OK. I admit it. I was fooled. When I picked up that 12-page “newspaper” that came in the mail on Saturday my first thought was that it was from the city of Santa Rosa. I’m talking about the one titled “Santa Rosa Update” that looked very much like the city of Santa Rosa’s 8-page “Voter Update” mailer which, by the way, came that same day. Even the roses on the first page of each publication look similar. 
Only when you open it up is it clear that the four-color newspaper was not a city publication. It was from a slate of three candidates for Santa Rosa City Council – Scott Bartley, Jake Ours and Juan Hernandez.
Many candidates were scrambling to get their mailers out last weekend knowning that absentee ballots are being mailed out today. But it’s hard to argue this was a coincidence.
 The official city “voter update” serves an important function. It provides those candidates who abide by the city’s spending and fund-raising guidelines to have a half-page message in a city-funded publication.
In its name plate, the “Santa Rosa update” bills itself as “Bringing the important issues and answers to the Santa Rosa voters,” but it doesn’t mention who it is promoting until page three.
 Check that. You can find the words “Paid for by Bartley for City Council” and the others – but you have to turn the newspaper upside down to read it.
Yes, I was fooled only for a few moments. But I hate feeling tricked. It reminded me of those bogus “urgent” tax notices or rebate offers.

–  Paul Gullixson