Former Milwaukee Health Commissioner says lead crisis unfairly blamed on him

NOW: Former Milwaukee Health Commissioner says lead crisis unfairly blamed on him

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- In his first public comments since resigning, former Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker said the city continues to blame him for a lead program that wasn't his responsibility.

Bevan Baker read a three page statement and then had his attorney answer questions. He said blame for the city's malfunctioning lead program is not his and said the city keeps dragging his name through the mud.

"It is clear that the search for truth has not happened. Instead the mayor's office has littered public forums with falsehoods and gross misrepresentation," said Baker.

Baker said the city's lead crisis remains unresolved and the focus is on the wrong person and department.

"I say with confidence that the Department of Public Works and Water Works were responsible for mismanaging the lead program," said Baker.

His public statements Monday confused city leaders including Alderman Mark Borkowski.

"I just find it interesting that we haven't heard from him in 18 months and he just surfaces," said Borkowski.

Baker resigned in January 2018. Text messages released in September of that year showed an employee texted Baker saying,"If this gets out, that the lead program is this messed up, we will be held to the grindstone!"

Baker had been scheduled to testify in front of the common council but did not after those texts were released."We're all looking for the facts and the data," said Borkowski.

City spokesman Jeff Fleming issued a statement saying Mayor Barrett did not plan to address Baker's comments:

“The Mayor’s concerns about the Health Department’s lead program have always focused on protecting Milwaukee children from lead exposure. Since the Mayor first learned of the problems two years ago, the Health Department has made good progress on its lead efforts. The Mayor continues to be focused on the future and making sure Milwaukee children are kept as safe as possible.”

Still there are questions about just what happened during Baker's tenure. His lawyer said neither the MIlwaukee County District Attorney nor the Wisconsin Attorney General have asked to interview Baker about any criminal investigations. But a source with knowledge of the matter said criminal investigations are nearing their end.

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