Even though he's on vacation this week, leaving his staff to field the hundreds of calls and emails that have been flooding city council offices since the Oregonian broke news of a serious political push to fluoridate Portland's water, Commissioner Nick Fish has decided to weigh in on the incredibly contentious issue.
In a statement released today, Fish joins pro-fluoride frontman Randy Leonard in blessing the proposal—putting the idea tantalizingly within reach of the three-vote majority it needs to pass.
Fluoridation is supported by a broad coalition of public health, medical, and community-based organizations. It’s a safe, cost-effective and common sense approach to protecting public health. In fact, Portland is one of the last cities of our size that doesn’t fluoridate its drinking water....
It’s time for Portland to join the majority of cities across the nation and fluoridate our water. When this issue comes to Council, I will vote to protect the basic health of all our children.
Who might join Fish and Leonard? Mayor Sam Adams' office told the O this morning that the mayor hasn't yet made up his mind. And Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman are also both on vacation, but as the O also notes, it's plausible that both are inclined to also go along with it. One question that could trip up the political push is whether to have the council say yes—or to send it to the public for a vote that could wind up failing. Like every other public referendum on fluoride in our water.
Separately, in an interview today with the Mercury, incoming city commissioner Steve Novick announced his support for a final city council vote, calling fluoride safe and effective and boon to the dental health of low-income Portlanders.
"The council should vote to implement it," Novick told me, saying the city and state in the midst of a "dental health crisis."
Asked if the council should let the voters weigh in—a move, if the measure passed, that lend more legitimacy than if the council had to step in over the heads of some very agitated foes—Novick said this wasn't a case where the council ought to "punt to voters."
Says Novick, who won't take office until January: "You do your job."