Note: this article was originally published on May 24, 2013 as the fifth installment of my six part series for Mismanaging Perception on the unsuccessful campaign to fluoridate Portland’s water supply.
If you worked on the ‘Healthy Kids Healthy Portland‘ campaign promoting fluoridation of Portland’s legendary Bull Run fresh water, you’re probably not having the best week. You’re probably thinking, “I don’t understand, HOW could we have lost by 21 percent with the campaign manager/consultant duo of Evyn Mitchell and Mark Wiener that crafted platinum chart-toppers like ‘Charlie Hales for Mayor‘?!”
You’ve probably lost a fair amount of sleep trying to figure out how in the hell a grassroots campaign with far less experience who struggled to raise $280K was able to take in three votes for every two of yours when HKHP raked in an estimated $1 million+ dollars in corporate and political cash. How could such an insurrection happen? Why didn’t the lobbyists at Upstream Public Health and the strategists at Winning Mark see this coming? How did the people get away with forcing a vote on fluoridation in the first place? It’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath. This will all make sense soon.
For anyone unfamiliar, the current fight over fluoridation went public when it was reported that the lobbying and public relations firm Upstream had been meeting with city hall in closed-door sessions that were tellingly left off the city’s calendar. Red flags were raised and alarms were sounded, but despite heated public hearings, mayor Sam Adams and the rest of the city commissioners voted unanimously in favor of adding fluorisisilic acid to public’s drinking water.
The argument put forth for this un-democratic action was that since most other US cities dose their water with this chemical, it’s high time Portland did the same, and we can’t trust the public to agree with us. In reality, few other developed nations outside the U.S. practice fluoridation. Almost all of Europe refrains from fluoridating its water. Last month, the nation of Israel joined Europe in yanking mandated fluoride over health and environmental concerns.
In response to city hall’s poor behavior, a coalition of concerned citizens shifted into high gear to bring about a referendum and let the people vote. Some 20,000 signatures needed collecting within just 30 days. The newly formed Clean Water Portland (CWP) and it’s volunteers blew that target away by turning in over 43,000 signatures a day before the deadline.