Contra Costa assessor race fires up

Bob Brooks

Bob Brooks

Bob Brooks, the Antioch Realtor challenging Contra Costa Assessor Gus Kramer, came out firing with both guns last night.

He assembled at the Concord Hilton a cast of Kramer’s public critics and announced their endorsements of his own candidacy. (See video link below.)

Joining Brooks’ campaign are:

Former Assessor John Biasotti, the man who campaigned for Daniel Hallisey, Kramer’s first opponent in 1994. Hallisey died before the election but Biasotti so disliked Kramer that he urged voters (unsuccessfully) to elect the deceased man anyway. One of Biasotti’s longtime deputies, Joe Swicegood, also joined the endorsement party.

Bernice Peoples, the woman who worked for Kramer for 23 years and sued him for retaliation after she filed racial discrimination and sexual harassment complaint against him. Kramer, the county and Peoples settled for $1 million.

Steve and Erica Kramer, Gus’ estranged son and daughter-in-law, have offered to put Brooks’ campaign signs on their lawn and business storefront. Erica refers to her father-in-law as the “snake in the Garden of Eden” who raised her property tax assessment as payback for prohibiting him from seeing his three grandchildren.

Clark Wallace, the Orinda-based developer and former California Department of Real Estate Commissioner who served as president of the national and California associations of Realtors. Wallace serves with Brooks on the Contra Costa Assessment Appeals Board. The two men, along with former member, Joe Fisher, who is also endorsing Brooks, ruled against Kramer’s assessment of the value of the Chevron refinery.

Gus Kramer

Gus Kramer

In response, Kramer said he respected everyone’s right to back the candidate of his or her choice.

“I have no ax to grind with any of these people, including my own son,” Kramer said. “I love him … He is still in the will.”

Kramer pointed to a September 2009 state Board of Equalization review of his office, which gave his department high marks.

“If you compare my record to that of the previous administration, you will a see a marked improvement in the office,” Kramer said. “I don’t have to stand up and tell people what a great job I have done. The Board of Equalization did it for me.”

Also in the audience was a man who is definitely not endorsing Brooks. Another assessor candidate, John T. Nejedly, a trustee of the Contra Costa Community College District, showed up out of curiosity, he said. (He didn’t crash the party; he called and asked Brooks if he could come.)

If you want to watch the video of Brooks’ remarks at the Hilton last night, click on the link below.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Elwood

    Don’t blame me, I voted for the dead guy!

  • ted ford

    I think Gus beat dead guys twice. It’s almost a Stephen King script. Wasn’t Gus undertaker in Pittsburg before he became assessor. This could unnerve the other candidates if they look into this history.

  • Public Servant

    Maybe now is a good time to let the voters know about corruption in the Assessor’s Office. The office has a policy prohibiting its appraisers from doing outside appraisal work within the county. This is a good policy, but isn’t enforced equally in the office. Gus has let one of the appraisers (Christine Yost) do outside work and use office resources to do it. She has even sub-contracted some of this outside work to other members of the Assessor’s Office. It’s time that the public knows about this practice.

  • rian Walker

    Hey you guys,
    Don’t be so tough on old Gus. I just received a letter, on County Letterhead, letting me know all the great things Gus has done the last few years, for me and all the other property owners in CC County.
    Wait a minute… is that an appropriate use of taxpayer money, to toot the horn of an incumbent running for re-election???

  • Public Servant

    That most certainly does not sound like an appropriate use of taxpayer money. Wonder if the board of supervisors know about this?

  • lvorderbrueggen

    Public Servant,
    The Board of Supervisors has no jurisdiction over how Kramer runs his office. It approves his overall budget but has no line-item veto power.

  • Elwood

    Good news for Gus!

    He’s never been indicted!


    How stupid can people be? gus kramer is a crook and has been charged with harrassment and convicted, even his own family hates the guy! He doesn’t have a chance of being of being elected again, unless stupid,ignorant, uneducated, people vote for him. Its time to clean up the and get rid of the crooks like him, Hey gus , can’t retaliate againt me AND RAISE MY PROPERT TAXES FOR SPEAKING OUT AGAINST YOU , MY PROPERTY IS IN ANOTHER NAME.

  • Lafayette Voter

    This Assessor is an idiot and so wasteful! While other counties allow property owners to consolidate hundreds of parcels belonging to a single economic unit (such as a condominium building) by submitting a single appeal application with an attached spreadsheet (containing all of the information required by law), this Assessor and his board require a single application to be submitted per each parcel. Imagine having to submit 600 pages vs. just 6! This is an enormous waste of resources, like taxpayer money, people’s time, and not to mention all that paper! State law allows for applications belonging to a single economic unit to be consolidated but this Assessor and his board will deny your request for consolidation for no logical reason whatsoever. San Francisco County and Alameda County both allow consolidation but CC County insists on keeping things wasteful and in the dark ages. Kramer has got to go!!!

  • Voter with a Clue

    Actually Lafayette Voter, you need to GET A CLUE. The Board you are speaking of is the Assessment Appeals Board…you know the one that Bob Brooks is a part of NOT Gus Kramer. The Assessor’s Office and Gus Kramer have NO JURISDICTION over the Assessment Appeals Board and their procedures WHATSOEVER. The AAB is an independent board that rules on matters between taxpayers and the Assessor’s Office. Your beef is with the AAB.

  • Voter with a Clue

    Lafayette Voter…GET A CLUE! The “Board” you are speaking of is the Assessment Appeals Board – you know the one with Bob Brooks NOT Gus Kramer. The AAB is an independent board that hears matters between taxpayers and the Assessor’s Office. The Assessor’s Office has no jurisdiction or authority over the AAB’s procedures WHATSOEVER. Your beef is with Bob Brook’s Assessment Appeals Board not Gus Kramer’s Office.

  • Voter with a Clue

    Lafayette Voter…GET A CLUE! The “Board” you are speaking of is the Assessment Appeals Board – you know the one headed Bob Brooks NOT Gus Kramer. The AAB is an independent board that hears matters between taxpayers and the Assessor’s Office. The Assessor’s Office has no jurisdiction or authority over the AAB’s procedures. Your beef is with Bob Brook’s Assessment Appeals Board not Gus Kramer’s Office.

  • Public Servant


    I stand corrected on the budget question. A larger problem is as I described in comment #3. Gus should not allow a favored employee to use county resources to do outside contract work. It is common knowledge in the office that Ms Yost has gone to far as to do outside work during county time. Yet the rest of the employees are strictly forbidden to do such work.

  • The State Board review Kramer likes to tout was done between approx. Nov. ’07 & Feb. ’08, long before information surfaced in the times about his corrupt dealings. The State Board study reviews sample appraisals for correct appraisal procedures. Kramer hires his pals as temp’s, then suddenly they’re supervisors and are assigned to departments such as Exemptions. Then proceeds to transfer a portion of ownership to someone else so the new partial owner can claim the $7,000 exemption. The State Board has no idea this type of thing and so much more is going on in the office. Ms. Yost has been doing outside work since she arrived, no secret there! Hey, if you’re a FOG (Friend of Gus) or FOL (Friend of Lori Koch, Asst. Assessor), then you can do whatever you like. He GAVE his secretary Robin Perez a house and a big promotion too. She comes and goes when she likes. She also at one time (still may be) going to school on company time. . .whoa Nelly! Trust me, so much more goes on in the office. Once at a bar Gus overheard a guy bragging about how much property he owned. Gus didn’t stop until he came back to the office and immediately assigned someone to check up on the guy and report back to him. Gus is a real piece of work folks! As corrupt as they come.

  • Joe Smoe

    Lafayette Voter:

    Kramer does not appoint the Assessment Appeals Board and has no control over how Appeals are to be filed. The Assessment Appeals Board is appointed by the Board of Supervisors, which is how Brooks got onto the Appeals Board. Brooks is one of the members of the board that are requiring you to fill out hundreds of pages of paper in order to file an appeal. Kramer has nothing to do with that.

  • Martinez Voter

    In response to Diva Diva, needs to get her information more honestly and accurately. I have worked under 3 Assesor’s. Carl Rush, John Biasotti and Gus Kramer. For my first 15 years,Carl & John only promoted from the good ole boy pool and both of them did their share of dirty deeds. You or your sources need to dig a little deeper. They did not support women in the work place nor did they support their clerical staff. All the promotions were their buddies. Very few minorities were hired under them as well. There was 1 black (he got fired due to drinking on the job),and one Asian, my 15 years with Biasotti in the appraisal staff. More minorities, yes women as well, have been promoted and hired under Gus Kramer, (10 years with Mr Kramer) There were no female supervisors promoted in the appraisal staff under Rush or Biasotti. When Gus came into our office, he offered more opportunities than any other Assessor. The office requires State Board classes to appraisers, County classes for others, some required for their positions, others offered to all staffing. If you can make a statement that Gus sent Ms. Perez to school why can’t you idenify which one. If you were provided this priviledged information you should have named the school? I know for a fact there are times staff members stay after the normal work hours and continue to work becaue they have had to be away from the office on office business, not because they were out on personal time but because they were and are dedicated employees.Again, are you privy to their time reporting? The part about giving a home to Ms. Perez. I didn’t know Gus was required to announce his personal business to his staff or the public. I doubt that is what happened but again a person is allowed to do what they want with their property. I pesonally would exclude the above mentioned son & daughter in law in my will. Following the Bernice peoples saga. Its a shame the CCC Times chose not to report the real outcome of that situation. Having worked there longer than Ms Peoples and with Ms Peoples, after her required time as a junior appraiser, she went to the next level and stayed there mostly likly because of 2 reasons. She failed to pass the exam to move up or when she finally passed the test her score and other factors were lower than others. Out of 11 charges the court supported 1. and there were many more unreported facts. Yes people like Ms Yost should be removed. along with maybe a few supervisors that can’t do their job. What disturbs me more you have more people like Bernice Peoples (male & female) that want to jump on the same band wagon, by not performing their job and expect to be rewarded for that. First thing they do is declare discrimination, or racism. I own a couple of properties in CCC, maybe Biasotti owns more property, many of his staff and others before him, own multiple properties, its legal its America folks. I am further disappointed that the CCC Times and the Martinez Gazette choose not to report the final results of all that Gus Kramer was accused of, but we know that doesn’t sell newspapers.I think it is pretty pathetic that people like Diva/Diva and others are manipulated into writing such trash by other people or gossip. If you work in that office, go ask Ms. Perez about these accusations, voice your displeasure with Ms Yost. Maybe you would like people snooping around your work area, examing your every minute of the day, how many hours have you been dilengently working, or asking you about your private life. Gus Kramer you have my vote.

  • Political Referee

    Last time I checked, the election was between Kramer, Brooks, Nejedly and Butler. When did the Assessor’s Office employees become targets?!
    The employees are simply trying to make a living, leave them out of this. Yost may of been breaking an office policy, but she obviously wasn’t doing anything illegal or she would of been fired. In case anyone forgot, the Assessors Office is a government agency and is therefore a union shop. Everyone knows how hard it is to fire a union employee! An employee would have to do something illegal in order to get fired. A policy violation, as seems to be the case with Yost, simply calls for disciplinary action. And disciplinary action by law needs to remain confidential. That being said, no one will find out if Yost was actually disciplined, but regardless, she should not be getting ran through the mud, afterall she’s not running for office!
    Same for Robin Perez and the rest of the Assessor’s Office employees. Remember that regardless who gets elected as Assessor, the same employees will still be there and working for whoever the Assessor may be, so if the people working for the campaigns are smart, they’d make sure to keep the employees out of it.
    Also, a quick fact check. The Assessor does not have a board. The assessment appeals board is a third party entity that is appointed by the Board of Supervisors to act as a mediator between the Assessor’s Office and the Homeowners/Tax Agents, in the event that the two sides cannot come to a resolution on their own. Brooks is currently an appointed member of the appeals board. Kramer does not have anything to do with the board. And the policy in terms of how much paperwork you need to fill out in order to file a formal appeal is set forth by the assessment appeals board and the board of supervisors, not the Assessor’s Office or Assessor.

  • CCC Fan

    @ Lafayette Voter…you should do your research before you go off on a rant. The department you are complaining about is the Assessment Appeals Board NOT the Assessor’s Office. The AAB is an independent board that holds hearings between the taxpayer and the Assessor’s Office when an assessment is in dispute. The Assessor’s Office has NO jurisdiction WHATSOEVER over the procedures of the AAB…in your case complaints about wasteful and unnecessary applications and fees. Gus Kramer does not have a thing to do with that department. Your gripe is with Bob Brooks, the self-proclaimed leader of the Assessment Appeals Board and candidate for the Assessor’s position. It looks like your animosity is misdirected…your complaint of mismanagement is with the AAB…NOT THE ASSESSOR’S OFFICE.

  • Martinez Voter

    Comment # 3

    I worked in the Assssor’s office during that time and worked somewhat under Dan Hallissy various times. I never once heard him voice to campaign for Assessor. Most of the comments that were made was that John Biasotti disliked Gus Kramer so much he convinced Dan to run against him. Some of us knew of Dan’s health problem, maybe not realizing how critical it was. BUT I would think John knew. As far fetched as this is maybe John Biasotti should have been charged with un voluntary man slaughter, the stress probably caused him to have a heart attack.Then to say vote for Dan even after he passed. That was so disrespectful and indicated how far John would go. I respect my voting priviledges, and to say vote for the dead guy was ludicrous. Shame on you John Biasotti.

  • former employee

    Shortly after Gus Kramer was first elected, he was fined for failing to disclose properties he owned on a Conflict of Interest statement. In return for negotiating a lower fine, he hired former Martinez mayor, Mike Menesini, as a “liaison” between the Assessor’s Office and the Assessment Appeals Board. In reality, Menesini did little but use the space and phone for his own personal business.

    In response to Political Referee, more than one employee has been fired before Kramer was Assessor, for breaking the office policy of using office resources for outside work.

  • CCC Fan

    Also a former employee and #15 get your facts straight. I suppose your perception is your reality BUT Mike Menesini did plenty for the Assessor’s Office. Mr. Menesini was not a liaison between the Assessor’s Office and the Appeals Board. He was however worth his weight in gold when he uncovered unknown legislation authored by Tom Torlakson that provided for a $2,000,000 GRANT to Assessor’s Office throughout the state. No other Assessor’s Office had applied for the grant but Mike forged ahead and set the course for a brighter future in the Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office. The office was able to come out of the “Biasotti dark ages” and began providing better service to the community through increased technology, etc. Mike’s legislative discovery started the ball rolling for Assessor’s Offices across the State to apply for these funds to improve their offices and services as well. Bravo Mr. Menesini for helping the Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office, the taxpayers, and counties across the entire State!

  • K J

    The Martinez voter is correct about needing to the get the information honestly and accurately. Did it occur to anyone that the people above have an axe to grid and will say anything to cause problems and that they are misrepresenting office policy? If these people were honest, they would state their name. Then we might know what their true agenda is. Or are they afraid to state their name for fear of a lawsuit against them. Just because they stated something does not mean that it is true.

  • employee

    #12, Let me address several of your points….
    1. The out come of the trial (and was published in the CC Times), was that Gus LOST. He lost on the one charge, that he did not promote Bernice Peoples due to the fact she had filed a complaint against him. He did it out of spite.
    2. People working past their working hours. THAT

  • employee

    Lets continue from #17
    2. People working past their working hours? THAT is against county policy unless you are scheduled to work only 8 hours a day. So your telling us, that Gus allows this to happen? He’s bigger than the county administrator?
    3. Owning propery is not a crime, the crime is he falsely had a deed claiming the property was a gift to him. and not paying taxes for 4 years on property he owned. Also,and this was not printed….WHY DID THE COUNTY PAY HIS FINE on the Bernice Peoples judgement? Thats right folks, Gus only had to pay a very small amount that the judge granted Bernice, the rest came out of OUR pockets.

    #16 Why not post your real name? Gus has already gone after one person (Bernice Peoples) for filing a complaint against him, why would anyone who works at the Assessors’s office post their name and jeopardize their job and income? Most people at the Assessors office are not stupid. Just fed up with the FOG’s and upper management!

    Go ask Robin? Someone did a few years ago about the hours she keeps and was told “I’m on 24/7 for Gus”, is ANYONE in the county on 24/7 besides the police, fire and the county administrator?

    While were at it, how did Elizabeth Milton get an upgrade? Because she is a FOG! she and Gus go horse back riding all the time, yet a year ago if you look at the site that shows what people make in the county, you will she she was down $40,000 in one year for taking off with out pay? Why, because of her horse and dog……When she is in the office, she spends most of her time on EBAY and even has the stuff she buys sent to the office.

    Then Cheryll Grover, who is another FOG, spends most of her day away from the office, yet her title is “Store Clerk”. and she is ALWAYS working on stuff for her causes pertaining to Martinez, the Martinez Yacht club and anything else she can get her nose into.

    Gus is a lying sleeze bag, a cheat and thinks he is above the law. And you want to know WHY the staff is so pissed? And this is just the tip of the ice berg.

  • Martinez Voter

    “Employee” My my you have an ax to grind. I think you left a few people out of your expose’ old news, statements taken out of context. You evidently are not in a management position. You are an 8-5 person that probably is a clock watcher. A person that is always trying to find fault with the county, people in the department. But yet you stay. You and others have or have had, the opportunity to apply for other jobs in the county. Justifying why some people in management stay and work. Often times in a management position you have to attend classes,meetings, to emplement forth coming changes, maybe new equipment being installed, someone has to learn how to use it, teach the rest of the office, and there in their “IN” basket someone is waiting for their disability/workmanscomp papers to be processed (probably alot of that to do)time sheet corrections, etc, department budgets (prevent layoffs) working on a major appeals that could devestate the county departments, cites, agencies, get the picture, no I don’t think you do. Retaliate, against Bernice People’s, no I think she retaliated against Gus for her short comings like many do and are still trying to do. According to the papers, she was there in an entry level position(not true) for 20 years? why didn’t she apply out of the department, then again maybe she did and the results were the same. I think Ms Peoples was sweating bullets during the outcome. Sounds like she was lucky to have received one. The results shows this. Are you saying the court was corrupt as well? Since all our blogs our basically our opinions,some are truth if you have the real facts, others are just people that have an ax to grind, jealous of what others have, their accomplishments or blog for others. There are many good employee’s and then there are a few like you that are part of the problem not the solution. People have had these same complaints with every Assssor and probably other department heads as well. I worked in that office for 25 years and know people like you that like to get in your group of 5 or 6 and gossip and complain. Hoping the department wrongs you, create a hostile work place, with hopes to sue. Your bitterness and lack of intrigity is demonstrated in your blog. How many people in the department 130? 150? and you bring up 2 or 3, You have not enlightened people you are still dredging up old gossip. I am sure we the public will learn more about the canidates and then we mark our ballots. Should be a good election!!!

  • Just the facts please

    It has always amazed me how stupid some people can be. And it’s really unfortunate that Diva Diva can’t seem to get one fact right. I’ve known Ms. Perez for over 10 years and in that time she has not been going to school. So where did that come from? And I know for a fact that she DOES own her home, and it’s not a gift. And she works very and and earned her promotion, it was not given to her. But this is what you get when somebody who knows nothing talks out of there backside. But hey, I think I know who Diva Diva is, an ex-employee. Who set at her desk all day playing cards on the computer or going out for a smoke break every hour(CS). Bottom line is this, NOBODY should believe ANYTHING written on a blog. It’s all just somebodies personal opinion and no facts to back it up. When it comes time to vote each person should do research themselves to find out what is true and what’s not. I would hope that as adults we would do such a thing and not believe just anything. That would be a very dumb thing to do.

  • K J

    Is Mr. Brooks the person we want running the Assessor’s office? I think not!!! What kind of person allows his campaign workers to lie about employees in the Assessor’s office? If he allows corruption during his campaign, what would he do as Assessor. Not to mention he has big business backing him. Can you say Chevron? Appeal? No conflict of interest there.

  • 4 The Record

    Why would anyone be surprised Bob Brooks is running a negative, seedy, mud-slinging campaign? The man is a bail-bondsman for goodness sake. He makes a BIG living putting criminals back on the street! Let’s get all the business man’s businesses on record. Why hasn’t this appeared in any paper or speech he’s given? Mr. Integrity? NOT!!!

  • More Facts

    Smokers have a different set of break rules. Those who take a 30 minutes cigarette break and those who take a cigarette break every hour(C. Farley)

  • Public Servant

    Political Referee regarding #17,

    That Ms Yost hasn’t been stopped from doing outside work on county time is unquestionably a management issue. She may be “simply trying to make a living” but that doesn’t excuse doing outside work on county time, or using county data resources for such work. Two former employees (before Gus’s reign)were terminated for exactly this behavior. Let me explain the situation plainly: SHE IS OPENLY FLAUNTING COUNTY POLICY BY DOING OUTSIDE WORK ON COUNTY TIME, USING COUNTY RESOURCES. Why is management allowing this to happen?

    To “KJ” #22, What is YOUR name?

  • Former Worker

    I didn’t know that Bob Brooks runs a bailbond business. He is on the ‘net as a real estate broker. What is “4 The Record’s” source for this information?

  • 4 The Record

    @ Former Worker – Bob Brooks bailbonds company is Bob Brooks and Associates in Antioch. He is a member of the California Bail Agents Association. The business number is 925-756-6888/888-527-6888. I guess the question of why you haven’t seen his profitable bailbonds business in any paper or interview has an obvious answer…”Mr. Integrity” is doing his part to raise Antioch’s ever-growing crime rate “one criminal at a time.” No wonder he would conceal it…not exactly a vote getter.

  • Truth B Told

    Does anyone else find it odd that the MAN INSIDE, Bob Brooks’ right-hand man and biggest supporter was also IN CHARGE of the Chevron Oil Refinery appeal for the Assessor’s Office? By developing, delivering, and defending a value that was later deemed too high by Brooks’ Assessment Appeals Board, the MAN INSIDE effectively handed Bob Brooks a very sweet gift – a platform to run for office on – all on a big oil-stained silver platter.

  • More truth!!!

    To add more to what Truth b Told has said, the so called “man” inside is his best friend Al Wise. Who was in charge of that Chevron appeal. And who Mr. Broooks has already promised a promotion IF he gets into office. So how much can you put into what Mr. Wise has to say? And to anybody who thinks Mr. Brooks or Mr. Wise has any integtity that got thrwon out the door along time ago. As Mr. Wise spends most is his day on county time coming up with lies with other Bob Brooks supporters in his office, sometimes spending over an hour at a time doing this. But hey, Mr. Brooks is the one who broght up integrity in all this when truth be told he and his supporters have none. Nice job!

  • Think!

    Conflict of interest

    Why has the Contra Costa Times failed to report the $21-33 million property assessment appeal before the Assessor’s office? It sounds like the Times has an axe to grind with current Assessor Gus Kramer.

    How could the Contra Costa Times endorse Bob Brooks, a man who fails to pay his own property taxes?

    This is public knowledge the Times has withheld from you. Ask why, but don’t expect an answer.

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen


    As to why the CCT endorsed Brooks, I cannot answer that question. I am not on the editorial board. I read the endorsements in the newspaper at the same time as everyone else.

    But I hunted up the newspaper’s appeal documentation, which is public record, and it is nowhere close to being a $33 million dispute.

    In December 2008, the parent company of this newspaper directed the filing of a request for a reduction of the assessed valuation on two of its Walnut Creek properties, the Shadelands Drive facility and the one on Dean Lesher Drive.

    The company argues that its Shadelands property was worth $16.5 million, not the $28.5 million shown on the 2008 tax roll. On the other property, the newspaper contends it is worth $20 million, not $28.4 million shown on the tax roll.

    If the county assessment appeals board agrees with the newspaper’s request, and that’s a big if, the company could receive a refund of roughly $208,000 based on the difference in the taxable value of the properties.

    Every company is clearly looking for every dollar of savings it can find in this recession, but seriously, do you think we would sell our journalistic integrity for $208,000? Give it up, buddy.

  • About Mr. Kramer’s opinion of people…after a conversation with him in January of 2011, he commented that if he couldn’t get his children to service him he knows people in “high places” and he can have them snuffed…temper temper. He has a history of threatening relatives with his power of who you know and not what you know…

  • Furthermore, Mr. Kramer flunked out of college in 1977 with a case open in S.F. for un unpaid student loan…he walked off the job as husband and father in a fever and we never saw him again. He bares a 1 year diploma at College of Mortuary Science, then, in S.F. paid for by the State of California, County of Alameda where he lived at the time in 1969. Most men are pulled from office for this reason, misrepresenting themself in public. His son has the integrity…Joan