Boyne City Commission voted 3-2 to prohibit its constituency from voting on the fluoride matter.
Two doctors and a school official requested the matter be placed on the November ballot in order to allow Boyne City residents to decide whether they wish to have the substance added to their drinking water.
“If you could ignore 60 years of science—all of the data that we have—and rely on some schematic stuff that shows up on the internet, then that’s the way it’s going to be,” said retired dentist Richard Fish… “Every one of you made the comments, that voted against this, that you thought it was a matter of personal choice. I am challenging you to make it a matter of personal choice and put it on the ballot this November. It doesn’t cost you anything—it’s a regular election.”
Fish added, “Put your money where your mouth is. Let the people vote on this issue. You’ve taken it away from them.”
This matter arose when the commission voted 3-2, on May 13, to stop the city’s practice of adding fluoride to the municipal water system.
Following several public comments and questions regarding the legality of vote, the commission—on May 27—directed its legal counsel to investigate the matter.
The city’s legal counsel responded that the vote was legal in a June 6 memo, and the matter appeared to be closed.
Fish reminded the commission that the original 1973 vote of the people of Boyne City which supported water fluoridation was done so by a nearly two-to-one margin.
“That should have been enough but evidently it isn’t,” he said. “And, while I question the legality of your actions, your attorney said it was alright.”
Fish added, “I feel that you owe it to the citizens to put this thing back on the ballot and give them a chance to vote on it in November.”
Boyne City resident, and Superintendent of Boyne City Public Schools, Peter Moss told commissioners that, as an advocate for children, he opposed the city’s decision to cease fluoridation of the municipal water supply.
Moss pointed to areas in the region that do not fluoridate their water, and pointed to the fact that those places have significantly higher instances of tooth decay and tooth loss among the population.
“We won’t know for a while the impact of the decision made by the city council [sic] but as an advocate for the kids I’m not sure I want to see a negative impact on our kids,” Moss said, adding that he would like to see the issue placed back on the ballot.
“I trust in the citizens of Boyne City. I think they’re pretty smart people, and whatever decision they come up with, I can abide by that,” he said.
Boyne City Dentist Dr. Joel Paga also spoke during the meeting.
“I’m an advocate of fluoride also but I think it should be up to a vote of the people,” he said… “There are things, when you live inside a city, that you have to do for the betterment of the common good.”
Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch then asked both Boyne City Commissioners Delbert “Gene” Towne and Derek Gaylord if they would consider discussing the matter at the June 24 meeting or at a future meeting. Both declined to discuss the matter that night.
Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom also declined to consider discussing whether the matter should be put to a vote of the people.
Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer said he was in favor of putting the matter up to a vote of the people.
Grunch and Neidhamer discussed moving the issue to a future meeting for discussion.
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said any matter that would be included on the November ballot would need to be filed with the county by mid-August.
Neidhamer made a motion that the fluoridation of Boyne City’s water system be put to a vote of the people in the November election. Grunch seconded the motion.
The motion failed in a 3-2 vote with Towne, Gaylord and Sansom all voting “no.”
“We’re not going away,” Fish said. “You had an opportunity to put this on the ballot at no cost to the city. Our next alternative would be a referendum and it won’t fall on the November election and it’s going to cost the city money.”
He added, “You are squabbling about spending $3,500 to put fluoride in the water for these people when it costs the people $40 a piece for their children. And, the people who need it are not going to get it.”
Neidhamer then made a motion to put the matter up for discussion on the July 23 agenda.
Sansom voted “no.”
Towne said he would be OK with putting the matter on the ballot if someone takes a petition house to house and obtains the required number of signatures—then he would know whether the citizens want the issue on the ballot.
The motion failed 3-2 with Grunch and Neidhamer the lone “yes” votes.