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Aberdeen Council mulling whether to continue drug tests for councilmembers

The Aberdeen City Council is ruminating on doing away with drug tests for its members or making the results public after a Monday meeting. No legislation has been introduced, and the city is still fact-finding, but the council members will entertain the idea over the holidays.

The reasoning behind the idea is practical; council members cannot be fired, so why do or pay for the tests if they are not made public?

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One hurdle making drug tests results for the council public could be the city’s liability insurance, which may require all city employees who collect a paycheck to submit to the random drug screenings — council included. City Manager Randy Robertson said Wednesday the issue was still unclear, but the city staff is looking into it and will prepare a report on the option.

“The city’s subject-matter expert has raised some concerns in the past,” Robertson said.

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Mayor Patrick McGrady said the tests screen for cocaine, PCP, amphetamines, THC and opiates. He said that testing for drugs makes sense among city employees —particularly those who operate heavy machinery and do other sensitive tasks — but for elected officials, it is not worth the money if nothing can be done when the results come in.

“There is no point paying for the test if we cannot fire the people who are testing positive,” McGrady said.

McGrady said he could go either way on eliminating them to save the city money or making the screenings public. Making the results known to the public serves the interests of transparency for obvious reasons, he said.

“I would like to know if my mayor was consuming PCP and amphetamines,” he said.

At the meeting, Robertson said the city tries to work with those who test positive for drugs — though the police department has a zero-tolerance policy.

Councilman Adam Hiob agreed with McGrady; he was randomly screened months after becoming a councilman and saw little point to the exercise.

“It has got to be one way or the other,” Hiob said. “We either put it out there or we do not do it all.”

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