Albuquerque Journal - - OP-ED -

Pub­lic fi­nanc­ing lev­els play­ing field

THE JOUR­NAL pro­posed to get rid of pub­lic fi­nanc­ing in its Aug. 7 ed­i­to­rial. The League of Women Vot­ers of New Mex­ico be­lieves this is the wrong ap­proach. Every­one is frus­trated by the spend­ing of big in­de­pen­dent PACs, but do­ing away with pub­lic fi­nanc­ing won’t solve this prob­lem. In­stead, it would af­firm a sys­tem in which can­di­dates spend most of their time rais­ing money from a small group of well-heeled donors, often from out of state.

Pub­lic fi­nanc­ing, on the other hand, re­wards grass­roots or­ga­niz­ing and re­quires the en­gage­ment of thou­sands of vot­ers who must con­trib­ute $5 to the may­oral can­di­date they sup­port. Most often, this is done through a door-to-door cam­paign, where per­sonal con­tact re­places slick so­lic­i­ta­tions and glitzy fundrais­ers.

The league sup­ports a fair, eq­ui­table and rea­son­able com­bi­na­tion of pub­lic and pri­vate fund­ing of cam­paigns for New Mex­ico state elec­tive of­fices. Par­tic­i­pa­tion in pub­lic fi­nanc­ing should be vol­un­tary.

This ap­proach is a lot of work for can­di­dates, but for those who have a pas­sion for pol­i­tics and no easy ac­cess to wealth, it at least makes it pos­si­ble to walk onto the play­ing field. With­out it, there are many who would never con­sider run­ning for of­fice.

For cit­i­zens who give $5, it might be the only time they’ve ever been in­volved in a cam­paign, short of vot­ing on Elec­tion Day. And, in these days of de­clin­ing voter par­tic­i­pa­tion, why wouldn’t we want to en­cour­age this kind of in­volve­ment, rather than max­i­miz­ing the ten­dency of can­di­dates to cater to the rich donors?

The league be­lieves in max­i­mum voter par­tic­i­pa­tion in the elec­toral process, and this is one way to en­cour­age that par­tic­i­pa­tion. Democ­racy has al­ways been based on ex­pand­ing, rather than shrink­ing, the num­ber of ac­tive, in­formed par­tic­i­pants. JU­DITH K. WIL­LIAMS League of Women Vot­ers-N.M.

Base flu­o­ri­da­tion de­ci­sion on facts

OP­PO­NENTS OF flu­o­ri­da­tion at the re­cent wa­ter util­ity board meet­ing men­tioned di­a­betes, bone dis­ease and can­cer as matters of their con­cern (“Flu­o­ride de­ci­sion de­layed un­til Sept.” Aug. 24). The Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety states: “There is no strong ev­i­dence of a link be­tween wa­ter flu­o­ri­da­tion and can­cer.” A re­search ar­ti­cle as­serts an as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween flu­o­ride and di­a­betes when the level of added flu­o­ride is 1 mg/liter or higher. The U.S. Pub­lic Health Ser­vice now rec­om­mends ad­just­ing flu­o­ride to no more than 0.7 mg/liter, not 1 mg as pre­vi­ously ad­vised. The bone dis­ease of skele­tal flu­o­ro­sis is as­so­ci­ated with lev­els of flu­o­ride in ex­cess of lev­els con­sid­ered safe — above 0.7 mg/liter.

In other words, there is presently no sci­en­tific ba­sis for an as­so­ci­a­tion of flu­o­ride with di­a­betes, bone dis­ease or can­cer when the flu­o­ride level in the wa­ter is ad­justed to 0.7 mg/liter. At that level, tooth de­cay is re­duced by 25 per­cent in chil­dren, as well as adults, as this ar­ti­cle cor­rectly stated.

Board mem­ber and City Coun­cilor Trudy Jones stated that “adding more chem­i­cals to our wa­ter … (is) med­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing and that’s some­thing we don’t have the right to do.” Another op­po­nent of flu­o­ri­da­tion said, ”I’m ask­ing you not to med­i­cate my wa­ter.” Would these in­di­vid­u­als want the board to take the chlo­rine out of our city wa­ter, and put the pop­u­la­tion at risk of cholera and ty­phus? Adding flu­o­ride to the city wa­ter is not med­i­ca­tion any more than is adding chlo­rine to the wa­ter. Both of these chem­i­cals help pre­vent dis­ease.

I hope the wa­ter util­ity board will base its de­ci­sion re­gard­ing this mat­ter on sound science and not merely the “pas­sion­ate opin­ions ex­pressed” at these board meet­ings. STEPHEN M. FELD­MAN DDS As­so­ciate pro­fes­sor, Univer­sity of Louisville School of Den­tistry, and re­tired di­rec­tor, den­tal pro­gram, Louisville Health Depart­ment Al­bu­querque


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