Monday, November 21, 2011

Hayashi's Mugshot Is A Portrait Of Her Elusive Humanity

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi
Nov. 21, 2011 | I have never seen Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi looks so human. Granted, in nearly three years hopping around the East Bay political scene, I have only seen the woman derisively called "Scary Mary" on only four occasions, not counting a video taped address for supporters of San Leandro Hospital. It is not that I am lax in covering the beat, but because she is nearly invisible to her constituents.

I think Tom Abate's depiction in the San Leandro Patch today of Hayashi's mugshot was crass and vaguely sexist. Abate tries to contrast Hayashi's typically well-coiffed and styled look with her mug shot taken last month after she was charged with felony grand theft in San Francisco. "It portrays quite a different look for the legislator, whose official pictures show her with perfectly styled hair and makeup, finished with a slash of red lipstick."

For one, the Hayashi of high couture is not the real person, but like much of her career--a portrait of political stagecraft. Second, Patch is a content farm, with editors on the hook to produce a prerequisite number of "articles" and this was an easy one to produce just like the growing prevalence of city council minutes disguised as news articles. Three-hundred words about a photograph gussied up with sexist references to hair and makeup. It makes running a photo of Hayashi with the words "thief" plastered over her face almost humane.

The real story is the uncommon humanity portrayed in the photo. Hayashi's eyes are haunting. There is real pain in her eyes. Not the kind that emanate from one colossally stupid mistake, but the very bottom of despair. At the same time, she is unable to masked that combativeness and steely resolve Hayashi is known to unleash on allies and enemies alike. The left eye seems to be pleading for help, while the other in tandem with a slightly raised eyebrow is saying, "just wait until I destroy you."

Many of her constituents are diagnosing her tragic fall as a symptom of a deeper pain. Of course, it is amateur psychiatry at its height, but I agree. Hayashi is screaming for help and it has much less to do with the act she got caught perpetuating and more so with the sloppiness of her unreported personal choices and conduct around Sacramento.

When the shocking shoplifting story broke last month I understand why many readers immediately think of me and my reporting on Hayashi over the years . But, I don't hate Hayashi, I'm merely critical of her propensity for ushering inane, self-promoting legislation into the assembly with no correlation to the needs of her constituents. In fact, I admire Hayashi's rough and tough manner.

I clearly remember the first time I met her in 2009. She was dismissive of me, at first, and acted like she didn't know me. As we talked she slowly peppered in references and denigrating side comments that illustrated she knew exactly what I had been writing about her. Then she seemed to be accusing me of racism because of the impression she had that my articles favored support for her rival, Sen. Ellen Corbett. Hayashi was a bitch to me, like she is a bitch to everyone. But, I use that word with respect because Hayashi merely exhibits the raw personality traits many people ascribe to successful and effective male politicians and businessmen. And I don't think that is fair.

So, Mary, be strong and get well. Just don't run for state senate.


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