'Purposefully delaying a response:' Group threatens suit, seeks documents related to lead program

Freshwater for Life Action Coalition

MILWAUKEE -- A community organization that advocates for clean drinking water is threatening to sue the City of Milwaukee if Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's Office doesn't turn over public records relating to the Milwaukee Health Department's troubled Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

Representatives with Freshwater for Life Action Coalition said the City of Milwaukee has yet to fulfill their open records request sent on Feb. 1, seeking documents related to meetings Mayor Barrett had with department heads between January 2015 and January 2018.

"I have no confidence. No confidence," Robert Miranda, Freshwater for Life Action Coalition spokesman said.

Robert Miranda

The organization, which works to remove lead sources in water, filed a letter of intent to sue on Friday, Feb. 23.

"We suspect the city is purposefully delaying a response on this request," said Miranda.

Miranda said he hopes the information will shed more light on how the Milwaukee Health Department failed to keep track of whether families exposed to lead ever received follow-up services between 2015 and 2017. Former Health Commissioner Bevan Baker resigned amid the scandal.


"Contrary to what Mayor Barrett has said in the past about him not knowing a thing about what was going on with the lead program, this information will show us what he knew, when he knew it," said Miranda.

In response to the letter of intent, Assistant City Attorney Peter Block sent a letter Monday, stating: "The Office of the Mayor has been working in good faith to respond to your client's request," adding to FOX6 three years' worth of reports takes time to gather and review.

"We put you on notice. Provide us these documents," said Miranda.

The coalition's attorney said the ultimate goal isn't to go to court, but rather to ensure transparency and accountability.

"They are viable documents that should be provided to folks who live in the city to have," said Felicia Miller-Watson, FLAC attorney.

The city attorney said the goal is to get the documents to the Freshwater for Life Action Coalition by week's end.