ACTIVISTS UPDATE: Posted Monday, July 6, 2015, 11:15 P.M.
On Wednesday, June 17, 3 P.M., the Public Utilities Committee held its monthly meeting in Council Chambers. Committee vice chair Don Zimmerman, acting chair in the absence on leave of chair Delia Garza, introduced a resolution to end water fluoridation. Turnout was excellent and discussion brisk. No vote was taken, and the discussion will be continued at the Committee's next meeting, on August 19. Thanks go out to the Committee members, to our two expert presenters, to all who participated in citizens communication by speaking or donating time, and to Justin Arman of Texans For Accountable Government for his indispensable contributions. '
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 July 2015: halfway through the year, and five 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 3-minute speakers' slots. 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. Better yet, signup is now via a master list rather than on individual sheets of paper, making it possible for a group of people to sign up together and ensure that they will be able to speak in sequence. The new possibilities are many and exciting.
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 fluoridation – 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.
We are in the process of obtaining accurate itemized figures on the total cost of Austin's water fluoridation program through PIRs (Texas Public Information Requests). The current fluorosilicic acid contract with MOSAIC CROP NUTRITION LLC has been posted on this website under the Downloads tab.
Fluoride Free Austin members spoke at the May and June meetings of the Austin City Council Health and Human Services Committee (top 2 videos at right).
On May 26, Dr. Laura Pressley's challenge to the December 2014 City Council District 4 runoff was dismissed in District Court. She will next take her case to the 3rd District Court of Appeals. She needs our continued support. There is much more at stake here than a single Austin City Council seat.
Texas Representative David Simpson's fluoride transparency bill HB1581 requiring that systems supplying fluoridated water to communities provide 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, made it to a second reading but died in committee upon June 1 expiration of the 84th legislative session. Though many other important issues competed for activists' attention and no doubt will continue to, we plan to be more active in promoting it when it's reintroduced in 2017.
July 6, 2015