On May 20, David Kennedy, a local dentist who was turned away after requesting documents pertaining to the addition of fluoride compounds in the city's water supply, filed what is the latest legal complaint against the city for violating state records acts.
According to the complaint, the city "systematically failed to reply within ten days as required by the [Public Records Act]. In some categories they did not reply at all. In other categories, the response was a partial disclosure of documents, claiming the remaining documents were forthcoming (which was never the case). In response to some categories, the city asserted the deliberative process privilege to shield disclosure of documents that would embarrass the City or show the City has acted against the popular will of the people of San Diego."
Questions of whether or not the city should fluoridate the water supply date back to 1954. At the ballot that year, residents passed a proposition that prohibited the city or any agency from adding any fluorine compound to San Diego's drinking water. Similar outcomes at the polls occurred in 1968 and in 1978.
In 2009, things changed. That year San Diego received a $3.9 million grant from the First 5 Commission, an organization that advocates for healthy decisions in children five years or younger, to pay for two years of fluoridation. The treatment began in 2011 and lasted through 2013.
In September 2013, Kennedy began requesting to see documentation on the grant and whether the treatment continued, and, if so, who was paying for it. Shortly after, city officials notified Kennedy that it had over 4 gigabytes of emails and other documentation for him. But before handing all of the documents over, the city attorney's office had to review the material.
More than seven months later, the review continues, says the complaint.
This isn't the only instance where San Diego officials have been accused of withholding documents from the public. The city is embroiled in several lawsuits, including two that name city attorney Jan Goldsmith directly.
A spokesperson for mayor Kevin Faulconer says that despite the expiration of the grant, the Public Utilities Department continues to fluoridate the water. At press time, the mayor's office was looking into the source of funding.