Fluoride Action Network

Port Angeles fluoridation panel prepping suggestions on alternatives

Source: Peninsular Daily News | April 7th, 2016 | By Paul Gottlieb, Senior Staff Writer

PORT ANGELES — To fluoridate or not to fluoridate: That’s not the question, an ad hoc committee says.

An ad hoc committee considering alternatives to fluoridation will not suggest whether the practice of fluoridating water should continue when the group makes its report to the Port Angeles City Council, Councilman Brad Collins said Wednesday.

“The fluoridation issue is not part of the recommendations of the ad hoc committee,” he said.

“To fluoridate or not to fluoridate is considered a separate decision.

“We didn’t think we could get consensus on that question.

“The council has the right to decide what to do or not to do about fluoride.”

The council decided Dec. 15 to continue a 10-year fluoridation program through June 2026, which sparked controversy that led to the committee’s formation.

Collins, a fluoridation advocate, co-chairs the panel with anti-fluoridation Councilwoman Sissi Bruch.

“We are trying to get a dialogue that will help to sort of bridge the gap in the community,” Collins said.

Before May 18

Collins told council members at their regular meeting Tuesday that the committee, composed of members on both sides of the issue, would reach a consensus on recommendations before May 18, the expiration date of the city’s 10-year pledge to the Washington Dental Service Foundation to fluoridate the municipal water supply.

“I promise we will have some positive alternatives to report back to the council,” Collins said during council-member reports at the end of the meeting.

Resident Steven Hargis said during the second public-comment session that consensus would amount to discontinuing fluoridation and allowing those who favor fluoridation to do it on their own.

“True consensus would mean that we must remove fluoride from the water and then provide the win-win for both sides,” Hargis said.

Collins responded by promising to speak to Hargis after the meeting.

Collins said Wednesday the ad hoc committee was composed of four subcommittees that are considering different approaches for improving oral health, including an education program in schools and providing filters to water customers that would remove the fluorosilicic acid employed in fluoridation.

An avenue also might be “a taxation method to support public oral health,” Collins said, adding that both pro- and anti-fluoridation advocates on the committee believed there might be some merit to the idea.

“They didn’t eliminate it from consideration,” he said.

“They assigned Sissi and me to look into it.”

Ethics complaints

Council actions had prompted ethics complaints against council members Cherie Kidd and Dan Gase and Mayor Patrick Downie for their behavior toward anti-fluoridation speakers at City Council meetings.

An ethics board that dropped a complaint against Gase will consider a complaint against Kidd at 2 p.m. today in City Council chambers at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.

A complaint against Kidd for abruptly adjourning a Feb. 2 council meeting while anti-fluoridation speakers were making comments was upheld Friday by an ethics board in a decision still to be reviewed by the City Council.

That board will deliberate on making a recommendation for council action at 10 a.m. Friday at City Hall behind closed doors.

No action will be taken, Kari Martinez-Bailey, the city manager’s office administrative assistant, said Thursday.