FLUORIDE FOES TRY END RUN
* HERSHMAN, TROPIANO WILL ASK COUNCIL TO CREATE A FLUORIDATION STUDY
by BOB WITTMAN, The Morning Call
Tuesday, February 2, 1999
Two Allentown officials who have long opposed fluoridation will attempt to
make an end run around City Council's Jan. 20 vote to add the cavity-fighting
chemical to the municipal water supply.
City Controller Louis J. Hershman and Councilwoman Emma D. Tropiano both
plan to call for the creation of a fluoridation study commission when council
Even though Allentown has been debating the merits of fluoridation for more
than 40 years, Tropiano plans to introduce a bill establishing a three-month
investigative panel to determine the costs and benefits of fluoridation.
In a separate move, Hershman collected the signatures of 35 registered
Allentown voters to use a provision of the city's 1997 Home Rule Charter to
secure time on council's agenda to plead for a fluoridation study similar to
Both Tropiano and Hershman are running for office this year.
Hershman announced in January that he would leave his controller's job to
run for one of this season's open council seats. Tropiano's fourth term
expires at the end of 1999, and she has said she plans to seek a fifth term or
run for the full-time controller's position Hershman is giving up.
But even as Hershman and Tropiano try to fan the flames of a
long-smoldering political controversy, Council President David K. Bausch said
he did not believe either proposal would generate more than a dampening
response from council.
"I just think it's a lot of grandstanding," said Bausch.
Bausch said Tropiano's proposed ordinance would be referred to committee
with little or no discussion Wednesday and doubted there will be enough
support for passage if the bill is brought to council for a vote.
Hershman's move requires no council action, he noted.
"There will be a lot of noise, and that's about it," agreed Councilman
Frank J. Concannon, chief sponsor of the fluoridation ordinance council
approved two weeks ago.
Councilmen David M. Howells Sr. and Todd A. Stephens firmly support
fluoridation, and council's newest member, Robert E. Smith Jr., said support
for fluoride is a "no-brainer."
Councilman Ernest E. Toth agreed to be the second sponsor Tropiano needs to
introduce her bill.
Tropiano and Toth provided the only no votes when council voted 5-2 last
month to fluoridate the water.
Tropiano's proposal would establish not only one fluoridation study
commission but two.
One would be an "investigative panel" and would comprise two members of
council, two physicians, two dentists and four residents.
The other would be a three-member "evaluation committee" to review the
findings of the investigative panel. It would be composed of persons "chosen
on the basis of their dental and medical knowledge and research methods, with
at least one person being chosen solely on their basis of understanding
research techniques," according to the language of the bill.
"Council sat there and said they did their homework. I don't see where they
did their homework," fumed Tropiano. "The bottom denominator on this is I feel
a study should be done."
The Allentown Health Board has endorsed fluoridation since 1952. Before the
vote on Jan. 20, council listened to statements from 30 fluoridation
proponents whose number included some of the top practitioners of medicine and
dentistry in the Lehigh Valley.
For months leading up to the vote, council members were inundated with
articles and reports from constituents on fluoridation, several of the
officials reported. The literature mailed and faxed to council overwhelmingly
supported the safety of fluoride and recommended its use to fight tooth decay.
Hershman's agenda petition calls for council to amend the Jan. 20 ordinance
to prevent it from taking effect until a committee appointed by council
evaluates the costs and benefits of fluoridation and the impact on the
community in terms of economic development.
On Jan. 20, Hershman raised the specter that Lucent Technologies, the
city's biggest water customer, would move its giant manufacturing facility on
Union Boulevard out of Allentown because fluoridated water would interfere
with its microchip-making processes.
Hershman continued his drumbeat last week when he sent a series of
memoranda on that subject to officials, even though Lucent has said it does
not oppose the fluoridation of city water.
"It's a city issue," said Lucent spokesman Jack Molets the morning
following council's vote. "If they decide to fluoridate, we'll deal with it.
It's just adding another process."
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TROPIANO, TOTH SPONSOR BILL TO STUDY CITY FLUORIDATION IT WOULD AUTHORIZE TWO-PHASE, THREE-MONTH REVIEW ENDING WITH EVALUATION OF PROGRAM'S COSTS AND BENEFITS.
by BOB WITTMAN, The Morning Call
Thursday, February 4, 1999
Now that Allentown City Council has
ordered the fluoridation of the
city's water supply, Councilwoman
Emma D. Tropiano wants to know what
it will cost and who will benefit.
On Wednesday, council introduced an
ordinance sponsored by Tropiano and
Councilman Ernest E. Toth to
authorize a two-phase, three-month
study ending with a written
evaluation of the costs and benefits
Longtime opponents of fluoridation,
Tropiano and Toth provided the only
dissenting votes when council voted
5-2 on Jan. 20 to add the
cavity-fighting chemical to
Tropiano's proposed ordinance
establishing a 10-member
investigative panel and a
three-member evaluation committee was
referred by Council President David
K. Bausch to council's Public Works
Committee. Tropiano is chairwoman of
Once the committee has reviewed the
merits of the bill, the measure will
come back to council for debate and a
The bill was referred to the
committee without discussion, which
is customary for newly introduced
But during the courtesy-of-the-floor
portion of the agenda at the start of
the meeting, council heard a plea for
a similar study from City Controller
Louis J. Hershman Sr.
Hershman collected the signatures of
35 registered city voters to get a
place on the meeting agenda as
allowed by Allentown's charter. But
Bausch short-circuited any plan
Hershman might have had to re-debate
the issue, which many thought was
settled two weeks earlier, when he
informed the Democratic council
candidate that Tropiano's bill
addressed his concerns.
Although Bausch was quick to dispense
with the kind of protracted debate
that stretched council's Jan. 20
consideration of fluoridation into a
three-hour exercise, Councilman Todd
A. Stephens managed to take a swipe
Reacting to Tropiano's comment of a
week ago that council had failed to
do its homework on the fluoridation
issue, Stephens stood behind the dais
and hoisted aloft a large cardboard
box filled with documents and
"This is my homework," announced
Stephens. "I may not have come up
with conclusions you like, but I did
my homework. If you accuse me of not
doing my homework, you're way out of
Bausch asked Stephens to take his
seat and cut off all other debate.
Fluoridation proponent Jack Karabasz
tried to step up to the podium to
rebut Hershman, but Bausch said
council's rules do not permit public
courtesy-of-the-floor on issues that
will come up later during the
But council does not permit public
comment on newly introduced
legislation either, so Karabasz did
not get a chance to speak.
But after the meeting, Karabasz
called Tropiano's proposal to study
the issue "a waste of time."
Noting that the people of Allentown
have been studying fluoridation for
50 years, Karabasz called Tropiano's
proposal "a stalling tactic."
"There's no point in paying for a
study for people who don't want to
listen," said Karabasz.
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DON'T WASTE TIME, FUNDS ON TRIO'S STUDY
The Morning Call
Monday, February 8, 1999
Allentown might have to put on hold the plan to add fluoride to its
drinking water that City Council approved Jan. 20. The delay -- which could
add to the project's cost and could put at risk two grants that will help pay
for it -- arises because two members of council, Emma D. Tropiano and Ernest
E. Toth Jr., want it.
Mrs. Tropiano and Mr. Toth were on the short end of the 5-2 vote taken that
They now are the sponsors of a bill that would require a three-month
cost-benefit study. It was introduced and sent to Mrs. Tropiano's Public Works
Committee on Feb. 3. Their bill says the study would be performed by a
10-member investigative group. Its findings then would go to a three-member
evaluation committee. Both the Public Works Committee and council itself would
have to approve first. The bill says the investigation is to be carried out by
two members of City Council, four citizens, two physicians and two dentists.
The evaluators are to have knowledge of research methods and the dental and
medical sciences. The bill does not spell out methodology or a field of
investigation. It does not mention costs or the source of funds needed to
The cost, by the way, is more than trivia. Rules for conducting a City
Council investigation are stipulated in the Home Rule Charter, and they say
that Council is to pay for the investigation.
All of these procedural problems aside, it's appropriate to question
tactics. First, since fluoridation has been under consideration off and on in
Allentown for 46 years, it is hard to argue that more study is needed.
Similarly, this investigation apparently is to be conducted with no budget and
over a short time period. Do its advocates believe it will uncover sound
information that disproves the conclusions of the body of peer-reviewed,
published research: that fluoridation is efficient and safe? And finally, if
it is information that Mrs. Tropiano wants, why has she refused to meet with
the group of doctors, dentists and civic leaders who persuaded the majority of
City Council to vote for fluoridation? The only reason would be that with or
without the health professionals' data, her mind already had been made up.
That would leave obstruction as the real reason for her bill.
We also must puzzle over what Louis J. Hershman Sr., the city controller
who is a candidate for City Council this year, is up to. Mr. Hershman brought
a petition to council asking for the same study that the two council members
did. But he is making much of whether fluoridation will harm Lucent
Technologies, a major employer, even after Lucent has said it will not. If Mr.
Hershman wishes to second-guess matters of chemical engineering with Lucent,
let him do it on his own time -- or at least leave the rest of us out of it.
The Tropiano-Toth-Hershman study will happen only if a majority of City
Council supports it. Council voted wisely on Jan. 20 to protect the dental
health of Allentonians. And without delay or further study, City Council can
exercise the usual due diligence in making sure the fluoridation project is
carried out efficiently. Don't waste any more time on this.
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ALLENTOWN COUNCIL AXES PLAN TO STUDY FLUORIDATION EFFECTS
* FOES VOW TO PUSH FOR VOTER REFERENDUM, PREDICTING THEY WILL GATHER 4,000
by JOE McDERMOTT, The Morning Call
Thursday, February 18, 1999
In a meeting dominated by discussion of council rules and privileges, four
Allentown City Council members used parliamentary procedure Wednesday night to
kill a proposed study of fluoridation.
But opponents vowed to continue the fight by pushing for a voter
The study, proposed by council members Emma Tropiano and Ernest Toth, was
brought out of committee and defeated by Councilmen Todd Stephens, David M.
Howells Sr., Frank J. Concannon and Robert E. Smith Jr.
"To me, this is repetitive legislation. It is paralysis by analysis and we
have to move on to other legislation," said Stephens, arguing that Tropiano's
questions about costs were answered Tuesday when the Dorothy Rider Pool Health
Care Trust agreed to pay up to $500,000 for start-up costs connected to
fluoridating city water.
Start-up costs for design and installation of the equipment are estimated
at $340,000, but the trust has agreed to pay for any consulting or technical
advice the city needs.
Council approved fluoridation Jan. 20 by a 5-2 vote, but Tropiano and other
opponents say more study is needed. Stephens and fluoride supporters said the
issue has been studied in Allentown since 1961.
"The Jan. 20 meeting was one-sided," said Tropiano, chairwoman of council's
Public Works Committee. The bill was on the committee's March 12 agenda, and
Tropiano said she will proceed.
Her bill would have created a 10-member study commission composed of two
council members, four residents, two physicians and two dentists. Tropiano
said she plans to fly in a toxicologist and chemist to explain the effects of
"This is not going to stop me. I am going to hold a meeting. I am an
elected official, and I will have a meeting whether it is in my basement or
here in City Hall."
Tropiano said opponents would seek the 2,000 signatures needed to put the
issue on the ballot this spring, and predicted they would collect 4,000 names.
Howells disputed her opinion on the Jan. 20 meeting, saying that while the
majority of speakers favored fluoridation, people on both sides of the issue
had plenty of advance notice to prepare their arguments.
In other business, council asserted its veto power over name changes for
city parks. The issue arose last month when rumors circulated that the city
would change the name of Earl F. Hunsicker Bicentennial Park to accommodate a
corporate sponsor for the Allentown Ambassadors baseball team.
Mayor William L. Heydt did not oppose the unanimous vote and said he
believed council always had input on any name changes.
Heydt and the administration opposed Tropiano's resolution giving elected
officials the right to use city cars for official travel. Heydt has
traditionally rejected council requests to use city cars. The bill passed 5-2.
It gives the mayor discretion but requires him to provide a reason if a
request is denied.
Tropiano was the lone dissenter on a resolution dubbed the "Be Nice" bill
by other council members. Sponsored by Toth, it gives the council president
more authority to cut off personal insults or abusive language by council
members, city employees or the public during debates.
Several council members expressed problems with the bill, and most agreed
the president's role will be critical in maintaining order.
Tropiano, Toth, Bausch and Smith prevailed to reject a measure that would
have made it more difficult to bring back failed legislation. The bill would
have required support from four council members instead of three to return
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Last modified: 6 August 2001