My response to the Sandy City Fluoride Overfeed Final Report
As a resident of District 4 (the only district to be affected by the fluoride overfeed) I feel the importance of addressing this issue directly. I have completed a full read-through of the Sandy City Fluoride Overfeed Final Report which revealed MANY deficiencies with the city’s response.
My biggest take-away, however, was that no one, from the Mayor to the Deputy Mayor, and the Chief Administrative Officer to the Public Utilities Director, acted with any sense of urgency in responding to the matter in the initial days of the event. It is clear to me that this lack of urgency put the response plan at a major disadvantage and the city was ineffective in managing the situation because they were constantly running behind the ball.
While this report was helpful in pointing out some of the more obvious failures with the city’s Emergency Response Plan, such as the need to specify who will be responsible for communicating with whom to reduce miscommunication and misunderstandings, the city failed to follow the plan as it was written. Therefore, a better written plan wouldn’t necessarily have helped in this particular situation. The report concludes by making a judgment that “this investigation did not reveal that Ward, Mayor Bradburn, or the City Administration hid information from the public.” However, a “do not ingest” warning was removed from the public notice, as well as language related to damage to home plumbing due to corrosion, and the Deputy Mayor made a decision to not increase public awareness with a media announcement even though the Director of Public Utilities believed it needed to be done. All of this suggests the city made attempts to minimize or downplay the severity of the hyper-fluoridation event, so to me the facts are in conflict with the report’s conclusion.
It would be irresponsible to overlook anything for the sake of not wanting to rock the boat or ruffle feathers, so to speak. I don’t view this as an exercise of assigning blame, but rather assigning responsibility. Without responsibility and accountability, there is no reason for changes to be made. I’m afraid to think about what might happen if Sandy were to experience a similar incident in the future, let alone a larger disaster such as an earthquake, unless we call for accountability from those charged with protecting us and demand that they value residents’ interests above their own.
I believe in the fundamental separation of powers between the council and the administration, and I also believe the council should exercise their duty of oversight regardless of who sits in the Mayor’s office. I agree with some of the criticism of previous councils regarding a lack of oversight of the previous administration, and I would like for those mistakes to not be repeated with this administration, or future administrations for that matter. At some point, all elected officials need to understand that doing the job they were elected to do is not for personal gain; rather, it is in the best interest of the public that they serve. I also believe it is essential for the viability of this city that we work together as city leaders to solve these issues, and it begins with creating and environment where mutual respect can exist. I intend to be a part of the solution.