is too late for the very young and poor people of Watsonville.