Fluoride Action Network

Port Angeles: Anti-fluoride groups want state Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling

Source: Peninsula Daily News | October 17th, 2010 | By Tom Callis

Two anti-fluoride groups are asking the state Supreme Court to review its September ruling that upheld the city of Port Angeles’ argument in a four-year-long dispute over water fluoridation.

The motion, filed last week, claims that the high court did not properly interpret the law when it concluded in a 5-4 vote Sept. 23 that water fluoridation is an administrative decision and can’t be challenged through voter initiatives, said Gerald Steel, attorney for Our Water-Our Choice! and Protect Our Waters.

The groups have sought to bring the issue of fluoridation in Port Angeles to the ballot box since the city began the practice in 2006 to help prevent tooth decay.

That same year, the City Council authorized initiative and referendum procedures.

The court, if it grants the review, would once again discuss whether the two initiatives proposed by the groups address an administrative decision by the city to fluoridate its water or create new policy, which can be made through the ballot box.

Steel said the proposed initiatives — the Medical Independence Act and the Water Additive Safety Act — create new policy because they would, if adopted, prevent the city from adding any medications to drinking water, not just fluoride.

“We think that they made a fundamental error,” he said of the court.

Steel said it could take a month for the court to decide whether it will grant a review.

If if it does, a decision could take up to a year, he said.

The city’s water includes 1 part per million of fluoride, city staff members said.

The city buys its fluoride from Lucier Chemical in Wyoming and spends about $10,000 a year on fluoridation, staff members say.

The city used a $260,000 grant from the Washington Dental Service Foundation it received in 2003 to help pay for the fluoridation system.

In 2005, Port Angeles resident Paul Lamoureux, a member of the anti-fluoride coalition, started a campaign to allow residents to file initiatives with the city.

Forks is the only other city on the North Olympic Peninsula that fluoridates its water.