MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has built a list of more than a dozen people it won’t deal with because, according to the agency, the have contacted staff members too often or have been abusive.
The list includes the names of 16 people as well as the subject area they’re concerned about, their contact information and the name of the employee or in some cases agency division who referred them to the list. It doesn’t note what problems the DNR may have had with them, however.
Department spokesman George Altholff said in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday that an administrative assistant began compiling the list around 2013 to help her track what Althoff called “highly repetitive and occasionally abusive constituent contacts.”
He said repeated contact with the people on the list has proven their issues or complaints couldn’t be resolved to their liking. People ended up on the list because they made multiple contacts on the same issue despite being given answers; inundated staff with lengthy emails or website links about their issues; were involved in ongoing litigation against the department; or have been insulting or abusive.
The department last updated the list about a year ago, Althoff said. He insisted the list has had no impact on any open record requests.
Gov. Scott Walker promised during his 2010 campaign to transform the DNR into a friendly, more customer-oriented agency. Althoff said the department continues to strive to help people. The agency handles about 350,000 call center inquiries each year, he noted; during the last quarter of last year 91 percent of the incoming calls were answered in less than a minute.
One of the most notable names on the list is Patricia Randolph, an outspoken hunting opponent and freelance reporter who writes a weekly column that often criticizes department policies.
Randolph, who lives outside Portage, said in a telephone interview that she didn’t realize she had been placed on a no-response list. She said she probably got on the list because she called an agency trapping coordinator “Dr. Death” in an email and showed up at a department board meeting with a barbed-wire stick she believes hound hunters use to drag animals out of hiding.
“They don’t want my voice out there,” she said.
Althoff confirmed the 2013 barbed-wire stick incident. Agency officials sent Randolph a letter allowing her to submit written testimony at future board meetings but barring her from speaking to the board, saying the agency can’t let people disrupt or threaten the board.
Althoff had no information about the “Dr. Death” email. Randolph has had repeated contacts with department staff over years in which she attacks Wisconsin citizens’ right to hunt, fish and trap, however, he said.
Another person on the list is Tom Miller of Hartland. He said in a telephone interview that he’s been contacting the department by letter repeatedly asking for help in a court dispute with his neighbor over a dock that intrudes on his parents’ shoreline. Agency officials had been working with him, he said, but have stopped. He said he had no idea he was on a no-response list.
“I’m so frustrated,” he said. “I’m a legitimate legal citizen who had a problem. I’ve been trying to get answers from the DNR as a citizen and I’m not getting anywhere. Now I find out why.”
Miller has been told repeatedly that the department won’t get involved in a private dispute because the agency’s role is to protect the public’s interest in public waters, not individual shoreline rights, Althoff said.
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