Three Largo Commission Members Agree To Idea Of Taking Drug Test
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Three members of the Largo City Commission agree with the suggestion of a citizen that top city officials take drug tests and say they are willing to undergo such tests.
Mary Black, Gigi Arntzen and Gay Gentry all responded to an e-mail query that was sent to the mayor, all commissioners, the acting city manager, assistant city manager and city attorney.
The e-mail sent to the city officials said --
"A citizen, Curtis Holmes, suggested at the City Commission meeting June 5 that the top officials of Largo - elected and appointed - show leadership and undergo full drug testing. He suggested this would be a sterling example in a city that emphasizes with its employees that the work atmosphere in the city is drug free. His suggestion, Holmes said, would set an example throughout Pinellas County and in the state. And he said, that the citizens, as the employers of the elected and appointed officials of the city, have a right to know that their leaders are, indeed, drug free.
"Please indicate by return e-mail whether you agree that you and your colleagues should submit to drug testing, as all employees of the city are required to do.
"Your individual responses will not be shared with your colleagues prior to publication, but your responses will be used in a story."
The responses from Black, Arntzen and Gentry were swift.
Unheard from late Monday were Mayor Pat Gerard and Commissioners Andy Guyette, Rodney Woods and Harriet Crozier, along with Acting City Manager Mac Craig, Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert and City Attorney Alan Zimmet.
In agreeing to take a drug test, Black said, "I would think that as individuals who receive salaried compensation and fringe benefits, elected officials would also be subject to the same requirements as other city employees. I have no objection to drug testing.
Arntzen agreed, too, and revealed that when she was first elected last year she asked if she needed to take a drug test. She said, "The response was 'no.' When I asked why, I was told because I was elected, not hired, by the city. I have absolutely no problem taking a drug test."
Who made that distinction is not known. But then, Holmes's suggestion was not made as a requirement for taking office, but to set an example of leadership - both for Largo and for all of Pinellas County.
Gentry said, "Since I receive a check from the City of Largo every two weeks (read employee), I would assume that the policy (Largo's Drug Free Workplace Administrative Policy) applies to me as well."
Predictably, members of the public had a "what is there to fear" approach to the idea.
One citizen said, "Why would anyone not want to participate unless they have something to hide? Many Largo employees undergo random testing so they can keep their jobs."
Holmes, originator of the idea and hoping that other top officials will join the three already pledged to be tested, "It's very encouraging to see that there is some leadership and good example. I guess no response at all is a 'draw your own conclusions' personal statement."
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition