Victoria Kolakowski, Candidate for Alameda Superior Court Judge, Censors Comments Questioning Her Illegal Activity

Vote No for Victoria KolakowskiA little over a week ago I blogged a post about Victoria Kolakowski, a candidate for Alameda County Superior Court Judge here where I live. I was annoyed after having received an unwanted robodial from her campaign on a Sunday afternoon on my cell phone in the middle of my son’s baseball game. I hate robocalls in general and thought I’d use my free speech rights on my blog, Twitter account, Facebook account, etc. to express my dissatisfaction at having received this impersonal and unwanted solicitation from her.

Nobody likes getting robocalls. It’s annoying to pick up your phone to be blasted by some recording trying to get you to buy something or vote for someone, or whatever impersonal thing they are trying to get you to do. I’m not sure why politicians use them. They turn people off, make them angry and provide no value.

While researching robodialing in general I learned that in California at least that robodialing is actually illegal. So I posted another blog post about the illegality of Kolakowski’s calls and posted my concern about this illegality on her Facebook campaign page.

So how does Kolakowski respond? Rather than addressing the illegality of her campaign’s actions she blocks me on her facebook campaign page and censors my comments asking her to explain her illegal actions. What’s more, she not only blocked and censored me, she also killed other comments by other people as well who were also questioning her ethics and illegal campaigning.

So rather than address why she as a sitting law judge, sworn to uphold the law, knowingly breaks the law — and interestingly enough, she is presently a law judge at the California PUC, the *exact* same agency that issued this bulletin about robodials being illegal in California — she instead chooses to try to simply censor the allegations to make them go away. This is not right. Kolakowski should provide an explanation as to why she feels her robodials are not illegal if this is in fact how she feels, or she should apologize for using illegal robodials and pledge not to use them in the future. But trying to censor those who are trying to hold her accountable for her shady campaign tactics will only backfire.

I also contacted Oakland City Attorney John Russo’s office. Russo was the person whose voice and name were used on the robodial asking for a response from him. In Russo’s case, I at least received a reply back from his communications director telling me that they were looking into the matter and would get back to me. That’s certainly better than the censorship and no response that I got back from Kolakowski.

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14 Comments

  1. Jack Carlson says:

    Doesn’t she realize this is the internet age? No longer can public servants pull shenanigans like this and hope to get away with it. Transparency will come to government, whether it adopts it itself or it gets dragged into transparency kicking and screaming.

    For a judge this was a very foolish act.

  2. Marc Evans says:

    I say that once transparency is restored to government, that we also bring back tarring and feathering.

  3. Shaun Dakin says:

    Wow.

    Here is a channel > Google Sidewiki. You can post comments about a webpage.

    Here is mine about her > http://www.google.com/sidewiki/entry/dakinshaun/id/JIjsGs-98sRYkEC4hWPJGMYWz_c

    Shaun Dakin
    StopPoliticalCalls.org

  4. No Street Spam says:

    I ama voter in Georgia. In 2008 I started calling and emailing local campaigns asking them to put my number on a “Do not Call” List. One candidates, campaign manager said he would. Like you, I received a robocall, at my home, on a Sunday morning. I’m in the Bible Belt remember, so where should we be on Sunday??? LOL
    Anyway, I tracked down the candidate’s cell phone which he published in a newsletter stating, ” I want to hear from the voters, call me with your concerns.” and called him. I expected to leave a message but He answered. I told him it was disrespectful to disobey his campaign promise not to call me and to robocall people on Sunday mornings. He said he was in church and I should not be calling him. Did it ever occur to him that maybe he should not have his cell phone on during church? I hope he had walked out of church, because his last statement to me was “I’ll take your damn number off our list!” Of course, he didn’t. He didn’t get our vote, and he did not win that election either. Moral of the story: find the candidates, call them on their personal numbers for every robocall you get.

  5. Eliot says:

    As a voter in Alameda I’m actually glad that a candidate for a relatively obscure race took the effort to tell me a little more about herself and as a result I’m actually going to vote for her. I find your anger at receiving a message puzzling and misdirected. When people don’t know about a candidate they don’t vote in that race. You’re actually encouraging non-participation, shame on you.

  6. No Street Spam says:

    Dear Eliot:
    Perhaps you were fortunate to receive a live call. I think most of us deplore those relentless robocalls, that are autodialed and they never give up until you answer. They also call back several more times during the campaign period. It is an abuse of the technology and an invasion of privacy.
    I use multiple sources to find candidate information and make my decisions. When a candidate breaks the law, I have a hard time voting for them. I also do not vote for candidates that illegally litter our public greenspaces and right of ways with campaign signs that are in violation of sign laws. A candidate that breaks the law while campaigning will not have my best interests in mind if they are elected. Unfortunately many candidates believe their right to get “their message” out takes precedent over our privacy rights and the right to enjoy an uncluttered public landscape. Respect your constituents and then you’ll deserve their vote.

  7. Thomas Hawk says:

    Eliot, so you think it’s ok for a candidate (a judge actually who is sworn to uphold the law) to actually *break* the law because you are too *lazy* to research the candidates on your own?

    I’m not encouraging non-participation at all. I think everybody should register to vote, research the candidates and vote for whichever one they feel will best represent them.

    But I think that when candidates campaign that they still ought to do it legally, and especially a candidate for judge or another elected position to enforce the laws.

    Most robodials by the way hardly provide any meaningful insight or analysis. They are simply unwanted intrusive “vote for me” plugs by candidates who disrespectfully abuse our privacy. It’s wrong, it’s unethical, and it’s illegal. Not something that either a current law judge at the CA PUC (the very agency who issues the bulletin that politicians must abide by the robodial laws) or a candidate for Superior Court Judge should be a part of in any way.

  8. Marc Evans says:

    No, Eliot, shame on you if your decision to vote for this judge is based on whatever recorded information you received during an illegal robodialed campaign call.

    The fact that this candidate choose to censor discussion on her facebook campaign page should tell you all you need to know as to her qualifications.

  9. Completely off-topic, and for that I apologize. But, you, a photographer who I feel fights for the rights of photographers, I thought I would share an experience I had this evening in the Mission of San Francisco.

    This evening, around 1 in the am on May 26, I was photographed/recorded by a city employee. I was shooting a building on Mission and 13th Street and someone in a DPW truck yelled out to me. I went over to the truck to find out what he wanted and I was photographed or videotaped with a camera. All I know is a flash went off in my face about 2 times. Once I got over the shock of what was happening, I pointed my lens at my assailant and took 3 shots. Only one frame came out without a mess, but I doubt you can identify the driver of the vehicle. He was moving at the time that he shot me.

    I’m a frequent late-night, San Francisco photographer and I’ve never come across someone like this.

    I’ve sent an email to the City to find out what this was all about – a rogue employee or some sort of city-sponsored initiative. I’ll update you accordingly.

    Has anyone else encountered DPW workers who filmed them in some manner while shooting late at night in San Francisco? Curious to know.

    ryan gillespie

  10. Thomas Hawk says:

    Ryan that seems odd. Personally though I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I always figure that anyone can photograph me in public just like I can them.

  11. Truly, Thomas. I’m not of the mind that I shouldn’t be photographed. I take the cable car every weekday, so I appear in many a tourist’s take-home shots. 🙂

    Just something about the interaction seemed out of place because this was a city employee. I’d like to know why he was doing it. Since I pay taxes, I figure I should have the privilege of knowing what this is about.

  12. Ken Yeung says:

    Hi Thomas – thank you for writing up a post about this. I’m a victim of robocalling, although it’s the first election cycle where I’ve been targeted, but not by the politician you mention in your post, but from someone running for a larger political seat – Meg Whitman (@whitman2010).

    The first time was when “she” called me and I foolishly picked up even after not recognizing the number on caller ID. It was a robocall and I took to Twitter to complain, even tweeting to “her”, but we all know that politicians don’t use Twitter legitimately.

    Then I received another call a few days later, but I didn’t answer. I checked my voice message and it was from some other person’s PAC who was robocalling me for Meg Whitman. Lucky I still have a landline (yes, it’s true) where very few people know the number so I don’t get plagued “as often”, but when I went to the PUC’s website to file a complaint, I found it very difficult to navigate and fill out the form – maybe that’s why the stats say only 2 complaints have ever been filed?

    Horrible politicians…and they don’t even reach the RIGHT voter…I’m a registered Democrat in the state, or at least that’s what my registration card says.

  13. JSWest says:

    I am totally agree that robocalls are horrible, topping even live telemarketers. That said one should be aware that candidates are not always in control of all groups and individuals advocating for them. So before trashing Vitoria for blocking you on Facebook and censoring your comments I hope you would consider that she may not be the person running her Facebook page on a day to day basis and thus may not even be aware of what is happening on there. Many, if not most of the robocalls are from PACs or others with a vested interest in electing a given candidate but these are unfortunately not under the direct control of the candidate. So all I am asking is that you give Victoria herself the benefit of the doubt before passing judgement on an annoying call that may or may not have been sanctioned by her personally.

  14. Kolakowski is claiming that the robocalls aren’t illegal because they are being placed from outside of California: http://www.kcbs.com/localnews/Calif–Law-Does-Not-Prohibit-All-Candidate-Robocal/7396898