Just last year, California Assembly Member Mary Hayashi was convicted of stealing over $2,000 worth of clothing from Neiman Marcus in San Francisco. She made excuse after excuse (she was distracted and forgot to pay for the items, she had a brain tumor) but her movements were observed and filmed from the moment she came into the store, and the story she told the media was clearly a lie. The San Francisco Sheriff’s department has refused to release the tape, but the police report about the incident describes all her movement within the store.
Like many, I thought that was the end of her political career – but the woman has chutzpah and she’s now running for Alameda County Supervisor. What’s worse is that she has a very good chance of winning.
Her opponent, Richard Valle, has been unwilling to bring up her shoplifting conviction. Whether that’s strategic or because it conflicts with his ethical values, I don’t know. There have been nary a public criticism of Mary’s actions by any Democratic officials. Indeed, when the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (ACDCC) interviewed the candidates, I was the only member who asked asked Mary a question referring to her shoplifting. Even then, I had to be very subtle to get the party chair to accept my question.
During the discussion period, several ACDCC members praised Valle, but once again none of them was willing to say something negative about Mary. I was the only one to point out that her dishonesty brings shame to the party. Valle got the endorsement, but that alone won’t guarantee him a victory.
I don’t know why there is such a reluctance among democrats to criticize Mary publicly, but I can guess that it’s because she is still very powerful, and very vindictive. Everyone fears the political consequences of becoming her enemy. I understand. As payment for my words, Hayashi made a point of voting for the endorsement of a City Council candidate that’s running against Chris Crow, the candidate I support. She did not cast a vote on most other races.
Finally, one group has been willing to bring up the issue of her conviction into the Supervisor race. Mary has received copious campaign contributions from the medical industry and has paid them back by broadening doctor’s monopoly on health issues. This has specially harmed physical therapists, who are now hitting back. They’ve sent out a mailer to registered voters “featuring the convicted shoplifter from Sacramento” with the headline “There is something about Mary.” As far as attack mailers go, it’s pretty good. Take a look.