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Neill Varner  09/22/04

To the Editor: Saginaw News

Differences are healthy

Just a few words, I think, are in order, given the media interest in the dioxin controversy. To identify it as a "controversy" is one of the greatest understatements of our time and that fact is reflected even within our own state and local health departments.

To be sure, well-meaning individuals can and do disagree on interpretation of known facts, theories and evidence. With so much contradictory opinion on the dioxin topic, it is not unreasonable to expect some differences among local subject experts.

That is precisely how I choose to characterize what has appeared in the media recently as a contradiction of opinion reported to exist between the Michigan Department of Community Health and the local Department of Environmental spokesperson, Kevin Datte.

Datte is a dedicated health department employee with many years of proven service to the community. His opinions regarding this subject are valuable even though they may not be endorsed by other equally qualified persons within the health department, including myself.

The wholesome fact that well-intentioned individuals can work harmoniously together, while differing in opinion, is a testimony the open-spirited leadership style of the acting health officer, Natasha Coulouris, and bodes well for a "healthy" future for Saginaw County residents of every persuasion.

Dr. Neill D. Varner

medical director,

Saginaw County Department of Public Health


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