Murtagh Announces Drug Testing Bill By Hezi Aris

eHezi Archives 39 Comments

Murtagh_DrugLegislationAnnouncement-21April2011 YONKERS, NY —  Yonkers City Council Minority Leader John Murtagh (R) today announced he will be introducing public safety legislation before  the Yonkers City Council that would require random drug testing of Yonkers officials, including the mayor, deputy mayor, members of the Yonkers City Council, Yonkers Board of Education volunteers and employees,  police officers, firefighters, and all those operating city machinery or vehicles. The bill is to be proposed as "The Government Safety Act." 

Minority Leader Murtagh, calling the legislation long overdue, has often had to vote on financial settlements in accident cases involving city vehicles.  He cited random drug testing among federal employees as a model for his bill.  "If a Yonkers employee is driving a public vehicle or performing in a 'high risk' job, the public reasonably deserves to know that the city is doing what it can to ensure that drugs and alcohol are not an issue," Mr. Murtagh said.  "

Yonkers has an excessively large fleet of 'take-home' cars, and the city has a responsibility to make sure their drivers are sober and safe.  Let's not wait for some tragic accident to pass this bill; let's do the smart thing and pass it before a tragedy occurs." Mr Murtagh has helped lead the successful fight for term limits in Yonkers, the author of the new Ethics Code for the City of Yonkers and the Board of Education, and he successfully amended the Rules and Procedures of the City Council to increase public participation. 

Council Member Murtagh's Resolution is as follows:

RESOLUTION     -2011


By Councilmember Murtagh


            To protect employees of the City of Yonkers and members of the general public in cases where inattention to duty or errors in judgment by City employees while on duty will have the potential for significant risk of harm to the employee, other employees, or the general public.

I. – Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

A. "Employees subject to random drug testing" means any employees of the city, including employees of the Board of Education, whether paid or volunteer, and including the Mayor and Members of the City Council working in a "High Risk" job as hereinafter defined.

B. "Established drug test" means the collection and testing of bodily fluids administered in a manner equivalent to that required by the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs (HHS Regulations 53 Fed. Reg. 11979, et seq.), as amended, or any other professionally valid procedures approved by the Laws of the State of New York.

C. "High-risk job" means those duties where inattention to duty or errors in judgment while on duty will have the potential for significant risk of harm to the employee, other employees, or the general public. For purposes of this chapter, the following positions shall be considered "high-risk jobs," and employees holding such positions shall be subject to random drug testing hereunder:

1. Drivers or operators of any city vehicle, including automobiles, trucks, tractors, motor graders, backhoes, street-sweepers, forklifts, or any other vehicle used for transportation, construction or maintenance work;

2. Police Officers;

3. Firefighters;

4. Mechanics responsible for the maintenance or upkeep of safety devices on city vehicles and/or equipment;

5.bPublic safety dispatchers;

6. Operators of power equipment;

7. Sanitation truck operators (including employees responsible for operating mechanized equipment thereon);


1. "Illegal drug" shall have the meaning set forth in Section 12-102 of the New York State General Obligations Law.

2. The term "illegal drug" shall not include any drug when used pursuant to a valid medical prescription or when used as otherwise authorized by state or federal law.

II.- Employees subject to random drug testing.

A. Any and all employees with the definitions set forth in subsections I [C]-1 through 7 above shall be subject to random drug testing for evidence of use of illegal drugs.

B. The Commissioner of Human Resources shall designate those employees who regularly perform high-risk work, as defined herein. This chapter shall not be construed to include employees who do not regularly perform high-risk work regardless of the fact that other employees in the same classification do perform such high-risk work.

III- Duties of the Commissioner of Human Resources.

A. The Commissioner of Human Resources shall be responsible for:

1. Assuring that employees are selected for testing on a random basis;

2. Assuring that privacy intrusions are minimized during collection of body fluid specimens;

3. Assuring that all body fluid specimens are stored and transported to testinglaboratories at proper temperatures and under such conditions that the quality of the specimens shall not be jeopardized;

4. Assuring that the identity of employees whose tests show the usage of an illegal drug is limited to the staff who are entitled to this information; and

5. Restricting access to drug test records and results only to those persons entitled to the information. The city manager shall also adopt such other rules as he or she deems appropriate to carry out the purposes of this chapter.

B. The Commissioner of Human Resources shall establish and maintain a list of those laboratories qualified to conduct established drug tests and shall determine which illegal drugs will be the subject of testing; provided, however, that no laboratory shall be so certified unless that laboratory, on a daily basis, adds to its urinetesting program a minimum of ten percent (10%) blind test specimens.

IV.-Penalties for use of illegal drugs or refusal to submit to a drug test.

A. Any employee subject to random drug testing by virtue of this chapter and who produces a positive drug test result revealing the presence of illegal drugs or controlled substances shall be terminated. However, the employee shall have ten (10) days from the date of termination to appeal said termination to the Commissioner of Human Resources in writing. During said ten (10) days, the employee may rebut the test by producing a negative drug test (of the same kind and from the same testing facility), explain the mitigating circumstances, or offer any other explanation to the Commissioner of Human Resources. Upon receiving the appeal, if the circumstances so warrant, the Commissioner of Human Resources shall be empowered to either lessen the disciplinary action to suspension without pay, reinstate the employee, or affirm the termination, as the Commissioner of Human Resources sees fit in his or her sole discretion. Notwithstanding any other provision in this Code or the personnel policies of the city, the decision on appeal of the Commissioner of Human Resources shall be final and the employee shall have no further appeal rights.

In the case of elected officials whom produce a positive drug test, such official shall be subject to censure, to referral to the City of Yonkers Board of Ethics and to such other and further official actions as local, State of Federal law shall permit.

B. Any employee who refuses to provide body fluid or otherwise submit to a drug test when requested to do so in accordance with the random drug testing conducted pursuant to this chapter shall be warned orally that such refusal will result in termination from employment. If the employee thereafter continues to refuse to submit to the drug test, the employee shall be terminated from his or her employment.


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eHeziMurtagh Announces Drug Testing Bill By Hezi Aris

Comments 39

  1. gee Margaret, you don’t expect him to find these flaws, do you? He only has three people at his disposal to look for these mistakes….two city council aides and his hand-picked counsel to the republican counsel (ugh, talk about wasted city council funds – the Dems and Reps each have their own attorneys) But, I digress…

  2. murtagh calls this legislation “long overdue”. Just about anything he is now bringing forth is “long overdue”. Thank God he is just about done himself.

  3. When is someone going to introduce legislation that drug tests welfare and section 8 recipients??
    If you can afford illegal drugs, then you don’t need public assistance.
    That would be a major deficit reduction tool.

  4. gee, we all know what Dan Murphy’s track record has been vis-a-vis accuracy lately, don’t we? Take this, with a grain of salt.

  5. Mike Spano-I’m Not Running for Mayor
    Mike SpanoRising Times received several phone calls today from Yonkers Democrats and friends of the Spano family who have been told that Mike Spano will not run for Yonkers Mayor.
    The word has been spreading quietly throughout Yonkers political circles over the weekend, apparently after Spano met with Conservative friends and allies and determined that he would not receive the Conservative parties endorsement for Mayor.
    Last month, Spano had been telling everyone that he would make an announcement once the State budget was passed. Now almost 4 weeks after the budget deal, the Spano’s have remained silent–until now.
    Another reason we hear for Mike’s not running because of what may be coming down the pike from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation of political corruption here in Westchester, Putnam and NYC.
    Some believe that Mike’s decision is pegged to an imminent new round of indictments from Bharara, including one for Mike’s brother, former State Senator Nick Spano.
    Nick has been doing his best trying to continue his lobbying up until the last possible day, telling anyone that would listen that all is well and not to worry. But Mike’s decision now means that all is not well and there is reason for Nick, and his clients, to worry.
    Mike’s decision not to run is good new for Chuck Lesnick, now more than ever, the apparent Democratic nominee for Mayor. Also good news for Rich Martinelli, who kicked off his campaign for Mayor earlier this week, and who was vying for the same supporters as Mike Spano.
    We hear that another Democrat or two may step up to challenge Lesnick. Katherine Brezler is the other announced Democrat in the race for Mayor. John Murtagh is the other Republican in the race.

  6. The YPD does have random testing. In fact once a employee is notified that persons supervisor must promptly transport the employee to St. Johns Hospital
    for a urine sample so there is no chance the employee
    can obtain a clean sample to be swapped. There is privacy in giving the sample but they dont require employees to wear gowns. The sample is also temperature checked so that a clean sample cannot be swapped out. I think its a fair and accurate policy, that should be extended to elected officials as well. After all, if you dont use illegal drugs you have no problem.

  7. Well, the timing of Richard’s announcement on 4/20 is a bit coincidental, don’t you think?
    Perhaps Martinelli will run as the 420 candidate!
    Martinelli for Mayor: Pot in every chicken

  8. You are a IDIOT, read this and read this carefully, the YPD does have random drug testing it is in their contracts has been there for close to 20 years now.

  9. This is clearly grandstanding. Most of the union employees have drug testing. Testing is not only random, if the employee is expected to be unfit, he can be tested.

  10. The PD and FD DO not have random drug tests.I feel the ones that should be tested all the time..PD with there guns..and FD while saving people.are never tested unless there is a problem.clean up this whole city. the dpw gets tested all the time for no reason.test every city employee

  11. Maybe Murtag is hoping that Richard will have to drop out of the mayoral race if this legislation passes. After all, he was a close childhood friend of Gordo.

  12. Maybe Murtag is hoping that Richard will have to drop out of the mayoral race if this legislation passes. After all, he was a close childhood friend of Gordo.

  13. Maybe Murtag is hoping that Richard will have to drop out of the mayoral race if this legislation passes. After all, he was a close childhood friend of Gordo.

  14. Margaret, thank you, sincerely, for your indepth analysis with this, the latest of Murtagh’s grandstand “legislation”. I wouldn’t give it much more thought or concern, since it is yet another of his 11th hour attempts to make it seem like he actually gave a damn about what happened in this city. He has been AWOL his entire term. The shame of it is that he started out just fine, and sold ut along the way. Why does he now care, 8 years after voting for settlement upon settlement, about the jeopardy to the city of Yonkers?

  15. I strongly agree with this legislation, however there are some flaws with it.
    It states that if an EMPLOYEE refused to be tested, they are warned that such refusal leads to termination. The legislation does not say what will happen if an ELECTED OFFICIAL refuses to be tested. If, let’s say, the Mayor is randomly selected from a drawing to be tested and he refuses, what then? And if the President of the City Council is likewise randomly selected, and refuses to be tested or fails to make the apointed time for the testing at the lab, what then? Seems like elected officials are getting a a pass here. And we really need our elected officials to prove themselves, not just by their words, but by the lab results too. And what if the drugs are “legal” but the person doesn’t have a prescription in their name for it? No matter who is Mayor, or Council President, the testing must be done randomly, and nobody should get to pass on it.
    Further, who is the “city manager?” as stated in this legislation. We don’t have one. Villages have those, but Yonkers doesn’t. Would that be the deputy? And who tests the Human Resources Commisioner? Let’s get the kinks out of this. And could someone sneak a sample of urine if they know theirs is not drug free? Does the testing procedure for the city safeguard against that kind of thing, like making people wear hospital gowns before they go into the bathroom stall, and they can’t bring their brief cases or purses. REally, if you are going to do this, it has to be done properly or not at all.
    Margaret Setterholm

  16. Someone should copy Murtagh’s bill and introduce it in the County Legislature.
    We already know that there are high risk people there.

  17. What! another republican growing BIG GOVERNMENT. It never ceases to amaze me the hypocrisy of politicians, especially the republicans. How much will this cost Mr. Murtagh? How many more will we have to hire, or will it be farmed out to another private company just like the red light cameras? Either way taxes will increase to pay for this SERVICE!!!!! What a bunch they all make…

  18. the point is, “REED”, where has Murtagh been for the past seven years. He has never, ever, questioned any of the settlements he voted on with respect to the driving accidents involving garbage trucks etc., for his entire time on the council. Not one word. All of a sudden he cares about ANYTHING, now that he is running for mayor? That is the point.
    Perhaps Mr. Murtagh needs a partner piece of legislation just for him – a drug to keep him awake, alert and interested during the city meetings, and to keep him in his chair.

  19. Murtagh’s point is to expand the drug testing beyong police and fire to elected and appointed officials.
    Can’t you guys read?

  20. there should be some kind of test to see what rooms his big head can fit through!! what an incompetent oaf!! there has been drug testing in the Police Department for about 20 yrs. Boy, I really feel bad for you dummies who live in Yonkers, this is what you people voted into offcie. Then again, maybe you deserve what you get!!!

  21. So, Police, Fire, and Teamsters already do random tests, and that includes testing for marijuana. Its a good idea, but he is trying to make a name for himself. As a previous poster stated, random drug testing has been going on for at least 15 years to union members

  22. Test the current candidates!!!!!!!!
    You will find a couple positives.
    All candidates for Mayor and City Council should step up in a public way (together with lights and cameras on) and have a blood sample drawn and sent to a lab after they have all signed waivers for full public disclosure of the results. Lets see who says yes!

  23. What a nutty idea, this guy has too much time on his hands. He’s about 20 years too late. How about enforcing the laws already on the books first.

  24. How about fireing the people that, lets say wreck city cars while drunk a few times! How about council members getting caught doing cocaine in there cars….

  25. there is already random testing of the teamsters. Issue is not whether this is or is not a good suggestion -the issue is that Murtagh has been asleep at the wheel for 7 plus years and is now coming alive. Can we have a more hypocritical representation of Yonkers politics at its worst??!!!

  26. Not a bad idea, but there are much more pressing issues, such as how will he vote on the proposed tax increase. He’s been in favor of every other tax increase so far.
    He wants to be Mayor. He should fight this increase down to zero.
    On the other hand, considering the caliber of SOME (emphasis not ALL) officials and employees in Yonkers government, if those who are caught are fired, this might be a great way to shrink the payroll real fast.
    Finally, is there any suspicion as to who may be using drugs in City Hall? If not, why propose this leg. now?

  27. This is such an obvious good piece of ethics legislation that there should NO negative comments here. But of course there will be. Its Yonkers. Why would we want to insure that city employees and residents are safe, with the added benefit of lowering settlement costs due to drugged or drunk employees.
    This is a good step in cleaning the mess in Yonkers, and it is long overdue. Any candidate or their lacky who objects to this law should be the first in line for the drug test.

  28. Its about time someone in city hall has the *alls to give EVERYONE a random test not just those who have the cdl license. thank you john.i say test the F.D. and P.D. right away.that will tak out some of the city debt. with those guys making over 100k in O.T.

  29. Great Idea!
    I always wonfered why the Yonkers government is fo Fd up. Probably all on drugs.
    Love to see the results if given today to all elected officials and to all candidates. Hmmmmmmm

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