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Last Friday I attended a Common Council Water Quality Task force and asked this question, which I thought was the goal of Task Force and community groups. This letter to Mayor, which was ignored by him and city officials, sums up their response.
Last weekend I met a young father who had done what he could do to protect his young son from lead poisoning. He had a lead free of paint house, had a water filter for lead in kitchen and used bottled water; yet when his son was tested the child was found to have over 5 micgrograms per deciliter, dangerous amount of lead in his blood. As you know up to 20% of children, 6 and under, tested in predominately African American zips had dangerous amount of lead in blood.
I was present last summer when Alderman Hamilton formed the water quality tax force of Common Council to come up with a comprehensive pan, over time, to replace all lead water pipes. I was disappointed in the City of Milwaukee when there was no funds City 2017 budget to replace lead water pipes in residential, except for some day care centers and broken or leaking lead water service pipes.
So at the public hearing portion of the Water Quality Committee meeting today I asked the simple and direct question: When is the City of Milwaukee going to develop a plan and fund it to replace lead water service lines? The chairmen said there was no dialog with committee but nevertheless he would answer my question. After some back and forth he said that you, Mayor, would present a 2018 budget to the City Council next September that would have some money in it and Common Council would review it. When he saw the expression on my face he said that perhaps I did not understand the process and to wait till next September. The expression on my face was not due to not knowing the process but to the fact this was that this was the same answer that in 2016, Alderman Hamilton, you and others had given us, about the 2017 City Budget. Some had even given specific suggestions to you and Council Members of how the City could finance over about a 20 year period the replacement of all lead lateral water pipes. Yet there was no money in 2017 budget to begin this process for the nearly 70,000 residential homes, mostly in African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods. All the time, I read in the newspaper about city property taxpayer money going for economic development in the predominately white neighborhood of downtown Milwaukee. No one tells developers seeking profits to wait till the next budget year.
So now I ask you Mayor and the Council Members:
When will the City of Milwaukee develop a comprehensive plan and fund it to replace all lead lateral water pipes in residential homes? I have attached a “racial division” spreadsheet showing the connection between lead water pipes in racially divided neighborhoods and the relationship to high lead blood levels, Homicide, poverty and unemployment rate, city TIF investments and educational achievement.
Ignore or marginalize me the messenger, the problem will not go away until City Officials stop talking, blaming, crying poor and spending money on PR and turn around (repent) the direction of this city and do something it.
I have done other research, have maps and contacts to share. Just let me know if you are interested or care.
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