Random drug and alcohol testing for Boston firefighters, though probably not something frequently on the minds of many Bostonians, was the issue that brought out the clearest differences among the at-large City Council candidates in a story in today's Globe. Personally, I had never thought about this issue before it became a news story last month (see Autopsies find alcohol, some cocaine, 2 officials say). I assumed that that the leaders of our Fire Department, like leaders in any organization are supposed to do, would make sure their employees are able to do their job and conduct themselves professionally
According to The Globe, one of the firefighters had a blood alcohol level of 0.27! Can that be true? Online calculators suggest that a 170 lb. man would have to drink 12 beers in 1 hour to get this drunk!
As far as I can tell, nobody in the Fire Department has lost their job as a result of this total failure of leadership and management. All I can find evidence of is another review panel getting together to make policy recommendations (see Panel to review Fire Dept. policies). Someone running for City Council might demand that the Fire Chief resign or some major disciplinary action for the manager responsible for the performance of these men. Instead, almost half the candidates don't support random drug testing of firefighters and offer no alternative solutions in The Globe's story.
If the new firefighters' contract does not include random drug and alcohol testing, candidates Flaherty, Arroyo, Connolly, Hogan, and Wyatt said they would not vote to fund it. Candidates Murphy, Yoon, Geary, and Estrada said they would support a firefighters' contract without such testing.
Other than this yes-or-no question, all the candidates come across as pretty indistinguishable in the Globe's story. None of the candidates quoted in the article said anything nice about the Mayor, especially in the areas of crime prevention and stifling debate.