Pubdate: Sun, 11 May 2008
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2008 Chicago Tribune Company
Bookmark: (Drug Test)


Ex-City Official Denies He Mishandled Program

The former chief of Chicago's drug-testing program said  Saturday that
he was unfairly dismissed and denied all  allegations of

Russell Baggett, 55, stands accused of failing to  include more than
800 truck drivers with commercial  driver's licenses in random
drug-testing pools,  according to a report from the inspector
general's  office. He also is accused of consistently notifying
supervisors the day before tests.

The report, which recommended that Baggett be fired,  found no
evidence that he received payback, city  officials said. The inspector
general's office alleged  that Baggett violated basic rules of
compliance with  federal regulations.

"Right now, I'm just disturbed," said Baggett, who was  fired Friday
after overseeing the city's drug and  alcohol testing program for 14
years. "I've been  dedicated to this field for over 20 years. I don't
understand what's going on. I'm extremely  disappointed."

The city conducts annual random drug tests on about  half of its 2,000
employees from several city  departments who hold commercial driver's
licenses, he  said.

Anthony Boswell, head of the city's new Office of  Compliance, which
oversees the drug and alcohol  program, could not be reached for
comment Saturday.  Mayor Richard Daley said Saturday that he was
unfamiliar with the case.

Baggett maintained he never alerted supervisors about  upcoming tests.
He also denied allegations that he  allowed people who were absent
from work the day of  their random test to skip the test entirely.
Federal  rules require that the employee be tested the day they
return to work.

"That is totally preposterous," he said.

Baggett said he tested all employees who required it,  except in
November 2006 when a supervisor instructed  him to not test up to 10
Streets and Sanitation  drivers. He said he challenged his supervisor
but  obeyed and then made a complaint that sparked the  inspector
general's investigation.

The report, which was released Tuesday, discusses the  incident, but
city officials said it is less serious  than other allegations against
Baggett. They said the  investigation began with general complaints
about  mismanagement of the drug and alcohol testing program.
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