Fluoride Action Network

Washington State Appeals Court to decide on two citizen initiatives for clean water

Source: Press Release from "Our Waters--Our Choice" and "Protect Our Waters" | Email: estberg@msn.com
Posted on November 15th, 2007
  • A A A
  • WA State Supreme Court has assigned to Appeals Court Division II the question of right to vote on two citizen initiatives that were filed with the City of Port Angeles in 2006 and were qualified for the ballot. The right to vote on the initiatives was denied by Superior Court.

    The initiatives were the Medical Independence Act, filed by the Political Action Committee (PAC) "Our Waters–Our Choice," (OWOC) and the Water Additives Safety Act, filed by the PAC "Protect Our Waters" (POW).

    The Medical Independence Act would stop fluoridation because it safeguards citizen right to be free of medication without consent.

    The Water Additives Safety Act would require that strict pharmaceutical standards be met for water additives intended to treat the mind or body of people, not the water, and therefore would severely curtail fluoridation.

    The initiatives were filed with the City of Port Angeles on Sept. 8, 2006. Instead of complying with the statutory requirements for processing initiative petitions, the City and Washington Dental Service Foundation LLC filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment requesting a declaration that the initiatives are beyond the scope of the initiative power.

    On Jan.19, 2007 Superior Court Judge M. Karlynn Haberly ruled that the proposed initiatives are invalid so there is no need to put them on the ballot.

    She ruled that they relate to operation and supply of water through a municipal water system which citizens have no right to control and are administrative, not legislative, in nature.

    Attorney Gerald Steel appealed Haberly’s decision to the Washington State Supreme Court on Feb. 12, 2007. He pointed out thirteen errors in her decision.

    Steel noted that it is becoming common for local legislative bodies to seek to protect their turf at the taxpayers’ expense by forcing citizens proposing initiatives to go to court to defend these initiatives in pre-election review.

    This makes the initiative process time consuming and expensive, an effective barrier to its democratic use.

    It is counter to the declaration in the State Constitution that the first right reserved to the people is the right of initiative.

    Mr. Steel points out that the two initiatives meet the legal standards for pre-election review to place them on the ballot and requests the Court to cause the City to make them available to the voters so they may exercise their corporate right to set stricter controls on water purity for all of the public water systems that serve people in the City now or in the future.

    As it states in the fourth Whereas clause in the Water Additives Safety Act: "The citizens of Port Angeles, taking great pride in the pristine water of this area, desire to enact the following ordinance to ensure the healthfulness and aesthetic qualities of its water for all of its citizens."

    POW and OWOC request that this Court recognize the citizens’ right to vote on these initiatives.

    Both sides have filed all their briefs and the matter is ready for Court hearing. WA State Supreme Court chose to assign judicial review on this matter to Court of Appeals. No date has been set for the hearing.