Fluoride Action Network

Watsonville: No surprise regarding Tuesday’s City Council vote

Source: Register-Pajaronian | Editor
Posted on October 2nd, 2010

If John Martinelli, CEO of S. Martinelli & Co., had been allowed to properly finish his statements Tuesday night, many of you wouldn’t be finding out about this now.

That fine the city feared the state managing to enforce on Watsonville, $200 a day for not fluoridating, is just about the amount of money the city will lose by now not being able to sell water to Martinelli’s juice company.

Martinelli’s public comment Tuesday was interrupted by Mayor Luis Alejo about 30 seconds or so after a time limit of two minutes had expired. It’s understandable that the mayor has to enforce rules equally and a time limit is needed, but it would seem to me that the majority of the council might have wanted to hear what he had to say.

I felt it was important, and seeing that he was reading from well-prepared notes, I asked him for them when he was done. At the bottom of the page there is a subheading — Affect on S. Martinelli & Company. Part of it reads:

“A new well will cost us $300,000 and we will no longer be a city water customer. The $200/day fines nearly equal the revenue the city will lose from our water purchases.”

So, the city will have fluoridated water, for two years under this contract with the CDA, and it will forever lose water sales revenue to S. Martinelli & Co. That amounts to about $50,000 per year now and who knows how much in the future.

Despite this, for most people, the outcome of Tuesday’s vote on fluoridation was never in doubt. I know I was certain that the contract with the California Dental Association to accept $1.6 million to put fluoride in the city’s water for two years would pass 4-3, with City Council members Luis Alejo, Manuel Bersamin and Kimberly Petersen in approval — and I was not alone.

All but Petersen voted for a contract in January that our own city attorney told them was unacceptable. Some holes were fixed, and this time the contract got Petersen’s vote.

A number of countries have banned or discontinued water fluoridation, including Holland, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. Even the City of Sacramento is considering to stop fluoridating. That is because more and more evidence is coming to light that doesn’t help the case for fluoridation.

When Jon Roth, executive director of the California Dental Association, stood before us Tuesday and claimed there was no controversy about fluoride in the scientific community, does he take us for idiots? The EPA’s own Union of Scientists filed a grievance over concerns about fluoridated water and the unacknowledged risks. Dr. J. William Hirzy wrote that grievance when he worked in the risk assessment department of the EPA. “In summary, we hold that fluoridation is an unreasonable risk. That is, the toxicity of fluoride is so great and the purported benefits associated with it are so small — if there are any at all — that requiring every man, woman and child in America to ingest it borders on criminal behavior on the part of governments.” Today, Dr. Hirzy is professor emeritus of chemistry at American University in Washington, D.C., and he is still campaigning against ingesting fluoride. Many other scientists have joined him.

No scientific controversy?

And why isn’t Bersamin’s opinion that our poorer residents are not educated enough to know how or why to brush their teeth a controversy?

“We’re talking about parents with less than an elementary education. They don’t understand preventative dental care. When you ask, ‘Why don’t they stop kids from eating these candies?’ I don’t know what world you are living in,” he said.

Personally, if I were one of these folks, I would find this terribly insulting. These folks working in our fields may lack a formal education, but they are not stupid.

I am also tired of hearing the argument that the poor have no access to dentists. Because of California’s Healthy Families Program, the poor have easy access. It is the middle class that has no dental insurance and can’t afford to see a dentist.

Regardless of all this, we are on course to install 200-gallon storage tanks filled with hydro-fluorosilicic acid near the city’s water wells. The city will contract with a supplier that will maintain the tanks. That contract will go to the lowest bidder.

“It’s kind of alarming that we’re putting this out to the lowest bidder,” Councilman Greg Caput said during the meeting.

Alarmed? You bet. China is currently the cheapest supplier of hydrofluorosilicic acid, a byproduct of the fertilizer manufacturing process due to anti-pollution measures. It generally contains traces of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals and the acid is not tested thoroughly, with only bulk sampling conducted.

But just like our eggs, hamburgers and prescription medicines, it’s guaranteed to be safe by our government. So don’t worry.

Council members Nancy Bilicich and Emilio Martinez joined Caput in voting no. It’s quite likely that in January, a new council will take shape that will leave Bilicich and Martinez as members of a new majority foursome.

That would be great news, but it won’t stop fluoridation. By then it appears the city will be too far down the road to turn back. Any money the CDA spent on the project by then would have to be repaid and the CDA now has a signed contract from the city, which it would be reneging on. So, for a two-year period, this city will have fluoridated water.

What it appears it won’t have is S. Martinelli & Co. as a water customer. Martinelli is headed on a path to build his own well and get nonfluoridated water from the Aromas aquifier. It’s hard to say if Pajaro Valley’s children will benefit from this two-year experiment with fluoridation, or whether the CDA will continue funding it. But there is no doubt the city will forever lose revenue it received from Martinelli’s juice company, revenue that has increased over the years. That’s been flushed away with fluoridated water that will fill our toilet bowls.