‘Shotgun Phil’ hits another bullseye — with governor’s help
By Matier and Ross on May 13, 2013 at 2:02 AM
It was a golden week for longtime Oakland political insider and gubernatorial confidant “Shotgun” Phil Tagami.
Within 48 hours, he was named to the state Medical Board and his big Oakland Port development project got a $176 million shot in the arm from the California Transportation Commission — of which is he is a former member.
The money — which is being matched by Tagami’s investors, plus the City and Port of Oakland — will help pave roads and build rail lines into the $1.3 billion, public-private cargo terminal they’re developing on the former Oakland Army Base.
Sources close to the grant-awarding process described it as a “use it or lose it” situation, in which the money would probably have gone south to Los Angeles and Long Beach for their outer port operations if Oakland didn’t find a use for it.
“It’s been a lot of hard work over the past five years,” Tagami said.
As is often the case, there’s an interesting web of connections in this story.
Tagami is a longtime friend of Gov. Jerry Brown and has raised a lot of money for him and other Democrats over the years. He made national news in 2011 when, armed with a shotgun, he stood down Occupy protesters attempting to break into his Rotunda Building in Oakland. That’s the landmark where Brown and his wife, Ann Gust Brown, tied the knot.
Tagami was also the developer of the Fox Theater, a centerpiece of Oakland’s downtown revival.
Jerry Brown, of course, used to be Oakland mayor, and Tagami is the second big developer in the city to get a kick-start on a long-dormant project under the governor.
On his recent trip to China, Brown helped swing a deal between Signature Development and a Chinese consortium to jolt life into a $1.5 billion development of homes, shops and parkland along Oakland’s southern waterfront.
One of Signature’s partners is Jim Ghielmetti, chairman of the state Transportation Commission — which Tagami served on in 2008 and 2009.
Now Brown has drafted Tagami – who is now Chair State Lottery Commisison – to move over to the Medical Board of California, which has come under for criticism for not going after bad doctors. Something Tagami says he hopes to change.