(NaturalNews) We here at Natural News have reported regularly on the dangers of adding fluoride to our drinking water, always citing the latest research on the issue to make our point that, quite simply, ingesting even small amounts of the chemical over time can cause medical problems such as brain damage, memory loss and other decreases in mental capacity.
So it boggles our collective mind here to see Americans actually vote to put more of this harmful chemical into their bodies. But that's just what the members of the Portland, Ore., city council just did recently, over the objections of protestors who showed up to try and educate the elected officials before some were removed from the proceedings.
According to local reports the council voted unanimously - 5-0 - during a sometimes rancorous, raucous public meeting recently to add the chemical to the city's drinking water, thereby ending Portland's status as the only major U.S. city that had not yet approved fluoridation.
Despite the approval, opponents vowed immediately to try to block the effort; they promised to gather enough signatures within 30 days to block the city's plans and force the issue to a vote of all residents.
'Public water deserves a public vote'
The city's decision will affect some 900,000 residents in Portland and the surrounding communities of Gresham, Tigard and Tualatin. The vote comes after a hearing Sept. 6 which lasted nearly seven hours, as people on both sides of the argument offered statistics to prove their point, as well as impassioned arguments.
Some who attended the meeting echoed the typical argument offered by the federal government and the dental establishment: That fluoridation protects against tooth decay. Others; however, argued that adding the chemical to the city's drinking water amounted to forced medication.
Local reports said the recent council meeting erupted in disorder, prompting Mayor Sam Adams to eject a number of audience members while reminding others repeatedly to remain quiet so the council could conduct its business.
OregonLive.com reported that some protestors held signs objecting to fluoride. Others booed the elected officials and gave them a "thumbs-down" sign.
One protestor unfurled a white sheet from a balcony revealing a hand-made message that said, "Public water deserves and public vote."
Nevertheless, council members to a person were resolute.
"This is the right thing to do, and I'm pleased to vote 'aye,'" said Commissioner Dan Saltzman, drawing catcalls from the crowd.
Fellow Commissioner Amanda Fritz, local reports noted, seemed to be the only member with reservations. She voted in favor only after giving a lengthy speech in which she expressed simpatico with opponents.
Fritz is the only member who faces reelection in November. According to OregonLive.com, her opponent, state Rep. Mary Nolan, "had called on the council to back fluoride as an 'equity' issue."
Effort gaining to gather signatures putting ordinance on hold pending a vote
Two other council members, Adams and Randy Leonard, had already decided not to seek reelection; they will leave office at the end of December. The remaining members are in the middle of their terms, the website reported.
Last month, well before the council voted, opponents promised to launch an initiative to put the question of fluoridation before a public vote in May 2014. At the time, Leonard, the council's primary fluoride proponent, vowed to have fluoridation in place by March 2014, prompting his opponent, Kim Kaminsky, to ask, "Why can't he wait two months? What's the rush?"
A referendum would directly challenge the city's plans but would not seek a general ban on fluoride. Local reports said some 20,000 more valid signatures would be needed within a 30-day period to move forward.
If anti-fluoride forces gather the required signatures, the city's ordinance will be suspended in lieu of a public vote in May 2014, which is the earliest possible date to hold one under election rules.