Commissioner Baker’s departure leaves us all with many, many questions
Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan - January 16, 2018
As the Common Council begins to explore the width and breadth of the Milwaukee Health Department’s failure to properly notify thousands of families that their children had elevated levels of lead in their blood, one date will be foremost in my mind: December 28, 2017.
On that date, Mr. Benjamin James, a health department employee, e-mailed all fifteen members of the Common Council and Mayor Barrett expressing his concerns about the way lead testing was being conducted and the results reported. His concerns were taken seriously enough that then-Commissioner Bevan Baker sent a widely-distributed e-mail that same day — December 28 — offering assurances that the matter was being investigated.
And for months now, Alderman Tony Zielinski has had to fight a seemingly unending battle to get a resolution through the Public Safety and Health Committee dealing with this issue. Even once it was adopted, he continued to say that little was being done to implement its requirements.
Add all this to the reports of employees leaving the department in large numbers and the impression given is of an agency in disarray.
Commissioner Baker has resigned. The idea, however, that all this dysfunction can be placed at the feet of one man is absurd. Others must be held to account and will be.
In the end, though, the commissioner of the health department is an office in the cabinet of this City’s mayor. Surely the Mayor has an obligation to know what is working and is not in those departments under his care. And, if the Commissioner’s resignation on January 11 be taken as an end-point, more should have been said and done in the two full weeks from the release of Mr. James’ e-mail.
- Op Ed: Lead Paint, Poisoning Still An Issue - Joanna Balza - May 7th, 2021
- Moore Hopes Biden Plan Can Replace City’s Lead Pipes - Elizabeth Dohms-Harter - Apr 17th, 2021
- Op Ed: Biden Plan Is a Lead Pipe Cinch - Dan Shafer - Apr 14th, 2021
- Urban Ideas: Fix Lead Poisoning, Not Lead Pipes - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 12th, 2021
- Evers Budget Has Green Goals - Danielle Kaeding - Feb 18th, 2021
- New Program for Lead-Poisoned Children - Matt Martinez - Dec 26th, 2020
- EPA Requires Lead Testing for Schools, Day Cares - Danielle Kaeding - Dec 22nd, 2020
- Lead Testing Down During Pandemic - Edgar Mendez - Nov 6th, 2020
- Op Ed: Lead Poisoning and a Listening Session - Carol Diggelman and Ann Batiza - Oct 27th, 2020
- SafeHomes initiative expands lead abatement efforts for a lead-free Milwaukee - Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic - Oct 27th, 2020
Read more about Lead Crisis here
Mentioned in This Press Release
Recent Press Releases by Ald. Bob Donovan
Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan March 31, 2020
Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan - March 9, 2020
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