There’s nothing new about Hayward hiding its dirty secrets

Hayward City Hall is in many ways a chamber
of secrets masking serious dysfunction.

HAYWARD | When Greg Jones, then Hayward’s city manager, was secretly dating a sitting councilmember, the City Council and entire city government enabled the illicit and very troubling potential violation of the Brown Act. Everybody at City Hall, it seemed in 2011, knew about the affair between Jones and then-Councilmember Anna May, but nobody felt emboldened to do something about it despite the very real possibility the two may have been illegally trading conversations—pillow talk—about the city’s closed session business. Instead of confronting the issue head-on, Hayward officials at the time simply locked May out of meetings.

Hayward’s inability to deal with its dirty laundry was also present earlier that same year when two members of the school board were participating in their own extramarital affair. The same dynamic existed. Like Jones and May, the dalliances between Jesus Armas, also a former Hayward city manager, and Maribel Heredia was not about love or morality, but a lack of government transparency. In this case, it was worse since Heredia was quoted in a deposition saying she relied on another school board member to explain agenda items to her and presumably direct her on how to vote. Later, there were indications votes were reversed to rehire a recently fired principal.

What was Greg Jones’es eventual reward for his affair?
He later became a Hayward councilmember.

In both cases, Hayward officials and city leaders looked away despite the erosion of their government. Meanwhile, Jones and May invited people to a Christmas party at his home and Armas and Heredia were often seen canoodling around town. Hayward, it seems, is trained to look the other way even as they were being taunted by both sets of individuals.

So, there’s nothing particularly unique to Hayward City Hall’s decision to withhold the reasons behind Police Chief Diane Stuart’s sudden placement on administrative leave on Monday. It’s a city that consistently and quietly attempts to hide its dirty laundry and, worse, never attempts to remedy the underlining problem.

The public and media looked away from this sex scandal.
Yet, neither ran for certain re-election a few months later.

When Hayward Fire Chief Garrett Contreras was found to be drinking on the job, the fact that he was even being investigated was learned by the public as an afterthought. Mind you Contreras, as the commander one night, failed to promptly send help to a fire in Hayward because he was too drunk. Yet, he kept his job. Some howled, but nobody at City Hall paid much attention.

The Hayward Unified School District, long one of the most underperforming in the East Bay, is similar in its inability to right its own ship. When Hayward Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs launched into an angry, verbal attack on two board members in closed session last year leading to each filing police reports, special interests in Hayward, did not distance themselves from Dobbs, but inexplicably taunted the two school board members during one meeting last fall. Somehow, said many public speakers that night, the board members deserved the verbal assault, especially school board member Luis Reynoso, who is the only Hayward public official who has for years railed against the city’s inherent corruption. He was right about Armas. He was right about Dobbs. Unsurprisingly, Hayward’s business community, teachers’ union and even City Council members are frantically attempting to unseat him this November. Curiously, mobilizing against Reynoso is the only time City Hall and other leaders have taken the time to act on an issue.

The new council was in a self-congratulatory mood
in July after three incumbents were re-elected.

In all these cases, Hayward city officials did nothing, said nothing, even acted like nothing happened. Furthermore, two black men were found dead while in custody of Hayward police. The city is being sued. With eight murders in recent months in Hayward, crime is unquestionably an issue. Yet, the mayor and city council makes no mention of this reality.

However, if you merely watched the Hayward City Council’s inauguration of new and re-elected members in July, you would have been easily persuaded into thinking none of these serious and repeatedly ignored issues ever existed. Councilmember Al Mendall, who won re-election in June, crowed, “This election is an affirmation of the direction the city is moving in.” Councilmember Elisa Marquez, a Hayward native, added without irony, “I’m a product of this environment.”

In the meantime, Hayward’s future appears aimless while its neighbors retool from an industrial base of yesteryear and more broadly embrace 21st Century manufacturing. Its schools struggle mightily. Voter apathy continues to rise and the marketplace of ideas, like its downtown storefronts, are bare.

17 thoughts on “There’s nothing new about Hayward hiding its dirty secrets

  1. The real problem in HUSD is the BEAST also knows as the HEA or teachers union. Every time I see these clowns on TV like their HEA pres Mercedes Faraj, HEA vp Mary Walsh, and that nut job teacher at Winton middle school Matt Shaffer my stomach turns. These people give the teaching profession a bad name. I remember years ago when Reynoso tried to get merit pay going for good teachers the teachers union made sure that it was never discussed.

    I work as a principal in HUSD and I can assure you that our scores have gone up and we are now ahead of some districts in the area. We are no longer at the bottom. With the 2015-16 school year being the baseline year, the second year of CAASPP test scores rose from 32% in 2015 to 36% in 2016.

    We need more student-minded trustees like Reynoso and I am hoping he gets reelected. The last thing we need is pop-cycle stick minions from the city council to be on the school board.

    HEA the BEAST of Hayward needs to go have better representatives of the teaching profession. That is the only way to change HUSD completely.


  2. Dobbs showed up at most of city council's campaign kick-off/fundraisers this year. They are all in bed with each other. CLASS wants to control the school board. Reynoso, Brunner, Taylor, Walker & McGee should scare up some other and form their own political group to replace city council.


  3. Reynoso is a huge part of the problem. He has been on the School Board for many years and the students test scores have gone down under his guidance. If we ever want our Test scores to go up we have to get rid of the unprofessional Reynoso who would rather call people names than do the hard work of helping students and our schools.


  4. This is the strangest place to live. The residents are apathetic. They don’t care to vote, so they get the government they deserve. Hayward has the most corrupt elected officials on the council and school board. The people keep re-electing them. The school board is $66 million in debt , from the teacher’s pensions. The council has put the city millions in debt. If measure D didn’t pass, to tax our utilities for another 20 years, Hayward would have been bankrupt in 2 years. Most of our officials lie and cannot be trusted. The mayor always violates the Brown Act and talks after most of the public speakers to criticized them. John Taylor reads the Brown Act and then he violates it, after the public speakers talk.
    In masses we still have power, but the public is weak and allows this. This is when evil happens.
    Dr. Reynoso is our saving grace. He has had his tires slashed and other bad things have happed to him, because of speaking out. He is the only savior, in this city of corruption. Re-elect him. Do not vote for Dr. Walker and Taylor. Taylor and Walker lied about the chest bumping of the two trustees and they supported Dobbs after the deal with Ray McDonald. We don’t need them. Walker and her health videos are ridiculous. She wants kids to eat salad on Thursdays and go golfing. She said, “Golfing is good for your health.” Most parents can’t afford for their parents to golf, much less our children. Does her degree mean Public High School diploma? I want to see the schools maintained and we don’t have money for that either. Vote for Reynoso, Ramos and Grcich, if you want positive change.


  5. By MW:

    While I am not going to take the time right now to comment on every single item in this article, however in regard to assertions that the Hayward Fire Chief had a history of drinking on the job, I thought it was a requirement that in order to be a high ranking official in a Bay area fire department, the person had to be an alcoholic. In fact, I am sure that any properly done survey of Bay area fire departments would find that: one, they are heavily infested with alcoholism; and two, still furthermore the percentage of alcoholics among the upper ranks is even much higher than among the lower ranks. (In other words, the alcoholics in upper management promote their friends and drinking buddies to management positions, so eventually the majority of management is composed of alcoholics.)

    And as far as alcoholism in Bay area fire departments, the Great Oakland Hills Fire, and which was the largest fire of its type in US history, was originally “investigated” by the Berkeley Fire Dept. So the clowns, and perhaps also drunks, in the BFD quickly “investigated” the fire while it was still very small, and then declared it to be out, and then quickly returned to their firehouse. Perhaps they wanted to get back to their drinking.

    However the fire was NOT actually fully out. So it then grew into that monstrous blaze that resulted in the deaths of 25 people and the total destruction of over two thousand homes.


  6. Hayward leadership is a mess. Council is weak and ineffectual. No wonder everyone seems to do as they please. They can't deal with their own indiscretions let alone any high ranking city employee indiscretions. Yet they dedicate too much effort to replace hapless school board members with their own witless replacements. They throw around terms like “Education City,” “Heart of The Bay,” and wasted tax dollars on a public relations campaign. Stop the puffery and concentrate on making Hayward a better place to live. Lower the crime rate like you promised city council. Impeach the mayor and city council now.


  7. No one said there aren't some good people in Hayward or good aspects of the community…they just don't happen to be sitting on the city council, school board, or getting involved because they're smart. People recognize it's all the same power brokers running the city along with the Democratic party, the firefighters, the chamber, the Sweeney machine, and are fed up, bored, discouraged by what they see, or just plain too busy trying to make a living. All the article by EB Citizen is saying is true and that's a sad state of Hayward. How many superintendents is the school board going to have to pay off before the money starts going for the kids?


  8. Jones must have been given the opportunity to leave his city manager job or get fired. That's when he cooked up the idea to hold dual positions as the city manager and run for the school board so he could “help the kids.” He was told no, because he was the city manager either it was a conflict of interest or a violation of the city charter for him to do both. So they allowed him to resign rather than be fired. No Administrative Leave for him or scandalous headlines in The Daily Review. He was able to run for city council and get elected as a city councilman, abruptly abandoning his heroic bid to get elected to the school board and save the children. Police and Fire donated big bucks to get him elected. The Police Chief didn't seem to get the same low key “save face option” as Jones. I wonder why? If things go bad, she could run for city council because she has a residence in Hayward. City hall is sexist. Anna May got locked out of city council meetings and the Police Chief has a cloud of suspicion over her by being put on paid Administrative Leave. A geniune public spanking. Meanwhile Jones & Contreras live to fight another day after resurfacing and reinventing themselves. Then good old Fran decides to come out of retirement to put her two cents in and give a cryptic quote to SF Gate about the latest mystery surrounding the Police Chief. This ain't Hayward, its Peyton Place.


  9. Great story ebcitizen! Go Reynoso Go.
    Someone with balls has to tell the community that silence from city council is not right. I guess we waited long enough to finally get someone like him. We need more Reynosos in government to clean things up.


  10. It's a dad reality. Hayward city council is doing nothing but kissing every developers butt. More luxury homes, condos and apartments but nothing for working class and middle class folks. Hayward council members have been all too shady and wanting tech money without helping it's current residents. Keep it up EB Citizen!


  11. Why do you constantly report on the negative? Do you have a personal vendetta against Hayward? Stop slamming the Hayward community and focus on the wonderful people who live and work here!


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