Hanging up on robo-callers

Barely 24 hours after filing closed for the Nov. 4 election the telephone rang. It was Tom Schwedhelm, “your” City Council candidate. Credit the former Santa Rosa police chief with the first robo-call of campaign season. Unfortunately, it won’t be the last.

Candidates are exempt from do-not-call registry rules, and political pros say robo-calls are an inexpensive way to reach voters in a state where TV ads are costly and political rallies are a distant memory. Regardless, to many people, they’re a nuisance.

So, just as we anticipate more recorded messages from would-be officeholders, we expect that more voters will proclaim their opposition to any candidate who interrupts dinner or a Giants game – or even a bout of food poisoning.

Spotting signs of tragedy

For months before the shocking news of Robin Williams’ death, Assemblyman Marc Levine was focused on the rising number of suicides in California. Levine, D-San Rafael, is carrying legislation that would require suicide prevention training for psychologists, therapists and other mental health professionals. In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, there were nearly 4,000 suicide deaths in the state – the most in 20 years. And, according to Levine, one in five people who took their own lives had seen a mental health professional in the month prior to their death. AB 2198 has cleared both houses of the Legislature and is awaiting action by Gov. Jerry Brown.

A real fixer-upper

If you wanted to pick the bumpiest ride in Sonoma County, you would have plenty of good – or should we say bad? – candidates for that dubious distinction. Highway 101 north of Windsor probably isn’t the worst, but it may be the busiest bad road in the county. So it was with more than a little relief that we read Staff Writer Matt Brown’s report that the state has earmarked $67 million to repave a 14-mile stretch in northern Sonoma County. “As anyone who drives this corridor knows, your teeth start to rattle as soon as you head north of Windsor,” Supervisor Mike McGuire said. The only bad news is that the work won’t begin until 2016. Until then, look out for potholes.