Final Fluoridation Summary Sept. 24, 2016
A SUMMARY OF MUNICIPAL WATER FLUORIDATION IN PORT ANGELES, WASHINGTON.
Sept. 24, 2016 Eloise Kailin M.D.
Starting in winter of 2002 Clallam County Health Officer, Dr. Thomas Locke, opened up a pro-fluoride campaign by first enlisting local pediatricians and hospital staff to his cause. Support from the Port Angeles' city's utility committee was easily gained: there is little public oversight or participation in their meetings. This committee then recommended fluoridation of drinking water to the City Council.
A public hearing on Feb. 18, 2003. was a marathon lasting from 6 PM to past 11 PM. A solid block of pro-fluoride speakers, stage managed by a hospital Commissioner, complete with power point presented an uninterrupted show for almost two hours. They told us again and again that fluoridation is perfectly safe, of unquestioned benefit and “Trust us! We are the experts.” Poor children will suffer if this is not adopted. Our hospital emergency room is overloaded with dental emergencies. Multiple endorsements were paraded but no documentary citations were offered to support extravagant claims of efficacy and safety. Opponents were accused of offering pseudoscience. Finally we, the unorganized and dazed opponents, lined up and were heard, We formed opposition coalitions on the spot, crystallizing around alternative medicine practitioners and chiropractors. We had one dentist, one physician, a naturopath and a couple of acupuncturists opposing over 60 traditional doctors and dentists.
A non profit organization, the Washington Dental Services Foundation (WDSF) had offered a “gift” to pay for construction of the facility. Actually this “gift” was secured by a contract requiring a ten year continuous period of fluoridation,. All risk of use of the product is to be borne by the City and NO burden of risk to be carried by the Foundation. If fluoridation is stopped short of ten years the city would re-pay the foundation $420,000.00.
Councilman Williams asked that a vote on fluoridation be deferred a week so he could study materials submitted by the public. His motion died for lack of a second. The vote to adopt fluoridation, conditionally accepting the Dental Foundation's offer passed six to one.
Protect the Peninsula's Future called for environmental review— requesting a full Environmental Impact Statement ( EIS). We were joined by another local group, Clallam County Citizens for Safe Drinking Water (CCCSDW). Our attorney was Gerald Steel. The City issued a Declaration of Non-Significance ( DNS) under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). City water is purchased by a Public Utility District (PUD) to serve customers living outside city limits. PUD submitted testimony bolstering our case. At one point the DNS was withdrawn (thanks to PUD) but it was re-issued. We appealed but lost in both Superior and Appeals courts. The Appeals court found fluoridation categorically exempt from SEPA.
Approximately three years had passed. With the SEPA issue concluded, in 2006 the city proceeded to construction.
Citizens led by CCCSDW, and especially Paul Lamoureux, and Ronnie Flake, gathered over 4,000 petition signatures to gain local powers of initiative and referendum. With this many signatures no election would be required. Auditor McKeown validated the petition signatures and forwarded it to City Clerk Upton on Feb. 16,2006. The City took 5 months to write the necessary implementing ordinance. Two political action committees were immediately formed .
One committee. named Protect Our Waters sponsored The Water Additives Safety Act. Specific standards were specified for any substance intended to act on the mind or body of people and added to public drinking water; FDA approval is required. No component of the additive may cause water to exceed existing federal standards determined to protect the health of everyone, all ages, for a lifetime. Chemicals added to water to make water safe or potable were excluded.
The second committee was called Our Water Our Choice! This sponsored the Medical Independence Act which prohibited medication of people through public drinking water while allowing treatment of water to make it safe and potable. It proclaimed: “ People claim the right to control what medication is given to them and a right to their fair share of public water supply which is free of medication”.
About 2,500 signatures were quickly gathered for each initiative and returned to City Clerk in. early September. The City delayed sending them to the County Auditor for certification until we filed in Court to require submittal to the Auditor. It was October of 2006 before the auditor returned her certification for these initiatives so they could be placed on the ballot.
State law provided that the proposed initiative ordinances must then either be passed by City Council or submitted to voters. Instead, the City refused to do either. We spent the next several years in court, trying to bring our initiatives to the voters, Finally we reached the Washington State Supreme Court where our hopes were dashed by a 5 to 4 vote declaring that in Port Angeles, the initiatives were administrative, not legislative in nature, and thus not a matter subject to Port Angeles initiative review.
The initiative process could provide no relief. One final blow to the democratic application of the powers of initiative and referendum is that unlike state initiatives, language within local initiatives are subject to judicial review before the voters have acted. Only in statewide initiatives is a reviewing judge informed of the voted will of the people as he/she reviews the citizen request to be heard. Local initiatives are open to challenge of their provisions before voters act. One effect of pre-vote challenge is that the judge is more likely to uphold local government, “establishment” and disallow proposed change. The second effect is the delay and costs placed on citizens who must be prepared to not only obtain qalifying signatures but pay for legal defense.
Citizens were stopped but only temporarily. It was clear that the purpose of fluoridation was to treat or prevent dental disease, Both State and Federal agencies define a drug as “ any substance used to treat or prevent disease”. There is no question that water fluoridation is claimed to treat and prevent dental disease. FDA was enforcing claims that tart cherries were a drug when growers were marketing tart cherries to treat or prevent arthritic disease. Intent of use is what matters. So we challenged the use of fluoride based on drug statutes.
A stumbling block was a 1954 Washington State Supreme Court case (Kaul v. Chehalis) , where a five to four decision included a statement that the decision to fluoridate was within the police power of a City and that a challenge that the City was selling drugs was not well taken. The Appeals Court interpreted the statement about not selling drugs as a ruling by the State Supreme Court that must be followed by the Appeals Court that fluoridated waters are not drugs. Appeals Court considered it reasonable for us to to ask for review of the 5 to 4 decision half a century ago and refused to sanction us for filing a frivolous suit but the current Supreme Court refused to hear our case and awarded some attorney fees to the Respondents.
We were stuck with ten years of water fluoridation.
After nine years of fluoridation Dr. Eloise Kailin representing PPF started attending every City Council meeting, offering fluoridation informational materials in the three minute public comment period, submitting documentation for the new materials. She had a lot of good stuff, including statistics from the hospital emergency room showing increased visits for dental diagnoses, following start up of fluoridation . The purveyor of fluorosilicic acid submitted Material Safety Data Sheets showing lack of supposedly required toxicological tests. Stan Hazen, an administrator of the national certification program, in sworn deposition admitted absence of required toxic reports . Washington State Dept of Health admitted they were unable to do independent testing of the fluoride solution that was in use and were unwilling to do analyses of chemicals in the fluoridation mixture. Smile Surveys carried out county wide showed more cavities in areas receiving community fluoridated water than in areas without. Dental and food products now are so full of fluoride that overdose is showing up in over 40% of teen aged children nationwide. Infants should not use the water which contains over 200 times as much fluoride as does breast milk, “the perfect food for babies”. Some of the City Council and staff caught on.
The City Manager and City Council set up informational forums including pro and con views and designed an advisory vote on fluoridation. The ballot went to rate payers, one for each of 9,762 residences, and included 1,500 residences served city water through PUD. Recipients were asked whether fluoridation should be continued past the 10 year date when the contract with the dental foundation ended. The survey was taken in November, 2015. Results: Ballots returned: 4,204 of which 2,381 or 56.6% VOTED NO, while 71 had no opinion and 14 were invalid. Only 1,735 (41%) favored fluoridation.
The City Council on Dec.15, 2015, split 4 to 3, voting to continue fluoridation for another ten years. Four of them refused to be guided by results of the advisory vote and declared they were elected to do what they thought best. Oh Boy! It is outrage time. Even people convinced that fluoride was beneficial joined in protest. This is now an issue not only of the merits of fluoride, but of respect for a democratic voting process and control over ones own medication.
The city council chambers for several following council meetings are packed; the crowd is loud. The fluoride four are catching heat with numerous telephone and emails. Calls for ethics Board investigations were filed because at one city council meeting citizen speech was cut off with a pounding gavel and the meeting abruptly ended by a pro-fluoride deputy mayor clearly overwhelmed by the demeanor of the angry crowd. For the mid-January council meeting the City Manager prepared a memo with options to address the disaffection, noting that the city residents were so upset they were considering a change of government. And indeed we were doing just that, asking for a return to the earlier form of governance where more power is given to citizens and less to city administration.
In 1971 the City voted to change form of government from a second class city with city manager to a-non charter code city with city manager. A main difference is that the code city government has “all powers possible”, while citizens have fewer rights and less control over administrative decisions. Citizens can effect this change in much the same way as powers of initiative and referendum are exercised.. If the petition request is passed by voters the entire city council is up for election. This should assure election of council persons who will listen to constituents. Our Water Our Choice drew up the petition and gathered signatures. People, many very angry over disregard of their voice on fluoridation were eager to sign. Only 467 signatures were required. Over a thousand were gathered and submitted to the City Clerk, transmitted to the County Auditor and certified as sufficient on June 1, 2016. The Council, feeling a need for extra time to debate the issue, chose an election date to be the next scheduled municipal election on November of 2017. The next step is for City Attorney to issue a ballot title for Change of Government..
Meanwhile, unrest continues. Finally the Mayor, one of the “fluoride four”,and a staunch opponent of change of government, realized that city business was being hampered by the fluoride controversy and offered a compromise.
The Mayor offered to vote to stop fluoridation until a new vote could be taken on fluoridation in the general election of November, 2017. Participation would be limited to city residents. The fluoridation vote would be an advisory vote, but those accepting the Mayor's proposal measure must (and did) promise to be bound by it. The fluoridation vote of November, 2015 was exempted from Election Law reporting because advisory means only a poll and is not treated as an election which is binding in effect. With passage of the Mayor's proposal we are left with two elections (stop fluoridation and change form of government), both to occur with the general election of November 2017. The election of 2017 also puts four City Council seats up for election, and we believe angry citizens will be fully motivated to run on citizen rights and anti-fluoridation platforms, so it may not much matter in the end. Citizens will prevail. We are grateful we are presently free of fluoridation.
The proposition. to change form of city government, reverts to the form this town lived under for 25 years prior to 1972 which limits the powers delegated to city government to those named in state statutes. It provides that all committees must allow public comment. Our opponents are leaning on the title “second class City”, as a pejorative descriptor for the older form. Our response is yes, we prefer a second class city government which yields to first class citizen powers. The Change of Government issue really got attention and is a tool useful we think to other citizen activists. We wait to see the next move from the City. Will they ever issue a ballot title? Will they try to keep the measure off the ballot using a court challenge?