Feb 142014

liar-bigI am a liberal,  of the bleeding heart variety.  I think if you’ve committed a crime – a real one, with an actual victim –  and you’ve done your time, the slate should be wiped clean.  You should be able to vote, take the Bar, get a job.  But I also think that if you want to regain the public trust, you need to take responsibility for your actions.  If you don’t, then you have no business running for public office.

Take disgraced Assemblywoman and State Senate candidate Mary Hayashi.  During her last term in the Assembly, Hayashi went to Neiman Marcus carrying an empty NM shopping bag and proceeded to fill it with expensive clothing, she then walked out of the store without paying for the items.  Store employees were on the lookout for her, as she was suspected of having done the same thing a week before.  While Hayashi plead guilty (or no contest, which has the same effect), she never took responsibility for her actions.  Instead, she made excuse for her behavior (“I was distracted“, “I had a brain tumor“) and even now, won’t admit to what she did.

Mary Hayashi - mugshot

Mary Hayashi – mugshot

I would have been totally prepared to sympathize with Mary Hayashi if had she admitted she had a shoplifting problem.  Shoplifting is often the result of  a psychological disorder and can become one of the hardest addictions  to kick.   It’s a common affliction, however.  About 9% of Americans shoplift, and the vast majority of them don’t do it for gain.  Before getting into politics, Mary Hayashi was a tireless advocate for mental health and, in the Assembly, made it her priority to “break the culture of silence” about these issues.  Yet, when she had the opportunity to speak out about her own struggles and thus help others, she instead retreated into lying.   That’s disappointing, but it also shows that she is not at a place where she can take responsibility for her actions and be truthful and therefore, she is not trustworthy.   The public saw through her when she ran for County Supervisor in 2012, and will see through her again as she runs for State Senate.

Alameda Council member Stewart Chen seems to suffer from the same affliction: an unwillingness to own up to his crimes and learn from his mistakes.  Back in the early 1990’s, Chen was caught in a massive auto insurance fraud scheme.  An Asian gang was staging fake car accidents between insured individuals, the fake accident victims would go see Chen, a chiropractor,  who would make false claims about their injuries so the individuals could file fraudulent claims with the insurance company and himself file for treatment the fake victims didn’t need or get.  In all, the gang seems to have stolen about $1M from the insurance companies.

Alameda City Council member Stewart Chen

Alameda City Council member Stewart Chen

These fake accident victims told the grand jury that they would go to Chen’s office, sign in and then leave without receiving treatment.  Other times, their signatures were faked.  One victim received some treatment, but for pain unrelated to the stage accident.

Chen plead guilty to two misdemeanors, paid a large fine, completed probation, and in due time his record was expunged. He thought nobody would ever find out about his crime and kept it quiet.

Earlier this week, when Chen’s criminal background came to light, he had two choices.  He could have admitted what he did, show remorse and speak about the lesson he learned.  I would have been sympathetic.  Chen, like me, grew up in a corrupt society under a brutal dictatorship.  Ethical and moral lines are often blurred in those environments.  Of course, Chen was 30 years old and had lived in America for over a decade when he was indicted, but sometimes it takes something dramatic to make you realize your own moral flaws.

Unfortunately, it would seem that being convicted of fraud did not have that effect on Chen.  Instead of showing remorse for his actions, Chen hast taken Hayashi’s approach and claims he wasn’t really guilty.  “The fact is that I unknowingly treated patients who were part of an auto insurance fraud scheme run by a local attorney. I had no idea what they were doing and was not part of their scheme. I assumed the patients were legitimately injured.” Which, of course, does not address the fact that he falsified medical records and charged for treatment he did not provide.   Like with Hayashi, you have to wonder if he actually thinks that people will believe on his innocence despite the evidence against him and the guilty plea.

Having a criminal past should does not and need not preclude anyone from seeking public office.  But the least we should demand of candidates to public office who have been convicted of crimes involving dishonesty is that they show they’ve learned the error of their ways.  If they continue to be dishonest about the very crimes they were convicted of committing, nothing will stop them from stealing and lying to the public whenever it suits their needs.

Oct 212013


It’s Confirmed: I’m the Subject of a Police Investigation

Update: Today, Nov. 18th, I received the response to the California Public Records request I filed on my name.  The turned in some records, “forgot” others, and specifically declined to turn in others.  Here are the reasons they gave for not turning in those records:

1)      The records reflect the analysis or conclusions of an investigating officer and are exempt under California Government Code section 6254(f).

2)      The records contain attorney-client communications, “the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law… relating to privilege” under California Government Code Section 6254(k).  Thus, pursuant to Government Code Section 6254(k), the records are exempt from disclosure as attorney-client privilege pursuant to California Evidence Code section 954 as it applies to those portions of the records requested containing confidential communications between the City and its legal counsel.

3)      The records contain personal contact information and are exempt pursuant to the public interest exemption under California Government Code section 6255.  The public interest served by withholding the record outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

So that we are clear, reason 1 only applies to investigations by law enforcement agencies.  A record of an investigation by some other part of City Hall, would not be included.  This means that my name appears in an SLPD investigatory report.  Moreover, as I have never been interviewed by SLPD nor do I have any personal knowledge of anything that would relate to a personal investigation – there is no reason whatsoever for it to appear in such an investigative record except if I was the subject of the investigation.

I was a little puzzled about reason 3, because a lot of the records they did disclose included personal contact information.  However, a friend in law enforcement mentioned that if they had used a Confidential Informant on my case, they would not want to disclose the information.  In his opinion “A confidential informant has made up lies about you, which means someone asked that CI questions about you, which means you have been investigated for some reason or another.”

Whatever reasons they were, it would seem by answer 2 that the City Attorney was involved.

So, the far I expressed a few weeks ago, that the SLPD is investigating me – or, more likely, trying to frame me for something to silence my criticisms – seems to have been justified.

Original posting from 10/21/23

This morning I woke up to a new concern: Is the  San Leandro Police Department working hard to frame me for something?

As their most outspoken critic, I’ve certainly given them plenty of reasons. And it’s not like they don’t have a history of malicious arrests and prosecutions: the City just settled the lawsuit brought by the two men that were arrested last year in a sting operation directed against gay men.  And then there is High School teacher Rick Styner, who is facing false charges of “panties burglary” and possession of child pornography because he did something to piss off former San Leandro High School Principal and cop darling Amy Furtado.

I don’t think I’m paranoid in thinking I’m next on their list. If they silence me, others may be less willing to speak out against police misconduct.

Of course, using the resources of the Police Department to persecute critics is exactly the sort of thing you see in a police state, and that’s what my warnings have been about. Surveillance is of little use if you’re not planning to do something with it.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I don’t actually have any concrete reasons to believe the SLPD is investigating me.  All I have is the knowledge that City Hall is trying to hide information concerning me, from me.

About six weeks ago I made a California Public Records Act request for any records of communications that included my name. I figured with all my public criticism of the police and City Hall, it’d be interesting to see if they were talking about me.

Apparently they are. Today I got word that they’ve compiled all the records with my name but need three more weeks “to cull the responsive non-exempt documents from the documents exempt from disclosure.”

Trouble is, no record that has my name should be exempt.

Exempt records tend to be things where there is a big need to protect the privacy interests of someone else. For example, personnel and medical records are exempt, as are records with private information citizens are compelled to submit. Litigation records are exempt, but only during the litigation. There is no legitimate reason for my name to appear on any legal records, anyway.

Now, it’s true that the City may try to use the “draft” exemption, and claim that any document that has my name that they don’t want to release is a mere draft. However, such situations require a balancing act of the public interest of disclosure vs. non-disclosure. I’m pretty sure that any Court would agree that they fall in my favor. Plus, in the past, the City has not used this excuse to not provide public records. If it did now, we’d know it definitely has something to hide.

In reality, the only exemptions that the City could legitimately invoke to deprive me of records containing my name is the “investigative” and “intelligence” exemptions. That means that if the SLPD is investigating me, the City doesn’t have to give me those records. It will, however, have to tell me the reason why it’s not giving me the records. I’ll have to wait three weeks to know.

I do know that I have not committed any crimes. I should qualify that by saying “knowingly”, because experts say that the average person commits three felonies a day.  Our system is set up so that if the powers that be want to go against someone, they can use the “law” to do so.  And unless we stand up against it, it will become even more so.

Ultimately, regardless of whether I’m being investigated or not, the mere fact that I am concerned about police retaliation for exercising my first amendment rights to free speech and petition, speaks greatly of how repressive our system is becoming.

Update: The City had said it’d fulfill my CPRA request by Nov. 11th.  I inquired about it on Nov. 12th and was told it’d be ready sometime this week.  I inquired about it again today, and now they say it’ll be sometime in the week of Nov. 15th.