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Assemblywoman Hayashi Keeps a Low Profile at Oakland Zoo Event

An aide said Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi attended her fifth annual Jingle Tails holiday event and food drive at the Oakland Zoo on Thursday for an hour, but she was hard to spot.

Updated Friday Dec 16 at 12:45 p.m.

Assemblywoman fundraiser held Thursday night, but she kept an ultra low profile at the event.

So low, in fact, that visitors attending the fifth annual Jingle Tails food drive left without nary a sighting.

According to her staff members, Hayashi (D-Hayward) was there amid the families and holiday lights, walking about meeting and greeting guests.

Patch staffers never saw her despite waiting for several hours past the zoo's main entrance, where zoo officials said she was expected.

Her office sent an e-mail out Friday thanking those who attended and made food donations at the event. Included was a picture of her posing with a family in front of the zoo's entrance.

Doors opened for the event at 5:30 p.m. Families got in free if they brought the invitations Hayashi mailed to San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin, Castro Valley, Pleasanton and several unincorporated Alameda County communities.

The event was Hayashi's first official public appearance since being arrested at a Neiman Marcus store in San Francisco in October and charged with felony shoplifting. In fact, she hasn't  so far.

Her staff members stood by the zoo entrance and passed out coloring books to kids and collected nonperishable food donations for the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

District Director Christopher Parman said this year's Jingle Tails event was by far the most successful.

"Record year in attendance; record year in food donations," he said.

He estimated nearly 2,000 pounds of food was donated by the hundreds of families that attended.

A zoo staff member standing by the entrance told guests Hayashi was expected to arrive between 5:30 and 7 p.m. and would stop by the nearby flamingo area.

Last year, Hayashi met with guests at the zoo's Marian Zimmer Auditorium inside the Maddie’s Center for Science & Environmental Education.

Parman told Patch that Hayashi arrived at the zoo a little after 6 p.m. She walked around to meet with guests then left close to 7 p.m.

Castro Valley resident Gayle Travis attended specifically to meet Hayashi and ask her a legislative-related question. The invitation stated Hayashi would be available to discuss "legislative issues." 

After standing by the flamingo area throughout the evening, Travis never got a chance to meet her representative.

"I'm a bit disappointed," she said. "I wish I had heard when she arrived."

The 45-year-old assemblywoman from Hayward  against her. She is accused of taking a pair of leather pants, a black leather skirt and a white blouse worth $2,445. She was released on $15,000 bail.

Parman would not comment on Hayashi's case. Her lawyer has called her arrest "a misunderstanding."

Travis said she still supports Hayashi despite the charge against her.

"I don't support shoplifting, but I'm very open-minded and she's done many good deeds that certainly outweigh the negatives," she said.

Marga Lacabe December 16, 2011 at 04:12 PM
I didn't go last night, but talked to several people who did and they all had the same problem as Patch's: they could not find Mary. I get this mental image: Mary roaming through the zoo in leather pants with hundreds of constituents hunting for her. Come on, already, Mary! Your constituents are not going to really hunt you, come out and explain what *really* happened.
Steven Dimick December 16, 2011 at 07:33 PM
It seems some people have convicted her before she has even had a preliminary examination and been bound over for trial. If she was arrested, she must be guilty? Maybe I'm just a hopeless liberal, but I prefer the Constitution and our peculiar concept of innocent until proven guilty. And, yes, I can send the photo, but it will be later today.
Marga Lacabe December 16, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Steven, only a court can "convict" someone of a crime. People can't "convict" anyone, but they can very well form opinions as to someone else's guilt Now, jury members should definitely not do that until all the evidence has been presented at a criminal trial, but everyone else gets to do it at whichever point they feel they have enough information to do so. Sometimes they will be right, and sometimes they will be wrong. But that's true of absolutely every other opinion we hold in life. I can give you a thousand examples of people who are clearly guilty of crimes for which they were not tried (e.g. Hittler, Kissinger) or tried but not convicted (e.g. OJ Simpson). And similarly, I can give you a lot of examples of innocent people who were convicted of a crime. Courts are definitely not infallible one way or the other.
Analisa Harangozo December 16, 2011 at 08:35 PM
We just uploaded a photo of Hayashi posing with a family at the event. It was received in an e-mail sent by Hayashi's office thanking those who attended and donated. Still not sure how we missed her but we're glad the office was able to provide a photo!
mloura December 16, 2011 at 08:43 PM
I think it's appalling that people would even consider voting for someone whose cowardice keeps them from showing up at an event where constituents are taking time out from being with families and friends during holidays to support her. Seems like her staff was trying to cover for her by saying the majority "just missed" her. Even if she did attend for the time the staff reported, being there less than an hour for her own event shows disregard for her supporters and the blatant self-centeredness so typical of our representatives. She's done in my book, leather pants or not.

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