DUI discussion on tap for County Commissioners Tuesday

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Not yet three weeks after County Administrator Joe Baird was found not guilty of Driving Under the Influence by a jury of his peers, the Board of County Commissioners will bring to the table some pressing concerns about the apparent unequal treatment of different classes of county employees who face DUI charges.

This is in response to the four-month public outcry about Baird remaining in his job while awaiting trial, while other employees have been suspended without pay or even fired for similar charges. Commission Chairman Wesley Davis allowed a limited discussion of this matter in June, but the public was instructed to frame their comments very carefully and narrowly as to not infringe on Baird’s Consititutional right to remain innocent until or unless proven guilty. Tuesday’s meeting is the chance many people have been waiting for to discuss the topic freely.

Commissioners Gary Wheeler and Bob Solari have both requested items be placed on the agenda for discussion under their commissioners’ matters.

Wheeler’s item offers no backup documentation, but Solari is requesting two actions be taken by the county.

First, he wants two additional mock DUI events to be added to the schedule currently undertaken by the Indian River County Fire Rescue Department. Currently, mock DUI events are put on at high schools to discourage new drivers from drinking and driving. Solari wants an event for adults to be offered in conjunction with a public event and another event at St. Edward’s Upper School, which is in his commission district.

The second item on Solari’s matters deals directly with the Baird matter. The item reads, “A discussion to adopt a Board policy . . . where the BCC going forward will hold the County Administrator to the same standard as general and union employees.”

Human Resources Director Jim Sexton was instructed by commissioners last month to have all the documents available at Tuesday’s meeting to answer questions and address options for possibly proposing changes the county’s Drug-Free Workplace Policy. To give a full picture of the different standards for different types of employees, union and non-union, Sexton is also expected to give a brief overview of the provisions in the relevant union contracts with the Teamsters and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. in the Commission Chambers, located in Building A of the County Administration Complex.

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