Was the Boyne City Commission’s vote to remove fluoride legal?


News Editor

Motivated by several public comments concerning its recent 3-2 vote to remove fluoride from the municipal water supply, Boyne City Commissioners are seeking a legal opinion on the matter.

Commissioners unanimously agreed during their regular Tuesday May 27 meeting to direct legal counsel to research whether the commission’s May 13 vote could legally nullify a 1973 vote of Boyne City residents who chose to add fluoride to their drinking water.
“I think it’s a regrettable decision,” said Howard Newkirk, who spoke during the public comment portion of last week’s meeting… “My understanding, though, is that fluoride was put into use here by public referendum and I just wondered if we could get a legal opinion from the city attorney if in fact you can overcome the referendum with a simple 3-2 vote of the council.”
Newkirk said, if the commission’s vote was valid, what would the citizens need to do in order to overturn the commission’s vote.
Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch told Newkirk that the commission would have to decide whether to send the question to its legal counsel.
One audience member—who claimed to have received opinions on the matter from three attorneys—said he believed the vote was “illicit” and “illegal.”
“We’ve been questioned as a commission, here, with regards to the legality of what took place last month and it seems to me that we should have a clear answer and whether the city commission has the right to overturn a public referendum, laws or ordinances on our own initiative,” said Grunch, before he made a motion to direct the city’s civil counsel to research the matter.
Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer agreed with Grunch but asked that the issue be placed on the commission’s agenda as a “new business” item so it may be addressed with due process.
Grunch said numerous members of the public have asked him whether the vote was legal, adding that he wanted the question answered sooner rather than later.
“My recommendation, if you were to follow this procedurally, I would suggest that you do add it as an item of new business … or else open it up as an item of business right now ,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain.
Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord said he was 100 percent for getting the legal opinion if it would quell the question in the minds of the citizenry.
Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said he would not change his opinion—that the fluoride should be discontinued—but supported seeking the legal opinion.
Go to www.boynegazette.com to see the full stories on the fluoride issue leading up this point. Those articles are now available at no cost on the website.