Wisconsin DNR disciplines 26 workers in 2013

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Associated Press | March 18, 2014

MADISON — Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources disciplined employees last year for misusing a state boat, punching a co-worker, watching videos of girls on a state computer and making inappropriate comments, agency records show.

An Associated Press review of DNR disciplinary documents obtained through an open records request found the agency sent 26 letters reprimanding, suspending or terminating employees in 2013. The agency released 25 letters, saying the 26th worker was challenging the release of his or hers.

The discipline letters give sometimes sordid details of errant behavior, but represent less than 1 percent of the agency's roughly 2,625 employees. The DNR issued 19 letters in 2012 but couldn't saw how many were disciplined in 2011.

Department of Administration officials said no single state entity tracks disciplinary actions across the nearly 50 state agencies. The Department of Justice disciplined five of its roughly 600 employees last year, or just less than 1 percent.

DNR spokesman Bill Cosh declined to comment on the letters, saying they speak for themselves. Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, who leads the Senate's natural resources committee, didn't respond to a message seeking comment.

Rep. Al Ott, R-Forest Junction, chairman of the Assembly natural resources committee, said in an email that he's confident the DNR is "handling any necessary disciplinary action in accordance with agency policy." He declined further comment.

Employees' names and positions were edited out of the letters before they were turned over to the AP. DNR Employment Relations Section Chief Amber Passno said in a letter responding to the request that the names weren't needed to satisfy the public's interest in knowing whether the agency properly disciplines workers.

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