Amendment on drunken firefighters rejected 

Voters will no longer have an opportunity to establish a "zero tolerance" policy for firefighters drinking on the job.

The proposed charter amendment for the June 8 ballot died Thursday in the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee hearing when there wasn’t enough support to move it forward.

Supervisor Chris Daly, who introduced the amendment, said it was "simple" and "good public policy."

"It is intended to keep us safe," he said. "If you have a fire, you don’t want someone coming that has their abilities impaired."

But the measure was blasted by the firefighters union and department Chief Joanne Hayes-White, who called it unnecessary and unfair.

Similarly, Daly’s colleagues on the committee, supervisors David Campos and Eric Mar, expressed an unwillingness to support it, prompting Daly to abandon the amendment.

Hayes-White told the supervisors she was "very disheartened with what is being proposed" and that the department had "one of the most comprehensive drug and alcohol policies."

Since random drug and alcohol testing began in September 2005, more than 1,600 firefighters have undergone random urine tests, according to Hayes-White, and only five had positive tests. "Clearly our policy is working," she said.

Two charter amendments introduced for the June 8 ballot that would address city labor costs were postponed to a Thursday meeting to allow time for more negotiations.

One would overhaul San Francisco’s pension system to address the skyrocketing costs of retiree benefits.

The other would address the labor costs of the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni, by removing from the City Charter a provision that sets a floor for the compensation of transit vehicle operators.

For the charters to make it onto the June 8 ballot, it would take at least six votes from the full Board of Supervisors.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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