4 Members Of DOT Drunk Driving Task Force Resign

Doctors, Members Of Health Advocacy Groups Express Frustration At Lack Of Meaningful Discussion

Maureen Busalacchi of Health First Wisconsin, who was one of the task force members that resigned. Image courtesy of Wisconsin Public Television.

Four members of a Department of Transportation drunk driving task force resigned on Thursday, stating that they didn’t want to be associated with what they call a “hollow process.”

Two doctors and two members of health advocacy groups resigned, saying the agency isn’t interested in creating effective measures to prevent drunk driving. Drs. Richard Brown and Stephen Hargarten, along with Maureen Busalacchi of Health First Wisconsin and Julia Sherman of the Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project, sent a joint letter of resignation.

Sherman said they were frustrated by last-minute meetings and little chance for meaningful discussion.

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“We were presented with documents and were told that we couldn’t amend them, or they had been submitted, or discussions were held and then documents were created that were allegedly the consensus of the group,” said Sherman. “I was sitting there — they were not the consensus of the group.”

Sherman said they also opposed the Tavern League of Wisconsin being the only state group allowed to collaborate on an initiative to change the cultural acceptance of drinking.

“They clearly have a conflict of interest there, and to name them and no one else was unbalanced at best and inappropriate at worse,” said Sherman.

Tavern League Spokesman Scott Stenger says it’s hard to have undue influence on a group when their CEO Pete Madland hasn’t attended task force meetings since last August.

“It’s kind of hard to figure out where they’re coming from,” said Stenger. “Pete hasn’t been at the last two meetings. I’m not sure what they’re talking about.”

The initiatives from the DOT taskforce on drunk driving will be submitted to the federal government. Those who resigned have asked that their names not be included.

The DOT said it regrets the members leaving the task force and will reach out to discuss their concerns.