Health Department Probe a State Matter
Criminal investigation taken over by Department of Justice, city officials say.
Over a year after a criminal investigation into the failings of the Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) was first revealed, the investigation is still ongoing and now in state hands.
But that investigation is now in the hands of the Wisconsin Department of Justice according to multiple city officials. The department is led by Attorney General Josh Kaul.
A status update on the MHD before the Common Council’s Steering & Rules Committee revealed that the investigation is ongoing and causing problems with the department’s ability to close out lingering cases related to the tenure of former Commissioner Bevan K. Baker.
Baker resigned in January 2018 after a myriad of problems were revealed in the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
In discussing the outside audit being performed by the Public Health Foundation (PHF), independently-elected City Comptroller Martin Matson revealed the investigation is still active. “Also there is still an investigation going on that I’m not a part of,” said Matson.
Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik, who has led MHD since September 2018, said the investigation is preventing the department from closing old cases.
“Some of the files and investigations are being held up with that,” said Kowalik of the investigation. Earlier in the meeting, another MHD representative said 43 homes have not been abated from a pool of 120 that weren’t treated.
“There are various pieces because they’re looking at a certain time period,” said Kowalik of the records in the hands of the DOJ. “Hopefully this gets wrapped up soon because it’s been a while.”
Records that the PHF has sought for its audit have been unavailable for review because of the investigation. The foundation’s audit also includes the review of three earlier audits of the department executed by the department, the State of Wisconsin and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Alderman Mark Borkowski expressed displeasure that the investigation is still going. “I know there is an investigation going on, I’m not sure what the heck that means, I’ve heard investigation for years now,” said the alderman.
“Literally,” added Ald. Robert Bauman.
“I don’t understand what’s taking so long for an investigation,” said Borkowski.
Borkowski and council members Jose G. Perez and Russell W. Stamper, II expressed displeasure that the audit is more an audit of the audits than new research. Representatives of the foundation and Matson said that still included substantial research and document procurement.
Matson said when the audit is complete in April he was confident the committee would be pleased with the quality of the report.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article identified the U.S. Department of Justice as the overseeing entity. An MHD spokesperson reached out to say that the department involved is the state department of justice.
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More about the Lead Crisis
- City Hall: Former Health Director Blames Barrett - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 24th, 2019
- Statement of Bevan K. Baker - Bevan K. Baker - Dec 23rd, 2019
- Mayor Barrett Proposes $2.2 Million in Block Grant Funds for Lead Abatement - Mayor Tom Barrett - Dec 4th, 2019
- City Hall: Health Department Probe a State Matter - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 14th, 2019
- City Hall: Proposal Uses Lead Abatement Funds for Marketing - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 7th, 2019
- Op Ed: Everyone Deserves Clean Water - State Sen. Jon Erpenbach - Nov 4th, 2019
- Residents Rally for Clean Drinking Water - Princess Safiya Byers - Nov 1st, 2019
- Baldwin Pushes for Action on Lead Poisoning - Isiah Holmes - Oct 30th, 2019
- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Urges CMS to Increase Childhood Lead Screenings - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Oct 28th, 2019
- Senator Taylor Continues To Bring Attention to High Levels of Lead and its Connection to Violence - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Oct 22nd, 2019
- Sen. Taylor Calls for Focus on Violence Prevention - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Oct 21st, 2019
- Lead Exposure Linked to Gun Violence - Corri Hess - Oct 21st, 2019
- Evers Pushes Action on Water Quality - Shamane Mills - Oct 20th, 2019
- Study Finds Link Between Childhood Exposure to Lead and Firearm Violence - University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Oct 18th, 2019
- EPA Proposes Updates to Rules Impacting Lead and Copper in Drinking Water - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Oct 11th, 2019
- Milwaukee awarded $5.6 million HUD grant to protect children and families from lead hazards in the home - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Oct 1st, 2019
- City Hall: Feds Award $5.6 Million for Lead Abatement - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 1st, 2019
- DHS Lead Abatement Program Receives Federal Approval - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Sep 12th, 2019
- MKE County: Committee Approves Loans for Lead Laterals - Isiah Holmes - Sep 10th, 2019
- Supervisor Weishan Demands Action to Replace Lead Laterals - Sup. John F. Weishan, Jr. - Sep 5th, 2019
- Evers Wants State Health “Lead Czar” - Erik Gunn - Jul 30th, 2019
- Gov. Evers takes action to protect children from lead exposure - Wisconsin Conservation Voters - Jul 29th, 2019
- Gov. Evers Signs Executive Order 36 Relating to Measures to Abate and Prevent Lead Exposure in Drinking Water - Gov. Tony Evers - Jul 29th, 2019
- City Hall: Outside Firm Auditing City’s Lead Program - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 29th, 2019
- Clean Drinking Water Effort Falls Short - Isiah Holmes - Jul 24th, 2019
- The State of Politics: New DNR Head Has Agenda of Change - Steven Walters - Jul 22nd, 2019
- City Hall: 1,893 Lead Service Lines Replaced - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 17th, 2019
- City Hall: Council Protects Tenants Seeking Lead Hazard Remedies - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 11th, 2019
- Council approves ordinance protecting tenants in lead-exposure investigations - Ald. Jose Perez - Jul 10th, 2019
- City Hall: Board of Health Appointments Sail Through - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 27th, 2019
- Rep. Robyn Vining Condemns Removal of Lead Service Line Replacement from Budget - State Rep. Robyn Vining - May 15th, 2019
- City Hall: Who Can Get a Free Lead Filter? - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 25th, 2019
- Chisholm Confirms Health Department Probe - Edgar Mendez - Apr 24th, 2019
- Freshwater For Life Action Coalition (FLAC) & Get The Lead Out Coalition (GTLO) Support Letter To Milwaukee County District Attorney By Milwaukee Alderpersons - Freshwater For Life Action Coalition - Apr 23rd, 2019
- City Hall: DA Asked To Consider Charging City Officials - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 22nd, 2019
- Report Urges Action on Schools’ Drinking Water - Danielle Kaeding - Apr 12th, 2019
- A House Divided: Comments from State Rep Show the Current Chasm in Wisconsin - Ald. Michael Murphy - Apr 10th, 2019
- A statement from Alderman Terry L. Witkowski following the March 22 special Public Safety and Health Committee meeting - Ald. Terry Witkowski - Mar 22nd, 2019
- City Hall: FLAC, Get the Lead Out Fight City Over Lead Posioning - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 22nd, 2019
- Special meeting devoted to lead in water issues will feature city departments - Ald. Bob Donovan - Mar 20th, 2019
- City Hall: Council Approves Civilian Health Oversight Board - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 5th, 2019
- Marquette University to host Flint water crisis author Anna Clark - Marquette University - Jan 18th, 2019
- Lead-Free Homes a Priority for Kowalik - Corri Hess - Jan 17th, 2019
- Council approves legislation concerning the Milwaukee Health Department’s lead reporting processes and water filter distribution plans - Ald. Milele Coggs - Jan 15th, 2019
- Forum Examines Lead Poisoning Prevention - Abby Ng - Nov 30th, 2018
- City Hall: City’s Lead Program is Working Again - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 16th, 2018
- League of Women Voters – Nov. 17 Public Program Addressing Lead Issues: A Milwaukee Focus - League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County - Nov 5th, 2018
- Citizens deserve to hear from Bevan Baker in public proceeding - Ald. Tony Zielinski - Oct 22nd, 2018
- Milwaukee’s Young Children Need to Be the Focus - Ald. Mark Borkowski - Sep 24th, 2018
- City Hall: Baker To Testify Before Common Council - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 14th, 2018
- Warning Residents of Lead Dangers - Jenny Whidden - Jul 18th, 2018
- Governor Walker Administration Awards More Than $26 Million for Lead Service Line Replacement in 42 Wisconsin Communities - Gov. Scott Walker - Jul 18th, 2018
- Environmental Review of City of Milwaukee Project for the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Jul 9th, 2018
- Environmental review of City of Milwaukee project for the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Jun 26th, 2018
- Common Council approves full lead hazard review for city-owned properties - Ald. Jose Perez - May 8th, 2018
- Legislation mandates lead water lines replacement at child care facilities - Ald. Milele Coggs - Apr 26th, 2018
- Child Care Centers Still Have Lead Pipes - Edgar Mendez - Apr 23rd, 2018
- Legislation looks to local source for water infrastructure needs - Ald. Milele Coggs - Apr 4th, 2018
- ‘10thirtysix ’ to re-ring the alarm bell on milwaukee’s lead crisis - Milwaukee PBS - Mar 27th, 2018
- Chief of Staff Comment on FLAC - Patrick Curley - Mar 22nd, 2018
- Evers Demands Action on Wisconsin’s Drinking Water Crisis - Gov. Tony Evers - Mar 21st, 2018
- Op Ed: How City Should Solve Lead in Water - Noelle Chesley, Anne Dressel, John Berges, and Helen Meier - Mar 2nd, 2018
- Alderman Bohl: A better strategy is needed in dealing with lead laterals - Ald. Jim Bohl - Feb 26th, 2018
- City Hall: McManus Lays Out Three Priorities for Health Department - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 23rd, 2018
- Governor Walker Signs Leading on Lead Act into Law - Gov. Scott Walker - Feb 21st, 2018
- City Hall: Mayor Allows Interim Health Leader - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 15th, 2018
- City Hall: Will Mayor Confirm Health Commissioner? - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 14th, 2018
- City Hall: HUD Halts City Lead Treatment Program - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 12th, 2018
- From Dr. Patricia McManus: Comments clarified - Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton - Feb 9th, 2018
- Comments by newly appointed interim Health Department commissioner troubling - Ald. Michael Murphy - Feb 9th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Appoints McManus Interim Health Leader - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 6th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Barrett Withdraws Nannis Nomination - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 5th, 2018
- FLAC Calls on Common Council to Confirm Dr. Patricia McManus as Interim Health Commissioner - Freshwater For Life Action Coalition - Feb 3rd, 2018
- Silence is Complicity – If You See Something, Please Say Something - Ald. Milele Coggs - Feb 2nd, 2018
- Gag Order for Health Department Employees Lifted by Mayor - Ald. Bob Donovan - Feb 1st, 2018
- Resolution Aims to Take Down Milwaukee Health Department’s Restrictive Communication Policy - Ald. Tony Zielinski - Feb 1st, 2018
- Common Council Alerts At-Risk Populations of Lead Risks After City of Milwaukee Health Department Fails to Notify Public - Milwaukee Common Council - Jan 31st, 2018
- Key Details Missing from the Mayor’s Account of Lead Testing Crisis - Ald. Khalif Rainey - Jan 31st, 2018
- What We Really Need: Answers - Ald. Russell Stamper, II - Jan 31st, 2018
- The Administration has Lost the Common Council’s Confidence in Addressing the Lead Issue - Ald. Jose Perez - Jan 30th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Report Finds Health Dept. Problems - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 30th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Could Reject Interim Health Leader - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 30th, 2018
- Aldermen Ask City Attorney for Legality of Paul Nannis’ position - Milwaukee Common Council - Jan 29th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: $750 Million to Replace Lead Pipes - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 24th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Responds to Lead Crisis - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 23rd, 2018
- Legislation seeks lead service line replacement for city-owned properties - Ald. Bob Bauman - Jan 19th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Grills Mayor, City Health Staff - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 17th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Launches Health Dept. Probe - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 17th, 2018
- Resolution calls for Milwaukee Water to give public lead updates - Ald. Tony Zielinski - Jan 17th, 2018
- Commissioner Baker’s departure leaves us all with many, many questions - Ald. Bob Donovan - Jan 16th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Barrett Ousts Bevan Baker Over Lead Fiasco - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 12th, 2018
- Health Department mistakes worsen city’s lead crisis - Ald. Mark Borkowski - Jan 12th, 2018
- Council set to act on Health Department crisis - Milwaukee Common Council - Jan 12th, 2018
- Freshwater For Life Action Coalition (FLAC) to Hold Press Conference After Announcement Of Firing Health Commissioner Bevan Baker - Freshwater For Life Action Coalition - Jan 12th, 2018
- Is City Dragging Feet on Lead Filters? - Jabril Faraj and Elliot Hughes - Jan 3rd, 2018
- Common Council Strengthens Lead Standards - Jabril Faraj - Dec 5th, 2017
- One Step Closer to Tackling Wisconsin’s Lead Crisis - State Sen. Chris Larson - Oct 31st, 2017
- Advocates Push City On Lead Pipes - Jabril Faraj - Oct 25th, 2017
- Lead Poisoning a “Public Health Crisis” - Jabril Faraj - Jul 19th, 2017
- National Water Expert Retracts Criticism of City Health Department - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Jul 14th, 2017
- Governor Walker Announces 35 Municipalities to Receive a Total of $13.8 Million to Remove Lead Service Lines - Gov. Scott Walker - Jun 28th, 2017
- Campaign Cash: WMC Opposes Lead Pipes Bill - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Apr 20th, 2017
- Op Ed: State Action Needed on Lead Pipes Problem - Chris Walker - Mar 12th, 2017
- Murphy’s Law: How Milwaukee Handled “Flint” Crisis - Bruce Murphy - Jan 19th, 2017
- Tainted Water: State’s Failures On Lead Pipes - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Jan 15th, 2017
- Tainted Water: Lax Rules Expose Kids To Lead-Tainted Water - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Dec 19th, 2016
- Tainted Water: DNR Program Replaces Lead Laterals - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Dec 19th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Approves Help For Lead Pipes - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 13th, 2016
- Tainted Water: DNR Delays on Lead Poisoning Issue - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Dec 4th, 2016