Kitsap judge throws out Port Angeles anti-fluoride initiatives
by BRIAN GAWLEY
Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES, WA-- A Kitsap County judge has thrown out two anti-fluoridation initiatives submitted to the city in early September.
The ruling by Superior Court Judge M. Karlynn Haberly means that the two measures are not eligible to be placed on a ballot for voter consideration.
A written decision will follow the judge's oral ruling that was presented Monday afternoon. After then, initiative supporters can decide whether to appeal.
Fluoride, considered to be a tooth-decay preventative, has been added to the Port Angeles city water system since May.
One initiative filed by the group ``Our Water! -- Our Choice!'' sought to prohibit medication of people through drinking water.
Another filed by the group ``Protect Our Waters'' sought to prohibit the introduction of anything into Port Angeles city drinking water intended to act as a drug unless it is approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
The City Council had sought the court's declaratory judgment on whether the two initiatives dealt with administrative instead of legislative issues.
The judge ruled that they are administrative in nature and therefore not eligible to be put on the ballot.
Haberly issued her oral ruling after about five hours of arguments, said Port Angeles City Attorney Bill Bloor.
The decision didn't have to do with fluoride but whether the two initiative petitions are legal, he said.
No appeal can be filed until the judge's written decision is filed, Bloor said.
Dr. Steve Chapman, one of the original fluoridation promoters, hailed the ruling as demonstrating that public water fluoridation is widely considered to be safe and effective.
``It's a decision we expected. We're glad that the community and especially the children are benefiting from the fluoride in the water,'' Chapman said Tuesday.
``We hope that this is the end of these seemingly endless string of court appeals and red tape that is sapping so much energy from people who have so many other things to do,'' he said.
Adding fluoride to public water systems remains the single most effective and safest tool for fighting serious oral disease among children and seniors, Chapman said.
More than 170 million Americans drink fluoridated water daily, and 60 years experience has demonstrated it is safe and effective, he said.
``We are fortunate to have public officials in our community who have the courage to do what is right for the health of our community,'' Chapman said.
Eloise Kailin, a longtime opponent of the city's fluoridation project, described the decision as ``disappointing.''
She said it would ``throw a bucket of cold water'' on future citizen initiative petitions.
``Of course we are disappointed,'' Kailin said.
``It's not just a setback to the initiatives but a more fundamental setback to initiative process across the state,'' said the retired physician, who served as researcher for both initiatives.
``If a city doesn't happen to agree with an initiative, it can force the citizens to hire an attorney to defend it before it goes to voters.
``That throws a bucket of cold water on the initiative process,'' she said.
A written statement released Tuesday by Teresa Pierce, executive communications coordinator, said, ``The City Council acknowledges Judge Haberly's findings and rulings on these legal issues and thanks the court for hearing this issue in a timely and efficient manner.''
Mayor Karen Rogers was asked for a comment but did not respond.
Judge tosses fluoride petitions
December 13th, 2006 - 9:36am
(Port Angeles) -- Two initiatives aimed at derailing addition of fluoride to the Port Angeles water supply have been ruled invalid. A Kitsap County judge this week issued a ruling that says the two petitions to put the measures to a vote are not eligible to go on the ballot. In her oral decision, Judge Karlynn Haberly said she felt the initiatives dealt with administrative issues outside the bounds of the city's laws that allows petitions. "Our Water - Our Choice" and "Protect Our Waters" presented the initiatives earlier this year. "Our Water - Our Choice" sought to have the Medical Independence Act put in place for the city. It would prohibit the "medication" of people through drinking water. "Protect Our Waters" wants the Water Additives Safety Act adopted. It would prohibit introduction of anything into the water supply unless it is approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. A written decision is expected to be issued early next year.