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Letters to the Editors

Workplace drug testing is beneficial

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2000

Re: Junk science drove America to drug testing, by Robyn Blumner, Jan. 30.

Blumner obviously knows nothing about drug testing in the corporate sector, let alone anything about the tragedies that have affected millions of families due to drug abuse. I founded one of the first companies in the country that provided drug-testing services to employers and have worked with hundreds of employers over the past 15 years in establishing drug-free workplaces. I am certified by the courts as an expert in workplace drug testing and have lectured on the topic nationally and internationally.

When testing began to develop in workplaces in the early '80s, I saw 38 percent of the work force in a small Texas town unable to pass a drug test. This was a petrochemical town where the average worker could, by a simple human error, literally blow up the entire town. After several years of aggressive drug and alcohol testing, the rate of employees who could not pass a drug test dropped to less than 10 percent. Along with that, employers experienced a dramatic reduction in accidents, workers' compensation claims, health care claims and absenteeism. At least one corporation received a 50 percent reduction in its workers' compensation premium due to the reduction of workplace accidents.

During that time I also conducted surveys with employees who were subjected to drug testing in their workplaces and learned that most employees supported employers' rights to conduct testing in the workplace and considered a drug-free workplace as one of the best benefits provided by their employer. Further, my surveys with employees revealed that many casual drug users had ceased to use drugs for fear of being caught on a drug test. By ceasing to use, these employees will never become addicted!

One other benefit of drug testing in the workplace is that many employees have been intervened upon through a positive test and pushed into drug treatment. As a result, they are now drug-free, productive employees and family members.

It is also important to remember that drug-free workplace programs offer drug treatment and counseling not only to the employee but the employees' families. Before such programs were implemented, the average parent had no idea where to turn for help when he thought he had a child using drugs. Today employees can utilize their employee assistance program, which is a part of their drug-free workplace program, to find answers to dealing with their child's drug or alcohol problem.

Robyn Blumner's reliance on the American Civil Liberties Union as her resource about workplace drug testing shows her lack of understanding of the problem. The ACLU has been opposed to drug testing from its inception. Of course, its "investigations" or "reports" would not show drug testing in a positive manner. Blumner needs to look beyond the ACLU filter at some valid, unbiased studies. Corporate America does not invest in programs that do not provide a return on its investment.
-- Calvina L. Fay, executive director, Drug Free America Foundation Inc., St. Petersburg

Rights in conflict

Re: Reject protest buffer zones, Feb. 5.

Robyn Blumner misses the point when she says buffer zones outside abortion clinics should be eliminated because they infringe on the rights of protesters to "get their message across." She cites others groups -- strikers, environmentalists -- as cases in point, even though these groups have had restrictive rules applied to them "without protest" for years.

The protesters are not there to get their "message across." They are taking deliberate action to stop women from entering the clinic -- an act that takes away a woman's right of privacy and her expectation of the right to go anywhere without being harassed. Which right supersedes the other? You be the judge the next time some group decides that you don't have the right to go freely anywhere that is legally permitted.
-- George Heidt, Largo

A welcome warning

Re: Dantzler stocks ideas, plans return, by Martin Dyckman, Feb. 6.

Not to long ago Buddy MacKay and Rick Dantzler ran for governor and lieutenant governor.

I want to thank Dyckman for writing about Dantzler and his platform and reminding me, and I'm sure many others, why we chose our present governor and Cabinet.

Slower speed limits (rather than enforcing existing limits), national health care plan (shades of Hillary Clinton), less school-student testing (back to the old pass-them-no-matter-what routine) and last but not least Dantzler feels that Florida needs a personal income tax.

Why? Not because we need one but because Florida is one of just seven states that do not have a personal income tax, and our property taxes are lower than most states. Hmmm!

Dantzler is quoted as saying, "I want to be in a position to take Jeb on if he stubs his toe." With an agenda like the one Dantzler proposes, Jeb wouldn't have to stub his toe. He would have to break his whole darn foot!
-- Robert E. Guthrie, Seminole

Don't glamorize bigotry

I am disappointed at the Times Feb. 6 article How much oddity can one town take? which implies there is much oddity in Clearwater aside from Bob Minton and his paid followers.

I have been a member of the Church of Scientology since 1958. I am a pastoral counselor and an ordained minister of the church. My work with the church has taken me to many different places and countries where Scientology is acclaimed for the stellar work it does in helping communities. We truly accept and acknowledge the religious beliefs of others and fight to uphold religious freedom.

My wife and I have recently become residents of Clearwater. We were given to believe that Clearwater was becoming Scientology-progressive and moving forward, having healed old wounds.

I love Clearwater, and I have made friends. But I am very concerned when a bigot can pay haters to spew venom and get such prominent coverage of his hateful views. Minton and his gang are a throwback to less tolerant and enlightened times. Please don't glamorize bigotry.

So, I would appreciate it if your newspaper did not misrepresent the Church of Scientology. All it does is create unrest in our city. Let us all really assist in making it "One City, One Future."
-- The Rev. Ian Anderson, Clearwater

Minton isn't helping

Regarding the article How much oddity can one town take? there are a few things missing.

The "oddity" is the fact that Bob Minton is portrayed only as an oddity.

Bob Minton has been arrested twice for assault. He is a man who fired his shotgun above the heads of two people because "he doesn't like what they're doing"!

Neither Minton nor any of his followers are good for Clearwater. They are not here to contribute in any way! They are all from out of town and don't care about Clearwater or any of its citizens. They should all go back home and think about doing something good for a change.

Scientology, on the other hand, has done a great deal for this community. We Scientologists are all working very hard to improve the community by, among other things, helping to keep it clean, helping its children and assisting the community in social activities.

You need to take a look at what will help take this community forward rather than take away from it.
-- Ray Hemphill, Largo

Gore is honorable

Re: Gore's lies put his credibility at stake, by Philip Gailey, Feb. 6.

I could not disagree more completely with the St. Petersburg Times' continuing vendetta against Al Gore. I know Al personally, having worked with him as a colleague when we were both Tennessee newspapermen, and I know him to be a brilliant and honorable man, a conscientious public servant and family man.

The Times has a right to its editorial opinion, of course, but its slanting of news and columns in favor of its idol, Bill Bradley, is as dishonest as Gailey accuses Gore of being.
-- Charles L. Fontenay, St. Petersburg

Skewed priorities

Re: Bush's total spending hits $37-million, Feb. 1.

When I read about one candidate spending $37-million for a job that pays $200,000 a year, I know America's priorities are way out of whack.

Imagine how many people this money would feed, how many people in need of medical care and medicines could be helped, how many homeless people could have a place to live, how many lives could be saved from desperation.

I can certainly relate to these situations as I am a disabled person living on $10,020 a year and go without many taken-for-granted things just to get by. Do you really think this candidate can relate to me? When you have $37-million to blow, you won't get my vote. These rich candidates are a slap in the face for those of us who live in daily poverty.

I can only pray that one day America will wake up and get its priorities straight.
-- Barbara J. Van Ness, Dunnellon

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