Developer Phil Tagami is, inexplicably, a finalist for membership on the Oakland Police Commission, which hopes to address OPD’s deficiencies in racial justice and respect for the First Amendment.
The OPC Selection Panel lists integrity as a criterion. Tagami, in seeking to build a terminal on the former Oakland Army base, assured officials that he had no interest in shipping coal. If that was ever true, it changed, in secret. In a 2015 story, The East Bay Express revealed, “these plans to … establish Oakland as a massive coal export hub have … been kept under wraps … by Tagami [and others].” Now he is suing the city for banning coal shipping. Integrity?
And why should a man with such disregard for the will of Oaklanders have a seat on one of our governing bodies? Commissioners should be committed to racial fairness. Illness clusters in West and East Oakland are a long-standing environmental-justice concern. Tagami’s project would bring the dust of millions of tons of coal moved annually, in open railcars, on lines through those neighborhoods and when being handled at his terminal.
OPC is to oversee OPD’s policies relating to First Amendment assemblies. When vandals who attached themselves to Occupy Oakland went through downtown, official statements accurately described the perpetrators as a small faction in a basically peaceful movement. Tagami publicly disagreed, claiming that the Oakland encampment was “basically concealment and cover for anarchists who are doing this to our city” and that “you can’t have it both ways,” apparently meaning allowing the peaceful encampment and disavowing the vandals. We don’t need this insensitivity to the…
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