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: More Water Infrastructure Funding Needed - Radhika Fox and Kevin Shafer - Jul 26th, 2020
- Council effort to create lead-safe program moves forward - Ald. Khalif Rainey - Jul 7th, 2020
- City Hall: Milwaukee on 70-Year Pace To Replace Lead Laterals - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 13th, 2020
- City Hall: Audit Gives Water Works High Marks - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 12th, 2020
- League of Women Voters Presents Forum on Lead Poisoning March 6 - League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County - Mar 2nd, 2020
- AG Objects to Relaxed Lead Pipe Rules - Melanie Conklin - Feb 14th, 2020
- 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
Read more about Lead Crisis here
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The funding will come through a non-state grant program that provides state bonding support for non-profit or local government projects that have a statewide public purpose.
Statement from Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) on September 11th, 2013