Phil Tagami, the Oakland Rotunda and Fox Theater Developer currently working on the Oakland Global Facility, was the focus of a wholly inaccurate – ok just wrong – Oakland Post article that ran this week and based on Oakland resident, photographer, and activist Gene Hazzard’s open forum speech at Tuesday’s Oakland City Council Community and Economic Development Committee Hearing.
The article was a direct hit piece on Phil Tagami, Managing Partner of California Capital Group, and in full disclosure a friend of this blogger’s since 1990. Here’s what was wrote, in part:
(Oakland) Councilmembers are raising concerns that Phil Tagami’s company Rotunda Partners II has not begun making payments on 20-year, $12 million loan from the city to develop a parking garage, retail space, and temporary parking lot next to the Rotunda building across from Oakland City Hall.
The city has yet to receive the $20,000 a month payments on the loan, which were scheduled to start in November. City staff is also checking whether the project is technically in compliance with the contract.
Speaking at Tuesday’s Community and Economic Development (CED) meeting, Councilmember Lynette McElhaney called for city staff to enforce penalties on Tagami’s company, which has not yet been sent a notice of default for nonpayment.
“The informational report presented at the CED meeting said the company is currently technically in default, said McElhaney.“I would want to see staff put really strong timelines that are transparent and can be monitored with respect to getting people on track and to respond timely,” she said. “ I would also like to see some level of penalty for failure to perform.”
At least one community member is continuing to question whether the original agreement with Tagami’s company was a fair deal for the city.
“This is fraud, this is a gift of public land,” said Oakland resident Gene Hazzard, speaking at Tuesday’s meeting.
Neither Tagami nor a representative of his company came to the meeting to explain why the payments on the loan have not been made.
While I was not at the meeting, a source who was said that the matter was introduced at “open forum”; it was not on the agenda for the Tuesday meeting. “Open Forum” gives a speaker one minute of time to talk about whatever – in this case, it was Gene Hazzard’s turn and he raised the payment issue.
The Oakland Post did not bother to make the article that was written known to Tagami so he could respond to it, or call his office to get a comment. By contrast, I did reach Phil and this is what he said:
“We have been paying, we are not in default. period. The issue is the development agreement and the promissory note have conflicting dates the development agreement and the staff report are in sync but the promissory note has a different start calendar because the closing was delayed by six, plus-or-minus months,” Tagami explained.
“Anyway simple answer is we started paying early out of an abundance of caution until the lawyers interpret where the disconnect occurred. Might I add we have never received a default notice from the city but have been working with the to unravel this one issue. and paying while it gets worked out.
(Gene) Hazard is doing what he can to swift boat us by spreading as much disinformation as possible he has a dozen records request in – he has been successful at only one thing wasting my time and the city staff time responding to his accusations.”
Phil Tagami is right about the attempts to “swift boat” him – pointing to a tactic of mis-information dissemination that was used against then-Senator John Kerry when he ran for President in 2004. But I’ll go a step further and say that some at the Oakland Post have it in for Tagami, and try to paint him as a corrupt Oakland business person.
The truth is that Phil has not done anything outside of the law in the projects he’s done in Oakland. Phil’s only problem is he gets work done, and finds ways to succeed in Oakland, where others have not tried to do so.
Phil has had to consistently battle against Oakland’s overall lack of civic ambition. And when you have that very way governing a city’s culture, the ambitious and enterprising are consistently attacked.
In this case, Gene Hazzard, a good man with good intentions overall who has seen Oakland’s progress bypass many African Americans in general, has an intense and irrational dislike for Phil that has rendered Hazzard, for all practical purposes, Captain Ahab, which puts Phil in the guise of Moby Dick.
Gene thinks Phil is “sucking at the public tit,” and makes intellectually wreckless efforts to prove it. One imagined appearance of impropriety on Phil’s part is all it takes to set Gene in motion, researching, yelling, and suing. The trouble is that Gene’s found a willing mouthpiece for his issues against Phil, and in the form of The Oakland Post.