On Tuesday Nov.19 the North Attleboro Board of Health will hold a meeting with the Department of Public Works. It will be the first public discussion on the fluoride situation since the story was first reported in The Sun Chronicle on Nov.2.
It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback and criticize public employees for doing/not doing something, so I generally try not to do that. But in this case, it’s unavoidable. It was a serious lapse in judgment for Mark Hollowell to keep the failure of the DPW’s water fluoridation equipment in 2011 a secret. As if that weren’t bad enough, the equipment failure was kept secret for eight years. It might never have come to light if Anne Marie Fleming, director of the Health Department and Public Health Nurse, hadn’t noticed the low level of fluoride in a MA DEP water quality report that she received in August 2019.
Making a bad situation even worse are the comments made by Board of Public Works Chair Michael Thompson at the DPW meeting on 9/18/19. Rather than accept any responsibility for the failure to fluoridate the water properly (as Mr. Hollowell did, to be fair) chairman Thompson instead took the opportunity to state his opposition to fluoridation and suggest that the issue should go before the voters again. This is a blatant attempt to distract attention from the real problem and muddy the waters. It would be bad enough if this were done by a town employee, but the fact that it was done by one of the few remaining elected representatives in the town is a disgrace.
At the end of the day the real issue isn’t whether fluoride should be added to North’s water. That was decided by the voters in 2000. The issue is that town employees and board members decided to ignore the will of the voters. That is unacceptable and that is what people need to be held accountable for. All North residents should be angry about this whether they support fluoridation or oppose it.