Emails: Barrett's office alerted to Health Department problems earlier

via Fox 6 Now by  THEO KEITH

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s office knew of problems in the city’s lead poisoning prevention program in December, more than two weeks before he publicly acknowledged an issue, according to emails obtained by FOX6 News.

Barrett on Jan. 12 announced the City of Milwaukee Health Department had not been tracking whether it had properly notified 8,000 families with children who had tested high for blood-lead levels since 2015. Health Commissioner Bevan Baker resigned.

During a news conference that afternoon, Barrett said he had only learned of the notification error earlier that week. But email records show separate concerns were being raised about the Health Department’s culture and performance at least two weeks earlier.

Benjamin James, a former employee in the Health Department, emailed Barrett, all 15 aldermen, and staffers within the Department of Employee Relations with his concerns on Dec. 28. In a 22-page attachment, he raised several issues, including:

  • Staffing and resource problems that he said Health Department administrators had been made aware of for 18 months
  • A culture of bullying and intimidation by department leaders
  • Mismanagement in the city’s lead abatement program that led to a lack of in-home testing

James did not specifically mention the notification issue that Barrett would later tell the public about.

The complete story here > Lead testing fallout: Emails show Mayor Barrett’s office alerted to Health Dept. problems earlier

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