This is NOT a recording…

May 12, 2014

A local political consultant was quoted in the Press Democrat asserting that campaign robo-calls are no more annoying than campaign mailers.

I beg to differ, but I guess it's a matter of opinion. What do you think?

Direct contact with voters is crucial to any candidate's campaign for Santa Rosa City Council. In the next six months, my goal is to contact every single voter in this city. That's almost 78,000 people.

So, don't be surprised if you see me at your front door, or in your mailbox, or on your computer, or at your service club, or around your neighborhood, or at a community event, or all of the above.

Just don't expect to hear my voice on a robo-call. If you get a call from me, it will be a live voice on the other end.

If you get a robo-call from someone else, though, it will have to be made under some tough new rules adopted this month by the City Council. At the urging of Councilwoman Julie Combs, the council agreed to better regulate political robo-calls in Santa Rosa, and to make sure that voters get a clear picture of just who it is at the other end of the phone.

That means every robo-call must have an "opt-out" function allowing you to avoid future calls. It means any candidate or interest group that funds robo-calls must file a report with the city clerk. It requires independent expenditure committees to file a transcript of their robo-calls with the clerk, and to include in the robo-call information about who paid for the calls, their telephone number and a statement that the call was not approved by a candidate or a candidate's campaign committee. It prohibits "spoofing," or using a false number for a caller ID.

These new rules won't stop robo-calls, which have become more popular in recent years and in 2012 played a major role in local elections for City Council and the Board of Supervisors. But they will provide openness, transparency and disclosure about who is behind them.

So, if you're as annoyed by robo-calls as I am, you'll know who to blame.