Council shirks fluoridation issue

September 16, 2002
Christy Busby

It's a shame to see local politicians with some experience acting like mere novices in their handling, or rather mishandling, of the fluoridation issue but Texarkana, Texas, City Council members are doing just that.

The fluoridation issue was initially proposed by Texarkana, Texas, City Council members about eight weeks ago.

However, their leadership and communication on a matter they brought up has been woefully inadequate at best and totally nonexistent at worst.

Their latest bout of inaction or irresponsibility is the canceling of a public hearing scheduled for last Saturday.

Never mind that they set the date for the hearing a few weeks back; all but one of them discovered last week they had scheduling conflicts.

How convenient for them when the issue is so controversial.

How inconvenient for their supporters, detractors and fellow residents in neighboring towns that will be affected by the outcome of all this.

An astute politician should know that all voices should and must be heard, especially when the public health stakes are so high and the constituents' opinions are divided.

The fate of fluoridation will not only affect residents in Texarkana but also several residents in Bowie County and some in Red River County because many towns and communities in these counties purchase water from Texarkana Water Utilities.

Granted, Texarkana, Texas, City Council members do not represent folks in New Boston, DeKalb and Wake Village but the Texarkana council is exhibiting a total lack of courtesy and complete disregard for the spirit of including everyone by not communicating with residents and officials in these and other affected cities.

Let's see-Texarkana, Texas, officials want to literally put fluoride down the throats of people in the outlying areas but ignore them when it comes to their opinions?

Something is flawed here.

Last time I checked, we could contact outlying cities in Bowie and Red River counties without tin cans and wire.

Some say it has to do with the lawsuit the outlying cities have against the Texarkana council and TWU. The theory goes that the two sides cannot discuss water because of pending litigation regarding overbilling for water.

Do the Texas-side city council and TWU want to invite the prospect of further litigation by not discussing fluoridation with cities already suing them?

And although this is the Texas side's idea, they tried to get Texarkana, Ark., City Board to vote on the issue first.

How noble and courageous.

Let's pass the buck to Arkansas, shall we? Although it's our idea in Texas, let Arkansas do our dirty work by going first.

At least, Texarkana, Ark., city officials have done the right thing, putting this to a vote of the people in the Nov. 5 election.

Texas-side city officials have yet to put the issue on the ballot and it was their idea. It just doesn't add up, especially with six weeks before the Nov. 5 election, a recent cancellation of a public hearing and no communication with the outlying cities that would be affected.

With contention and dissension on the issue from the get go, the antics Texarkana, Texas, has pulled do nothing to allay fears and concerns of people or win public trust or votes for the issue.

There is some speculation Texarkana, Texas, officials want to abandon this controversial issue, as evidenced by their stalling and doing nothing.

If that's the case, let everyone know before Texarkana, Ark., residents have to vote and before the outlying towns and communities in Bowie and Red River counties organize a referendum.

Texarkana, Texas, city officials can and must be forthright about their intentions with their constituents, their neighbors in Texarkana, Ark., and their geographical neighbors in Bowie and Red River counties.

It would be the first time they have shown any shred of political leadership or experience in the fluoridation fiasco they started.