Yarmouth – It should have been a routine vote for the Yarmouth Board of Health. Instead, it turned into a job for the Yarmouth Police Department.
Board members approved fluoridation of the town’s water with a vote of three-to-two Monday afternoon at Yarmouth Town Hall, making Yarmouth the first town on Cape Cod to move towards fluoridation.
Ann Greenbaum, Chairman Dr. Benjamin Gordon and Robert Brown all approved the measure with Helen Shah and Patrick McDermott voting in opposition.
It was clear how the meeting was going to go right from the initial motion. “I move that fluoride be added to the drinking water,” began Brown, but the end of his motion he was drowned out by the moaning and booing of the crowd.
“That will not be tolerated at this meeting,” said Gordon. “Everybody has a chance to speak their opinion; nobody interrupted you when you talked, nobody booed you, nobody did anything like that,” he continued. “You will allow other people to speak with the courtesy that was supported to each of you when you spoke.”
As each of the board members made their opinions known, those in the room made their thoughts known, too. One man stormed out of the room calling the board a bunch of “fascists” before the vote was even taken.
While Gordon made his points members of the crowd began chanting “shame on you, shame on you” while others verbally attacked Gordon saying he doesn’t belong on the board.
One woman promised to “vote every one of you out of here” in the next election as she made her way to the door. Board of health members in Yarmouth are appointed, not elected.
Yarmouth Police Chief Peter Carnes showed up to keep order and he was the next to make his voice heard. “Everybody needs to calm down. You can’t upset the whole Town Hall like this,” he said.
The final vote was taken shortly thereafter with Gordon not being able to finish his comments.
A 90-day waiting period will now begin before residents can bring a citizens petition forward to have the issue brought to the ballot. Signatures were already being collected at the back of the room.