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Scottsville Weekly Publishes Dumler Petition Signatories' Names - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Scottsville Weekly Publishes Names of Dumler Petition Signatories

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The latest twist in the Chris Dumler story - and the effort to force him off the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors after a sexual battery conviction - now includes a very public listing of the people who oppose him staying on the board.

The Scottsville Weekly has published the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone who signed the petition asking the court to remove Dumler.

The Albemarle County Circuit Court clerk's office says it's perfectly legal because the judge has not ordered the petition file to be sealed, and the information is part of the public record.

But there are mixed feelings about the information on the petition being made very public. Some say it might make them think twice about signing a petition again.

It's a long list of names posted of people who signed the petition to remove Dumler from office. Addresses, phone numbers and - for a brief period of time - the last four digits of Social Security numbers accompanied those names.

It's personal information posted by the Scottsville Weekly that some say is out there for good. 

"It's there. Once it's there, it's there," said Bob Pippin, who signed the petition.

The last four digits of the Social Security numbers were removed a short time after the list was posted, but some are still worried about possible identity theft.

"Even though it was up for a short time, I do know of three people that downloaded," said Barbara Coleman, who signed the petition.

Others don't see anything wrong with having that information available.

"It's the last four digits. I mean, they don't have the whole Social Security number and if this will help get him out of office, which he shouldn't be there as it is, I have no problems with it whatsoever," said Deborah Solt, who signed the petition.

Some say it was poor discretion on the part of Scottsville Weekly, and will discourage people from signing again.

"Next time we have a situation like this, people are going to go, ‘well I want that person out of office, I don't agree with what they did but I don't want to sign your petition because I don't want all my information to be made public,'" Pippin said.

Some may not approve of the information being released but they do agree that this whole situation has put their community in a negative light.

"I think it's a shame what this whole Dumler situation has cost Scottsville and the relationships and I just think it's sad," Coleman said.

The publisher of the Scottsville Weekly, Bebe Williams, issued a statement, saying, "My apologies to those of them who feel their identity safety has been compromised, but I doubt this can happen from a public document that shows only the last four digits of their Social Security numbers."

Williams also says that most of the petition signers he spoke with were glad they were able to take part in the process and were not offended.

Read the full statement below.


 

Statement from Bebe Williams, publisher of Scottsville Weekly:

"It's certainly not intended to be 'intimidation disguised as freedom of speech.' More like an ongoing lesson in how the petition process works- I'm all for citizens exercising their civil rights, just as I do mine.

Most petition signers that I've talked to are proud that their information was printed in the Weekly, were not offended, and glad they are able to take part in the petition process. My apologies to those of them who feel their identity safety has been compromised, but I doubt this can happen from a public document that shows only the last four digits of their social security numbers. In fact, my edition of their 120-some pages of signatures (yet to be verified by the voter registrars) had these numbers blacked out in the online version. Perhaps the signature collectors should have advised the signees that it was to be part of a public record.

At the very least it may keep people in dialogue about about ethics, application of justice, and social and interpersonal standards of behavior."

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