Yesterday councilmember Randi Shade requested, through an aide, that the following message be conveyed to all who spoke out at the Committee on Public Health and Human Services water fluoridation briefing of March 22:
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy week to speak at the Public Health and Human Services meeting last Tuesday. I am glad to have brought the item to the committee and am also glad my colleagues and I were able to learn so much.
As a next step, I plan to schedule a facilitated work session with the other members of the committee. The purpose of this work session will be for those of us on the PHHS committee to publicly engage in a more in-depth dialogue among ourselves while also allowing us to ask additional questions and dig deeper into some of the underlying assumptions that each side presented last week. I expect to include Dr. Huang and a couple of community leaders from FFA and ADA to help us with our questions during the work session. The work session will be televised and be open to the pubic for viewing, but will not include public input. Again, the purpose of the work session will be for the committee members to publicly deliberate further and weigh the issues in front of us as policy makers. I will begin putting this work session together right away with the hope of getting it scheduled for some time in May and being able to announce the details at our next scheduled PHHS meeting to take place on April 18th. In the meantime, I will continue to ask questions, gather information and receive your input. Thank you.
*******While we welcome Ms. Shade’s willingness to carry forward the public discourse begun last week, we can’t help but notice the same essential imbalance as occurred at the briefing: one public advocacy group, Fluoride Free Austin, facing two “authority” figures whose qualifications we challenge, without an opportunity to meet the opposition’s inaccuracies head on. But that challenge goes to the heart of our cause, and cannot be resolved outside of a chance for direct exchange. Will that chance come next time around? It could make all the difference.
We note, incidentally, that City Council election day is May 14, and that this work session not yet scheduled is proposed for “some time in May.” Will it come before, or after, the elections? Time will tell. Stay tuned.