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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.
Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.
Council member elect Charlie Chong challenged the city’s request to immediately test his potential new administrative aid for drugs. How the city’s policy of drug testing all new employees was applied in this case shows that drug testing could be used by those in authority as a political weapon against those who are seen as dissidents.
Apparently several hours after Council Member Jan Drago had been informed that Chong intended to hire Matt Fox as an administrative aid he received a phone call from the City Clerk to show up for a drug test.
Is the City Clerk now calling all new city employees within hours of hearing that they have been offered a city job? I think not. Rather it smells like a whiff of political gun powder from the first shot being taken at Fox, who was one of two main organizers against the Commons Park. The city set a new policy this July which goes far beyond the needs of public safety and Federal Government requirements. The ACLU which has been following this issue was surprised to find out that the new policy was included in a budget bill in a manner that circumvented any public hearing.
Unfortunately, it appears that this is another example of our city council avoiding to hold a public hearing on a topic that could solicit a strong negative public response.
While it is reasonable to expect that our bus drivers are not under the influence of drugs the city’s current policy applies to city positions that have no bearing on public safety.
As citizens of a democracy our government does not have automatic jurisdiction over our private lives. This “right to be left alone” is, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.”