Emails blast Health Department regarding lead issues

Emails from a former Milwaukee Health Department employee show lack of water testing in homes with lead-poisoned children as early as last summer.

The former employee, Benjamin James, resigned in November after mentioning issues with lack of staffing and a retaliatory work environment. He also sent an email to all 15 Aldermen and Mayor Tom Barrett saying the department lacked water testing in the homes of lead-poisoned children. 

In a July email, James wanted to set up a meeting to talk about his concerns including how he "notified the administration for over a year of staffing shortages and other challenges... while being steered to perform duties outside of the grant requirements."

A month later, James raised concerns of feeling threatened by higher-ups in the health department and was looking for stress management help because of, "safety concerns and unclear job expectations."

James says he was being asked to do more things within the Home Environmental Health program without being given a different title or a pay raise equivalent to those doing the same job. 
He says, he and others "have been communicating the issue of the lack of resources, primarily staffing, for over a year."

Then, after his resignation in November, James was asked to fill out an employee exit survey. He responded with an email to all 15 Aldermen and Mayor Barrett including his emails over the last year about his concerns. In the email, he also cited the lack of water testing in lead-poisoned children's homes, "despite MHD Administration's multiple comments of its occurrence through the summer of 2017."

James says his statements "can be verified by asking MHD for the data of the water sample results of lead-poisoned children, such as date sample was taken and when the child's blood lead level initiated an inspection by MHD." 

TODAY'S TMJ4 has submitted an open records request for that data. 

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