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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Scenes from the the No on Fluoride Party. Which Is Winning

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Tue, May 21, 2013 at 8:06 PM

9:42 PM: A very excited fellow in a baseball hat is saying "this is what it sounds like when an avalanche rains down on city hall." He's a self described "anti-fluoride nerd." And a "socialist." And he can't believe he's been working side by side with conservatives.

"This is how Portland comes together."

He's leading a chant about water. He's also reminding people to tip their servers and bartenders even though they're paying with drink tokens.

No one's pushed any drink tokens into my hands. So maybe that's not a victory after all. It's all over but for the shouting. And the second-hand pot smoking.

9:36 PM: An impossible applause just went up at the news that Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland conceded, announced by KC Hanson.

"I love you guys," she says.

People have talking about text messages of congratulations and love coming from relatives all around the country. That affection went on display on stage right after Kristen Robison, campaign manager, got on stage.

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"Portland has spoken and sent a message," said Robison, basking after a victory over some of the most high-powered Democratic campaign consultants in the state. "Thank you, every last one of you."

Kim Kaminski, director of Clean Water Portland, then got up to offer thanks and to bask in the crowd's adoration.

"I'm so grateful to everyone who came forward," she said, "and did this and helped to protect our water."

Clifford Walker of the NAACP and former city commissioner Mike Lindberg also took their bows. Lindberg, who wrote an Oregonian op-ed about his health problems and doctor's urging not to drink fluoridation, called our water "sacred."

"No victory has been as sweet as this one," he said. "We also feel a good public process should be just."

Rick North, another fluoride fighter, actually compared this to the United States beating the Russians in hockey in 1980. Soviet Russia. He called tonight "the biggest upset" since then, never mind Portland's predilection for voting against fluoride. Hell, Oregon couldn't even fluoridate water, losing the battle in the Legislature 40 years ago.

AND BONUS! I've only been mocked once by someone over the paper's fluoride endorsement. So that's also a victory.

9:07 PM: Fluoridation did a little bit worse with the next round of updates, trailing 61 percent to 39 percent.

"61 percent," KC Hanson shouted. "You do the math." The PA system still isn't working so well.

The crowd here has swollen up a bit. And we've just been treated to our first musical interlude. Rick North, a longtime fluoride fighter, earlier told TV cameras that he thought the message that real people would be harmed by fluoride, the stuff of testimonials shown by opponents, was what put things over the top.

It's been festive. What I thought was a skunk out on NW 14th might not actually be. But there's still some anger. When the TV cameras showed the other party, people booed. And when the results at 9 were shouted out, one guy replied with: "Get the fuckers out of office."

Original post: "What do you think? Is it going to be a close vote?"

This is the question I get from Mike Bluehair, devoted fluoridation foe and Occupy Portland mainstay, at the Clean Water Portland party over at On Deck Sports Bar. He's being rather gracious, remembering that the Mercury has endorsed in favor of fluoridation.

I confess that, no, I don't think it will be close. He laughs. "We'll kill them, right?" I nod. We're waiting for the first wave of results to spill in from Multnomah County, in a crowd of maybe 75 or so supporters. He's telling me about the volunteers who've been coming out of the woodwork. And he says he'll be glad when he doesn't have to talk about it anymore.

"I'm gonna look forward to not having to argue," says Mike. "It's been stressful."

The PA system isn't so good here. They've abandoned it.

It doesn't matter. Fluoride is ahead 60 percent to 40 percent in early returns. And the crowd erupts with hoot and claps.

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"We are proud. We are Portland. We care about our community," says one woman, shouting over the din. "We are here tonight to celebrate with one another."

She went on to mention the rapprochement that's due next after months of heated infighting and odd political bedfellows. She wants people to be magnanimous. It's easier to say this because they're winning.

"There are good people who believe perfectly the opposite of what we did," she says. "As a community, as Portland, we need to come together. I know you guys will."

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