I will say this much for Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward.
She has a lot of nerve.
Hayashi pleaded no contest to shoplifting in January for stealing $2,450 worth of clothes from Neiman Marcus in San Francisco -- including a pair of black leather pants. The East Bay Assemblywoman was sentenced to three years probation, fined $180 and ordered to stay 50 feet from Neiman's.
The Oct. 25 arrest subjected Hayashi to widespread public ridicule and placed her political future in jeopardy.
Now Hayashi has filed papers to run for disgraced former Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer's seat in November. Hayashi can't run for assembly again because she has already served three terms. So in keeping with the musical chairs of termed out career politicians, Hayashi is looking for some place else to land.
That means in the District 2 supervisors race, we'll have a convicted shoplifter running for a seat just vacated by another politician forced to resign after a drug and sex scandal. And we wonder why so many voters are so disgusted with the political process?
"My opponents may use the issue to try to smear me, — Hayashi told the Oakland Tribune. "But I trust the voters to be smarter than that.""
Actually, I think Hayashi is counting on the exact opposite. That a lot of voters are not that smart, aren't paying attention, are too busy, too disengaged, have short memories, or all of the above.
Hayashi says she has taken full responsibility for her actions. But the fact is, she has still not come clean. She is still clearly in denial.
Hayashi continues to insist that she was so engrossed in her cell phone she got distracted and left the Union Square store without paying for the items.
I'm sorry I realize that we are all on multi-tasking overload which can make us have mental lapses. But to take a bunch of clothes into the fitting room then leave the store with them without paying? As I wrote then, I just don't buy it.
Hayashi has said that once she realized her "inadvertent" mistake, she intended to return to the store. But before she could go back, store security approached her on the street.
As it turned out, store security had been tracking Hayashi from the time she entered the store. According to Neiman's, store employees suspected a woman matching Hayashi's description of stealing a dress the week before. As soon as a clerk spotted Hayashi, she notified store security. Security caught Hayashi red-handed.
It could well be that there were two different women matching Hayashi's description and that she just so happened to look like the woman who stole the dress.
But it does make one wonder whether this was a first time incident.
As you may also recall, Hayashi's attorney announced out of the blue during the criminal proceeding that she had a brain tumor and that it might have impaired her faculties. But the tumor defense backfired and Hayashi's team quickly retracted it.
The assemblywoman now says it's "too bad" her lawyer mentioned the tumor because her health didn't contribute to the shoplifting incident. She told the Tribune she has a treatable benign tumor and that her health is fine. "
Yet that's not what Hayashi said in a written statement in January after she entered her no contest plea: "My medical condition may have complicated the situation," she said back then.
Before her shoplifting arrest, Hayashi was rumored to have been eyeing the state Senate seat of Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, who will term out in 2014. She had amassed a sizable war chest.
I suspect in light of her legal troubles and the vacancy created by Lockyer's sad implosion, Hayashi may have made the political calculation that she has a better shot at winning a local race. She says she has no plans to run for senate.
If Alameda County voters are really smart they'll send Hayashi packing.