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Brannon Tire Vows to Fight Complaint

(San Joaquin Record) Tire dealer Jerold Brannon, the patriarch of the area’s largest tire retreading and recycling company, said he is ready for a battle royal with county officials.

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The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office has filed a complaint against Brannon accusing the company of 11 violations for improperly storing old tires, not maintaining fire prevention and keeping inaccurate logs of the tires his drivers haul in and out every day.

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A complaint filed in the San Joaquin County Superior Court seeks more than $300,000 in fines.

Brannon, 66, believes local prosecutors, with the help of environmental health and state officials, are picking on him and threatening the livelihood of his family and 78 employees who work at Brannon Tire on North Wilson Way.

"We’re going all the way with this thing," said Brannon, who plans to pay his attorney up to $100,000 in fees to make the case before a jury rather than pay any fine to the county. "They’ve got the tiger by the tail."

Deputy District Attorney David Irey said he has so far been unable to resolve the problems with Brannon’s attorney, attempting to avoid extensive litigation. Irey received referrals about Brannon Tire from the San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department and the state’s Waste Management Board.

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"We’re hopeful we are able to meet with Mr. Brannon’s attorney in the next few weeks and resolve the matter," Irey said. He declined to talk in specifics about the alleged violations, preferring to not argue the case in the media, he said.

Brannon said his employees went to great lengths to correct each violation pointed out by inspectors from the county’s Environmental Health Department. They shook hands with the inspector, and the next thing they knew they were served with the civil complaint, Brannon said.

Brannon Tire was singled out, he said. Other tire shops in the area regularly stack tires too close to their property line, in violation of the law. The other offense by his employees was keeping sloppy records of the tires they hauled, Brannon said.

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Brannon Tire – the county’s biggest tire firm of its type – does $20 million in business annually. Retreading industrial tires up to seven times keeps 30,000 tires out of landfills. Tires with some life in them that don’t meet California’s standards are shipped to Mexico, he said.

Brannon has been working in the tire business for 51 years and has turned the business over to his adult children, daughter, Carey Cumberlege, and son, Craig Brannon.

"All we’re trying to do is run a business and make a living," Jerold Brannon said.

Harvey Brodsky, a spokesman for the advocacy group Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau, said overregulation of businesses like Brannon’s threatens to drive employers from California and cause tires to be recklessly abandoned.

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The local and state inspectors too often don’t understand life on the ground for tire retreaders and recyclers, Brodsky said. Brannon is a member of Brodsky’s organization.

"If they would spend a week working there and find out for themselves what he was really doing, they’d say, ‘Whoa, we’re really overregulating this guy,’ " Brodsky said. "If they understood that, they wouldn’t have problems with the Jerry Brannons of the world." (Tire Review/Akron)

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