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CBS 58 Investigates: Milwaukee lead program manager suspended, accused of mismanagement

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --Newly released records show a Milwaukee lead program manager was suspended last year for “mismanagement” of the program.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker resigned in January after serious problems within the childhood lead prevention program were uncovered. A month before Baker resigned, another health department employee, Lisa Lien, was disciplined for her handling of the lead program.

CBS 58 Investigates filed an open records request for Lien’s disciplinary file in January. Lien attempted to block the release of the file in court, but a judge ruled against her. The file was released to CBS 58 Monday.

A suspension notice in the file shows Lien, a home environmental health manager in the city's lead program, was suspended for ten days in December of 2017.

Lien’s supervisor, Angela Hagy, Director of Public Health Planning and Policy at City of Milwaukee Health Department, wrote in the report "Lisa has been incompetent or inefficient in her performance."

Documents dated December 11, 2017, show Lien was accused of failing to properly train nursing staff, who worked with kids with lead poisoning and on "…multiple occasions children undergoing chelation were released to return to environments that were not lead safe."

Lien is also accused of trying to steer a city contract to a particular vendor, violating a city ordinance and department policies.

The report says Lien also claimed not to know about a policy that fined lead abatement contractors for failed work. Those fines, according to the report, “may result in yet undetermined financial liability to the city.”

The documents also say under Lien’s management, the number of homes made lead safe decreased.

The report concludes "The magnitude of the injustice served to the children of the city of Milwaukee is immense…"

Then-health commissioner Bevan Baker signed the disciplinary report.

In January Baker resigned after Mayor Barrett says he learned of the failures within the lead program.

In March, after CBS 58 and other media outlets requested Lien’s personnel file, Lien wrote a lengthy response disputing the suspension, saying the allegations are inaccurate.

Lien calls the leadership of the Health Department “Hostile and Harassing.” Lien disputes all of the allegations in her suspension, saying it was not her job to train nursing staff.

She says the reduced number of homes made lead abatement is due to staffing issues. Lien says she told health department leaders multiple times that the lead program only had 50% of the necessary staffing.

Lien wrote "…MHD Administration was more focused on using me as a scapegoat than safeguarding our Milwaukee children against lead hazards."

Lien is still employed by the health department but is on administrative leave.

 

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