Desparate Vetting for Desparate Times

Earl Robert Brooks

John T. Nejedly

For the many of us who know – the County Assessor’s seat is a non-partisan, elected position within the county.  But for those who are not so keenly aware, much of the back-room politics happens along party lines.  As the Contra Costa Assessor’s seat is shaping its candidates for the June 2010 primaries – I’m very puzzled, as a political strategist at what the Democrats are entertaining and/or supporting for a candidate.

First, let’s look at John T. Nejedly who is a Republican.  Instantly, the name “Nejedly” jumps out as a recognizable name throughout Contra Costa – and it should.  John A. Nejedly, father of John T. Nejedly, represented Contra Costa County (CCC) as a State Senator from 1969 to 1980, CCC District Attorney from 1958 to 1969 and has built quite a family name and empire in this area.  There’s no question that John T. will be riding off his father’s coat tails in name recognition.

Second, John T. has run a successful campaign as Board Member for CCC Community College District, Ward 4.  With a whopping 67.7% win over Frank Quattro in the November 2006 election, this should at least give pause for the Dem’s to consider a political heavy-weight against John.

In October, Lisa Vorderbrueggen, of the Contra Costa Times reported that Bob Brooks of Antioch was “seriously exploring a run against Assessor Gus Kramer.”  Since October, it seems the CCC Democratic Central Committee has embraced Bob, as the candidate of choice to back.  Now this is where it gets fuzzy:

In chatting it up in the inner circles of Democratic Clubs around Contra Costa, nobody has heard the name of Bob Brooks.  When asked if they’ve heard of Earl Robert Brooks, I get the look of “deer in headlights,” or the other answer, “does he own Brooks Furniture?”  

According to the CCC Elections Department, Bob Brooks has never run a campaign, which means the probability of Brooks ever fundraising is pretty low.  Considering Brooks has yet to build a political machine, understand the mechanics behind it and execute everything from campaign filings, advertising, canvassing, strategy, GOTV and much, much more – will Bob be able to pull this off against seasoned politicians?  

If there were storm clouds hanging over this candidate about controversy, then there’s a 100% chance of rain.  As one of the members of the County Appeals Board, Brooks granted the favor of a $12.6 million tax break to Chevron’s Corporation – money that is desperately needed in our Cities, County schools, parks and fire districts.  When you do the math off Chevron’s balance sheets for 2008 – the Gross Profit for the corporation was around $79.6 Billion U.S. Dollars $12.6 million is about 0.00015% of that Net Profit.  Some may say that there was an Assessor’s error – “Show me the hard evidence of that.” Or they may say that Chevron had the tax cuts coming to them; however the State Auditors has given “high marks of excellence” to the Assessor’s Office during this time.  Whose interests does Bob Brooks serve – Chevron’s or the County?

Lastly, we can only hope that Brooks will be clean of any campaign donations made from Chevron employees or the Black American Political Action Committee of Contra Costa County (BAPAC), which is heavily funded by Chevron to the tune of $50,000 – according to 2006 campaign contribution records.  East Bay Express recently reported that another board member had received campaign contributions from Chevron – will Brooks take BAPAC money?

So as a political strategist within the Democratic ranks, I fail to see the advantage in vetting Bob Brooks, who in my opinion will easily give the non-partisan seat to a registered Republican.  My question to Central Committee Chairman Chuck Carpenter is, “is this the best candidate the Democrats can challenge toward John T. Nejedly?”