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CBS 58 Investigates: Aldermen react to explosive health department text messages

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58)--  Former Health Commissioner Bevan Baker was a no-show at a committee hearing Thursday, despite previously agreeing to testify.

Sources tell CBS 58 he backed out after the release of texts messages he sent while working as health commissioner.

Instead, the focus of the committee was those texts, which CBS 58 investigates obtained earlier this week and personnel investigations.

Text messages show Bevan Baker knew about the massive problems in the city’s lead program at least four months before he resigned.

Ald. Mark Borkowski says he was surprised by the text messages.

In one text, the then-director of nursing, Tiffany Barta tells Baker, “I must say, that you are quite fascinating t o watch as you navigate and "work" the "council"!

Ald. Borkowski called that message “disheartening.”

“If there’s an issue or a problem or somebody’s made a mistake, come to us as soon as possible,” Ald. Borkowski said. “I think we’re all very reasonable people. We’ll help, but you can’t bury it for years.”

One thing not public yet is the personnel investigations completed by the Department of Employee Relations, which will shed more light on who knew what and when.

Once those reports are out, Council President Ashanti Hamilton says Bevan Baker will testify before a council committee.

“He has agreed to appear,” Ald. Hamilton said. “We will do that in open session.”

Ald. Hamilton tells CBS 58 Investigates, so far nothing the council learned warrants criminal charges, but the District Attorney’s Office is reviewing all the information.

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