FEBRUARY 5, 2014
REPORT FROM SEBASTOPOL
By Stephen Fuller-Rowell, Sonoma County Water Coalition co-founder and Sonoma County Fluoridation Advisory Committee Member
Opponents of fluoridation in Sonoma County won another victory in Sebastopol on Tuesday, February 4, 2014. The Sebastopol City Council voted unanimously to send a letter to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors supporting Cotati’s opposition to fluoridation.
Sebastopol now joins Portland, Davis and Cotati as west coast cities which have publicly opposed fluoridation in the last eight months.
The fluoridation discussion began with a surprise. Mayor Robert Jacob reported that he received a letter from County Board of Supervisors Chair David Rabbitt twenty minutes before the start of the City Council meeting requesting that Sebastopol wait till all studies are complete before taking a position on the issue.
City Councilmember Sarah Gurney also reported on a conversation with County Health Services Director Rita Scardaci before the meeting when a similar request was received.
Many of the dozen or so speakers during public comment expressed strong feelings about this attempt by the County Board of Supervisors to influence the Sebastopol vote.
Most speakers, including local dentist Dr Silvano Senn, spoke passionately in favor of the letter supporting Cotati and opposed waiting for more studies.
Sebastopol Water Information Group founder Dr Jane Nielson spoke eloquently of how she used to think fluoridation was beneficial, but now, after much research, she opposes fluoridation because studies show it’s ineffective.
Director Scardaci repeated her request for the letter to be delayed. She was the only speaker during public comment to oppose sending the letter.
Fluoridation Advisory Committee member and Sonoma County Water Coalition co-founder Stephen Fuller-Rowell suggested additions to the draft letter such as potential diversion of First 5 funds.
During Council deliberations, Councilmember Sarah Gurney, as Sebastopol’s Health Action representative, called for continued improvements in delivery of dental services, health education, and a focus on parental responsibility and healthy food.
Mayor Jacob agreed with other City Councilmembers and members of the public that other issues should be added to his letter.
Councilmember Patrick Slayter spoke in favor of the sending the letter, but went on record as supporting freedom of choice, rather than the other issues to be mentioned in the Mayor’s letter.
Councilmember John Eder said the timing of the letter from the Board of Supervisors ‘spoke volumes’ and argued in favor of supporting Cotati and opposing any financial impact on Sebastopol that might result from the proposal to fluoridate the County water supply.
Councilmember Gurney’s motion to approve the letter with additional issues added was seconded by City Councilmember Michael Kyes and approved unanimously.
Tuesday night, the Sebastopol City Council voted unanimously to join the City of Cotati in opposing fluoridation of Sonoma County’s drinking water. Even though Sebastopol’s household water supply would not be directly affected, Council members were concerned about the environmental effects of fluoridated wastewater, and both local farmers and local consumers objected to usingfluoridated recycled water.
The 5-0 vote came despite a last minute written plea from county Board of Supervisors Chairman David Rabbitt, who asked the council to hold off on its discussion pending the completion of ongoing engineering, financial and wildlife studies related to the fluoridation proposal.
“I don’t even know where I stand on the issue right now — I’ve been leaning toward not doing it [fluoridating Sonoma County water],” Rabbitt said in an interview Wednesday. But “there’s three major reports that are not complete. Why would you make a decision before you have those?”
“…Rabbitt said even Supervisors haven’t decided the issue yet and are only investigating the idea. He said the board would be sending letters to other communities, as well, urging them to withhold opinions until all the information is in.”
Referring to his letter, Supervisor Rabbitt said it “wasn’t meant to be strong-arming, telling anyone what to do. It was just, ‘Hey, there are other reports that are due.'”
SOURCE: The Press Democrat: “Sebastopol votes to oppose county water fluoridation” by Mary Callahan (Posted 2/5/2014 at 7:38 pm)