Our representatives in Washington, D.C., have reported that there is little immediate hope that funding dedicated to the city's highly successful fight against lead poisoning will be restored to anywhere close to its levels from years past ' and they say that a federal agency is considering a recommendation to lower the threshold for lead poisoning in children. So: less money, but a larger task. The coincidence of news reminded of a good friend of the City's, who passed away a couple of years ago.
Dr. Benjamin Hooks - civil rights leader, lawyer, minister, preacher, judge, writer ' inspired the City's ambitious plan to eliminate childhood lead poisoning, which is a problem exacerbated by our large stock of historic housing. Because of his work here in pulling together the once-fractured medical, public health, education, housing, social services, and advocacy communities, St. Louis has been able to build a coherent program that has been lauded a national model.
I thought of Doc, who fought for so many causes for so long, as I began reviewing strategies that will replace the federal funding. I plan to ask local hospitals, foundations, and businesses to step for our children ' even as I lobby our US Senators and US House members to restore the cuts their chambers have supported. The program's success ' dramatically lowering the percentage of city children with elevated blood levels of lead - is removing one serious risk from the lives of most of a generation of our young people. We are not going to give it up. Not without a fight.