Today the Common Council approved a charter ordinance creating a special deputy health commissioner authorized to carry out key duties on behalf of the commissioner of the Milwaukee Health Department.
Alderman Tony Zielinski, the lead sponsor of the legislation creating the special deputy health commissioner position, said the move “fills a huge gap” that has existed in city government for years.
“The bottom line is certain public health-related duties imposed on the commissioner of health by state law in his or her capacity as the department’s local health officer could not be carried out by another staffer in the commissioner’s absence,” Alderman Zielinski said. “The Health Department’s recent problems under former MHD Commissioner Bevan Baker could have been minimized by having a special deputy and the charter ordinance we approved today authorizes the commissioner to designate a special deputy (qualified to lead a level III local health department) who may perform all of the duties imposed on the commissioner by law.”
“Given the magnitude of our ongoing, city-wide lead problems – whether in water, paint or soil – it just makes sense to have a highly qualified special deputy commissioner appointed to help better serve the Health Department and the citizens of Milwaukee,” the alderman said.
A special deputy health commissioner designation must be submitted in writing and copies filed in the City Clerk’s Office setting forth the specific acts the special deputy is authorized to perform in the name of the commissioner. According to the legislation such authority may be revoked and amended in the same manner.
A Citizen wanting clarity says
The real issue which no one wants to discuss is the lack of qualified staff. Bevan Baker is a man of high intergrity. He has been used a political sacrificial lamb. There have been articles about his personal finances when there are no allegations of his committing any financial impropriety while in his job.
The issue at hand was the lack of management of a couple of Lead Prevention programs. Mr. Baker never managed the programs directly. His staff managed the programs. They fed him the bogus information. Fwiw, it was Baker who through audit discovered the impropriety. It was Baker who alerted the City Attorney and the Mayor. It was Baker who asked that the employees in question be removed immediately. Now its Baker who is being raked over the coals.
Paul Biedrzycki is the former Director of Disease Control and Environmental Health he actually oversaw the Manager of the Lead program. Biedrzycki stated he was unaware of the issues with the lead program. Well, if the Director was unaware and didn’t report anything to Mr. Baker. How the heck was Mr. Baker supposed to have that information?
The man was on the job for 13 years and he only made 148k. I am in the healthcare business and I can state affirmatively that there are people working in hospitals at the manager level who make more than 148k. To pay a Commissioner that low a salary for that many years is ridiculous. Further to call out his financial issues due to his low play is down right classless.