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California Judge Routes Campaign Robocalls Through Colorado 191

Thomas Hawk writes "Victoria Kolakowski, a current sitting law judge at the California PUC, is running for Alameda Superior Court judge in California. As part of her campaign she is robodialing people in California with a pre-recorded message. The only problem is that in Califorina robodials are actually illegal unless first introduced by a non-recorded natural person who gains consent to play the call. Ironically, the agency set up to protect our privacy and enforce this law, the California PUC, is the very agency where Kolakowski works today. Kolakowski originally apologized for the calls but then later deleted messages on her Facebook account from people objecting to her use of these calls. Now Kolakowski is trying to argue that because 'technically' she is routing her calls through Colorado from outside the state that her robodials are actually legal."
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California Judge Routes Campaign Robocalls Through Colorado

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  • go figure. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) <> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:00PM (#32477146)

    Politician thinks the rules only apply to other people. News at 11.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigiShaman ( 671371 )

      Oh ya, without question. This level of hypocrisy is as old as civilization itself. My only question is this. Just how much more of this BS are people willing to take. People, cities, states, nations. You would think there would be an eventual breaking point, yes? It couldn't come sooner to spank these bastards out of office!

      • You would think there would be an eventual breaking point, yes?

        And when that is reached, you get a revolution, which usually ends up putting even nastier people in power, since a revolution temporarily suspends the rule of law, giving the advantage to ruthless people since there's no longer anyone capable of reining them in.

        You can't win, you can't break even, you can't stop playing. The game is stacked against you from the very laws of thermodynamics to the notion of "corporate personhood".

    • Re:go figure. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:34PM (#32477340) Homepage Journal

      Call centers are our main customers at my current job. You wouldn't believe how creative people get, trying to bypass the laws that restrict use of certain dialing technologies (robo-dialers, predictive dialers, progressive dialers, etc.) As a software provider we have to implement options that support those legal restrictions, but a huge number of clients want to know how to disable those features because they've come up with a creative reason why the law doesn't apply to them. We advise them not to do it, but in the end, it's the call center that's in control.

      • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @05:19PM (#32478054)
        in my past life, I worked for a company responsible for the stuff used to create/implement "touch-tone hell."

        When will organizations get a clue - if people don't want to be called, you're only going to piss them off by calling them, and the results will be counter-productive. If you piss me off by making me spend my valuable time going though some poorly designed menu system, only to run into a dead end/disconnect, you can bet that when I do get in touch with a human, I'm going to make sure they get to spend lots of their paid time handling my call.
        • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @05:58PM (#32478370) Journal

          I guess they will get the hint when people stop automatically hanging up on them and start burning resources by keeping the person on line for hours then declaring they aren't interested.

          For instance, I received a third call from an organization soliciting charitable donation. I have already told this organization to take me off the calling list and any other lists they have with my name or number on it two times (I don't do phone donations). After telling this third guy about being order to remove me from the lists, he promptly explained that he wasn't subject to the do not call registry because they were a charity. Of course the the laws concerning removal from calling lists upon request supersede the DNC registry and are a combination of state an federal laws. Well, after this authoritative answer detailing how the laws don't apply to him, I said "Oh, I didn't know that, then asked him to explain what he was representing. I then asked a crap load of stupid questions to drag out his time on the phone. I think I tied him up for about 20 minutes before he started getting anxious about a large donation. I asked if a manager was available to sit in on the call as I wanted to make sure they understood why I was making the donation. Sure enough, after another 10 minutes or so, I got someone on the phone claiming to be a supervisor. I then explained that because I requested to be taken off the list and all lists they were associated with, their call allowed me to file a formal complain with the public utilities commission of the state and I would be entitled to a $500 award for each of their violations of state law. This happened twice so it would be $1000 total and in lieu of collecting, I am donating this $1000 in spirit by not filing the complaint at that time under the provision that I never be contacted by them or their call center again. The manager attempted to asset they weren't subject to the DNC registry again and I explained that the provisions I am speaking of is under state law and existed long before the Do Not Call registry ever has and referred them to the Ohio public utilities commission and the Ohio office of consumer counsil for further explanation. Little was I aware of at the time that Ohio law allows for $2000 fines to be awarded to the person now.

          I never received a call from them again. All in all, I took up about 40 minutes of their time in order to tell them not to call me again or I would take legal action. If everyone, or even 10% of the people did this, it would become economically unfeasible to continue calling people who do not want to be called. And that's without resorting to court or legal actions.

          • I'd have been more satisfied if you'd taken the legal action. Also, the laws need to be set up to ding the call center *and* the groups that hire them. It's not enough to just punish the companies using call centers: those specific companies will stop, but the call centers themselves will find someone else to scam into thinking it's a good idea.

          • by xero314 ( 722674 )
            It would be far more "economically unfeasible" if everyone would just "automatically [hang] up on them." My time is far more valuable than that of the agent on the other end of the phone. If I just hang up on them then I have no time lost and they still have to pay for their dialer (which is often a per call cost). Luckily none of that really matters to me because I only use a cell phone, and since it's still a receiver pays economic system, solicitors are in violation of the law if they call me. I haven
          • by djradon ( 105400 )

            good for you.

            now if only we had super-smooth AI agents to adopt your technique for us!

          • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

            My dad listens for ten seconds, the quietly lays the phone down. As I don't have a landline, I never get robocalls at home; at work I just hang up.

      • No amount of creativity can defeat my choice to ignore the call.

        • My phone has a nice patch available - a whitelist. If you aren't on my contacts list, it automatically goes to voicemail. This can be temporarily disabled.

          I have a similar patch installed, and that's simply a blocker-contact (add a number, and it never rings or notifies about calls from that number) as too many unknown contacts legitimately call me.

    • FTFY (Score:4, Insightful)

      by copponex ( 13876 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:47PM (#32477418) Homepage

      Person thinks the rules only apply to other people. News at 11.

      Hypocrisy isn't restricted to politics. It's just easier to see in people other than yourself.

      • Re:FTFY (Score:5, Insightful)

        by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @05:32PM (#32478158)

        Indeed, but seeing a politician break the law is like seeing a doctor smoke, a priest rape a kid, my parents doing it, a cop assaulting someone... it just hurts more.

        • Re:FTFY (Score:5, Insightful)

          by knarf ( 34928 ) on Monday June 07, 2010 @08:09AM (#32482294) Homepage

          a priest rape a kid, my parents doing it, a cop assaulting someone

          Something is not right with our society's morals... This line should be part of a psychological test, 'which of these does not belong'.

          Did your parents truly commit a crime in conceiving you? I can understand that you do not relish the prospect of observing them in the act but to compare it to the actions of the pope's minions or police violence is a bit overboard.

    • Re:go figure. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Have Brain Will Rent ( 1031664 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:54PM (#32477472)
      Her later actions make it appear she is unable to admit when she has made an error. Just the kind of person you don't want sitting on the bench.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by green1 ( 322787 )

      Politician thinks the rules only apply to other people. News at 11.

      Where I live, they're right. All telemarketing and Robo-calling laws in Canada have specific exceptions for political campaigns...

      Of course as soon as I get one from a candidate I immediately remove them from my list of parties to vote for in that election...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You're too generous. I remove them from my list of parties to vote for ever again.... Mr. Harper and his cronies have been the only ones stupid enough to try it, though....

        here's a clue, politicos: if my vote is worth courting, then it's worth having a human do it. it's patently insulting that you think it's ok to have a computer dial my phone number. more than that: it's illegal. I only have one phone number, and it's a cellular phone. exemptions for political and charity organizations don't include cellul

      • I do this too. The problem is when all the candidates in a particular race have called me, and this happens quite often. I can't do a write in. The best I can do is not vote for anyone in that race, which doesn't really send any message. Ugggh!!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Imrik ( 148191 )

        Just make sure the call is from the candidate they're advocating and not their opponent. I don't know about Canadian law but US political campaign calls are required to state who sponsored it. Unfortunately that notice is at the very end meaning you have to listen to the whole thing.

  • Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Local ID10T ( 790134 ) <> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:02PM (#32477162) Homepage

    Well, now we know who not to vote for...

    • Re:Vote (Score:4, Insightful)

      by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:10PM (#32477224)
      Unfortunately, when we rule out all the scumbags and lowlifes, we are left with nobody worth voting for. Oh well <flips coun>
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by michaelhood ( 667393 )

        Oh well <flips coun>

        Poor coun. :(

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by selven ( 1556643 )

        Hey, there's lots of reasonable, honest candidates out there, and you could be among the 927 people voting for one in the next election!

    • "Well, now we know who not to vote for..."

      And whose story to forward throughout teh intarwebs so this becomes the only thing the bitch is known for.

    • by bugi ( 8479 )

      We know her election would benefit those who can afford lawyers to parse the law to the point it is meaningless.

    • Like she's worried about the surely less than 0.1% of people who are actually informed about this.

      • Like she's worried about the surely less than 0.1% of people who are actually informed about this.

        It would seem to me that this would be a good use of the Internet. To start: if California voters form a Facebook group calling attention to this, that would start the word spreading. Groups are formed for all sorts of nonsensical things (like the perpetual hoax that Facebook will soon start charging a monthly fee), this robo-calling is something that is real.

        A YouTube video clip calling attention to it wo

      • Ooh, ooh, I know! We get someone who has access to robodialing equipment who does NOT live in California ...
    • I just received a robocall (no human, no incoming caller-id) in support of Meg Whitman.
  • Why!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:05PM (#32477192) Journal
    How stupid is she?

    Honestly, It's not so much about the legality of it. It's the negative publicity. These things are illegal because people find them really really irritating. If you're trying to hawk holidays or something then you probably haven't heard of the company in the first place, so even if you go with someone else they haven't lost anything but for a candidate in an election, a vote for the another party is another vote they have to make up for elsewhere.
    • Re:Why!? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by v1 ( 525388 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:20PM (#32477274) Homepage Journal

      Another example of who NOT to vote for. Hello I'm running for office and support using loopholes to get around the intended restrictions our current laws are trying to enforce. Oh and I'm running to be a judge too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Another example of who NOT to vote for. Hello I'm running for office and support using loopholes to get around the intended restrictions our current laws are trying to enforce. Oh and I'm running to be a judge too.

        It's really no surprise.
        Finding loopholes to circumvent the intent of the law is practically the definition of a lawyer.
        Most judges are former lawyers.

      • by xous ( 1009057 )
        I got this call from this fuckwit trying to sell a mayor for the local city.
        "I'm calling to tell you what is running for Mayor for ... Would you let me know how you plan to vote?"
        "Well, thanks to this call I know I certainly will not vote for . And you can go fuck yourself for wasting my time."

        Yes, I'm an ass. These fuckers wake me up and I have absolutely no respect for them.

        If I'm a good mood they get to "Hi, I'm calling from xxxx..." before I say "go fuck youself" and hang up.

        • Imagine if you sounded just like that. That would be hell.

          Hi, I'm calling from... the hospital, your mother is sick. Shit.

    • by butlerm ( 3112 )

      She is unethical and a bit of a hypocrite at the very least. Clearly the law needs to be amended to eliminate the loophole, but she is violating the intent of the law in spades. For a judge, that is unconscionable.

  • I guess (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:23PM (#32477292)
    Pfffffttt, Judges are above the law. I hate that!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:27PM (#32477312)

    If you're not in California, start your robodialers!

    Contact: []

    Kolakowski for Judge 2010 (FPPC No. 1324175)

    285 Hanover Avenue, #1

    Oakland, California 94606-1260

    (510) 465-2988

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      As a revenge fantasy (I'm afraid that I'd get in trouble because I'm not a big shot businessman or politician), I thought of writing a Python script that would use the modem and call and leave a message.

      The logic would be:

      1. Wait for dial tone.
      2. Dial.
      3. Wait so many seconds for answering machine
      4. Play wave file. - repeatedly until hang up.
      5. Go to 1.

      And just let it run.

  • by OnePumpChump ( 1560417 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:31PM (#32477330)
    That's the source of zero tolerance for (not really a problem) and tough on (convenient scapegoat). You also get judges becoming corrupt and unethical in ways that would otherwise only apply to legislators and executives. Like this.
    • Because our federal court system is a paradigm of integrity and obedience to the rule of law.
    • Yes and no.

      Elected judges do run into these sorts of problems, because they're elected officials with all the baggage that carries. On the other hand, appointed judges for life are accountable to practically nobody, and in areas that have them tend to be the appointer's law partner (or other associate).

      In short, they both suck, and for different reasons. And no one's figured out a good alternative to one of the two methods.

  • you first need the character attribute of massively blind hypocrisy

    this applies to the right, and the left

    "do as i say, not as i do" must be your highest credo

    then you are a guaranteed success

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:48PM (#32477430)

    Here in AZ, one thing they got right was to appoint judges, which cuts out most of this type of campaigning crap. The list of appointees from which the governor chooses is drawn up by the judicial nominating commission, a bipartisan body that consists of lawyers AND nonlawyers. This allows a consensus to be reached as to who is at least _competent_ enough to be appointed. After 2 years of serving on the bench, judges face a retention election, and every 6 years thereafter they are up for another retention election. Usually, the only time the retention elections receive much public attention is when a judge has gone off the deep end in some respect and faces being dumped by the voters. IANAL, but many law professionals around the country hold the AZ judicial appointment process in very high regard, as it produces quality appointments without most of the partisan garbage present in judicial elections.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:50PM (#32477438) Journal

    We do not need weasels on the bench, or acting as officers of the court in any capacity. This woman is a disgrace to her profession.


  • I'm in California (Score:5, Informative)

    by MyFirstNameIsPaul ( 1552283 ) <> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:50PM (#32477446) Homepage Journal
    For the last week or two I've frequently received three robocalls a day. I'd say this law's effectiveness is on par with the hands-free laws.
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @04:02PM (#32477536)
    I am still trying to understand why anyone seems to think that annoying people with robocalls is the way to garner support from those people.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they can't even obey the rules of the campaigns, then revoke their right to even run!

    Oath breakers SUCK

  • You can't live with them ... ... what do we do with them?

  • Elected judged (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quacking duck ( 607555 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @04:35PM (#32477740)

    Judges and law enforcement officials in Canada aren't elected. They're appointed by our elected officials, and I'm more than happy they're focused on their actual jobs and not wasting months every few years shilling for votes based on overblown high profile cases.

    Judges cannot be counted on to do there jobs properly if they're worried a controversial decision which upholds the current laws, but is hugely unpopular with the voting public, will cost them their job.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sycorob ( 180615 )

      Do you guys not have issues with judges/sheriffs/etc being the buddies of the elected officials? The supposed advantage of having these officials elected is that you can boot them if they're not doing their job.

      John "Heckuva job" Brown was appointed by Bush, and that didn't work out great.

      • One way of dealing with such problems in smaller towns is to let the Federal police do the work; that is, RCMP officers, when they get the job, are shipped off across country to another province where they serve a term. This way, they don't know anybody and are able to do their job without bias.

        It's not an ideal solution, but it certainly serves to cut down on small town corruption. I've had my share of encounters with RCMP officers, and I always come away really impressed by their behavior. I knew a gir

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I believe you mean Michael Brown, and he was removed from his post far faster than if he had been elected to it.

        While appointments can be abused (there is a debate over our unelected senate, which is a room full of patronage appointments from whichever party's in power when a position is filled), my take is that those positions should not be elected posts because they do not represent you, they (judges, attourney generals, etc) represent the state. In Canada, this means the only positions up for election ar

  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @05:24PM (#32478092) Journal
    I just got a robocall that was not compliant with the law (incoming caller-id blocked, no human intro, no phone number given) "by" Mitt Romney on behalf of Meg Whitman.
  • I live in California and my phone has been ringing with robocalls about 4 times a day for the past 2 weeks. (There's an election on Tuesday.) I've answered a few of them and listened to the messages left by the rest. NONE of them were introduced by a person. Most of the calls had a caller ID originating in California. A few of them were blocked.

    The most annoying feature of these political calls is that there is no way to opt out. The DMA/FTC lists are exempted from political calls and these calls do

  • Unfortunatly, the only people who will care about this(or actually understand the implications of putting a person with such blatant disregard for current laws on the bench) are the ./ popluace. Joe citizen actually doesn't give a rats ass about judges and just clicks off names...usually incumbents, at election time. Sad but true. What we really need is a DA with balls enough to go after this and media (we all know media really owns the government right?) that doesn't have any monetary reason for protecting
    • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

      If you were talking about some obscure tax law, or privacy law, or election regulation, you'd probably be right. However I think you underestimate how much people hate cold calling and robodialers in particular.

      The news media will be perfectly happy to call the judge on this since they know it'll get ratings.

  • Now Kolakowski is trying to argue that because 'technically' she is routing her calls through Colorado from outside the state that her robodials are actually legal.

    I guess she skipped the day in law school when they covered "the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law."

    • She might be on decent legal footing. If robodials are legal in Colorado and illegal in California, whose law is controlling? I'm willing to bet federal law is controlling here.

      Now she's got a tougher case because she is commissioning the calls, and she's a California citizen, but if she wasn't this could be a more interesting case.

  • In that case all her phone numbers should be robo-dialed 24x7. I'm sure there's somewhere in the world where that's legal...

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun