March 28, 2016
During a recent debate of the mayoral candidates hosted by the Public Policy Forum, mayoral candidates Tom Barrett and Bob Donovan, when asked what would be their priorities if elected mayor; both men declared that in the first 100 days in office the top three priorities will be:
1. Re-energize efforts to get the Century City successful
2. Push summer Earn and Learn Program
3. Work on city fiscal stability
Mayoral Candidate Donovan said:
1. Public Safety
Donovan’s public safety response could be interpreted to mean that he will be working to keep our children safe from lead hazards in our water, but his answer most likely dealt with crime fighting instead of fighting lead poisoning.
Unless Donovan clarifies his public safety stance, it is fair to say that safe drinking water will not be a priority issue for either candidate to address in their first 100 days in office.
Clearly, lead lateral removal is not Mayor Barrett’s priority — why shouldn’t that be a surprise? It was never a priority of his 12 years in office.
It’s sad that our Mayor can’t see the forest before the trees, leaving to chance that lead water leaching in 70,000 pipes will not be a serious matter anytime soon. He takes that chance at the risk of our children’s lives and the future of our city’s competitive edge.
Of course, the sense of urgency to do something about this ticking-toxic-time bomb flowing in lead infested pipes underneath the ground of homes in mostly Black neighborhoods is set aside. For the current mayor, it’s more important to count the money in the city’s coffer for safe keeping, than to set aside money to advance planning stages to remove the pipes that literally threaten our children’s development and future.
Let me be clear: There are thousands of lead service lateral lines buried underground delivering water through lead infested lateral pipes in our city, which could release unhealthy doses of lead into the water of 70,000 homes in Milwaukee, and neither candidate has this as a top priority to address?
Is this not the “Freshwater Capitol” of America? How is it that any mayor can claim to be “Freshwater Capitol,” yet is unable to provide fresh, hazard free water to children?
Whatever the outcome of the mayor’s race in the coming week, I hope that whoever prevails will reconsider their top three priorities and at least make safe water the top priority.