Pubdate: Fri, 19 May 2000
Source: Capital Times, The  (WI)
Copyright: 2000 The Capital Times
Author: Kent Palmer


Dear Editor: The proposed resolution requiring firefighters and police to
undergo "random" drug testing is ill-timed and based on false assumptions.
This typical conservative knee-jerk reaction centers on an unfortunate
situation involving off-duty firefighters.

Random drug testing has not been proved to eliminate substance abuse, and
may even drive the problem underground, destroying any opportunity to divert
people to treatment, which is the city's stated policy. Such tests are
conducted with the unfounded belief that they increase public safety.

Increased testing is also expensive and, at a time of tight city budgets,
may not be something we can afford. The city is negotiating with the
firefighters union. It the proposed resolution passes, it may require
concessions at the bargaining table. These will not come without a further
price tag.

The failed war on certain drugs has created a hysteria here, shoving
government in people's personal lives and threatening to sour labor
negotiations. Defeating this feel-good resolution is a positive step towards
sound governance.

Ald. Kent Palmer, Madison
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