At freedom's cradle: Drug testing sparks outrage


Are Monticello guides snorting up lines in the fancy bathrooms of the new Visitor Center? Are the horiculturists secretly growing cannabis in Mr. Jefferson's gardens? In short, has a major drug problem erupted at the internationally famous UNESCO World Heritage Site?

In a word, no, at least not as far as the Hook could discover, and a guffaw is the typical response when such questions are posed to current and past employees. Yet, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates Monticello, has begun implementing a "drug-free workplace policy" that randomly drug tests all employees. And many aren't laughing.

"I think it's bullsh*t," says one. "It creates a climate of fear."

"Way overboard," says another. "It's an unnecessary invasion of the body."

Both of these employees, who are around 60 and usually outspoken citizens, asked that their names not be used in this article because of fear for their jobs. And they're not the only people holding these truths to be self-defeating.

"I think it's insulting," says former employee Dorothy Buschi, who retired in 2001. "It insults our integrity.

"It was like a family," remembers Buschi, who treasures over two decades employment at Monticello. And when people work so closely together, she says, anyone impaired by drug use would be noticeable.

Nonetheless, the policy, announced in late May, began sending employees to the toilet October 13.

"Random drug testing is a best practice employed by many organizations and institutions, especially those that deal extensively with the public, as we do," says Monticello spokesman Wayne Mogielnicki in an emailed statement.

Was the policy to get lower insurance premiums, as suggested by an outraged employee? "We decline further comment," replies Mogielnicki, who also refuses to say how many of Monticello's 343 employees were tested and what happens to employees who don't pass.

Were there incidents of drug-crazed behavior or accidents that prompted the policy? "I decline to comment," says Mogielnicki, a former newspaper editor, who refuses to provide a copy of the foundation's pee-in-a-cup policy.

An email obtained by the Hook sent to employees from human resources director Angela Jeanne Butler explains the six reasons why current employees–- even the docents–- might randomly get chosen to urinate into a container.

Reason #2: Solidarity with shuttle bus drivers, who are subject to federal law that requires testing of transportation workers, such as airline pilots, truck drivers, and train engineers.

"We do not want anyone or any work group singled out," writes Butler. "We are all one team."

Number 3 reiterates that employees work with the public–- and children. The desire to attract and retain the "best and brightest" employees is reason #4. Reason #5 is that organizations similar to Monticello are already doing this, according to the May 29 email.

Intrigued, the Hook checked with another local presidential home, Montpelier, and with historic Winterthur in Delaware, which was headed by Monticello's new director, Leslie Bowman, at the time of her 2008 hiring. Neither randomly tests its employees. And despite lots of muskets and blackmithery, nor does Colonial Williamsburg.

"We do drug test as a condition of employment," says Williamsburg communications director Tom Shrout, and, he adds, "if there is cause, such as an accident."

What about a place that daily deals with life and death situations– and also is associated with Thomas Jefferson? The UVA Medical Center has pre-employment drug testing, but does not randomly test, according to spokesman Peter Jump.

Last on the HR memo of reasons why random drug testing at Monticello is a good idea: reduced insurance premiums. "This is saved money that we can use for other purposes," writes Butler. After all, Monticello laid off three full-time employees in July during a recession-related reorganization.

"In my day, I was unaware of any drug issues– not a single instance," says former Monticello president Dan Jordan, who retired as the institution's leader after 24 years last November. He declines to comment on the new policy.

Jordan calls back to add, "In my day, Monticello operated as a family with a culture of trust." He says that human resources had a program for confidentially dealing with addictions of various types. "When I said I wasn't aware, there may have been confidential treatments, but I wasn't aware of any."

Under the new policy, employees' bodies aren't the only things subject to their employer's examination. Their cars, too, can be searched while on Thomas Jefferson Foundation property, as can lunch boxes and "other personal articles."

Says an employee, who emphasizes that she does not use drugs: "I really feel like Thomas Jefferson would not pee in a cup."

–headline changed: 125pm Monday
–original headline: Drug problem? Monticello employees randomly tested


Ya know, the new director is pushing away some donors, especially if they are not the high rollers group. Dan never did that. BIG MISTAKE!

Personally, I'm annoyed that the communications and human resources people are called out personally. Do you really think HR wanted to enact this policy or put up with all of the crap Monticello employees are giving them? Do you really think the communications people liked this decision?

NO. The money people pushed this decision through to save money on insurance. It's as simple as that.

C'ville Eye, your writing is always an interesting read. Funny though how you often start to ramble and mis-word things more as it gets later in the day. What recreational substances are you ingesting in the evening by the way?

Your logic regarding problems in those "black" neighborhoods has gone way loopy. Blacks have been dealt with more harshly by the drug laws, that's why there is still a problem in "black" neighborhoods??? And that's evidence that people "want the druggies out of jail?" And then you go on to make the absolutely ludicrous assertion that the Downtown Mall has been taken over by drug dealers? I'll just chalk that up to the evening's late hour and hope for better once you've had a bit of a nappie poo.

What I don't understand, truly, is why is this a matter of public opinion? This is a private employer - I don't understand why this has caused so much attention or why this is newsworthy.

For those who say it's OK to just test a portion of the employees such as the bus drivers, where do you draw the line? The people that another poster referred to as those "that tend the gardens" use some heavy equipment - shouldn't they be tested? Then, if the bus drivers and those that use equipment are tested, shouldn't the employees that drive Monticello vehicles be tested? Then, if bus drivers, those that use heavy equipment, and those that drive Monticello vehicles are tested, shouldn't those that care for the priceless artifacts that can NEVER be replaced, be tested?

Just where do you draw the line?

Hey Jonah, I think Ann Taylor should actually stop listening to her. Leslie has a new place for her horses, which appears to be her first priority. Ann should know better.

Well I think that the managers of public relations should be taking a whiz quiz. They are definetly smoking something if they believe T.J. was the only Jefferson that could have fathered Sally Hemmings babies.

Will they also test for caffeine abuse, nicotine abuse and alchohol addiction? Oh that's right those are okay because they are sanctioned by the government and taxed.

Leslie Bowman took over Monticello on October 31st, 2008! ..... Halloween!! ....Isn't it ironic? She & Ann Taylor,(Exec. V.P.), have been "stirring up a witches brew!! ....Bubble, Bubble , Toil & Trouble!! We all toil, and are in trouble!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is BS. Pre-hiring screening is fine, and for-cause testing is fine. But random for something like working in a gift shop or tending a garden is pure, unadulterated, out-of-control fascist BS. "Solidarity with the bus drivers." Really?

It seems that Dan Jordan took all the class with him when he retired.

When at Virginia we often used ask "What would Mr. Jefferson do?" We figured he would turn the Pavilions into parking garages and put some modern plumbing and HVAC into the Lawn rooms. One thing's for sure: he wouldn't do this.

"Everyone else is doing it" is a rationale that would be quickly shot down by most parents if their child used it to justify some dodgy request.

"Best practice" makes me cringe every time I hear it - it's like a salesperson saying "Absolutely!" in answer to every question from a skeptical customer.

Sorry - "Are there..."

This is old stuff, employers have been doing this for years. It doesn't mean I find it agreeable but a necessary evil. With 343 employees the odds dictate that there is illicit drug use among a percentage of their employees. Unfortunately this is the work climate we live in today.

Again, how do you know that the new director did not particpate or that the director has not stated that she complies or has complied?

It is a small town! And this is news!

Get over it! :)

If you want to see "small town" news in the making, just wait until the first forecast of snow. All the various "Storm Teams" hit the roads televising live from various intersections with their predictions of what's to come in the next 24 to 36 hours! You will then think the world is about to end with everybody rushing to the grocery store, filling up their vehicles with gas, and physically fighting to purchase that last snow shovel and bag of salt at Lowes!! Small town life, hilarious!!!

To monkey see - I know as much as you do it looks like - only what is printed here. The difference is that I'm not making any assumptions about the people involved. You can speculate as much as you want, but what it comes down to is that this is a privately held organization and they are within their rights to perform drug testing and within their rights to make limited statements. Exactly how much they wish to reveal about their policy or procedure is up to them.

The Monticello grapevine can be a vicious thing. I retain full confidence in the Board's selection of the new president. In addition to the inherent difficulties of the job itself, she follows an immensely popular [at least in public eye] former president. It seems far, far too early in her tenure to be casting such definitive judgments. Let's all take a deep breath and step back for a while.

It's sad when the head of an otherwise good organization can ruin the moral of the employees, and the character of the whole organization in a short time. The same thing is happening at Region Ten and in both cases the entire community will suffer. Too often the board provides no oversight until it's too late. Hope the board of Monticello is reading this, and willing is to intervene.

Maybe Bowman has a hangup in talking about the issue. If so, has she thought about how awkward it will be for many of her employees as they are forced to comply in order to keep their jobs? Monticello has seen better days.

Wayne Mogielnicki spent his years at the Progress whining when people didn't talk to the press and now he does the same thing. I have heard nothing but bitterness about this new director as well and how she ran off many long term employees.

Perhaps they are just trying to go green by attaching a generator to Jefferson's tomb, since he is probably spinning in his grave so quickly they can now power the place

The reality, any druggies working for Monticello WILL find a way to beat the testing system. Here's how they will do it if they want to keep their job.Every morning before coming to work they can ask a drug free family member to pee in a cup. Then poor it into a ziplock. Take it to work. Bowman will never know and they will pass the test. The sad thing, the drug free employees are punished in the process. I agree, testing the bus drivers is another separate matter. I'm sure those who desire a job driving a bus would agree. Bowman has made a huge mistake. Thanks to the HOOK for exposing the situation.

Bowman reminds me of a mean teacher I had. Teach punished the whole class for the sins of a few bad apples.

I fully disagree with the testing of these employees because of the work they do. If the shuttle drivers must be tested due to federal law, then that is justified. Other than that, only a person that shows signs of drug and/or alcohol use should be tested. Even if random testing is allowed within policy, that doesn't mean you have to do it.
I would like to see testing done on all hospital workers, for they are dealing with people's lives. People on narcotics for chronic pain definitely do not belong in the hospital environment. There is an increased chance a patient can suffer at their hands, and that they can hurt themselves-then it becomes workman's comp.

As an employee at Monticello, I can attest to the fact that Bowman is ruining the atmosphere and beauty of Jefferson's mountain. She is turning what was a happy family into a greedy and impersonal corporation. She is inflicting terrible rules and guidelines on employees for no apparent reason all the while exempting herself from any moral code or strictures. Dan Jordan is sorely missed.

Otherside, I'm not making assumptions. I now happen to know a little more than you know or you think I know. In fact, I made a few phone calls to some of my Monticello friends. The morale has needlessly been trashed. My God, the workers aren't performing surgery or flying planes! Many of the same workers have been entrusted with the care of heads of state and high profile visitors in the past. Bowman's hidden,heavy handed form of management will eventually come back to bite her in my view. Such tactics have brought down many an organization. She can't come out a winner.

If any of those people want to give me a crack at their job I will pee in a cup, a can, a shot glass or or just bring it in in my hand. These people should be happy they have a job.

Good thing for annoyed they aren't testing for illiteracy too.

Nice Whitehorse, I am glad you can be constructive also and show you are just a bigoted fool. You concern appears to be about freedom of drug use.

Annoyed, THANK GOD some at Monticello had the courage and guts to speak with the media. It was high time Bowman's tactics were exposed to donors and the public. From what I know, this publicity is making some squirm now. The reason for nervousness, too many people who carry a big stick are furious. Obviously, Bowman doesn't care what her underling workers think. If she cared, she would never have moved in this direction without first gaining clear consensus from employees. You know the old saying, "What goes around comes around". When family members are being exploited,bullied there is reason to snitch on the offending parties.

Hook - I think you've found your next Gail Bentley. Please tell me you will expose the situation before it’s too late. I am deeply saddened by what is happening to Monticello.

For the life of me, I don't know how Monticello is saving any money at all by testing 25% of the employee population every quarter. As a current employee (for over ten years) there certainly isn't a drug problem to warrent this kind of action. I can only surmise that some hack at their insurer has conned them into believing this is going to save money. It only reenforces the fact that medical insurance companies need to go away and massive health reform is the only answer for this insanity.

Insurance brokers and benefits consultants say their small business clients are seeing premiums go up an average of about 15 percent for the coming year ââ?¬â? double the rate of last year’s increases. That would mean an annual premium that was $4,500 per employee in 2008 and $4,800 this year would rise to $5,500 in 2010.

The higher premiums at least partly reflect the inexorable rise of medical costs, which is forcing Medicare to raise premiums, too. Health insurance bills are also rising for big employers, but because they have more negotiating clout, their increases are generally not as steep.

Higher medical costs aside, some experts say they think the insurance industry, under pressure from Wall Street, is raising premiums to get ahead of any legislative changes that might reduce their profits.

This really is one of those things I never really thought about before the last year or so, but I still have no idea what exactly the health insurance companies offer this country. All they seem to do is sponge money off the top of what we pay for health care, make life a living hell for their customers and the medical community in the form of reams of paperwork, hand out lavish bonuses to their management, invest recklessly in whatever the Wall Street bad idea du jour is, and then raise rates when the fur-bearing trout farms don’t pan out and they need to cover their bad investments. Meanwhile, they don’t answer to the consumer and control congress, and are under orders from the Wall Street brokerages.

Do I have this completely wrong? Is there an actual fact-based (and that means you need to look somewhere other than the NRO or glibertarian sites) argument in favor of health insurance agencies? What service do they really offer? Why are these people who it appears add nothing so in control of the debate. I know I have turned into a pinko-commie, but right now this looks like nothing more than an elaborate and legal protection racket.

Monticello is a great organization. I am sure we have many reasons to love and hate the new ideas. But change was inevitable with the advent of leadership. But we must judge Leslie by what she does now that she knows things are not a 100% between her and her employees. What people do during these period often truly predict what kind of person she will become. And if she is able to do better, we must then judge ourselves by our ability to forgive.

From what I hear there is alot more than employee drug testing going on at Monticello. Someone needs to look into the "economics" which required the elimination of three jobs and the reduction of a fourth from full to part time while creating several new more expensive positions including a Vice President postion. Does the current administration think that their educated staff can't do the simple math and conclude that the state of the economy had little to with these changes. In an atmoshere of mistrust no wonder morale is low.

For goodness sakes! What IS happening at Monticello! As a local native Virginian my wife and I have always proudly taken our visitors to Monticello which we think is the highlight of their visit with us. We have sadly read about the comments to The Hook regarding its article about new management's implementing unannounced drug testing for all employees. From reader comments, there is a REAL CONCERN with the new management's LACK OF RESPECT for their employees.

Organizational change and transitions can be difficult but it doesn't have to be demoralizing and degrading. From reader comments about the article, the new management is not providing employees opportunities to participate and be heard in its consideration of making many internal Monticello changes. Maybe the new management needs to consider training to improve its "change managment" skills with its employees!

What do the Monticello Board and its major donors think of all this negative press? Monticello is an international historic treasure! The new management should be striving to keep it that way!

If someone went home after work and smoked dope, just the way many people have an evening drink, that person would test positive for drug use and be fired. Only the most sheltered or otherwise ignorant person would believe that sort of recreational activity done in moderation would make anyone dangerous to anything or anyone. Despite being illegal, that is how huge numbers of marijuana smokers, quite possibly the majority, use marijuana. Laws that prohibit that are simply ridiculous and it's far past time we move past that sort of failed prohibition. If illegal drugs fund terrorism, we can easily put an end to that and save ourselves a fortune in interdiction costs at the same time.

History has for too long been viewed through rosy glasses of nostalgia. That's true to public historians at Monticello until relatively recently - and in my opinion true of many of the comments here effectively citing "the good old days" of Dan's reign. Dr. Jordan had a _long_ list of positive qualities and a _long_ list of accomplishments there - but all was not always as positive as it may have seemed when viewed from outside.

Perhaps current TJF administration should have / could have handled the rollout of testing more effectively - but I see many reasons for the policy. The necessity of economizing whenever possible in this current national and tourism economy mandates difficult decisions.

I generally applaud both the past and current administrations and the directions in which they continue to improve Monticello and the TJ Foundation.

I think it's a good idea for any employee in the private sector that's entrusted with the safety, health and well being of any citizen. And in the case of law enforcement of any type, any employee that's entrusted with the safety, health and well being of any citizen or "defendant".

Having been in public criminal justice service for almost three decades before semi-retirement, I was NEVER EVER tested for drugs. But I feel there were times when drug testing would certainly have weeded out an employee or two in that three decades. I also very seriously doubt if random drug testing is even performed nowadays in any type of local law enforcement positions.

buy your weed locally grown and stop financing terrorists. TJ grew hemp and tobacco and made whisky. no doubt he would have been the sort to sell marijuana too if he could finance his importation of incredible amounts of the drug know as wine with the profits.

To monkey see monkey do - How do you know the new director didn't?

I smell a rat as Mogielnicki witholds the "pee pee policy" from the press. His comments are abrupt,guarded,defensive. Who directed,steered his comment?hmmmm The plot thickens.

Otherside,I certainly hope she is willing to pull down the panties and produce a stream for testing. For PR purposes,employee relations, she should publicly admit she is willing to submit and further participate during the program. Producing a sample can be an intimidating and embarrassing experience. I know of some folks with health concerns who are unable to pee on command. So much for their keeping their own individual conditions private! The director should at least lead in making it clear she will also happily and regularly comply.

Wow, I must have it wrong. I thought the house was filled with priceless things that Jefferson once actually owned. You know things that can't be replaced. You know, original furniture, paintings, the actual house. But, I guess if it's just priceless nails, who cares.

Monticello covered in snow? Dude. Like that is so suggestive, man. And yes, they grew opium poppies in the garden, beautiful deep purple-black at the base with flaming red tips. But now we live in the unfree kind of country Jefferson fought against. They uprooted those beautiful flowers. Because of fear. Our liberty hasn't been taken: we gave it way, going along with stuff like that, out of fear. Dude. Its over. Monticello is a museum now. The liberty bell? In a Philadelphia museum. Freedom itself? A museum exhibit.

Great idea. Too many Presidents and other dignitaries go there. Funny that some people think initially about pot use when people in every profession use all kinds of drugs and I'm sure some of these people have too. Actually, a person's drug of choice has absolutely nothing to do with his social standing or his self-perceived social standing based upon some imagined connection to Thomas Jefferson. As for Jefferson? I'm sure that if drug use affected the performance or judgment of his slaves and drug testing was available in his lifetime, he would have employed it to protect his "resources." He couldn't afford not to.
Give up your drugs people and stop financing the terrorists.

The drug testing was just the cherry on the s-t sundae the docents are enduring at Monticello. Some of them with the most experience,knowledge, and enthusiasm for the place have been demoted or cut. So maybe the new bosses are trying to see if they've succeeded in their efforts and have demoralized folks enough to drive them to drugs. Pass the hookah.

Once trust breaks down, workers will become sneaky, angry, and less productive. It is not as if Bowman can offer the big bucks to retain or bribe employees. Drug offenders will find a way to beat the system. The good piece, Bowman won't last long as director, as she dictates from above. This article and blog expose a huge error on the part of Bowman herself. As time goes on, watch the fur fly!

Cville Eye,
I think I get what your saying. That family and work are two different places. But work places can have a feeling of family or respect. I worked at some really nasty locations and some really nice places.

I think what people meant by 'family' was an environment where people respected and trusted one another and gave each other the benefit of the doubt. In my opinion, every workplace should be like that.

The real reason for the drug testing was to save money on insurance. However, whatever money TJF has saved with the testing they have lost in goodwill and it will never be regained.

Bowman does have serious issues, most important is her making employees to feel discarded and unimportant. It is quite obvious that she wants to leave her mark on Monticello and has not yet learned that that can be done in a careful, studied, and gentle way. She needs to STOP listening to Ann Taylor and start listening to her conscience.

employers have rights. If you don't like the rules QUIT. There are 10% of the populace that would gladly take your job.

As far as treating drugs as a criminal instead of a health issue I call BS. The reason these people are in jail is because they are criminals who steal and rob to feed their habit that got started from CRIMINALS selling them addictive drugs. Virtually no one is in jail for smoking pot. They committed serious crimes that affect us all.

As far as black vs white conviction rates the answer is to convict more whites not let black criminals back into the streets to deal mmore crack to children.

Holy Cow Batman! Are you really this ignorant? Way to lay down the race card Nice Job! Almost hilarious, but I thin you really believe the insane ignorance you spot

perplexed.. I am not ignorant.. the facts speak for themselves... more blacks get comvicted then whites because whites hire expensive lawyers.. that get them off with a reduced sentence... that is real the crime... all criminals that do the crime need to do the time.

If you don't think drug use causes peripheral crime then explain where meth and crack addicts get the money to buy the drugs.(besides stealing car radios and elderly womens purses)

Col. Forbin,
I think you maybe going a tad far. The actions we are talking about are the actions of a non-profit foundation. I understand the blight of blacks in our current legal system. Through that is very profound and dangerous our very own Sen. Webb is fighting against those very injustices. And I feel both your arguement and the person above you are very well written I believe they best directed at your local Congress person. Monticello like any company may have a number of reasons to conduct these test. The currents of the game (politic's) require they take certain norms to protect themselves. Col. Forbin, understand I respect your opinion but you are really attacking the infringement of government not employees. All of those tested agreeded to these in their contracts. You cannot sign a contract and then complain about the terms of the contract. I personnely know many of leaders at Monticello that made these decisions. They were not intended to be sinster or have a negative impact. Of course it has and many were offended but the mistakes that upset many employees were not even mentions in this article. And the Foundation has agreed to fix those problems.

I hear not stop insults on Ms. Bowman. In my frequent contact with her she has been not but awesome. May I remind many people that near the end of Dr. Jordan many felt his time had past and he should move on and that he was stuck in the past. Now many hail him as he should have never left. I agree both are good people with unique strengths and weaknesses. Just give her time before you judge her because things take time. Look at the fickle public opinions polls on Mr. Obama up and down now stop.

Batman is right. The black neigbhorhoods of Charlottesville have begged to get the drug dealers off the streets for over twenty years. STill residents of some local public housing units are complaining of drug dealers around their children. If you sell your drugs in full view of the public on the street you are more likely to go to jail than if you sell it in the frat house. It's really a shame that Sen. Jim Webb wants to keep them on the streets destroying already fragile neighborhoods after the residents finally got somebody to pay attention to them and clean up the streets. I suspect the real reason people want the druggies out of jail is because they don't want to pay the money to keep them there. Just remember, the on street drug dealers didn't stay in the black neighborhoods, they took over the Mall and West Main Street and the Corner. I remember one graduation weekend when there was a gun shoot out across University AV, from the Little John's side to the Natural History Museum side for two blocks.

Wow, Otherside! You must really live on the other side. The shuttle bus drivers are drug-tested because Federal law dictates that everyone with CDL's be tested. The "heavy equipment" is a backhoe that only 2-3 people in the entire Foundation operate and not around visitors. Before employees can drive Monticello vehicles, they must submit to a criminal/DMV background check where any past bad behavior would be discovered. And those "priceless" artifacts are rusty nails, broken bottles, and shattered pottery in plastic bags inside cardboard boxes on metal shelves. They're not mummies or the Dead Sea scrolls!
The argument here isn't whether the Thomas Jefferson Foundation has the legal right to randomly drug-test their employees. The U.S. Supreme Court says they do. The real issue is why the Guardian's of Jefferson's legacy (you know, all that Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness stuff) would subject their employees to an invasion of privacy where no problem exists.

I read the posted comments with some trepidation. Peeing in a cup for a urinalysis is no big deal. Employers are allowed this imposition(public or private organizations)on employees privacy as when you take a mans money, the 'man' has a right to set the conditions that allow you to continue to draw a check from him! My trepidation comes from the fact that NO ONE made the first reference to the fact of forced and illegal search of the employees vehicles;(4th ammendment).HR managers come and go, but the government will infringe ANYWHERE, YOU allow them to!! Never surrender any of your constitutional rights; because when you give up one, they want one more, and so on and so on...

"That being said, I think it’s preposterous to think that a house guide or curator is going to come to work hopped up on goofballs and wreak the house." People come to work at the hospital on stuff frequently. I don't see where inappropriate drug use has anything to do with occupation.

Through my feeling is if you are going to talk to media, did you first try to speak to your boss. And next is a pee test really that bad. I was subjected to them in the service. I see what your saying and maybe I am more comfortable with a heavy hand. And also maybe the real test is does she learn from these mistakes, that is the mark of a good leader also.

Do people really want to persist in this "family" myth? It's getting silly.

Let's talk about workplaces that are respectful of the employed. Makes more sense without increasing employees' expectation of all of the emotions that goes with being a true family.

The right-wingers who support random drug testing for employees of a gift shop will no doubt make the logical leap to random drug tests for all citizens, right? Clean and sober for everyone. It's just a little government interference to make sure we keep evil drug-users in prison and off the roads, right?

But while we're at it, let's let those government officials take a look in your gun cupboard and the bathroom cabinet where you keep your prescriptions. You're paying your taxes, too, aren't you? These dogs got a license? Hey, it only hurts if you have something to hide. Oh, and that computer you're reading this on, we're gonna want to take a look at that too. You know, what sites you look at late at night, the emails you send...

If ever there was a cure worse than the disease,it's the drug laws in this nation,we are filling our prisons at enormous cost,concentrating more on the criminal aspect than the health aspect,,we are now warehousing 25% of the world's prison population with less than 5% of the world's total population,,,"illegal" drugs bankroll gangs,organized crime,,corrupt law enforcement,create murderous cartels,spending BILLIONS on the "drug war" and losing on all fronts!

If history teaches anything,Prohibition should be a lesson in how not to deal with a problem that society refuses to yield to...our laws are heavily biased in application,(blacks are convicted at a rate much higher for the identical "crime" as whites)Crack cocaine with only a fraction of cocaine measure for measure as the pure stuff gets mandatory sentencing while cocaine users often get a fine or a suspended sentence.

YET,there are more drugs readily avilable at lower prices in spite of all the clamor to "just say no".

Anyone interested should look into the origins of the conversion from drug use as a medical problem to a criminal problem,,,,,it may shock those with a modicum of sensitivity to find that the laws were largely racial in application!Start with the Harrison Act in 1914 and read the ravings of Harry Anslinger in the 1930s!

Leaders make decisions based on conditions not consensus. If you do not like your job quit. I am willing to bet most of the complainers have never really had a "bad" work environment.

Bowman herself will suffer the consequences more than the others. In other words she made her own bed here. As time advances, employees will learn how to get the best of her. She has set the stage in engineering a climate that will promote backstabbing and deception. In time, she will get her due.

It seems like this is really a place to vent. Fact of the matter is an employer has legal rights to do drug testing because it has an impact on how an employee performs.

It is an individual's business what they do in their own time, but if they are arriving at work under the influence of drugs it impacts the work they do.

Pretty much like driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. A person above the legal drinking age limit, can consume as much alcohol as they want till they take to the roads. Why? They become a hazard to everyone's health if they are intoxicated.

Same is true for drugs too, why should an employee who does not do drugs have to put up with someone else who does. The only exception is drug use for medical reasons. It is a well documented fact that there is a significant loss in productivity when employees are using banned substances.

this is ludicrous. more police state.

uh huh, who exactly started the routine practice of phone tapping and monitoring email? this isn't a political issue. our constitution has been disregarded almost before the ink was dry.

does anyone really believe the docents at monticello are in need of monitoring for drugs? let's all take a good dose of reality.

have they stopped selling opium poppy seeds too? for many years, they were our reliable local source

for the old guy who thinks testing is a "necessary evil." if someone's job performance doesn't indicate a problem of any sort, why fabricate a problem to find just so a good worker can be fired? why on earth should i or anyone else care if someone who might guide me on a tour of an old house chooses on his or her own time to relax with a bong hit or two?

I think that the real irony here is that TJ grew the stuff right there in his garden and now the people that take care of his place are subject to random testing and termination.

drug users are losers. a company has every right to do this. i hope all of them start doing this. the use of drugs is way out of hand in the work place now days. clean and sober is a good thing

@doghouse21, since the government isn't doing the searches, the Constitutional rights have not been violated.

Crickey. I think they should testing elected officials just before a meeting. I would suggest starting in Scottsville. I bet you would get a few positive hits.

I think you are making a lot of assumptions for your one-sided argument.

The director should have explained her own role in "personally participating" for this story. What is with the director? Does the "cat have her tongue"? Former head Dan Jordan responded and commented with regard to an upsetting situation for many employees. Seems the director appointed another to do the talking for her. Why isn't she willing to speak for herself?

"I think what people meant by ââ?¬Ë?family’ was an environment where people respected and trusted one another and gave each other the benefit of the doubt." These attributes make for a good workplace environment but are particularly descriptive of "family." Families often have different dynamics than what you describe. Siblings, for example, often tell their parents that a brother or sister was using drugs during lunch, causing parents to pounch on the offender rather than give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that's exactly what happened at Monticello and "family" is the appropriate word.

To Otherside: Those are antiques; artifacts are stuff dug up by archaeologists. But I understand how someone can legitimately apply that term to the relics in the house. That being said, I think it's preposterous to think that a house guide or curator is going to come to work hopped up on goofballs and wreak the house.
To Annoyed: I wish that was true, but people in positions of power rare acknowledge their mistakes. No matter how bad the PR, the powers-that-be at Monticello will simply hide behind "No Comment" and pat each other on the back and say "Keep up the good job". The real shame is that this debacle would have been moot if the administration had treated their employees like adults and explained that the Foundation could save 5-figures in liability insurance premiums and thus save 1 or more jobs by drug-testing a sample of the entire Foundation. But they chose to sell the employees some crap about solidarity with the bus drivers.

How utterly stupid.

Profound! Thanks, Colonel. Now, step away from the bong and explain why it's stupid.

If people that work in both the public and private sector are being tested for drugs, then it is only fair to randomly drug test those receiving public housing and/or welfare. If I have to "piss" for my paycheck, why shouldn't someone receiving public assistance? You pee dirty - no check! Now, wouldn't THAT be interesting..

Are their any Federal funds financing this enterprise? If so, they most likely fall under the myriad Federal employment statutes, which include numerous invasive requirements related to a "drug free work place". Once you wrap your lips around the Federal teat, you let them (the Federal Government) say that "this is the way it must be", and can't hold them to account vis a vis the Constitution. You have no choice but to shut up, sit down and be their lackeys. Unless, of course, somebody with a pair reminds the cornholes in Washington about a little something known as the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution. With Barry in the White House, expect lots more of the same. Sorry to have to be the one to alert the libs in the area that Barry and his facists denying Constitution rights might actually impact pot smoking by TJ's docents, and not just beat up on those "horrid Conservatives" that think that the 2nd Amendment is just like all the other first 10 Amendments which are individual rights.

Otherside, Can you clarify? Has the director discussed her own willingness,intent to personally participate in the program? I find it strange that she has personally avoided making comments to the media, this situation. Employees, others are obviously upset with the new initiative. Seems to me, she is being publicly,visibly called on the carpet now that the cat is out of the bag. Sure, she has the right to remain mute,media coverage. If I were her, I would be willing to defend,negotiate a policy that is certainly being challenged by employees and many donors.

I love our small town mentality that this is news... I think we should all get over it.

Gasbag Self Ordained Expert, you've gotten it exactly right, but this is the first time I've thought it is funny. Thanks for the picture.

I was just googling "Monticello Jefferson opium medicine" and this stuff was one of the things that came up.

I don't think the problem is drug-testing. These days, honestly, no one really gets all that bent out of shape about drug testing. No one likes to do it, but we live in a meaner world than we once did, and drugs finance death and disaster at every turn. I'll pee in a cup any day and take my chances on a random error. I don't have a job that requires drug testing--I work for a copy shop--but I'd do it if they asked me. I know I'm clean.

And, no, *I* don't think ANY of the new bosses took drug tests. I don't live in your town, and I don't know your issues, but I sure as all get out can recognize lousy management. Someone said the new Director was from some other job. What was his/her record there? It bothers me a lot to hear about people getting demoted and cut out. Something has changed, and the change--from what I am reading here--is a really bad one.

I've been to Monticello many times over the years. Until about a year or so ago, the tours just got better and better. The docents were so up on Jefferson and Co. I wondered how many of them could take--and pass--a doctoral examination on the subject. Probably most of them. My last tour was about eighteen months ago. A wonderful experience. I recommended it to all my friends who were taking trips to the area last summer.

Now, I know people who went OUT OF THEIR WAY, on MY say-so, to visit one of the world's best places. They said the tour wasn't worth the money, and that something must be different now.

Where did all those great people go? What happened to my favorite place to visit in Virginia?

I'd bet if someone looked into the background of all this stuff, that you'd find some very, very nasty dust bunnies under Jefferson's bed.

I wonder what's happened at Monticello in the last year or so? After all, lots of people thought Bernie was a nice guy.

Good luck, folks. I have a feeling Monticello is taking a swift ride down a slick hill.

Hey Everyone who commented,
Of course I respect everyones opinions but I want to address one group. First to those who spoke to the media you call Monticello a family or it used to be a family. But instead of working out problems in house you ran to a newspaper this makes you just as guilty of destroying any family atmosphere.

In fact I think families still exist but they are not created at Ms. Bowmans level but for each of us. We can make it something special.

Second group for those who think our best days have passed you are clearly living in a twist world. Because we are growing stronger then ever and I am proud to be part of that. Things are changing yes, but that was expected when you get new leadership. You criticize but fail to look at all of the new ideas and how things are getting better and better. Next you have a problem do something constructed and talk to your bosses.

The new director should also be willing to do as she dictates. For starters, she should step into the potty, pee into a cup, hold it up for all to see, and then turn it over for the others to test.

Music Lover is right about the loss of class. It seems the more I hear and see about the happenings on the mountain, the more saddened I become and worried about the future of the former "happy family" on the mountain.

I know someone that works there and they have said in private that most of the top level employees agree that this new president will run Monticello into the ground. This drug testing ordeal is public proof of what is going on. From the sound of things, this woman is a little "off" and seems to be doing things based on emotion and ego rather than knowing what the hell she is really doing!