Keystoned State: an update

The People Paper from May 1, 2013, wherein Corbett took heat.
The People Paper from May 1, 2013, wherein Corbett took heat.
Posted: June 13, 2014

GOV. CORBETT took some grief last year for claiming that the state lagged in job growth because employers "can't find anybody that has passed a drug test."

Corbett didn't provide any sources to support his claim. His staff quickly referred questions to the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association, which cited only anecdotal information.

Now the PMA has a fresh survey on the issue, based on the answers of 200 executives from manufacturing businesses in the state that require drug testing.

The PMA headline:

One in three potential new hires refuses or fails drug test

Sounds high, right?

(Sorry, but we made it six paragraphs into this column until our first drug pun. Respect that.)

Look at the results another way: Although Corbett said that companies "can't find anybody," two out of three applicants are successfully peeing in cups for new jobs.

The survey, conducted by TelOpinion Research, struck a less alarming, if contradictory, tone than the PMA headline.

Consider the survey summary:

"The study shows that for most companies drug testing did not lead to a large percentage of potential employees refusing to take a drug test or show up for a drug test that would be required as a condition of employment. We also saw a small percentage fail to pass the test."

The survey concluded:

"While in many cases the percentages are not high, the fact that 19 percent refuse to take drug tests as a condition of employment and 16 percent fail these tests raises a red flag and a real concern about this issue."

The PMA used that math (19+16=35) to come up with the "one in three" in its headline.

PMA Executive Director David Taylor said he found the survey's results "alarming."

"This is our first attempt to quantify something that we've heard about very consistently over time," Taylor said. "It's an important first step in the larger public-policy debate."

TelOpinion says it found 870 people willing to participate in the survey, but only 200 - or 23 percent - worked for companies that required drug testing for job applicants. The survey, conducted from May 20 to June 4, has a margin of error of 7 percent.

Stack bid = O'Neill boon

A bid by state Sen. Mike Stack III for lieutenant governor could be a boon for City Councilman Brian O'Neill.

Allow us to explain.

Stack, a Democrat, has represented the 5th Senatorial District for 13 years. O'Neill, a Republican, has represented the 10th Councilmanic District for 35 years.

Look at a map, and you see that the districts cover much of the same broad swath of Northeast Philly.

John McNesby, president of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police since 2007, seemed to be mulling a challenge to O'Neill's bid for a 10th term next year.

Stack is paired on a ticket with Tom Wolf, the Democratic nominee for governor, who holds a 20-point lead on Corbett, polls last week showed.

McNesby would turn his focus to the special election for Stack's seat that would follow a Democratic general-election victory.

"My goal is to make sure he's elected," McNesby said of Stack. "I'll definitely be looking at that seat after November."

McNesby notes that about 70 percent of his union's members live in the districts that O'Neill and Stack serve. That's a nice base to start a campaign with.

O'Neill told us he doubted that McNesby would challenge him.

"I've always said John would be a formidable candidate, no matter what he runs for," O'Neill said.

Swearing in Neilson

It's been 24 days since state Rep. Ed Neilson won a special election to complete the last 18 months of the at-large term for former City Councilman Bill Green IV, who resigned in February to chair the School Reform Commission.

No date has been set to swear in Neilson for his new gig.

City Council President Darrell Clarke said yesterday:

"It's the state representative's preference on when he gets sworn in. He'll be here soon."

Neilson yesterday said he didn't know he gets to select the day when he is sworn in.

For now, Neilson says he is building a Council staff while focusing on negotiations for the state budget, due June 30.

- Staff Writer Jenny DeHuff

contributed to this report.

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN


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