By Benjamin Gohs, Editor
With just four days to go before the Saturday Oct. 11 debate with Dr. Paul Connett of the Fluoride Action Network, an opponent has stepped forward to argue the case for water fluoridation.
Boyne City resident David Fierstien—a former wastewater operations foreman for the U.S. Department of Defense in Afghanistan, and the current East Jordan City Water Operations Manager—will meet Connett for the public debate from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Boyne District Library, located at 201 East Main St. in Boyne City.
“A challenge for debate has been issued by a group calling itself ‘Citizens Against Forced Medication.’ I would like to accept that challenge,” stated Fierstien in an Oct. 8 e-mail to the Boyne City Gazette. “The proposed format is acceptable to me. I will be speaking on my own behalf. Any statements I make do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person, group, or entity.”
Fierstien said he is volunteering, and receiving no money for his participation in the event.
“I look forward to meeting Dr. Connett,” Fierstien stated.
Fierstien decided to meet Connett after Boyne City’s pro-fluoride group Citizens United for Dental Health declined.
The apparent reluctance of local health officials to debate Connett had been ascribed to the desire not to legitimize Connett’s anti-fluoridation position.
However, Susan Deming, the Education/Fluoridation Coordinator with the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Oral Health Program, weighed in on the matter in an e-mailed response to Fierstien’s acceptance of the debate challenge.
“We have been advised not to debate Paul Connect, as he sounds very credible and is quick with his references,” she stated on the morning of Oct. 8. “I can appreciate what you are doing and thank you for your support.”
She added, “You just need to keep coming back to the national expert recommendations and the amount used for water fluoridation.”
Connett, who had been copied on the e-mails, also opined on the matter.
“He (Fierstien) seems a very honorable man with the courage of his convictions,” Connett stated. “May I please ask you who it was who advised you ‘not to debate Paul Connett’?”
Demming did not respond to Connett’s question by press time but did send the Boyne City Gazette a request to “recall” her e-mail, meaning that she wished her comments not be shared with the public.
“Ms. Deming has been advised not to participate with you because to do so would be to give credit to someone who 99.936 percent of health care and other professionals in this country don’t take seriously,” Fierstien stated in response. “She was standing with her convictions.”
This debate is just weeks before the Tuesday Nov. 4 general election wherein Boyne City voters will have the opportunity to either reinstate Boyne’s municipal water fluoridation or continue without it, as was decided earlier this year by a 3-2 vote of the Boyne City Commission.
For more background on the story, pick up this week’s edition of the Boyne City Gazette dated Wednesday Oct. 8.
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