The Sentinel’s editorial regarding our city of Watsonville and fluoridation Feb. 24 is in need of clarification and additional facts.
The California Dental Association CDA did not offer $2 million to fluoridate as reported. And, their proposal of $1.6 million is based on an eight-year-old handwritten estimate, with the agreement they would pay to fluoridate for only two years. We don’t have a way to evaluate if their current offer will cover all of the costs. This is important because state law does not require cities to fluoridate if they have to foot any out of pocket expenses.
A viable question exists why the city pushed to accelerate fluoridation after eight years without first obtaining an iron-clad contract from the CDA. The City Council was provided six different contracts by the CDA only weeks before we were to meet and make a decision. Then, without warning, we were provided a new contract by the CDA only minutes before we commenced the meeting. The contract, a legally complicated document, still did not guarantee the city from having to foot part of the costs and/or defend the city from any lawsuits.
Manny Diaz, for whom our mayor once worked and a lobbyist for the CDA, was lobbying me and another council member long before we knew the matter was going to be placed on the agenda. More than being concerned about the “wrath of the voters” we should be additionally concerned with ulterior motives which question if our city’s children dental care is the primary concern.
Watsonville leads the county in childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes. Approximately 36 percent of our schoolchildren between fourth and eighth grade are obese. This means that approximately 50 percent of our grade-schoolchildren are overweight. The leading cause for these serious health problems are due to excessive consumption of sugars and soft drinks.
Our city’s children are facing critical health concerns that require concentrated preventive measures. Our problem is much bigger than just fluoridation.
Watsonville is pushing a 30 percent unemployment rate, leads Santa Cruz County and surrounding communities in foreclosure rates, and faces a financial crisis of Depression-era magnitude. It is fiscally irresponsible to enter into an agreement with the CDA without knowing the full economic and financial consequences that will impact our city as a whole.
Only two months ago we couldn’t afford to decorate our City Plaza with Christmas lights, and currently are facing two lawsuits that could exceed a million dollars.
Voters who rejected fluoridation should not be ignored with the “narrow margin majority” argument. Their concerns, regardless that some consider warrantless, were voiced in the very democratic process, which is relied upon selectively by those in favor of fluoridation but only when it benefits their position.
Consideration must also be given to the fact that if the city does lose money in this fluoride venture, several nonprofits who are providing exceptional health care to poor families with children and the elderly will be facing additional cuts.
Political correctness can be a blinding phenomenon that fuels fear and prevents people from calling a spade a spade. That fear is no longer holding water in Watsonville because some have had enough with the lack of transparency needed to render the best economic decisions for our city.