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CBS 58 Investigates: 1 fired, 1 resigns after investigations into Milwaukee Lead Program

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58)—One employee fired, another resigned and others disciplined after massive failings were discovered in the Milwaukee Health Department’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

CBS 58 Investigates obtained a summary of the investigations, conducted by the Milwaukee Department of Employee relations. There are three separate investigations, all launched after Health Commissioner Bevan Baker resigned in January.

The first investigation focused on Lisa Lien, the home environmental health manager. Lein, who worked for the department for 26 years, was previously suspended in December of 2017, after failing to train staff and allowing lead poisoned kids to go back to environments that still had lead hazards.

The investigator wrote, “Despite the fact that both HUD and the DHS recently identified key deficiencies in the program, Ms. Lien maintains that there were no problems in the management of the CLPPP. It is difficult to envision how she could then address the identified deficiencies when she so strongly denies that they exist…”

As a result of the investigation, Lein resigned July 30, 2018.

The second investigation looked at Richard Geata an environmental health field supervisor. According to the report, “The issues of non-compliance with rules, regulations and expectations, exceeding the authority of his position, incompetence and poor judgment pervade his performance and behavior.”

Geata was fired August 31 and is appealing that decision.

The third investigation was conducted by an outside law firm, after Angie Hagy, a health department employee, filed a complaint against several other health department employees, accusing them of harassment.

“I did not find evidence of discrimination, harassment or a hostile work environment based on race as it relates to Ms. Hagy,” the investigator wrote. “However, I do find that the actions described herein demonstrate an environment full of bullying and unprofessionalism which affected the effective functioning of the Health Department.”

This investigation led to a suspension for one employee, and a warning for another.

This summary of the investigations was provided to Milwaukee Common Council members and discussed, along with newly released text messages between health department employees, in a closed session meeting Thursday.

“If health isn’t the highest priority in this city, then I don’t know what is,” said Ald. Mark Borkowski. “And I don’t know how people can live with themselves if they know people are getting sick. It’s mind boggling to me.”

The summary also states that the full investigations will be released publicly in the next couple of weeks.

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