Letter to the Editor

Citizen Forum

Thursday, September 13, 2012

No more legal stunts


It appears as if many citizens are accepting the political maneuverings of Ms Ballance and Ms Lindblad just because the issue happened to be one they were in favor of seeing dismissed. If the subject "deer hunt" was substituted with "health insurance for city employees", "parking meters", or "art", these childish tactics would have sent half the town scrambling for lawyers. While Ms Lindblad claims she has never seen a deer in her fourteen years of living on Vaughn street, the residents of the Hillside neighborhood continue to watch their now-resident herd grow exponentially every season, eating everything in sight, leaving piles of feces all over their yards, and creating driving hazards on Main street.

I did not come to the council two years ago because I hated deer and wanted to see them die, as some have accused me of. I felt the plants in my yard gave me the same enjoyment that many get from seeing the deer, and that these (supposedly deer-repellant) plants had as much right to live and thrive as the deer herd. I wanted to see nature restored to balance again, but in the process I lost friends and a dog to the deer, and now I've lost my vote to a blatant breach of democracy.

If you thought you voted for a one week hunt, you did not read your ballot. We voted for the intent to find a solution with the help of the Game and Fish Commission, and while the Deer Hunt Committee has done an amazing job collecting that information, misplaced empathy prevented citizens from hearing it.

The vote was swayed by people who chose to tell the council about their fears and then leave the meeting rather than stay and listen to experts offer facts that might have assuaged those fears. The saddest thing to me is that rather than using our conflicting opinions as a valuable tool to come to compromise and solution, we are employing barely-legal stunts to keep us from having serious problem-solving dialogues with each other.

Mark Hughes

Citizen culture


Thank you for including the Communiy Writing, Writer's Colony and poetry in the Citizen. I enjoy the cultural elements these articles bring to the paper.


Ellen Stephenson

Fluoridation: facts, not politics, please


Until recently I thought that adding fluoride to public water supplies probably was a good way to reduce tooth cavities. Surely the American Dental Association (ADA) and public health officials around the country know a lot more about the details and effectiveness of water fluoridation and tooth decay than I do. But when we customers of the Carroll-Boone water facility became aware that our State health officials and the Legislature had decided to require fluoridation of our water supplies, regardless of whether or not we wanted it, I wondered what was going on.

Sure, I was aware of many of the political arguments against fluoridation like government attempts at mind control and that sort of foolishness, but I decided to read up on fluoridation anyway, just as a matter of general interest. And I'm really glad I took the time to do it.

Fortunately for those of us interested primarily in the technical facts surrounding many of the nation's current political issues in areas such as health care, energy use and environmental protection, the City of Fairbanks, Alaska recently released a comprehensive study they commissioned about water fluoridation, "Report of the Fairbanks Fluoride Task Force." * It was funded by the city to help them to decide whether or not to proceed with a project to fluoride their water supplies.

The Fairbanks analysis of the facts and claims about the fluoride issue is the most objective study I have come across. Based on this report, they ultimately decided not to proceed with a plan to fluoridate their water.

The Fairbanks study raises a number of very practical questions that I believe should be answered before further fluoridation is initiated anywhere else in the US.

Question 1. Is water fluoridation really effective in reducing tooth decay?

The ADA claims beyond a doubt that it is -- they say just look at the reduction in tooth decay throughout the country that resulted from fluorided water over the last 40 years. But wait a minute -- also take a look at a summary of World Health Data tooth decay data in the Fairbanks report from other nations around the world, some of which fluorided their water and others that did not. The same trend of declining tooth decay is evident over the last 40 years in all of these nations regardless of whether or not they fluoridated their water! So how can US public health experts give any of the credit for reduced decay to fluorided public water supplies?

Question 2. So if fluoridated water is not the major contributor to reduced tooth decay, what is?

Many experts suggest the trend of reduced tooth decay worldwide is most likely due to changing dietary habits, better nutrition, improved dental care and increased amounts of fluoride taken in as part of our daily eating habits. Some even claim an average breakfast and one carbonated cola provide all the fluoride needed by the average adult each day.

The Arkansas Department of Health recently established a permissible fluoride concentration for public water systems of 0.7 ppm, which is about one-half to one-quarter of the amount thought to be safe only a few decades ago. Some public health experts question whether there would be any detectable public tooth decay benefits at such low fluoride concentrations as adopted by Arkansas.

Question 3. If we already get adequate amounts of fluoride in our daily diets, why do we need to add more to our drinking water and risk exceeding recommended safe consumption levels?

There are many other questions about drinking water fluoridation for which we should demand answers, such as does fluoride ingested by adults really contribute to reducing their tooth decay, or is ingestion only effective during tooth formation in the very young? Is topical application of fluoride by dentists, specifically targeted at the young, cheaper, safer and more effective than mass but inefficient fluoride treatment of everyone? What is the source of the fluoride used for water fluoridation and why do the sellers refuse to provide adequate information about what else is in their products, such as possible contamination by other deadly industrial pollutants?

The ADA endorsement of water fluoridation in their publication, "Fluoride Facts" is often referred to as a primary document used to justify public water supply fluoridation. It should be noted that this document has become outdated and is based on data from many decades ago. The ADA is aware of this and a revised version is being prepared. We can only hope the ADA will choose to objectively address all these new issues surrounding the use of fluoride and update their position on the real need for public water system fluoridation.

The rush to judgment by our legislators to require all public water facilities to fluoride local water supplies needs to be reconsidered at least to allow public input and local preferences to be taken into account. As the new law stands, the public will is totally ignored. The current Arkansas law mandating fluoridation at the primary source of water for multiple communities virtually eliminates any possibility of honoring local preference and is a terrible example of unnecessary government arrogance -- it needs to be changed! Local communities should be allowed to decide for themselves if they want fluoridated water and, if they so desire, their local water distribution companies can fluoridate it. Those who want fluoridated water should then receive it, and they would be the only ones paying extra for it.


Alex Haynes

Local Treasures


A growing favorite meeting place, Tuesdays and Thursdays 7 a.m. til noon at Pine Mountain Village, is our local Farmers Market. Fun and inspiring. Sit and enjoy free coffee and tea, live music, breakfast treats and baked breads, pies, and cakes from our local artisan bakers. The produce is beautiful, fresh, many heirloom varieties. The tiny, rare, powerfully flavored grapes this summer were beyond compare.

Of course, the organic pork, chicken and beef have a flavor superiority that warrants the dedication of these aware farmers. Experience original jelly recipes, vinaigrettes, art creations, spices, knife sharpening, cooking demonstrations and cooking contests.

Local artist, Julie Kahn, can be seen sketching. Is it true there is a farmers market calendar in the works?

The miracle of it all is the cheerful spirit of these drought challenged, gifted farmers and the bounty they bring to our lives. Nurture your local food source, it's a wise investment in your survival.

And that once in a blue moon night market party on August 30th. WoW. Come to the Farmers Market and feel the love.


Valerie Hubbard Damon