letter from Ald. Hamilton to Mayor Barrett responding to Barret letter to Common Council about McManus appointment (Barrett letter attached)

February 16, 2018

Dear Mayor Barrett,
No member of this Common Council and no resident of this City is pleased by the scandal that has poured out of the Milwaukee Health Department for the better part of a month. No one who cares for this City would want an agency to be as inert and incapable as the health department apparently was on an issue as important as blood lead levels in children. And no one aware of the fiscal challenges confronting this community would be any less than horrified by the prospect of precious grant funds being taken away because of mismanagement.

This, however, is the crisis to which we have all been brought. As elected officials, we all have a take in seeing this problem resolved to the mutual benefit of all our residents. As this is true, both the content and tone of your February 15, 2018, letter to the Common Council are in no way constructive and border on inappropriate.

You write first of your “displeasure and concern with the rushed and unprecedented application of the Council’s emergency appointment authority” and go on to say that “(t)he vetting of the interim Commissioner of Health should have gone through the Council’s committee hearing process.”

This is not consistent with your public statements when, without consulting the office of the City Attorney, you dismissed Commissioner Bevan Baker, leaving the City without a commissioner or a public health officer. Then you spoke of the urgency of the situation and asked the Council to quickly confirm Mr. Paul Nannis to the position. This despite Mr. Nannis’ clear ties to your administration and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts he had received from the health department’s previous administration. It bears mention that Mr. Nannis didn’t wait for his confirmation; using the title, meeting with staff, and in all respects acting the part of commissioner even before the ink was dry on Mr. Baker’s resignation letter. It is evident that you wanted no process except for the expectation that the council would rubber stamp whoever you chose.

For the record, the Council did act promptly, rejecting Mr. Nannis and, at the same meeting, recommending the confirmation of Dr. McManus.

You write that “(t)he actions of the Council were not motivated by public health concerns but by political concerns.” Do you by this ask the community to believe that your nomination of Mr. Nannis was done out of a concern for public health and not his close political relationship with you? Whatever your response, the Council nominated for your consideration a woman who has demonstrated a life-long commitment to the health of all the residents of this City, but particularly the disadvantaged and underserved. She is an advocate, and a passionate one at that, but no one who knows her doubts her ability. You would have done well to have nominated her yourself.

If, as you write, you understand the politicization of the process to date, this familiarity is that of a creator to his creation. I am proud that the Common Council took the steps that it did to take politics out of the process – surely you will acknowledge that Dr. McManus is beholden to no one on either side of City Hall — and end the downward spiral in which the Milwaukee Health Department was caught. This done, all of us must work together with Dr. McManus for the good of all served.

You have mishandled this matter from the beginning. It is time to demonstrate that you can focus on the needs of our children rather than yourself and your political allies.

Ald. Ashanti Hamilton
Common Council President

Barret letter to Common Council about McManus appointment

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on February 18, 2018

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