The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

February 19, 2014

City committee updates worker drug, alcohol policies

CLINTON — Employees of the city of Clinton may see some changes coming to their current drug and alcohol policy — a policy that hasn’t been altered in 24 years.

During an Internal Operations Committee meeting Tuesday, City Administrator Jessica Kinser notified the committee, occupied by City Council members Tom Determann, Lynn McGraw and Grant Wilke, that the policy needed to be updated because of a multitude of changes in drug and alcohol use and employment since it was introduced in 1989.

“We kind of jokingly call it the Miami Vice-era drug policy,” Kinser said. “It’s very lenient and allows for multiple opportunities for failed drug tests.”

Because of that, Kinser enlisted the help of Bill Judge with FightReady, a company that develops federal and state drug-testing policies and procedures, to revise the city’s out-of-date protocol.

To simplify what the city will require, Kinser and Judge attempted to create a policy that would represent all city workers. However, because of federal regulations for safety-sensitive positions, like transit employees or CDL- licensed employees, the committee members were required to adopt three separate policies Tuesday.

The biggest change that Kinser highlighted in all three of the proposals was the implication of random drug or alcohol testing for employees by using the reasonable suspicion method.

“We’ve already started training our supervisors on reasonable suspicion,” Kinser said. “If you (an employee) are exhibiting signs of alcohol or drug abuse while on the job, right before start of duty or right after start of duty, then we have the ability to send you in for a test as long as there is that reasonable suspicion.”

Department heads and supervisors will have the authority to require random samplings from any employee who exhibits the signs or evidence of drug or alcohol use during work hours.

If a sampling is requested and comes back positive for alcohol or drug use, that employee could face termination or administrative suspension but neither are guaranteed according to the policy.

The only situation where termination is definite is if an employee of the city is charged with the possession of or trafficking in illicit or inappropriate drugs, something Wilke questioned the legality of.

“(With someone) being charged but not being convicted, can you really do that (terminate) without having some repercussions?” asked Wilke.

According to Kinser, employees working for the city are at-will employees so they have the right to do whatever they choose, but will face repercussions to those choices.

And because a situation in which someone is charged with possession or trafficking means the police have become involved, it is then outside of an administrative realm in terms of the rest of the policy.

“It’s gone into the criminal world at that point,” Kinser said.

Other additions made to the current city alcohol and drug policy that were highlighted Tuesday were post-accident and post-incident based alcohol and drug testing.

The new policy states that an accident resulting in damage to any property including equipment that exceeds $1,000 will prompt drug testing no later than 32 hours after the accident occurred and alcohol testing no later than eight hours after.

In the same light, any sworn law enforcement officer who has discharged a weapon in the line of duty also will be required to submit to a drug or alcohol test as soon after the incident as possible.

And for any employee struggling with alcohol or substance abuse, the city also offers an anonymous counseling assistance program through Genesis Health Systems that was utilized by 11 percent of employees in 2013.

“To me the most important thing in regard to drug and alcohol use and abuse is knowing that we have an employee assistance program that is free and anonymous,” Kinser said. “So it’s good that people are utilizing the service that extends well beyond drug and alcohol counseling.”

With the unanimous recommendation from the Internal Operations Committee, the drug and alcohol policy will now move on to the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday and from there to the City Council for final approval.

 

1
Text Only
Top News
  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

    April 18, 2014

  • Taylorville couple wins $20M lotto jackpot

    A Taylorville couple has celebrated winning a more than $20 million Illinois Lottery drawing.

    Steve and Wilma Durbin were presented with their winning check Thursday afternoon at a grocery store in the central Illinois city where they purchased the ticket. The couple took a lump sum payment of $8.1 million after taxes.

    The Taylorville Breeze-Courier reports the Durbins hit the jackpot in the April 10 Illinois Lotto drawing. That was just two weeks after they were married.

    April 17, 2014

  • Branstad signs school radon bill into law

    The Iowa Department of Education must gather information from schools about whether they are testing for radon gas under a bill Gov. Terry Branstad has signed into law.

    Branstad signed the bill Thursday to require school districts to tell the department about radon testing by the end of this year. The department must then report to the Legislature by January.

    April 17, 2014

  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

    The Masters lumbered on last week without two of pro golf's biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and fans changed the channel. The PGA needs someone with star power if it's going to lure people back to the game.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

    Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that's similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it's not too hot and not too cold for life.

    The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

    April 17, 2014

  • Defend 'Obamacare' unabashedly, some Democrats say

    With enrollments higher than expected, and costs lower, some Democrats say it's time to stop hiding from the president's health care overhaul, even in this year's toughest Senate elections.

    Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace "Obamacare," the GOP's favorite target in most congressional campaigns. Yet pro-Democratic activists in Alaska are doing just that, and a number of strategists elsewhere hope it will spread.

    April 17, 2014

AP Video