Mary Hayashi

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.

Feb 072014

Democrat Donkey

Battle for AD 15 and CD 15 Democratic endorsement moves to the State Convention

Feb 8 Update

Congress: In CD 13, Barbara Leee was recommended for endorsement, with 100% of the vote.  I was wrong about CD 15, and Eric Swalwell got the majority of the vote, though not enough to get a recommendation.  The fight for the endorsement goes up to the Convention, where it will probably come to the floor, giving Ellen Corbett an advantage. Stay tuned.  As predicted, in CD 17 Mike Honda easily got the endorsement.  Indeed, Ro Khanna did not even bother to show up to the meeting, probably thinking that his time was better spent campaigning.

Senate: Mary Hayashi did show up and made some vague accusations against Bob Wieckowskibut couldn’t get even one vote.  Wieckowski easily got the recommendation for the endorsement for SD 10, with a handful of votes going to Roman Reed.

Assembly:  I was surprised to see that a clear majority of the votes in AD 15 went to Elizabeth Echols, though not enough to break the 70% and give her the recommendation.  The endorsement thus goes to the Convention.  As predicted, Andy Katz got a few votes, but none went to either Sam Kang nor Pamela Price-Crawley.  Both civil rights lawyers were pretty impressive, however, and I’m interested in hearing more from both of them.  Tony Thurmond‘s vote count may not have impressed, but he’s a dynamic and inspiring speaker and made an impression even with my very politically jaded 12-year-old.   While Echols is likely to win at the endorsement caucus at the convention, if Thurmond can pull her name out of consent – which he may very well be able to – and send this to the floor of the convention, he has a very good chance of winning. Echols may be solid, but she’s not an exciting candidate.

Also as predicted, Rob Bonta and Bill Quirk easily got the endorsements for AD 18 and AD 20 respectively.  No endorsement recommendation was made for AD 25, and nobody got enough votes for this to go up to the convention.  Craig Steckler got the most votes, but Kansen Chu wasn’t far behind, with Teresa Cox trailing both.  Armando Gomez didn’t get any votes.  While Steckler called himself a progressive Democrat, almost all his campaign loot comes from police chiefs and law enforcement, which suggests he isn’t going to Sacramento to fight for civil liberties and against the prison-industrial complex.  Mik


The California Democratic Party will be conducting pre-endorsement conferences throughout the state this weekend.  Members of the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) and other eligible Democrats will meet to listen to the different candidates that are competing for the Party’s endorsement in their respective districts and will vote on whom should get it.  In races where a Democrat is endorsed by the party, other Democrats are encouraged to drop out.

Most of Alameda County, including San Leandro, falls within the Party’s region 5, and the caucus for our region will take place on Saturday, Feb. 8, starting at 2 PM at the Laborers Local 34 hall, located at 29475 Mission Blvd in Hayward. Any Democrat is welcome to attend.

While the vote count happens after the candidates have an opportunity to speak, in reality most candidates have been going around picking up vote-by-mail ballots from their supporters.  Candidates who get 70% of the vote at the pre-endorsement conference are placed in the consent calendar for Party’s endorsement at the State Party Convention which will take place in early March – though their endorsement can be challenged with signatures of either 20% of DSCC members in their district or statewide.  If no candidate gets 70% of the vote, but at least one gets 50%, there will be an endorsement caucus at the Convention, where they will need to garner 50% or 60% of the vote (depending on incumbency status), to get on consent. The same will happen if an endorsement is challenged.

In order to qualify for the Democratic endorsement, a candidate must be a registered Democrat and pay a fee ranging from $250 to $500.

Here are the candidates who are vying for the Democratic endorsement in Region 5

Congressional District 13 

The only candidate running for the endorsement is incumbent Barbara Lee, who will easily get it.

Congressional District 15

Incumbent congressman Eric Swalwell battles State Senator Ellen Corbett for the endorsement.   My bet is that if any candidate gets the endorsement tomorrow, it’ll be Corbett.  I also bet that if one of them gets it, the other will have the endorsement challenged and it will go the Convention.

Congressional District 17

Here, congressman Mike Honda holds a significant advantage over challenger Ro Khanna.  Khanna ran a successful slate at last year’s delegate elections and he may have a few other votes, but they will likely not be enough to prevent Honda from getting the endorsement.  They may be enough for a challenge, but Honda is sure to get the endorsement at the Convention.  Linguist Philip Bralich is also running for the endorsement, but I don’t believe he’ll get even one vote.

Assembly District 15

There are no incumbents in this race, but there are five candidate vying for the endorsement.  Preliminary endorsements suggest that the two actual contenders are Alameda County Democratic Central Committee member Elizabeth Echols and former Richmond City Councilmember Tony Thurmond.  EBMUD Director  Andy Katz may get a few votes, but it seems unlikely that either civil rights attorneys Sam Kang or Pamela Price-Crawley will get any.  The latter doesn’t even have a campaign website.  My guess is that at least one of the candidates will get 50% of the vote, and the endorsement for this race will go to the Convention.

Assembly Districts 18 and 20

The only candidate running for AD 18 is incumbent Rob Bonta and for AD 20 is incumbent Bill Quirk, so both have it in the bag.

Assembly District 25

Four Democrats are vying for the open seat being left by Bob Wieckowski.  San Jose Councilmember Kansen Chu battles Ohlone Community College Board Trustee Teresa CoxMilpitas Councilmember Armando Gomez and former Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler. I know nothing about the voters in that race, but given the crowded field it seems unlikely that anyone will get the endorsement tomorrow or even send this to the Convention.

Senate District 10

This is the race that actually makes me want to go to the conference (I already sent out my ballot).   Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski is running against former Assemblymember and convicted thief Mary HayashiAlso in the race is stem-cell-research-activist Roman Reed.  Hayashi hasn’t even bothered to set up a campaign site, and she hasn’t done any fundraising lately (though she does have a lot of money from previous races she can use), but she did apply for the Democratic endorsement, so she’s presumably running.  It’s unlikely she’ll get any endorsements votes, however.  Reed may get a few, but Wieckowski should easily get the endorsement and keep it on consent.

I’ll post results tomorrow.

Oct 312012

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.

Sep 162012

On Sept. 15th, the Alameda County Democratic Party interviewed candidates seeking its endorsement for local office.   Among those interviewed were Mary Hayashi and Richard Valle who are running for Alameda Council Supervisor (along with independent Mark Greene, who is not running a campaign).

I asked both the same question: “How do you exemplify the values of integrity and honesty we want for our elected officials?”.

Here are their answers:

Here is my posting with the Police Report on her arrest.

Note: This posting has been modified since its original publication.

Sep 142012

Last October, Assembly Member Mary Hayashi went shopping to Neiman Marcus in San Francisco, and left with a few more things that she had paid for.  She was arrested for shoplifting, eventually plead “no contest”, and in between lots of the details of her shoplifting excursion were released.  However, until now, they’ve come out in a piecemeal manner.

Here is the whole story from the Police Incident Report:

On 10/23/11, Ofc Sy #1764 and I responded to 150 Stockton St.  Neiman Marcus, regarding a theft.

Upon our arrival, we met with Swain, Loss Prevention Agent for Neiman Marcus, who stated the following to us:

At 1216 hrs., Swain received a telephone call from Sales Associate Sophorn regarding a suspicious person,  Hayashi.

Swain began following and observing Hayashi.  Hayashi selected a white blouse, two pairs of black pants, a leather dress, two pairs of red pants, one blue shirt, two pairs of jeans, a red dress and several other items.

Swain continued to observe Hayashi in the fitting room through the reverse louver on the fitting room door.   After trying on and folding a pair of black pant on an ottoman, Hayashi exited the fitting room with a pair of red pants, two blue jeans, two pairs of leather pants and her purse.   Hayashi left two shopping bags in the fitting room.  Hayashi also left a white blouse, black leather shirt, and a black leather pants on the ottoman in the fitting room.

Hayashi made several more selection of items and returned to the fitting room.  In the fitting room, Hayashi tried on a red shirt.  After trying on the shirt, Hayashi placed the shirt on the hanger.  Hayashi dropped the hanger and at the same time concealed the items that were on the ottoman into a Neiman Marcus shopping bag that she had in her possession.

Hayashi then exited the fitting room and purchased the red pants, gold blouse, and black top.  Hayashi made no attempt to pay for the items concealed in her shopping bag.   Hayashi walked to and boarded the down escalator to the first floor.   Hayashi walked through the cosmetics department, then the handbag department and then to the Geary Street customer exit.  Hayashi passed several operated and manned registers as she walked towards the exit, making no attempts to pay for the items in her possession that she did not purchase.

Hayashi was stopped by Swain and Loss Prevention Agent Wilski 10 feet outside of the store. After verbally identifying themselves, Hayashi was escorted to the Loss Prevention office without further incident.

Inside of the Loss Prevention office, Swain recovered the following items from Hayashi’s shopping bag:  black skirt, leather pants, and white blouse.  The total amount of the recovered items was $2445.00.  SFPD was then contacted.

Swain arrested Hayashi for theft and then signed a  Citizen’s Arrest form on Hayashi.  I accepted custody of Hayashi.  Swain wrote out a statement regarding the incident I gave Swain a case number and follow-up form.

Ofc Sy seized the black skirt, leather pants and white blouse as evidence. Ofc Sy gave Swain a  Property Receipt for the stolen/recovered items. Ofc Sy also recovered a store copy of the receipt for the items Hayashi did purchase. Swain gave Ofc Sy a video of the incident.

Hayashi was transported to Tenderloin Station for further investigation. While being transported to Tenderloin Station, Hayashi asked to speak to a lawyer.
At Tenderloin Station I advised Sgt Darcy #185 and Sgt Koniaris #1919 of the incident.  I advised Sgt Koniaris that Hayashi wanted to speak to a lawyer.  Sgt Koniaris did not interview Hayashi.

A computer check on Hayashi showed that she had no previous arrest.  A CWB check, Gabriel #067, showed no wants or warrants for Hayashi.
With the approval of Sgt Darcy, Hayashi was booked for grand theft (487(a) PC) at County Jail #1.

Ofc Sy booked the citizen’s arrest form,  property receipt and skirt, pants,and blouse.  Sgt Koniaris took the following items for the case file:  Swain’s statement, video of the incident, and receipt of the items Hayashi purchased.

At the time of the incident, Hayashi had US currency and 2 Visa credit cards in her purse.

Note: codes omitted, see full incident report for them.