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No citizen input allowed at Brooksville fluoride talk

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Published:   |   Updated: August 30, 2013 at 11:46 AM

BROOKSVILLE - Dr. Paul Connett, a top fluoride opponent, addressed Brooksville City Council and about 50 attendees during a Tuesday night budget workshop at City Hall.

This was the second workshop on the contentious issue. The first workshop was held in May, with presentations from public health officials and dentists in favor of fluoridation, and Mayor Lara Bradburn herself speaking for the opposition. After the presentations, concerned city residents and other attendees voiced their support or concerns on the topic.

Not so on Tuesday. Connett presented for about an hour, and answered council questions for about half an hour. After Connett was done speaking, Bradburn thanked the packed house for taking the time to come, and said good night.

"No public input?" one attendee asked. "We had input at the last one," another said.

Bradburn hit the gavel, and the room started clearing out.

Connett, a chemist and coauthor of the 2010 book "The Case Against Fluoride," cited research that shows little difference in the decrease of tooth decay between those who drink fluoridated and non-fluoridate water.

Connett said by communities adding fluoride to public drinking water, they are forcing residents to "swallow a known toxic substance" and are violating their civil rights. Connett also discussed research that suggests community fluoridated water contributes to lower IQ, and might even be "killing a few young boys" every year from osteosarcoma.

"It's never been refuted," Connett said.

Connett also said the adverse effects of fluoride are made worse by poor diets, meaning low-income families suffer the most.

The studies Connett cited and discussed during the presentation have been entered in the public record, and those wishing to inspect them can contact City Clerk Jan Peters.

At the end of Connett's presentation, Bradburn apologized for getting "too emotional" in past conversations on the topic.

During the May fluoride workshop, Bradburn said research suggests her thyroid condition might have been caused by drinking fluoridated water. Fluoride was added to the city's water from 1986 through 2011.

Dr. Johnny Johnson, a dentist and public health advocate, asked several times leading up to the meeting to have "equal time" to present the benefits of fluoridated water.

Johnson attended the Tuesday workshop prepared in case Bradburn did allow him equal time, and called the meeting "very sad" and "very one sided."

"This is about the health of kids in Brooksville, not about City Council," Johnson said. "I can't sit back and watch 15-16,000 people harmed because of junk science."

Johnson said as "incensed" as he and other dentists and fluoride advocates are by not being included in the workshop, being disruptive was not the answer.

"We're professionals," Johnson said. "Even if we don't agree we respect the council, the mayor."

Council member Joe Bernardini, who favored adding fluoride back into the water earlier in the year, said Connett gave a "great presentation" with a lot of information for him to think about.

Bernardini said he didn't have any problem setting aside money to add fluoride back in the water, but would want to make sure the fluoride was pharmaceutical grade, and would prefer Brooksville voters decide on the issue.

"If we're going to medicate people we need to ask them if they want to be medicated," Bernardini said.

Bernardini said he would have preferred to see a debate and citizen input, adding he didn't know the mayor wasn't going to let citizens speak ahead of him.

Two final budget hearings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 and Sept. 25, and council is expected to vote on fluoride on one of those days.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5283

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