The City Council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance to fluoridate Portland’s water on Wednesday after a lengthy and contentious public hearing on the issue last Thursday.
A majority of the five-member council has already declared they will vote for the measure. They are Mayor Sam Adams, Commissioner Randy Leonard and commissioner Nick Fish.
Adams and Leonard are not running for re-election and will leave the council at the end of the year, something noted by The New York Times in a Saturday, Sept. 8, story on the issue.
“Who is empowered to make the choice for Portland has become part of the debate as well. Fluoridation efforts have failed at the ballot box here, most recently in 1980. And two other members of the City Council, in addition to Mr. Adams, who is not seeking re-election in November, said even before public testimony was taken that they planned to vote for the plan — making a majority — when it goes before them. Some opponents call that an undemocratic end-run around the popular will,” According to the news story, which was published under the headline: “Doubts as Portland Weighs Fluoridation and Civic Values.
The ordinance is supported by thee Everyone Deserves Healthy Teeth Coalition, an alliance of health providers, social service organizations and minority advocacy groups. It is opposed by Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, a grassroots organization that has filed an initiative petition for a ballot measure to amend the City Charter to ban fluoride from city water supplies.
The ordinance, which was submitted by Leonard, calls for the water to be fluoridated by March 2014, two months before the initiative measure could reach the ballot.
A city financial analysis submitted with the ordinance reports it will cost $5 million to install he fluoridation equipment. It does not estimate the annual cost of the program. The money will come from water rates.
Portland is the largest city in the country without fluoridated water. Voters have rejected efforts to add fluoride to the water three times in the past. The New York Times article noted that many Portlanders are closely following the renewed debate.
“Celia Wagner, a website developer, said the local fluoride debate, full of hyperbole and passion, had brought out the ‘rugged individuality and quirkiness’ of Portland’s character, for better and worse. ‘It’s Portland doing its Portland thing, which I love; I’ve been here 35 years,’ she said. ‘It’s charming, but occasionally not charming,’ ” according to the news story.