MacIver News Service | May 10, 2012
[Madison, Wisc...] After refining the dataset created by Verify the Recall, a Wisconsin man began running it against other public records and discovered 571 tax delinquents signed Recall petitions.
His findings? The total in back taxes owed by petitioners is more than $17 million. The list of individuals can be found through the website, www.putwisconsinfirst.com
The creator of the site told the MacIver News Service, his databases should be considered to be tools and not definitive source documents. The source documents are from the State of Wisconsin and the Verify the Recall effort and can be found through links on the site, all he's done is connected the names and addresses together.
That being said, the site's creator said he had to throw a lot of names out, to be sure his tables are as accurate as possible. Misspelled and nicknames signed on the petitions were removed. That means the actual number of tax delinquents could be three times higher than the 571 listed.
Before Put Wisconsin First began releasing its databases, petition signers initially tried to convince the Government Accountability Board not to release copies of the recall petitions to the public at all. Signers then criticized Put Wisconsin First and Verify the Recall for creating searchable databases of the petitioners' names. Now that Put Wisconsin First is running their names against other public records, they really aren't happy. The site has received plenty of hate mail.
"They had every right to do this (sign the petitions), and I have every right to match them up. They have every right to not like it, and I have every right not to care," the site's creator said.
Put Wisconsin First's database was assembled using refined data from Verify the Recall's effort.
"I took that database and ran every address through the GAB's web site here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx What this does is return a corrected address and a ZIP+4 for all addresses the GAB thinks are 'good'," he explained.
Using VTR's datasets, Put Wisconsin First actually beat them in getting a searchable database up by a couple of days. That was possible because VTR had posted the unsearchable datasets to its website after they had initially uploaded a searchable database.
Put Wisconsin First's creator noticed although the names and addresses still needed to be cleaned up after VTR's first pass, the zip codes, which were simpler to enter, seemed to be usable. From that he was able to create a stopgap searchable database, hoping to buy VTR more time.
Once VTR made multiple additional passes to clean up data entry mistakes on names and addresses, Put Wisconsin First was able to create a more extensive and accurate database of its own.
The site's creator plans to continue running the petitioners against other public records, and releasing his findings. He has chosen to remain anonymous so angry petitioners cannot launch red herring attacks against him, and are forced to focus on his site. So far they've only been able to send him angry emails demanding he stop running his analyses.
"Why do I want everyone to know everything about every recaller? I guess, why wouldn't we want to know who they are, what businesses they run, what things they did in their past," he said. "I didn't make the rules The rules are, we get to see who demanded to stand against Walker, they demanded to be heard. They asked to have their names public. I didn't force anyone to sign a public document!"