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Fresh water group claims mayor is "bamboozling" the community about lead issues

Posted at 10:37 PM, Jan 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-13 09:47:54-05

Thousands of kids in Milwaukee may have elevated levels of lead in their blood and their families not know about it, however, one group says the issue didn't pop up overnight.

Bevan Baker, the head of the Milwaukee Health Department has now resigned and the mayor said the city is scrambling to make it right.

Mayor Tom Barrett blames extremely poor management for the failures of the health department's childhood lead program.

"We have identified mismanagement and significant shortfalls," Barrett said.  

For the past three years, the city did not properly document if it sent letters to families telling them their child tested positive to high lead levels. So they are sending out 8,000 letters right now with that information.

"We have no reason to believe that the individuals have not be notified by their individual providers or their WIC clinic of the results," Barrett said.

The mayor said he just found out about the issue this week. But the Fresh Water for Life Action Coalition (FLAC) spokesperson Robert Miranda claims that's not the case.

"He's bamboozling our community. He's known this has been affecting our community at least for the last two and half years," Miranda said.

Miranda works with families who have lead in their homes and said if the city health department does not follow up with test results families could unknowingly allow their children to continue to be exposed to lead.

"There's a lot of the families don't understand the idea of having lead pipes and what that means to the health of the family," Miranda said.

The mayor said the health department is running an internal audit now and will report to him and the common council soon. Former Health Commissioner Paul Nannis will serve as the interim commissioner.