Catching Up: What’s Happened Since Last August

The Fluoride Follies blog exists to provide regular coverage of Austin’s ongoing anti-fluoridation fight. For five years, starting in 2008, it did exactly that, keeping its many followers worldwide, from Austin to Australia, up to date. In 2013 we lost our Internet platform and had to shut down temporarily—a temporarily which stretched to a year and a half. We started up again in February of 2015, publishing regularly until the infamous August 19 joint meeting of City Council’s Public Utilities Committee (PUC) and Health and Human Services Committee (HHSC). That event—carefully crafted by PUC chair Delia Garza to protect the fluoridation program by ignoring all input from outside the organized health and dentistry bubble—was intended to shut down any further discussion of the issue inside City Hall. Her arrogance is on display in this short clip:

While the setback won’t stop us, it did serve to disabuse us of any hope we might have had that the new 10-1 district system would perform appreciably differently from its at-large predecessor. Of the 10 new councilmembers, only Don Zimmerman has had the courage to support our simple desire to remove a voluntarily-placed harmful and costly toxin from the drinking water supply. (Mayor Adler, far more intelligent and image-conscious than his predecessor, Leffingwell, is still an unknown quantity.)

It also gave us cause to step back and take a breather to follow closely three important, directly related events: the anti-fluoridation battles being waged in San Marcos to the south and Dallas to the north, and hanging over everything the specter of rigged electronic voting machines.

The subject of fair and open elections (or lack thereof) had been raised locally following the suspicious outcome of the District 4 City Council elections of November /December 2014, in which Dr. Laura Pressley, the popular leading candidate supposedly “lost” by a 2:1 margin to a college-age carpetbagger with a largely non-voting constituency. We have written elsewhere about her challenge to the integrity of the election process in Austin/Travis County, now awaiting resolution in the Third Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, during the intervening year and a half, Dr. Pressley, whose extensive statistics background enabled her to spot anomalies in the results of several Council races, has challenged her own presumptive “defeat” and in the process of discovery, uncovered evidence of widespread problems with electronic voting machines throughout the entire state. The outcome of her case will bear heavily upon whether we can expect an honest and open vote in a public referendum, should we one day choose that option.

While we were pondering the wisdom of ever undertaking a public referendum under the cloud of prospective vote rigging, San Marcos, a booming college town of 54,000 some 30 miles due south was doing exactly that. Following two years of steady advocacy to an unresponsive City Council, the Communities for Thriving Water – Fluoride Free San Marcos Coalition (later joined by Austin-based Texans for Accountable Government) took the petition route. In April they submitted over 1,600 signatures seeking a change to the city charter that would prohibit the artificial fluoridation of San Marcos water.

In a stunning and unexpected move, the City administration attempted to thwart its residents’ exercise of their constitutional rights. It first attempted to invalidate the properly-collected signatures, forcing the coalition to take legal action, whereupon it sued the coalition’s leaders individually. Only when ordered by a Hays County district judge to place the item (Proposition 1) on the November ballot did do so—along with a second item (Proposition 2) intended to make it more difficult for citizens to effect a charter change in the future. Further, the City re-worded the activists’ proposed language in an ambiguous way designed, many thought, to provide a loophole for continued fluoridation in San Marcos. In the end, however, when Proposition 1 passed easily by 61% to 39%, the City offered no further obstacles and the tap was turned off on November 12 without further incident. Today San Marcos in fluoride free.

Meanwhile, 185 miles to the north, Dallasites are fighting a battle that looks a whole lot like our own. Dallas, with a 1.25 million population is another large, high stakes, politically-driven city with handsome rewards available to those who play ball. It has 14 council members to Austin’s 10 and again like Austin, only one who has openly supported ending fluoridation. Their present day anti-fluoride movement began in spring 2014 when a group began speaking regularly at City Hall with the solid support of then-councilmember Sheffie Kadane. Their efforts have met the same icy resistance from their Council as have ours and initially—unlike ours—with intense press ridicule. During their short existence they’ve held many creative events from protests to banquets: all ignored by City Hall. Yet they’re seen as a threat. Within a few weeks of their first appearance at Council meetings, the City limited citizens communication speakers to one appearance a month. Next, it changed the format of archived City Council meetings to one which is virtually impossible to download and manipulate. By mid-year 2015, staff was cutting off their microphones in Council chambers. (We in Austin have experienced variants of all these tactics).

This past April 27, the Dallas fluoride fighters held their largest event yet: a Fluoride Action Day at City Hall. Eighteen speakers signed up, many with videoclips of medically-qualified experts telling why they oppose fluoride. The City of Dallas’ response was to refuse to stream the videos. It has now banned the playing of videoclips during citizens communication. Press coverage was essentially nil.  NSNBC (does anyone know what that stands for?), the curious international web news outlet which introduced Dallas’ anti-fluoride movement to the world two years ago by mis-reporting an end to fluoridation, checked in, but only to cover a tasteless tweet by one council member.  Robert Wilonsky who once spewed spleen and ridicule from his Dallas Morning News blog, promised another writeup but it never came.

Despite the present-day adage that any publicity is good publicity, I think the media blackout is not without its bright side. To me it indicates that the likes of Wilonsky and Jacquielynn Floyd, another odious Morning News commentator, by now appreciate that public sentiment is not with them and ridicule no longer works. Or at least their bosses do. Better to let sleeping dogs lie, lest they rise up and bite you.

So carry on, Dallas friends; we’ll be right beside you in the fight to be first to batter down the door that all the rest will run through.

You can find Dallas’ fluoride fighters on their Facebook page Fluoride Action North Texas and their excellent website Dogs Against Fluoridation.

Fluoride Follies Blog Returns After a Long Break, With Some Positive News

We’re back!    And to ease into operation after nearly 10 months’ silence, we’ll start with simply re-publishing a newsletter we sent out on May 22.  Please read it and respond as suggested in the text.  This is exciting!
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The Fluoride Free Updater     Sunday May 22, 2016

 
Greetings, Fellow Fluoride Fighters:
       We have some great news to announce, news several months in the making and originating from a surprising quarter: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  The watchdog agency, which since 1930 has consistently shirked its duty to regulate fluoridated products (with the exception of  toothpaste) suddenly sprang to life on January 13 with a warning letter   to Kirkman Laboratories, Inc.  Kirkman is an Oregon firm that makes, among other things, sodium fluoride supplements, and it was the ingestible supplements – which dentists and pediatricians have been dishing out to children like candy for decades – that drew the warning.  The company is ordered to cease and desist from further production or distribution of what the FDA classifies as “unapproved prescription drugs not generally recognized as safe and effective”  Although FDA’s injunction is directed against a single supplier, all supplement lines comprise effectively the same sodium fluoride-containing products. And no manufacturer has ever submitted any test data to the FDA in support of the safety and/or efficacy of its brand.
       Fluoride Action Network (FAN) executive director Michael Connett, an attorney, lost no time jumping on the FDA’s unexpected decision to enforce its own rules. Under his leadership, FAN and the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) have joined together in sponsorship of a citizens’ petition calling on the agency to take the same action against all other producers of fluoride supplements.  The petition, four months in the making, has already collected nearly 10,000 signatures since its May 15 launch.
There are two quick and simple actions you can take:
     First:  You can sign the petition HERE:
     Second:  You can let Austin City Council know that the tacit endorsement of fluoride supplements currently appearing on the City’s website (see below) is unacceptable.
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       Email the entire Council (which includes the Mayor) to express your displeasure at the suggestion that a pediatrician might want to prescribe a drug the FDA has declared non-approved and not generally recognized as either safe or effective.  You can email them from HERE: If you’re an Austin resident you might want to send a separate message to your district representative as well.
       One more thing you can do is talk to your pharmacist. Show him or her the FDA’s letter to Kirkman. Ask whether they are aware that the prescription fluoride supplements they sell are not FDA approved. An informal undercover investigation shows most aren’t.
       In 1975 the FDA demanded the removal of fluoridated vitamins from the shelves.  Their mandate was ignored; the vitamin products persist in the marketplace.  But today, people are more aware of fluoride’s toxicity and dubious effectiveness.  40 years ago we had no way to spread the word, but today we do.  By taking the above actions you can give this story legs to keep it moving. Universal recognition that fluoride is a drug – despite its pushers’ insistence to the contrary – will be a giant step toward getting it out of our water.
       See Dr. Mercola’s interview with Michael Connett and learn more about the week’s exciting developments at:

To a fluoride-free future!

Rae Nadler-Olenick
Founder, Fluoride Free Austin
P.O. Box 7486, Austin TX 78713

Anti-Fluoride PSA Airs On Dr Oz. Plus, INDIEGOGO Campaign.

Beginning tomorrow (Tuesday Feb. 17) and for the next two weeks, the special anti-fluoridation PSA seen above will be aired locally during the popular Dr. Oz TV program. Dr. Oz appears on Fox weekdays from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Austin area. Narrating the 1-minute message is Ed Begley an actor best known for his television role on St. Elsewhere and a dedicated conservationist in his own right. The International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine has generously underwritten the first two-week block of air time.

Because we feel it’s important that this message reach a wider audience than can be achieved through the viewership of a single program, we are launching an INDIEGOGO campaign for funding to purchase more Austin TV spots in multiple venues. We’re offering a variety of healthy lifestyle perks to contributors of $15 or more, but donations of any size are welcome. Those who are able to help, please make your donations through the INDIEGOGO website. Thank you!

And Now, a Special Message from Ed Begley…

This PSA by Ed Begley, star of the St. Elsewhere TV series and a prominent environmental activist, has been shown in various venues since its YouTube debut last April–most recently in Dallas on the Dr. Oz show.

Austinites will soon get their own chance to see Begley’s message on daytime TV. Beginning this coming Tuesday, February 17, it will run for two weeks during the Oz program (perhaps longer if sufficient funding exists). Dr. Oz airs here on Fox  from 3 to 4 p.m. weekdays. Be sure to watch.

The first two weeks’ airing of the PSA’s has been generously underwritten by the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine.  An Indiegogo campaign to raise additional funds will be announced soon.

 

Fluoride Is Not a Fringe Issue in Austin

On February 12, Walt Olenick became the first member of Fluoride Free Austin to speak before the new Austin City Council. His talk was respectful, informative, and consumed less than the alotted 3 minutes.

His object, in this first 2015 appearance at City Hall was  simply to make the Council members aware that it’s commonplace in Austin to have doubts  about the value of fluoridation.  To reinforce the point, he handed out the flyer Water Fluoridation is NOT a Fringe Issue in Austin, available from our website. The flyer cites and graphically illustrates the results of a 2012 survey by KEYE-TV (our CBS affiliate) in which roughly half the Austinites surveyed said they consider fluoridation a waste of money.  What could be more mainstream than that?

Disappointingly, nobody on the dais had a single comment or question about the material presented, in stark contrast to the other seven citizens’ communication speakers, with whom they interacted freely. Clearly the word is already out: fluoride is a subject to be approached with extreme caution. (One  councilmember had reason to feel particularly uncomfortable–the notion that fluoridation opponents are “crazy” had been the springboard for a vile smear campaign against an opponent.)  And now here was half of Austin unmasked as sharing those same outlandish views. Instant cognitive dissonance!

Still, the immutable facts are before them, and we shall see what we shall see. Will the new Council open their minds enough to allow some enlightenment in and then vote for what’s right rather than what’s politically expedient?  Or will they freeze into the hard mold of political careerism  that has so long worked against the interests of Austin’s everyday citizens?  Only time will tell.

 

 

 

Catching Up: Where to Start?

Little did we know, when we posted our Fluoride Follies entry of June 21, 2013, that the blog would be down for an indeterminate period. The dead time was the result of a convergence of unforeseen events, but even during the hiatus, life went on.  Three major events occurred in Texas during that time, and I’ll summarize them here. (Portland, Oregon’s spectacular 2014 victory over the promoters of forced fluoridation–including a 100% bought-out City Council and Mayor–was covered on our website).

The first big change came with the adoption of a new form of Austin municipal government which gave Austinites district representation for the first time.  Previously, all of the 7-member (including the Mayor) City Council was chosen at large, through city-wide voting. That system not only made running for office cost prohibitive for all but the wealthiest but created a Council of  members clustered in an upscale area, without specific connection or responsibility to the residents of other parts of town.  In November 2013, following an intensive public education campaign by the grassroots group Austinites for Geographical Representation, Austinites went to the polls to vote in a new system: one comprising 10 geographic districts to represent our 860,000-plus population, plus a Mayor still elected at large.  (It’s fit to add here that the outcome went very much against the desires of local Democratic Party power brokers.)

Following that triumph, exactly one year later, our first Austin City Council under the new system was elected this past November. More on the new Council in future posts.

Finally, up the road in Dallas, there was energetic year-long anti-fluoridation campaign led by Regina Imburgia with the staunch support of Dallas City Councilman Sheffie Kadane. Imburgia organized groups to speak regularly at City Hall; held public educational events with high-profile guest speakers including Dr. Paul Connett; and creatively publicized the cause via Facebook pages of Activists for Truth and Safe Water North Texas and the website dogsagainstfluoridation.com. Her team’s efforts won the hearts and minds of Dallasites, but not that of the Council, which, as mostly career politicians or wanabees–acted in their own self-perceived interests rather than those of the people who elected them.  On January 28–in defiance of a recent poll showing 72% of the public opposed to fluoridation—they voted 13-2 to adopt a 3-year purchase contract for fluorosilicic acid with Mosaic Co.  Apart from the remarks of Sheffie Kadane and self-appointed spokesman for the fluoride industry Rick Callahan, there was no discussion.  Not a single other Council member (out of 15) had a word to say or a question to ask. Adam Medrano, timidly seconding Kadane’s motion to deny the Mosaic contract, was Kadane’s sole ally; Scott Griggs and Dwaine R. Caraway, earlier considered potential supporters, were last-minute bailouts.  You can watch the entire proceedings–including the anti-fluoridation speakers’ presentations–in the video at the top of this page.

Given the energy, creativity and determination of the Dallas activists, we can be sure they won’t let the matter rest with a decision so against the public will. We look forward to hearing more from them in the future.