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Fagan refuses to resign from health board, council moves to remove him

As Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan declared Wednesday that there was “no way” he would resign from the county health board, other council members began the process to remove him.

Fagan sparked controversy recently when he posted messages to his Facebook page questioning the safety of vaccines just days after the Spokane Regional Health District asked members of the public to make sure they are up-to-date on their measles vaccines.

Fagan is the only member on the 12-person board that rules the health district who has expressed concerns about vaccines, and most other members of the board have denounced Fagan’s position.

On Tuesday, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart called on Fagan to resign from the health board. Today, Fagan responded on Facebook.

“Just so the question is answered, there is NO WAY that I will be resigning from the board of health,” Fagan wrote in his post. “The council will have to remove me because they do not believe that democracy needs a broad spectrum of ideas and opinions to make it effective. If we were all of the same mind, we wouldn’t need a lot of things like councils, boards, and commissions.”

Meanwhile, Councilman Jon Snyder drafted a letter from the rest of the council to Fagan asking him to “clarify” his statements on vaccines.

“If you fail to do so the Council will be compelled to reconsider your appointment representing the City Council on the Spokane Regional Health District board,” the letter states.

Snyder said he expects the letter to be voted on in a special meeting Thursday afternoon.

Given other statements Fagan has posted on his Facebook page today, it appears highly unlikely that Fagan will be clarifying his position in a way that satisfies most members of the council. Fagan is soliciting responses from anyone “that has had a bad experience with vaccines.” He has also posted other links to articles questioning vaccines.

Snyder said a vote would be held on another day to remove Fagan.

Councilman Mike Allen said he will not sign the letter addressed to Fagan or vote to remove him even though he strongly disagrees with Fagan’s position on vaccines.

“I don’t agree with one single thing Mike has said, but Mike is entitled to say it,” Allen said.

Allen said the council should not police other council members work on the other boards they serve.

“If every time we disagree with somebody on one of our boards, do we just remove them?”

But Snyder said Fagan serves on the health board as one of three members who represent the Spokane City Council. If the rest of council disagrees with an appointed member on a fundamental issue a board governs, the council should consider removing him so they are better represented. Council members were unaware of Fagan’s position on vaccines before he was appointed to the health board, Snyder said.

“It’s kind of like being on a transportation board and being against bridges,” Snyder said.


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