On behalf of the civilized world and sincere public servants everywhere, I would like to apologize to the academicians, dental hygiene students, county health department dentist and staff, the private practicing dentists, private citizens, and others who took off from school and work to be present at the Hernando County Commission meeting last Tuesday. The treatment that these four commissioners demonstrated was a civics lesson that the impressionable students should learn immediately. The looks in their eyes when they were humiliated by commissioners Wayne Dukes, Nick Nicholson, Dave Russell, and Jim Adkins almost made me cry. These children who believed that they were actually valued by their society and those that lead it, quickly found out that one of those two groups is not always dependable. The four county commissioners played "good ole boy" politics. These dental hygiene students witnessed government at its ugliest. Society still loves you though, trust me on this.
The truly wonderful part of the sham agenda item on fluoridation last Tuesday is that these four commissioners revealed to the public what their level of empathy is for the entire community. They blatantly showed that they did not care that every major scientific group in the world supports water fluoridation as safe and effective. They turned their collective backs on the children, adults, and the elderly who all benefit from community water fluoridation. But the most tragic, disrespectful, and selfless acts that these four commissioners demonstrated was their total lack of compassion for the families who live in poverty and have little to no dental care whatsoever. These families depend upon whatever help that they can get to make it through a single day with a meal to eat and a roof over their heads. They do not ask for a handout. They want to work. They want to be productive. But as the folks who testified last week about how the huge proposed fire tax increase would impact apartment renters, the working folks that are barely making ends meet, these families would begin to leave Hernando County for places where they can have a roof over their heads and put groceries on the table if the fire tax remained as proposed. They would not be able to afford the rent increases. These are the same people that the four commissioners couldn't have cared less about when they turned their backs on fluoridation. God has a special conversation waiting for these four one day and I hope to be close enough to witness it.
To Ms. Nastelli, the PHSC dental hygiene program instructor: Tell your students to keep their heads up. And tell them that this isn't over. The fat lady didn't even get air between her bottom and the chair last Tuesday, let alone sing. It ain't over 'til it's over.
To all Hernando County residents, and especially those impacted the most by the four Hernando County Commissioner's decision to ignore water fluoridation, the poorest of the poor: My heartfelt apologies go out to you. You all are the silent majority. You MUST step up to let the four county commissioners, Nick Nicholson, Wayne Dukes, Dave Russell, and Jim Adkins, know that you will no longer be silent. You elected them to represent you. They have failed. Their time to correct this is right now. There are consequences to be paid for ignoring your health. You will hold them accountable if they chose to remain steadfast in their resolve. But while you're speaking up, please thank Commissioner Diane Rowden for her representation of your health and well-being. She was an island at this meeting. She was the only one who truly cared and understood what this was about. The others had gotten "voted off" of that island for their inactions.
The community will hold these four commissioners accountable for their poor decisions on the dental care of their families. That will be their first day to answer for their actions. The second will be with God.
Dr. Johnny Johnson is a pediatric dentist who practices in Palm Harbor. He has advocated for fluoridation in community water supplies across the state and nationally.