Hays Judge Rules in Favor of Fluoride Free-San Marcos Petition Validity

Photo taken by Christopher Paul Cardoza
Photo taken by Christopher Paul Cardoza

Following a lawsuit filed by the City of San Marcos against Fluoride Free- San Marcos petition filers Kathleen O’Connell, Sam Brannon and Morgan Knecht , Hays County District Judge Bruce Boyer has rejected each of the cities’ claims about the petitions validity.

On April 2nd, Communities for Thriving Water- Fluoride Free San Marcos submitted 1,634 signatures in support of a city-charter amendment stating that “The city of San Marcos … shall not fluoridate the public water supply or accept any fluoridated water for use in the San Marcos water system.”

In response to the petition submission, O’Connell stresses the importance for residents to understand the distinction between naturally occurring fluoride and the form of fluoride the City of San Marcos adds to the citys water supply, called hydrofluorosilicic acid.

“People really need to get the difference of what this hydrofluorosilicic acid, “fluoride” is a misnomer when they call it just fluoride. It’s got all this other industrial wastes in it as well. In the city’s recent lawsuit, they have in there that we were asking them to take natural fluoride. That’s called calcium fluoride, naturally occurring in the water. We have been very clear with the city from the very beginning, we are not asking them to take all of that out of the water, that is a whole different thing ”

However, on May 5th City Clerk Jamie Lee Pettijohn declared the petition invalid during a City Council meeting, expressing that the lack of affirmation or oath regarding the genuineness of the signatures for each individual petition signer failed to align with the 1967 adopted home-rule city charter of San Marcos that calls for all amendment petitions to be accompanied with an oath or affirmation that each signature is the genuine signature of the person who signed the petition.

On May 18, Austin attorney Brad Rockwell wrote city officials on the behalf of Communities for Thriving Water stating the charter’s petition requirements are superseded by the Texas Local Government Code under Section 9, which does not require an oath or affirmation from petition circulator’s. Rockwell wrote a second letter to the city on June 16, arguing that by not complying with providing the opportunity to vote on the issue, Rockwell’s clients are left with the option of filing a lawsuit.

On June 17, the City of San Marcos filed a lawsuit against Brannon, O’Connell and Knecht, asking a judge to declare that the petition invalid and ruling that the petition fails to meet relevant state and municipal laws. The city’s lawsuit also seeks to force Brannon, O’Connell and Knecht to pay as much as $100,000 to the city in attorney fees.

On August 14, Judge Boyer ruled that the City should process the petition and put the proposed Charter Amendment on the ballot for the November 3 election.

“Hays County District Judge Bruce Boyer has expressly rejected each one of the cities’  claims about our Fluoride-Free San Marcos petition’s validity. The judge has ruled that it is the City’s actions which are invalid, not the petition San Marcos voters have signed to put the anti-fluoridation measure on the ballot,” said O’Connell. 

However, the City has filed an emergency appeal with the Austin Court of Appeals where O’Connell questions why the city refuses to place the proposed amendment on the ballot.

“Why is the City so afraid to let the citizens of San Marcos vote on this issue? The City has nitpicked the language of the measure, but the City is not serious about any language concerns because they refuse to work with us on compromise language.  Instead, the City has pulled out all stops, including violating its duties under the law to protect the constitutional right to petition the government and to allow the people to directly decide these matters.”

Attached below is Judge Boyer’s order.

Judge Boyer’s Order

Taylor Zavala

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