Command Central Baits Crawford County

Today, as you read this, County Clerks in Wisconsin are sending back election materials to Command Central to be “burned”.

When I first brought the name Command Central to the Corporate Attorney for Crawford County, Mark Peterson he said, “Who the hell is Command Central?” Good question. Few people know who or what Command Central is or what they do. They control the elections in much of Wisconsin according to their whim. Command Central is a private corporation with offices in a strip mall near St. Cloud, Minnesota who are the vendors of election machines and all of the programing and tabulation that goes with them. Command Central has no transparency or oversight from any government agency, elected official or the judiciary. So the question is well put – Who the hell is Command Central?

The digital totals held on memory cards and used to determine the outcome of the June 5 recall election will be “burned” this weekend even though they are the subject of several FOIA requests. Why are clerks sending your vote totals to be burned? Because if they do not comply with Command Central’s July 16 deadline, the counties will be charged sums approaching $10,000. In a blind rush, clerks are scurrying like mice in the eyes of cat to destroy these memory cards and the record of your vote to save taxpayers of their county the thousands of dollars charged by Command Central to replace the memory cards. You see, they need to be reprogrammed for the upcoming Senate Primary election and Command Central is baiting the clerks to meet the imposed deadline of July 16 or suffer the costly consequences.

Where is the Bait?

County Clerks are being baited by Command Central since they attach a $200 – $300 dollar cost on each memory card that goes into a voting machine. Some counties have as many as 40 machines
and so they face a big hit if they do not abide by Command Central’s deadline. The bait is that the $200 cost is trumpeted up. Clerks are being charged $100 for a dozen eggs and standing in line to buy a whole case.

Memory Cards Replacement Costs?

The charges for memory cards imposed by Command Central have come up before in Wisconsin Circuit Court. Below are a few of the responses of Lawrence Zins, Vice President of Command Central regarding the “pricing” of his “dozen eggs”. If he were a grocer his customers would be likely to pelt them at him.

Branch 26
v. Case No. 11-CV-016166

pursuant to Notice and Agreement, and taken at the law
office of Pennington, Lies, & Cherne, P.A., 630 Roosevelt
Road, Suite 101, in the City of St. Cloud, State of
Minnesota, on the 6th day of June, 2012, at 9:31 a.m.,
before Melissa A. Chamberlin, RPR, a Notary Public in and
for the County of Benton, State of Minnesota

And that, as I understand it, is going to be an
20 issue for the court to decide in this case because
21 it’s a statutory language. So let’s ask directly
22 about the information here.
23 Can you tell me today what’s the cost of a CD
24 for Command Central?
25 A. No.
Q. Did you make any inquiry within Command Central for
17 the information needed to answer these questions?
18 A. I’m sure there were discussions. The — the — the
19 cost of the CD and the cost of the mailing, anybody
20 can make an estimate on that.
21 But the employee time to transfer the data,
22 that was not specifically addressed because we
23 chose to present the actual, direct, and necessary
24 costs in the format and manner that we — or I
25 eventually put in that e-mail.
Do I understand correctly that the
10 $250 charge was intended to capture, in part, the
11 cost of the communications Command Central had
12 already made responding to questions from its
13 clients about copying devices?
14 A. Not really. Please keep in mind that we were
15 asking to price something that we had never done
16 before. This was a new area for us. We had to
17 make estimates. We had to make some assumptions.
18 We had to make some speculations. And that’s the
19 spirit in which we found ourselves trying to come
20 up with a price point for each of these services,
21 that — meaning the — the Edge cartridge and the
22 Eagle memory pack.

Link to the full deposition

Command Central Subverting the Freedom of Information Act

Even though the charges imposed by Zins and Command Central are obviously flawed, the company has clerks moved to destroy evidence subject to FOIA requests based on trumpet up charges.

From: Janet Geisler
Subject: RE: Request to inspect election materials
Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2012 19:37:27 +0000
The contents from the results cartridges can be downloaded however it is unknown as to what the format would actually be. The cost for each of the cartridges is $200. Several of our municipalities have more than one voting machines. This cost would then be passed along to each of the municipalities since new cartridges would then have to be burned. Most of the municipalities would have to pay $200. However there are four municipalities which have two voting machines and the cost to them would be $400. The City of Prairie du Chien has six voting machines which would result in a cost to them of $1,200. The total cost to burn all new cartridges would be $6,200. I don’t believe that it is your intention to cause a financial burden to the municipalities in Crawford County .

It is clear that Command Central is subverting open records requests by imposing exorbitant fees that will force clerks to send your vote tally back to Command Central to be burned. This in spite of the urgent Memorandum sent by the Government Accountability Board to all Wisconsin clerks stating:

As a reminder of previous G.A.B. email correspondence, clerks should also seek consultation with their municipal or corporation counsel regarding trade secret and open record provisions, as these issues may relate to specific public records requests. While there are some exemptions from production of certain records in the public records statutes, e.g., for copyrighted material, general trade secret claims do not automatically exempt production, which is why you need to consult with your counsel. For instance, if a manufacturer/programmer claims trade secret protections and requests that you deny a public records request, your counsel will have to carefully apply a balancing test to determine whether the manufacturer/programmer has supplied a sufficient basis to outweigh the strong public policy favoring disclosure of public records. This balancing test is very specific to each public records request and the subject matter, which requires individualized legal advice from your counsel. You should also note that certain manufacturers/programmers have open-source coding which does not hinder any disclosure in response to a public records request, so please be cautious if you do not consult your counsel but instead rely solely on information from another clerk. Your specific situation may be entirely different than another clerk’s situation.

So, today County Clerks throughout the State of Wisconsin are boxing up the digital results of your June 5 recall election vote to be “burned”, all based on a threat from a private corporation with no transparency and whose vice president was deposed and admitted that the charges have no legitimacy.

It will all be over by the end of the weekend. All the canvasing for recall signatures, all the campaign money, but most importantly the digital record of your vote in the June 5 recall election – up in smoke. This all because Command Central has been authorized and empowered to threaten and bait your elected officials.

Do I smell plastic burning?


4 thoughts on “Command Central Baits Crawford County

  1. Pingback: Command Central Baits Crawford County | Occupy Wall Street Info

  2. So as Waukesha County goes, so goes Crawford County. I can see Crawford County’s predicament. Command Central pushes this on all the Wisconsin it works with. This week Waukesha was discussed in our mainstream media, although they choose to leave Command Central out of the conversation. The infamous Kathy Nickolaus always mentions how wonderful their voting system is, although they have had numerous problems working with Command Central, the county’s software vendor that Kathy chose; media makes the problem completely Kathy’s problem, always leaving Command Central out of the equasion.
    No coverage of this burning issue locally, although Command Central was always there when Kathy was up to her “mistakes.”
    A bigger problem exists when the state Government Accountabilty Board checks out vendors and gives their stamp of approval on Command Central to work wherever they can in our state. Something smells, and it’s not just burning software.
    Where can the ordinary citizen go when the government authority doesn’t seem to be doing its job?


  3. Pingback: Links Bastille Day « naked capitalism

  4. Pingback: Command Central Penalizes Crawford County $12,400

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