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Oakland Army Base Lawsuit Continued To June 6th

Note: Updated: 12:02 AM EST  

The Oakland Army Base Lawsuit is still alive.

The lawsuit pitting Oakland photographer and activist Gene Hazzard against The City Of Oakland, and pretty much anyone who represents the Oakland Establishment (if there is such a thing, and there is) is still alive, and that's to the surprise of even Hazzard himself, who said he expected "an adverse ruling," from Alameda County Superior Court Judge John True, but didn't get one. 

Video: Background interview with Gene Hazzard:
Instead, what he, and the Oakland Establishment he's suing, got was Judge True's call for a June 6th "case management conference" around a new item of information that Hazzard would not comment on.

What Hazzard did tell this blogger was that  his two complaints were combined into one large one by Judge True.  So far, in total, it has to be written that this lawsuit has gone on this far because Hazzard has made a basic good point about the way the Oakland Army Base Project was handled.

Consider that, twice, the defense lawyer has issued motions to dismiss Gene's complaint on the view that it was "baseless," and was denied both times.

And consider that at the last court meeting on Thursday, March 7th, the defense lawyer, a Kevin Siegel, issued a motion to have Gene himself muzzled.   According to Mr. Hazzard, the defense lawyer mentioned where Hazzard said that California Capital Group's Managing Partner Phil Tagami was "sucking from the public tit," a comment Siegel could have only got from reading Zennie62.com.

(As a note, Phil says that neither he nor his personal lawyer asked for such a motion.)

Hazzard said that motion was denied by Judge True on the basis that it would violate Hazzard's free speech rights.

And consider that, even with last year's civil procedure error that Gene made in November, the lawsuit is still alive and will be well into the Spring of this year. 

Gene Hazzard contends that the lead company team of California Capital Group (which has operated as California Capital and Investment Group, since 2010) and ProLogis, of the set of organizations awarded the right to "exclusively negotiate" with the City of Oakland for the right to develop the Oakland Army Base Property, didn't have the proper level of financing to meet the city's written fiscal requirements. 

Gene has said that ProLogis should have, but does not have, 85 percent of the financial responsibility of the project because of their excellent financial condition, but is only responsible for the buildings that would be erected on top of the infrastructure foundation - roads and sewers - that are needed before any type of edifice is erected.

The infrastructure financing part is reportedly left to CCG, and Hazzard says that CCG, ran by Managing Partner Phil Tagami, does not have "a dime" of its own money to put into the project - contrary to what city documents call for.   Gene says that responsibility for a number of costs will ultimately fall to the Oakland taxpayer.

This was Phil's Facebook message response in the December 3rd 2012 blog post I wrote about this:

(Note from Phil Tagami via email on Sunday, March 10, 2013: The comments below from our telephone chat in December do not capture an important theme we touched on briefly, that we are not buying land; this is land we are leasing at FMV for 66 years. The City has asked us to find and secure funding to fix the land it got for free from the federalgovernment. The City asked us to pay fair market rent for it, after we fix it up, and do so under a community benefits policy that is not required on FMV land anywhere else in California. In fact the community benefits policy agreed to for this project is the most complex and rigorous everadopted by the city in its history. CCIG has played the lead and a pivotal role in raising $259m to initiate the first phase of infrastructure improvements. The private spend by CCIG of its money referenced in our December chat below made the attraction of these funds possible. The master plan that you covered in your video was created through a public private partnership. To further help meet the states matching fund requirements CCIG and two of its affiliates OBOT and OGRE have agreed to privately fund a minimum of $25.9M of infrastructure over and above the 259m. The $54.5m that the city has committed is largely made up of funds that were generated from leasing revenues and utility charges from the operation of the former base property since the LIFOC and transfer and are not redevelopment funds, but are encumbered by the reinvestment act provisions that they must be spent on site to ready the site for restoring the site to a re-use consistent with the BRAC re-use plan. Other portions of the 54.5m come from the DOD required the sale of the land commonly referred to as the Subaru site or north gate way to the recyclers as the property was improperly acquired using reinvestment act funds obligation and must be used to rebuild the infrastructure to return the site to productive re-use as quickly as possible. )

The Facebook Page From Phil Tagami December, 3rd 2013

It is fair to say I am not looking to comment on a matter that is still in the legal process. But I can say that third party review was done of the financial capacity and commitment of each and all of the parties in the various agreements to a commericial investment grade standard. This of course makes no mention of all of the pursuit costs from 5 years of pre-development, entitlement, and grant work. Yes all of the TCIF and TIGER grants were paid for by CCIG and the city. The CCIG spend prior to execution excluding staff costs for five years and legal costs is over $2m add prologis spend and you are at $3.2m add the two rfq rfp with the Port and you are at $4.+ …I hope that is a reasonable answer to your question. This city has spent about $6m to date. 

Since that point in time, Hazzard has expanded his complaint to include how key enabling documents were signed by the parties.   Since Gene will not tell me what the "new" item of information the Judge is including is, I can only guess that it's related to his new complaint about the signatures.   One we talked about in the video presented at the top of this blog post, where Gene asserts that CCG and ProLogis used a different company name that he says constitutes a whole new company, not previously used as the signatory on the documents given the developer power to negotiate with the city.

In other words, Gene's saying that they used one set of corporate relationships to get negotiating power, then a new company to gain development and financing rights, when there should have been just one company.

This from Phil:

This information memo is meant to respond to questions raised at the City Council meeting of March 5, 2013, at which two public speakers asked about the consistency of the named signatories to the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) and Lease Disposition and Development Agreement (LDDA) for the development of the Oakland Army Base.

In between the signing dates of the 2nd and 3rd Amendments to the ENA, several transactions occurred involving parties on both sides of the agreements. During that period, the legal assignment and succession by and between the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Oakland to the City of Oakland (as Successor to the Redevelopment Agency) took place. Separately,

(a) AMB Property, LP changed its name to Prologis, L.P after its parent company AMB Property Corporation consummated a merger with Prologis, whereby AMB Property Corporation was the surviving entity.

(b) The California Capital Group assigned its interest in the ENA to an affiliated entity, CCIG Oakland Global, LLC.

These transactions and name changes are highlighted below in Attachment A. The developer group transactions and name changes related to the ENA were separately affirmed by the City Council on September 20, 2011, in Resolution No. 83565 C.M.S. and Redevelopment Agency Resolution 2011-0063 C.M.S. Further, it is customary in large development deals for the developer to form a separate entity to execute the transactional documents. The parties contemplated that the normal commercial custom would occur in this case. See the following provisions of the ENA:


Preamble: Where the developer party is defined as AMB Property, L.P., a Delaware
limited partnership (“AMB”), and California Capital Group, a California general
partnership (“CCG”) and their successor in interest (collectively, the “Developer”)
(emphasis added); and

Exhibit C (Provisions to be negotiated): Item 2 – Lessee: To be designated by Developer.


The City Council approved this approach in Resolution No. 13131 by authorizing execution of the documents with the developer-created entity, Prologis CCIG Oakland Global LLC (or its related entities or affiliates). It should be noted that certain key monetary obligations of the new developer entity are separately guaranteed by credit worthy affiliates of the new developer entity.

Respectfully submitted,


Fred Blackwell
Assistant City Administrator

For questions please contact Doug Cole, OAB Project Manager, at (510) 238-7661.

Gene Hazzard Versus The Oakland Establishment

As stated, Gene's lawsuit is specifically aimed at every Oakland City Councilmember, and City Official who might have been involved in the approval of the developers selected for the Oakland Army Base Project.  The listed parties include one plaintiff, Mr. Hazzard, and 20 defendants.  That mammoth list includes eight Oakland councilmembers (Larry Reid - District 7, Nancy Nadel - District 3, Jane Brunner - District 1, Rebecca Kaplan - At Large, Pat Kernighan - District 2 , Libby Schaaf - District 4, Ignacio De La Fuente - District 5, Desley Brooks - District 6, and Mayor Jean Quan),  and Oakland's City Administrator Denna Santana, Economic Development Director Fred Blackwell, and Santana's predecessor Dan Lindheim, as well as former Oakland Redevelopment boss Walter Cohen, current Oakland Administrator Gregory Hunter, Oakland and Alameda County Economic Development guru Pat Cashman, and former Oakland Business Development Director Aliza Gallo.

That list contains the majority of people who have has some level of 'say' in Oakland's economic development policy and direction over the last 10 years.  

Here's the list of players in the lawsuit: 

PlaintiffGene HazzardProper 
DefendantCity of OaklandSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantLarry ReidSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantNancy NadelSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantJane BurnnerSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantRebecca KaplanSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantPat KernighanSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantLibby SchaafSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantIgnancio de la FuenteSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantDesley BrooksSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantJean QuanSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantDeanna SantanaSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantFred BlackwellSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantDan LindheimSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantWalter CohenSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantAliza GalloSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantPat CashmanSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantGregory HunterSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantAl AulettaSiegel, Kevin D. 
DefendantPhil TagamiGiacomini, Andrew G 
DefendantDaniel LetterGiacomini, Andrew G 

Gene Hazzard's acting 'pro per,' or as his own lawyer, and this blogger has to commend Gene for doing an incredible job.   It's a task few, including me and vocally, gave him a chance to do, and Mr. Hazzard has used that as more logs fueling the fire that is his incredibly intense anger with the Oakland Establishment, and Tagami in particular.

Gene, Phil, And Me

I have to frankly admit I have been wrongly dismissive of Gene, but for what I felt was a good reason.   Whenever we talked about the Oakland Army Base Lawsuit, Gene would eventually launch into some tirade about Phil Tagami.  As I regard Phil as a friend, that was really hard to take.  I've not only known Phil since 1990, I've watched him work tirelessly during a period where he described himself as "equity rich and cash poor."  A popular real estate agent, developer, and community activist in the early 90s, Phil had worked for a man named Randy Berger and established himself as an expert in what is called "adaptive resuse" - and had a way with the women.  One now-former Oakland Planning Aide who eventually became an Oakland Assistant City Manager once famously planted flowers in front of Phil's house on Park Avenue in the wee-hours of the morning - and she and he weren't even dating. 

Before Phil's big break, he worked as a consultant to rail organizations helping to sell rights of way, and as a development consultant.  I was introduced to Phil by then-Oakland Citizen's Committee For Urban Renewal Executive Director David Glover, while we were all at what was called "Oakland Sharing The Vision" - a 500-person all-day event in 1989 that asked Oaklanders to come together and form a giant plan for Oakland's Future.   That day brought a number of people together who have become great friends, including myself and Phil as well as now-Oakland Councilmember Libby Schaaf.

By the time I was appointed Economic Adviser to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris on December 17, 1995, Phil has set his sites on redeveloping the Oakland Rotunda.  To make a long story short for the purpose of this blog post, Phil developed a set of relationships with everyone who comprised the value chain of people that would approve, and then build a development project.

The $32 million Rotunda contract to Phil's organization didn't come without a lot of hard work.  And I was one who openly promoted Phil as deserving of the $32 million because Oakland, then, had a habit of hiring the "outside developer flavor of the year" and giving that person a big grant, only to watch nothing happen with the Rotunda.  It was time to give a local person a chance.  As anyone who visits The Rotunda today will agree, Phil and his team and partners did a terrific job.

Phil adds this: The Rotunda was a disposition and development agreement. The DDA was a fee sale and based on our group meeting all of the prerequisite criteria allowed for a $12m loan from the ORA. The project was a $51m project the city staff report was written to focus on the core and shell of the building not the tenant improvements. The $39 million of private funding was $9m of BOFA tax credit equity, $20m of construction debt from US bank, and $10m of private equity from Rotunda Partners (an entity we created to develop, own, and operate the project). BTW the city gets upside participation on sale as well.

Tagami took the Rotunda experience, and the revenue from it, and established a reputation for raising money for a number of Democratic elected officials and causes.  He solidly backed John Edwards for President, only to watch Edwards' star fall in the now-well-documented sex scandal that nearly jailed him.

Phil says he's "backed, endorsed and raised for every Dem in the presidential Primary with anemphasis on Clinton, Vilsack, and some guy named OBAMA more than Edwards."  But I have to add that Phil was initially for John Edwards before it became obvious that my candidate, Barack Obama, was the better one.  That I recall from deep memory because I was hunkered down to push all of my friends, including Phil, to back Barack early; he backed Edwards.

Phil's second Oakland project was the Rotunda Garage, before he eventually took on the Fox Theater.  The Fox was the result of a long-held desire to redevelop the largest theater west of the Mississippi River.

The completed Fox has become the centerpiece of what's called the Uptown Entertainment District, and even though I feel the entire project is less than what could have been, there can be no argument that it's helped reshape Oakland into an entertainment destination in the Bay Area. 

Unfortunately, Phil's success and real or perceived wealth, along with an occasionally prickly temperment with some in the community, as well as the current ability to impact the lives of business owners (as we have seen in the complaints over announced Oakland Army Base business relocation to make room for Phil's plans) has formed a healthy set of enemies.   Hazzard is just one of them in a city that doesn't seem to want people to actually do big plans, just talk about doing them.

Phil Tagami And Giant Ambition In Small Town Oakland

The overall problem is that Phil Tagami's a driven doer in a city that abhors ambition and who's favorite book is one he and I bonded over when we first met: The Power Broker.  It's Robert Caro's classic book about Robert Moses, who parlayed a set of political relationships into being the of boss multiple commissions that held sway over infrastructure development in New York City after World War II.  Of all of us - Tagami, now Oakland City Manager John Russo, and myself - only Phil managed to actually make himself into Oakland's Robert Moses.

The problem is that Tagami's rise came just as Oakland's Black Political Establishment was fading.  That power base, born during the 70s, fueled the election of two black mayors, Lionel Wilson and then Elihu Harris, and scores of African American elected officials and entrepreneurs.  But a host of economic and demographic shifts opened a door that then-former Governor Jerry Brown spotted.  He moved to Oakland, and then became its mayor in 1998.  The fact that Jerry was white was overshadowed by his celebrity, and allowed him to get away with the statement that he was going to beat Oakland's Black Political Establishment.

Phil was a supporter of Elihu Harris, and did not quickly sign on to Jerry Brown when he became Mayor, but thanks to John Protopappas, a real estate apartment developer and another friend of this blogger who befriended Brown and with him created "The 10K" project to build 10,000 units of market rate housing in Downtown Oakland, Phil formed what became a close relationship with Jerry Brown.  It is no matter than Phil got the Rotunda Project contract done just before Jerry Brown came in to office, some perceived Phil as anti-black, when that could not be further from the truth.

What Phil likes to do is work hard and then kind of rub it in your face - in other words, if I can do it, there's nothing wrong with society, and racism's not a problem at all.  I've talked to Phil about how he presents himself over the years, and he's vastly improved, but his desire to kind of push the idea that racism doesn't exist has been grating.  Let's face it: hard work combined with luck can change a person's life.

In fairness to Phil, my take comes from a lot of conversations over the years - and all at the wee hours of the morning.  Phil's certainly aware of racism, as he recounts how he and his family have been the focus of anti-Asian racism.   I think where our differences have came up is that I've tried to explain that there's still, for lack of a better explanation, the "dark-skin, light-skin" problem, where even blacks can discriminate against other blacks on the basis of lightness of skin.  Thus, it's a bit easier to be Asian from that perspective - not that I would want to change a thing about my own life.  

Phil was driven by a desire to over come what he perceives as his own shortcomings, but then do so while remaining in his home city of Oakland where people are all too caught up in their shortcomings, rather than moving to, say, New York City.   Thus, for years, he's always walked a tightrope, and it got harder to walk with every success he had in Oakland.  The Army Base Project is the highest he's climbed; it comes as no surprise that his enemies would find some way to try and take him down.

The Rise Of Gene Hazzard 

Gene Hazzard, who I first met in 1993, is one of those enemies of Phil Tagami - for now.  When I talked with Gene, he had gained considerable media attention for a chess club that he created and met on Grand Avenue, with the intent of providing something for Oakland's young African American youth to do.  At that point, I was a columnist for The Montclarion. Even though it was open to every young person, Gene was particularly, and rightly, concerned about young black boys and men not having anything meaningful to do - chess provided discipline. 

Mr. Hazzard formed a relationship with the now-late Joe Howard, who owned all of the stores on Grand Avenue between 560 and 570 Grand.   Gene had set up chess board tables on the sidewalk, but the influx of black youth reportedly upset the white patrons that frequented the French restaurant which occupied the space that The Sidebar Restaurant owns today, and in the building Howard owned.   Howard was perceived as racist by Gene - a view that really hurt Joe's feelings at the time.  Eventually, Hazzard moved his tables and program across the street to a place in front of The Lakeview Library, where it lasted for another year before it folded.

About ten years later, Hazzard teamed with Oakland Post Publisher Paul Cobb and established a petition drive to get then former Oakland Congressman Ron Dellums to run for Mayor Of Oakland.  A lot of leg work and 7,000 signatures later, Dellums was committed to run and his entry into the 2006 Oakland Mayor's Race upset the political objectives of then-Oakland Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente.  Dellums won, and became Oakland's third black mayor in four administrations.

From that, it seemed Gene Hazzard's place was set, and power was established.  But whatever happened during that period with Ron Dellums, Gene never found the place in the Dellums Administration he wanted.

When Dellums decided not to run for reelection and Jean Quan won the Oakland Mayors Race of 2010 on an outcome that can only be called a fluke (she got 2-3rds of the second place votes in the rank choice voting process, and scored the one scenario John Russo openly said was impossible to occur), Hazzard's attempt to recall Mayor Quan started with a group of other Oaklanders, but the family split along racial and idological lines, with Gene Hazzard at odds with others, who as a whole, could not team up and get enough signatures to force a recall vote.

Just as that battle was fading in late 2011, I recall Hazzard complaining about the Oakland Army Base Project.  Over the course of the next year and change, Gene's yammering became an intense process of legal planning and research to file a lawsuit to remove California Commercial Investments from its right to develop The Oakland Army Base Project. 

Will Gene's Lawsuit Succeed?

The question here is will Hazzard succeed in his attempt to oust Tagami from the Oakland Army Base Project?  As of now, given that this lawsuit has progressed longer than anyone would have bet, it's hard to know what will happen next.

My personal hope is that all of these problems are ironed out for everyone's good.  I want Oakland to embrace what Phil's done, but I also want the process to be fair and just.  I understand why Gene's upset with the process, the City, and Phil: he thinks blacks don't get a fair shake in Oakland to this day and he openly thinks Phil's a crook and says so. 

Frankly, Gene's wrong about Phil and his "crook" view is borne more of his own issues than anything else, but Gene is right about African Americans in Oakland - the problem is that we as African Americans don't really support each other as much as we should in Oakland.  Help comes to those who are "authentically black" rather than just black, and so we have formed a large crab-barrel that keeps any one of us from becoming too successful.  I experienced that problem when trying to bring the 2005 Super Bowl to Oakland, but that's a long story for another time.

But that dynamic has to change.  I see Phil, who says he's "German Jew and Japanese" as an example for young black men, and if anything should come of this, really Gene and Phil should create some kind of mentor program where Phil can just plain host high school students in his office. 

You see, Phil's one genius is in his ability to form political relationships.  When I worked for Elihu, Phil would ask me "How's your relationship with Councilmember ----."  Tagami's not a college graduate, or a programmer, or a scholar, and he wasn't born to wealth. Phil Tagami is just an ambitious guy who works hard.  I don't want to see that light blunted in Oakland - we need more, not fewer people like him.

Stay tuned.

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