Emails show Anchorage spokesperson had information about Mayor Bronson’s fluoride quit before denying it happened

Recently released public records of Mayor Dave Bronson’s decision to briefly halt fluoridation of Anchorage’s water supply show that the mayor’s spokesperson had been emailed information about the shutdown of another responsible before categorically denying the incident.

Bronson temporarily stopped fluoridation of the city’s water supply during an Oct. 1 visit to Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility’s Eklutna Water Treatment Plant. Municipal law requires that Anchorage’s water supply be fluoridated. The mayor eventually said he ordered the fluoride stopped after workers told him they had health issues related to the substance.

The fluoride shutdown was first reported by Alaska Landmine in December in an unnamed article.

The administration says the mayor did not violate city code by temporarily turning off the fluoride, but the Anchorage Assembly is continuing an investigation and has requested public records related to the incident. The administration released 60 pages of documents last week, including 38 pages of emails, photos and text related to the fluoride shutdown.

The mayor’s office did not respond to questions about the documents. Some of these emails had previously been published in response to inquiries from the Daily News and Landmine.

The emails show that Bronson’s spokesman Corey Allen Young – who initially denied the situation had happened – had been emailed information about the mayor’s decision months before.

In an email from Deputy City Manager Kolby Hickel sent to Young at 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 1, Hickel said, “At 2:55 p.m. Mayor Bronson ordered staff to stop adding fluoride to our drinking water.

“This will save $100,000 in chemical costs per year and save $1 million in upgrade capital costs. This is a health and safety issue for our employees handling this chemical, which we source from Belgium,” Hickel said.

A little later, Hickel also sent Young an email containing photos of bags of the chemical compound added to the water supply as a fluoridating agent.

Young replied to that email, “Thank you Kolby!”

Young told Landmine at the time of its December report that all three allegations detailed in the article, including the fluoride incident, were “false.”

“That didn’t happen,” Young told Landmine before publishing the article. He told Alaska Public Media again that the claims were false in an article published two days later and did not respond to questions from the Daily News. But the next day, Young confirmed in an emailed statement that the mayor had issued the order to temporarily halt fluoridation of Anchorage’s water supply.

After the statement was sent, Young said he was on leave when Landmine’s story was published, that he was initially wrong about the fluoride situation and then did not have the details or complete information.

Since the emails were published last week, Young has not responded to a question about why he told two reporters the incident did not happen.

Public records also show a disagreement between City Manager Amy Demboski and AWWU Director Mark Corsentino over the events surrounding the mayor’s decision.

Administration officials said Corsentino asked the mayor to cut fluoride, which Corsentino had previously denied.

In newly released emails, AWWU official Hickel and Demboski continue to provide conflicting accounts. These emails were sent in December, days after the Assembly launched its investigation.

“If asked under oath, I will have to be honest, and the statement that I asked the mayor to order the fluoride to stop does not match what was said,” Corsentino said in an e -email to Demboski. “There were several witnesses to this conversation, so I think there is a risk, but public relations (PR) is not my area of ​​expertise.”

Correntino said during the mayor’s tour that he said the utility “remained neutral on adding fluoride, stopping the fluoridation process doesn’t violate any federal or state regulations, but it is in the code. ordered by the Assembly to add it”.

According to Correntino’s email, the mayor said at the time: “I will speak to the Assembly about this, I will issue an immediate press release to inform the community and let me face the heat of the Assembly and the Press.”

Corsentino also told Demboski that they “have to anticipate what might come out during the investigation.”

“I want to be aligned with the message that is being broadcast so that we can protect the municipality and its public service,” he said.

In a response to her email, Demboski blasted Corsentino for ‘changing the version of events’ and said she was ‘shocked’ by her response because she recalled a phone conversation between her and Corsentino. about stopping fluoride right after the mayor came back. round.

Demboski said in his email that Corsentino confirmed to him that he had asked the mayor to turn off the fluoride and explained that employees had complained of eye irritation and coughing. She also said he confirmed to her that he was aware of the code requirement and did not notify the mayor.

“There are at least 5 witnesses to the conversation you and I had on the phone, and it is very disturbing that you readily admitted to me that you asked the mayor to turn off the fluoride on October 1, but that you now change your answers,” she said in the email.

Demboski, Correntino and the mayor’s office did not respond to questions about the email exchanges and the difference in their versions of events.

A previously released email sent on the day of the shutdown between AWWU employees said the mayor was made aware of the city’s demand during the tour, although the mayor was told it was required. by the city charter, when the law is in fact in force. city ​​code.

Correntino, questioned by the Assembly during a business session in January, said he told the mayor that fluoridation could be stopped without breaking city code because it stays in the system for “days …even weeks later”.

The mayor’s office said city code was not broken because Bronson ordered the fluoride reactivated a few hours later because fluoride levels in drinking water did not change significantly. significant while it was off and because the system is regularly shut down for maintenance.

Assembly leaders say they have not yet decided on next steps as the Assembly continues its investigation into the fluoride situation and two other alleged incidents described in the Landmine article.

In a letter to Assembly leaders that accompanied the documents, Demboski called the incidents alleged in Landmine’s article “gossip and misinformation” and criticized the Assembly, saying it was wasting municipal resources on the request for documents.

“Taxpayers expect elected officials to be better stewards of municipal resources,” she said.