Libby Doggett                                           Austin’s True Seat of Government?

In my third- and fourth- most recent blog entries – posted on November 3 and 7 respectively – I made reference to a mysterious letter allegedly from the Pew trust to the Public Health and Human Services Committee in the days just prior to their notorious October 18 meeting.  At the time, I had no knowledge of the authorship , though I did remark on the inappropriateness of Austin’s public servants taking, or appearing to take,  direction from distant bureaucracies whether governmental or private.   I rather suspected Matt Jacob, a Pew communications specialist who had boasted about it.

But now we have the missive – an email addressed to Committee chair Mike Martinez – and, to our surprise, it comes from non other than Libby Doggett, wife of powerful Austin-based Congressman Lloyd Doggett and herself an officer of the Pew organization.  It appears below. Hmmmm.


The first thing to notice is that Dr. Doggett (she has a PhD in early childhood special education) is writing not in her private capacity as an Austin citizen but as an officer of the trust.  Behind the easygoing language is a pointed reminder that the wife of the powerful Lloyd holds power in her own right.  Her bio on the Pew Charitable Trusts website gives her title as Director, Pew Home Visiting Campaign, Pew Center on the States, and lists a Washington, D.C. contact number. ‘
The Philadelphia and Washington-based Pew Charitable Trusts is a complex collection of charitable funds separately established by heirs to the Sun Oil Company (SUNOCO) empire, having aggregated assets of nearly $5 billion.  It supports multiple causes ranging from the arts to children’s programs. After the fashion of great foundations, it pursues its own agenda as a change agent through the funding of projects consistent with its goals.  In the case of its Children’s Dental Campaign, it has some commendable accomplishments.  It has advocated for the right of qualified dental hygenist-practitioners to provide care to children in regions where dentists are in short supply, and it has worked to enhance the reach of dental services to Medicaid recipients, who go about 85% underserved. 

It also, like all other entities tied into 3-way mariage of federal bureaucracy, industry and philanthropy, endorses water fluoridation blindly and universally.  Because the bad is so tightly bundled with the good, it’s difficult to criticize Pew across the board.  But in the matter of water fluoridation, they are on the wrong side of both science and history.  Libby Doggett’s credentials, excellent as they may be, do not qualify her in toxicology, and her words rely exclusively on the decades of CDC self-endorsement that we are challenging as illegitimate today. 

Apart from this, their remains the issue of:  who does the Austin City Council answer to?  The people?  Or distant funding agencies like the Pew?  If the latter, Austinites have a right to feel concern.  And local politicians up for re-election might want to give it some thought too.




The following open letter was written in response to the proceedings shown in the video below: 


November 14, 2011



To the Austin City Council Public Health & Human Services Committee:  M. Martinez, L. Morrison & C. Riley


Dear Council Member: 


I’m writing to address several points that were raised during the last 22 minutes of the
Public Health and Human Services Committee’s proceedings of October 18th


The remarks of city staff from the Austin-Travis County Health & Human Services Department and the Austin Water Utility may have conveyed an impression that the advisory re infant formula currently on AWUs website at 
was placed there following the CDC’s downward adjustment, last January, of its recommendation for


Bring on the Clowns!

The Public Health and Human Services Committee meeting of October 18 has come and gone.  The event to which many of us had looked forward with such hope (and others with some skepticism) has emerged as just another show.  

The hearing before the Committee had been in the works for quite a while.  City Council having remained adamant for three years in its refusal to even discuss reversing water fluoridation, we proposed something more incremental and, hopefully, less terrifying to professional politicians.  Perhaps the committee dedicated to health matters would entertain the idea of warning consumers of the risk to babies of consuming fluoridated water during the first year.  After all, even the CDC and the American Dental Association supported that idea. And Mosaic Co., the the vendor of the fluorosilicic acid Austin dumps into our drinking water, states clearly in its own literature that tooth and bone damage – called fluorosis – are health risks, starting in infancy.    

Council chambers was packed with our supporters.  There was plenty of testimony from well-informed citizens:  40 signed up to speak, and 25 had the opportunity before time was called and the remaining names read into the record.  The speakers included two dentists, a physician, a pharmacist, a nurse, and several Ph.D. scientists. Not a single member of the public at large showed up to represent the opposing view.

            Citizens request a warning:  Griffin Cole, DDS (l) and Mike Ford (r)

In the end, none of it mattered. The Committee ignored it all. Directing not a single question to any of the speakers, they turned exclusively to the city’s hired guns, Janet Pichette of the Department of Health and Human Services and Jane Burazer for their information.  Quickly satisfied with the CDC-driven version of things, they then voted unanimously to defer their final decision about a warning until they could collect more information – from the same sources whose legitimacy we’ve been challenging all along.  Their shameful performance can be seen below:  


We have since learned that the Committee has specifically invited dentists to appear at their next meeting, on Tuesday, November 22, at 2 p.m.  It should be an interesting occasion.


Walter Olenick talks about osteopenia.  Philip Greene expresses frustration.  Rae Nadler-Olenick drops a bombshell. 



The City of Austin has promised to produce the Pew foundation’s letter.  We can hardly wait.  We will continue to cover this story.


                                                        Hamlet had his problems too…

Good afternoon, Mayor and Council.  We’ve heard tell of a letter sent by the Pew charitable trust to the Committee on Public Health and Human Services in the days just prior to the Committee’s October 18 vote to defer action on a health warning about fluoride for the monthly water bill.

Is any one of you able to produce a copy of that letter?  I’d like to have a look at it.

The letter allegedly pressures the Committee to reject the warning.  The reason we know about it is that a reference to it was posted on the Public Health Dentists’ listserv on October 24 by a Pew official. Matt Jacob is communications project manager of Pew’s Children’s Dental Health Campaign, so we assume he knows what he’s talking about.  His exact words to his newsgroup were: