Dope Fiends

New city policy would require drug tests for all new hires

We at City Pages are disappointed with the Minneapolis City Council's recent push to require mandatory drug and alcohol testing for new hires. The draft policy was approved by the mayor's office and sent to the Ways and Means Committee last week. The council will debate the issue June 16.

Our advice: Just say no.

Besides being frequently inadequate and ineffective, drug testing would cost major funds just to weed out a few bad seeds. The city hires approximately 350 new employees per year and the testing is expected to add an additional $16,000 to the yearly budget, says Matt Laible, a spokesman for the city of Minneapolis.

Petey became HealthPartners' mascot after getting lost on the way to an R. Kelly concert
Petey became HealthPartners' mascot after getting lost on the way to an R. Kelly concert

In 1990 the federal government reported that only 0.5 percent of employees tested were found positive for drug use. That same year, the government allocated $11.7 million to its drug-testing program, spending some $77,000 per identified drug user, the ACLU reports.

(The city already does limited drug testing for positions directly related to public safety, such as operating a vehicle.)

And not everybody would have to give up samples on command. A grandfather clause in the drafted policy would keep us from finding out whether any veteran staffers or elected officials are rolling doobies in the bathroom.

Councilman Gary Schiff opposes the policy, citing the city's unwillingness as of late to protect people's civil liberties. From limits on free speech to drug testing, it's just "crazy," he says. "Just because the Republicans are coming into town doesn't mean we have to act like them." —Beth Walton

Urine luck

In an effort to "humanize [its] medical devices," HealthPartners has unveiled its new mascot: a personified pee cup named Petey P. Cup. The unconventional spokesman apparently targets the coveted eager-to-piss-in-anthropomorphic-jars demographic.

Listed as "coming soon" is Petey's sidekick, Pokey the Syringe. Presumably, he'll be that rare child-friendly character who actually discourages sharing.

Other mascots that were considered but ultimately axed include Carl C. Colostomy Bag, Katherine P. Catheter, and Eddie the Enigmatic Enema—the less said about him, the better.

Also: Petey has his own Facebook profile. (Ladies, take note: He's single, and loves Grey's Anatomy.) —Matt Snyders

Liquid capital

The merits of tap water need promoting. So says the Minneapolis City Council.

Last week, the council's Transportation and Public Works Committee agreed to spend $180,000 on an ad campaign hyping H2O outta the ol' faucet.

If the plan moves forward—and there's no indication it won't—the city will soon begin seeking proposals from outside marketing firms.

We'll save them the trouble. The gist of the ads will inevitably break down something like this: See that sink over there? Notice the faucet? Water comes out of it. You should totally drink it. Go ahead; it's clean...that's it. —Matt Snyders

True lye

Have you given any thought to whether you'd like to be buried or cremated? How about dissolved with lye and rinsed down the drain?

Good thing you're within dying distance of the Mayo Clinic, one of only two spots in the country performing the procedure known as "alkaline hydrolosis." Originally used on animals, it combines lye and heat in a pressure-cooker-like machine that yields a brownish syrup with a side of bone powder.

The Mayo only uses alkaline hydrolosis to dispose of medical cadavers after they've been dissected. But with its environmental advantages—no emissions à la cremation, and not requiring the space of a cemetery plot—the technique is being eyed by morticians as the possible future of the funeral industry.

So much for "ashes to ashes." —Jonathan Kaminsky

 
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