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As I See It

DNR should not stand for Do Not Respond



Nobody likes a pest. But sometimes it is a person’s job to deal with them. Like government employees. Particularly at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The DNR often has to deal with angry and persistent people, and they got a little tired of it. So they just stopped communicating with those they considered to be pests. The Wisconsin DNR put 16 Wisconsin citizens on the “Do Not Respond” list. Agency staff were told not to respond to the complaints or questions of these people, unless they filed an open records request. One of those blacklisted was a man named Owen Buske of Franklin, Wisconsin. The 78 year old man was having problems with a well, and called the DNR 40 times to try to get help. He never got help. Instead, he had to pay more than $15,000 to install a new well. This lack of response to citizens, mainly critics of the DNR, has led to two lawsuits filed over the length of time people had to wait for a response. There is also evidence the DNR ran records requests deemed politically sensitive past political appointees before they could be released. Wisely, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp has said her agency will do away with this “do not respond” list. But this is yet another reminder of how far our state government has to go in being responsive and transparent, even to critics.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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