October 9, 2010

Whistleblower forces Racine to clean up contaminated projects; Lead paint violations confirmed by Department of Health Services

The city was forced to clean up contaminated work sites in city neighborhoods after a whistleblower raised concerns about a stimulus-funded housing project.

Housing technician Bill Bielefeldt contacted the Department of Health Services after he documented several lead paint violations on homes the city is rehabbing as part of its Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Bielefeldt reported to the state the the city's effort to fix up homes was actually polluting areas around the homes.

In a letter to the city, the state confirmed that violations occurred. The city cleaned up the violations and has promised to keep better track of the contractors working on the city-owned properties.

Bielefeldt remains on unpaid leave for unspecified reasons.

Here's text of the letter, dated Oct. 1:

October 1,2010
Brian 0'Connell
Racine Department of City Development
Neighborhood Stabilization Program
730 Washington Ave
Racine WI 53403

Subject: Lead Hazards and Neighborhood Stabilization Program Projects

Dear Mr. O'Connell:
Thank you for the telephone discussion this morning regarding the lead hazard concerns that
have been raised about specific Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funded projects in
Racine. From our discussion I am confident in your program's plans going forward to address
lead hazards and to coordinate with renovation and abatement contractors. For our part we will
begin working on improved guidance for NSP projects statewide that will likely benefit many
The following three brief points summarize our discussion today.
• We identified a number of issues during inspection ofNSP funded projects in Racine
over the past two weeks. Some of those issues involved lead hazards.
• You have already begun working with your contractors to address those issues and our
inspection staff are working with your staff to identify any remaining issues that may
need to be corrected.
• From our discussion we also identified a source of confusion in the guidance NSP
projects receive from the many parties involved and we have begun working with the
Department of Commerce to develop and distribute clear information and education
materials. It is our belief that this is a statewide need and not specific to the City of
The City of Racine has been one of the state's strongest partners in childhood lead poisoning
prevention for many years. From the discussion we had today and the additional work you are
doing, it is clear that will continue if only stronger. If you have additional questions please
contact me at (608) 264-9880. Thank you.

Chuck Warzecha, Director
Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health
Wisconsin Department of Health Services

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  1. Looks like the state is letting off Dickert's city with just a slap on the wrist. Do not kid yourself, if it was you or I the state would have fined us.

  2. Bielefeldt remains on unpaid leave for unspecified reasons?

    The guy was right. They should reinstate him posthaste.

  3. The city is playing dumb to the state and blaming contractors. Racine City Development dictates which contractors may bid on jobs and has Wisconsin lead trained risk assessors managing the projects. How is it that the lead trained people from City Development did not see that the contractors were violating regulations? The violations were clearly in plain sight.

    The City's lead trained managers visit the sites almost every day. This cover up should be investigeted.

    Sad days for the people of Racine to have to put up with this lack of management.

  4. Dickert and his Uncle Jim did this type of construction up and down 6th St. Just imagine what type of ground contamination they left behind for all the poor children. And by the way, the homes are falling apart already.

  5. Lying John offers us lies and lies, nothing more. Put Becker on an ankle bracelet and bring him back. All he wanted to do was molest the children, not kill them.

    What happens to Bill Bielefeldt now? Is a man who risked his career for us supposed to just dry up and blow away?

  6. The state DHS should be ashamed. Someone who has supported thier efforts for years is to be sacrificed for people who have no concern for the welfare of the children. Shame on the people of the DHS for turning thier backs on the children for the sake of politics. Bring on the mothers of poisoned children in support of your efforts that you use so well and explain this to them, and pretend that you really care while you turn a blind eye to what is really happening in Racine. Mr. Warzecha should get his facts straight before being so forgiving. Let your conscience be your guide.
    What does your heart really stand for.

    God bless the children and damm the politics.

    A friend of Mr. Bielefeldts and God bless him.

  7. Randy - Maybe there is more to the story - but that's right your 1st choice is to support the down trotten, even without knowing all the facts.

  8. sir,

    If there's more to it, they should say so. Right now it looks like the guy got suspended for being conscientious.

  9. Does anyone know what happens to a suspended city employee? Will there be a hearing or something on him? Does he stay in the Twilight Zone forever? Or do we just wait for the lawsuit and then pay out $100K because Dickert, O'Connell and Friedel are liars?

  10. Randy - Investigating can take some time. I'm not saying this guy is right or wrong. I'm just not going to get on the band wagon - like you. I suggest you wait until all the facts are out. If the city was negligent, then someone has to own up to it. But for the city to react spontaneously to this guys allegations would be assinine.

  11. These were not allegations, the State found evidence of neglect. The baldy from the bay is doing a good job of covering up by blaming the contractors.