‘Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland’ & The Portland Fluoride Saga

Last August, a hush-hush coalition of more than 50 high-profile organizations called Upstream Public Health were quietly lobbying Portland’s City Council to fluoridate its public water supply, in secret and off the City Council’s public calendars, violating the city’s lobbying and reporting requirements. [1]

When it came time to pitch the idea to the public, Upstream Public Health presented a manufactured “dental health crisis” in Portland by comparing the statewide numbers for Oregon of untreated disease with other states, instead of using Portland metro’s readily available dental health numbers where Portland kids actually rank as having the 15th lowest cavity rate in the US, even when compared to city’s that are heavily fluoridated. [2]

On September 12, 2012, lame duck Mayor Sam Adams, out-going city Commissioner Randy Leonard and the three other members of Portland’s City Council unanimously voted to fluoridate the City’s Bull Run watershed (some of the cleanest public water in the country), constructing a $5 million dollar treatment plant and spending $500,000 annually to purchase the fluoride chemicals, all without receiving any input from the public, without any independent scientific review, and with the city facing a $25 million budget shortfall. [3]

The decision to fluoridate was conveniently timed to give anti-fluoride activists less than one month to gather the necessary 20,000 valid signatures in order to force a referendum and put the issue up for a public vote by 2014. Of course, the fluoride treatment was plant had already been scheduled to come online and have the chemicals flowing by March, 2014. [4]

When anti-fluoride activists managed to gather 43,236 signatures, more than double the amount needed to refer the issue to the voters, and submitted them one day ahead of their deadline, the City Council voted 3-1 to fast track the referendum and move the date up by one year, from May 2014 to the May 2013 ballot. The resolution to move the date, at a cost to the city of $36,000, was submitted by the unabashedly pro-fluoride Randy Leonard in his last official act as City Commissioner. [5]

Fast forward to January 10, 2013, where a new political group calling themselves “Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland” filed paperwork with the state to support Measure 26-151, which will put the issue of water fluoridation to the voters. Managing the pro-fluoride campaign is Evyn Mitchell, who who until the previous November served as the campaign manager for Charlie Hales in his successful bid for Portland’s mayor. [6]

Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland (HKHP), the “grassroots” organization (as their child-adorned website likes to boast) received its first contribution, $1,000, from the campaign of state Rep. Jules Bailey, D-Portland, the same day it formed. He was just the first in a line of political figureheads and special interest donors. One particularly generous donation of $30,000 was given by the Dentists of Oregon Political Action Committee (DOPAC) [7]. Who is DOPAC? They are the political arm of the Oregon Dental Association, who is in turn one of five dental societies that comprise the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Eleventh Trustee District [8]. The ADA’s PAC is quietly emerging as one of the most powerful trade lobbies in the country, giving nearly $13 million to state and local politicians in the 2010 races [9]. The ADA has effectively lobbied to keep dentists out of the Medicare system since 1965, allowing dentist’s to charge exorbitant prices. Now the ADA is lobbying for a repeal of parts of President Barack Obama’s health-care law for the sole purpose of preventing independent dental health-care practitioners from operating outside the ADA’s monopoly privilege, offering basic dental treatment at reduced costs.

So the local surrogate of the ADA are major contributor’s to HKHP’s campaign, but what about some of the other donors? A closer examination of HKHP donations that show up in the State Legislator’s campaign account [10], reveal something interesting. For every single contribution given to HKHP by a legislator, an equivalent or greater amount had been given to said politician by none other than the DOPAC. It would seem this is being done to create the appearance of favor from state legislators when DOPAC is simply “passing through” funds via intermediaries, a practice which is still legal in Oregon. (A full breakdown of the lobbying influence DOPAC has in Oregon, as well as their contribution to HKHP’s campaign can be seen, courtesy of former candidate for Oregon Secretary of State Seth Woolley, here): http://swoolley.org/files/dentists-hkhp-passthrough.html

As of this writing, the only two exceptions who have not taken an advance payment from DOPAC are Mitch Greenlick, who did receive $2500 from the DOPAC, but before the previous election cycle, in 2009. The other is Ben Unger, whose Consulting corporation, Tallfir LLC, received $15,000 in consulting fees by HKHP.

Another curiosity about HKHP’s campaign finance reports is that instead of actually reporting their transactions in a timely matter, they are systematically reporting them as late as possible by using a reporting service that holds transactions, reporting them exactly at the due date time. Here’s an example:

You can see:
Transaction Date : 01/18/2013
Due Date : 02/19/2013 11:59:00 PM
Filed Date : 02/19/2013 11:59:00 PM

HKHP is filing transactions at literally the last minute before their deadline for the least amount of fiscal transparency. The only transactions that were filed well before the deadline were the politician campaign PACs that donated. This establishes that they’re knowingly hiding certain transactions for as long as possible.

With only a few precious weeks away before the crucial vote, HKHP is gearing up for a sophisticated media campaign, and has been getting favorable press from publications like the Willamette Week, who also happen to be running their ads. One of HKHP’s main arguments for pushing fluoride, which seems to be a favorite ploy among the pro-fluoride activists, is to again compare the statewide numbers for Oregon of untreated dental disease to Washington state. Yet we are still not talking about Oregon, we are talking about Portland, where the percentage of children with untreated dental disease is 21%, compared with the 44% outside of Portland and 35% statewide. Portland Metro’s cavity rate is actually so much lower than the rest of the state that it brings the statewide average down to 66%. Even in the 2007 Oregon Smile Survey where the pro-fluoride activist site the statistic that 35% of Oregon children have untreated tooth decay, the survey goes on to say: “Children in the Portland metropolitan area have less untreated tooth decay, are less likely to have ever had a cavity and are less likely to need urgent dental treatment” [12]. In fact, untreated dental disease tends to be the most pronounced in areas of low-income that lack access to dental care and insurance, and not in regions that do not fluoridate [13].

The main source of “fluoride” being used to treat municipal water supply’s is not the pharmaceutical grade fluoride found in your toothpaste, but fluorosilicic acid, an industrial waste byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry. HKHP hopes to frighten Portland residents into accepting these fluoridation chemicals to be pumped into their drinking water, despite the fact that these chemicals are allowed to contain numerous impurities including arsenic and lead [14], despite the fact that there is no way to control the dosage, despite the cost to the City, facing a $25 million budget deficit, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of nations have chosen not to fluoridate, with 97% of Western Europe being fluoride-free, despite the fact that sodium fluoride is largely ineffective against fighting tooth decay when not applied topically, and despite the fact that these fluoridation chemicals have been demonstrably linked to adverse health effects. [15].

If Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland was truly sincere about the health and well-being of children’s teeth then why have they run their campaign in such an intentionally opaque, misleading, and downright deceitful manner? Instead of supporting education on good dental hygiene and the reduced intake of sugars, they would have the City of Portland squander its resources to dump unregulated chemicals into its public water in a practice that is proven to be in-effective at best, and damaging to one’s health and the environment at worst. This is why, if you are living in the Portland area, I am urging that you vote NO on Measure 26-151 this May.

Portland is the largest city in the United States that does not add fluoridation chemicals to its water. The City has voted down attempts to fluoridate three times since 1956. Let’s make four, and keep Portland as an example to the rest of the country that water fluoridation is an outdated practice, and like the majority of nations of Earth, we do not need it!


Two comments from former candidate for Oregon Secretary of State Seth Woolley:

Slight correction, the Ben Unger 15,000 was actually 10,000, but they way they report it is confusing. Having a 5,000 transaction against the 10,000 payable the same day looked like it was in addition to the 10,000 not against it, but on further examination in ORESTAR (on the 5,000 transaction) you can see the transaction was associated to the payable as counting against it. Hope that helps.

Not described in the video is DOPAC’s $50,000 initial contribution to UPH (in addition to the $30,000 sent to HKHP), nor the HTFAL PAC contributions to both DOPAC ($8400) and HKHP ($5000) that don’t have any recorded original donor due to the original contribution donations being so old and thus outside of current public records, although when I looked in archived summary reports, I didn’t find any records either, which is a bit confusing.

Also not described is the use of the same high cost social media astroturfing organization also used by Hales’ campaign manager that is leading the campaign, Evyn Mitchell (as described by the video). Karmic Marketing is their name. At one point all of their funding was 100% from PACs, originating from the same PAC. Now they got a couple more PACs, but almost no individual donations, but they are still around 97 to 99.5% PAC donations, depending on how the miscellaneous contributions break down.”


1. OregonLive – New coalition lobbies to fluoridate Portland’s drinking water


OregonLive – ‘Portland City Council calendars don’t show meetings reported by fluoride lobbyists: Portland City Hall roundup’

2. Portland v. Oregon oral health
Upstream Public Health’s manufactured “dental health crisis”

3. Portland Water Bureau
The Portland Water Bureau’s current estimate to design and construct a fluoride delivery facility is $5 million. The cost to operate and maintain the facility is estimated $500,000 per year

4. Portland Water Bureau
To date, (the Water Bureau has spent) approximately $152,657. Following the City Council’s decision on September 12, 2012 to begin fluoridation by March 2014, the bureau contracted for outside professional technical engineering (PTE) services – external experts to plan and design a fluoride facility. The total PTE cost was $102,657.”

5. Portland Tribune – ‘Council may speed up fluoride vote’
Moving the fluoridation measure to the May 21, 2013, ballot will cost the city $36,000. The resolution submitted by Leonard argues the earlier vote is justified.”

6. OregonLive – ‘Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland’ political group forms to support fluoride: Portland City Hall roundup’

7. Oregon Secretary Of State

8. Oregon Dental Association

9. The Wall Street Journal – The Health PAC to Watch? Dentists

10. Oregon Secretary Of State – Campaign Finance Reports for Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland


11. Oregon Secretary Of State

12. Oregon smile survey 2007

13. FluorideAlert.org – Water Fluoridation, Tooth Decay, & Poverty

14. BrooWaha – Limit Fluoride to Prevent Lead Poisoning, Study Says

NSF Fact Sheet

NSF on arsenic and lead in the water

15. FluorideAlert.org – 10 Facts About Fluoride

Other video resources:
Corbett Report: Fluoride Fight: The forced drugging of society