ACTIVISTS UPDATE: Posted Friday, May 15, 2015, 1:00 A.M.
SUPPORT LAURA PRESSLEY IN HER ELECTION CHALLENGE!
Laura Pressley, Ph.D., a strong supporter of Fluoride Free Austin, and a founding member of our steering committee, needs our help. She ran for the Austin City Council in District 4 on December 16, 2014 and has filed an election lawsuit citing numerous election irregularities. .
Her unique mix of qualifications—a doctorate in chemistry, many years of working in both the technical and financial sides of the semiconductor industry, and small business entrepreneurial experience—made her the best-qualified candidate in a crowded race. However, in an election and runoff fraught with irregularities and violations of Texas election law, her runoff opponent was ultimately declared the winner. She is now challenging the result and calling for a new election with paper ballots. Her historic challenge is the first of its kind since electronic voting was introduced in 2003. Challenging an election is expensive. She needs our help now. Please go to her website (below) and donate if you possibly can. Thank you.
IT'S TIME TO CONTACT THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE
It's late April 2015: nearly a third into the year, and three months under Austin's first 10-1 City Council. This has been a transitional period during which our new Mayor and councilmembers (all but one of them freshmen) have been working to shape new directions bearing their own distintive imprint. Among the changes large and small: more, and generally shorter, Council meetings and a greater emphasis on committees of Council, which have been beefed up in both number and membership. Most proposed measures will now have to go before the appropriate council committee before being brought before the full City Council for consideration - a mixed blessing.
In our case, the relevant committee is the Public Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Ora Houston (Dist. 1). Delia Garza (Dist. 2), Ellen Troxclair (Dist. 8) and Kathie Tovo (Dist. 9) round out the committee. It meets on the first Monday of each month at 4:00 p.m. in Council chambers and meetings are open to the public. We will need to become familiar with the workings of this committee and with its members. Like the City Council, the Public Health and Human Services Committee has a Citizens Communication period for members of the public to address non-agenda items. Unlike the City Council, the signup system is not elaborate, cryptic, and off-putting. You simply sign up before the meeting. It's advisable to arrive 15 minutes or so in advance to make sure you get a chance to sign before the meeting is called to order. The good news is there's no limit (at least for now) on speakers' slots. The bad news is that only 2 minutes are allowed for each speaker. Still, that's plenty of time for each of us to voice our displeasure at the addition – at our own expense – of a smokestack scrubber liquor that would be EPA-classified as a toxic waste if dumped anywhere but in a public drinking water supply.
Although we've spoken before the full 10-1 City Council and will continue to do so, the action is clearly shifting to this new arena. We need to be contacting these four Committee members, in particular, invoking their responsibility, as gatekeepers to the implementation of public health policy, to become fully educated on all aspects of water fluoridatio – including the fact that a very large segment of the public simply does not want it. Email them from the Take Action tab on this page, or call or write using the information on the Council Members page. It is also a good idea to let Mayor Adler know how you feel.
Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) has introduced a fluoride transparency bill into the Texas Legislature. HB1581 requires that systems supplying fluoridated water to communities provide certain information: the vendor's name; the amount of added fluoride (along with the amount of natural fluoride already present); and the total cost of the fluoridation program. The bill, if passed, will force Texas water utilities to post the information prominently on their websites or include it in the customer water bill. In Austin, the Austin Water Utility has up to now been less than straightforward in divulging the true cost of water fluoridation in response to FOIA requests—omitting, among other expenses, the cost of megatons of ammonia required to buffer the highly corrosive fluorosilicic acid, as well as that of repairing and/or replacing equipment damaged by the acid. Those expenses, if included, could as much as double the reported total). Should Rep. Simpson's bill become law, the new numbers will be a real eye opener.
December 2014 saw the launch of Austin's new and unnecessary Water Treatment Plant 4. Lack of need for the $1 billion-plus facility—unwanted by just about everyone except those who profited financially from its construction—is best illustrated by the decommissioning/demolition just six years ago of the perfectly serviceable Green Water Treatment Plant located downtown on commercially desirable property. We can assume that the addition of a third plant will increase significantly the cost of fluoridation here. We will announce the new figures as soon as we know them.
May 15, 2015