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Council members raise questions about health department lead investigation

Updated:  9:20 p.m. on January 31, 2018

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Health Department employees told the Steering and Rules Committee that there is a department policy in place that does not allow employees to contact city officials, like the Mayor or aldermen, about problems without going through the health commissioner.

See the policy below or by clicking here. 

"The lack of the ability to be able to move past your immediate supervisor to talk about a problem- hindered us from being able to respond to this in a quicker way," Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton said.

Hamilton said he received text messages during the meeting from city employees, not in the health department, who said the policy is widespread throughout all city departments. Hamilton said they are going to sponsor an ordinance to reverse that.

"We want to move forward to see how big of a problem it's been. How pervasive it is throughout the city," Hamilton said.

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A committee meeting Wednesday is getting heated. Council members are grilling members of the Health Department about the recent mismanagement of lead testing results. 

It was revealed 6,500 letters were sent last week to parents of kids with lead poisoning after the department realized the families may not have been notified. 

Of those letters, nearly 1,000 came back, likely because the families have moved. Now, the Department is trying to track them down. 

The meeting started around 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and is expected to continue for several more hours. 

It was called in response to the Health Department report released Monday, which revealed mishandling of lead poisoning cases and layers of mismanagement with the department. 

City Council Members are now grilling health department officials about when the Mayor was made aware of the problem. 

Earlier there was a tense moment when a health department official said she can't be sure when she informed the department commissioner and the mayor about the communication problems. 

"I informed the commissioner. I can't really, I mean, I know, I can't remember exactly when we had that meeting, said Milwaukee Health Department Operations Manager Sandy Rotar. 

The Mayor did not attend Wednesday's meeting. His office says he is in Oakland at a conference on infant mortality. 

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