The coup that toppled Dr. Luis Reynoso from the Hayward school board is nearly complete. Using highly questionable legal maneuvers, Reynoso was jettisoned last month from the board after recently winning re-election for a fourth term. During the same election last November, Reynoso also won an open seat on the Chabot-Las Positas Community College Board of Trustees.
Now its time to install his replacement. If a coup of a fairly-elected public servant wasn’t bad enough, the odds-on favorite to win the appointment this week is fueled by blatant cronyism from at least two members of the Hayward City Council.
East Bay political consultant Crystal Araujo is one of 24 applicants to replace Reynoso on the dreadful Hayward school board. She has no more experience in education than any of the rest of the us, but she does have connections.
In recent years, Araujo has worked as a paid consultant for two of Hayward Councilmember Francisco Zermeno’s campaigns – one for mayor, and his re-election last November. Araujo was also a consultant for Hayward Councilmember Sara Lamnin’s campaign. At the same time, Araujo has served as Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s fundraiser.
It’s a neat cabal set up in Hayward poised to install one of their own on a Hayward school board, at the same time, perpetuating decades of corruption and ineptitude . It’s a place where former Hayward City Manager Jesus Armas benefitted from cronyism and took a seat on the school board. He later had an affair with a fellow school board member and later instructed her how to vote, according to divorce papers provided by the disgruntled ex.
Like Araujo, Armas had strong ties to Zermeno. In addition, Zermeno and Lamnin remained strong supporters of former Hayward superintendent Stan Dobbs even after an investigation detailed an allegaton of sexual assault against an interpreter who worked for the school district, among other alleged acts of misconduct.
The preoccupation by some Hayward councilmembers with the city’s school board is very irregular. Almost every city in Alameda County respects the boundaries between both elected bodies. However, Lamnin has consistently attempted to meddle in the affairs of the school board.
In 2016, Lamnin led a group calling itself CLASS to defeat Reynoso and other Hayward school board incumbents in 2016. She was partially successful, but failed to reel in the big fish – Reynoso. Four years later, Hayward school board president April Oquenda, another Lamnin acolyte did the job, cajoling the board to use outrageously inadequate precedents to remove Reynoso from office.
Lamnin recently pushed hard for Zacariah Oquenda, her campaign treasurer and the husband of April, to be named to the Hayward Planning Commission. This was despite protests about Zacariah Oquenda’s poor attendance record while serving on the city’s Community Services Committee. When it was again brought up last week that Oquenda attended only 60 percent of its meetings, Lamnin oddly defended him by falsely arguing the real number is 70 percent. By any measure, it’s a wholly inadequate attendance record.
Was this payback for April Oquenda taking out Reynoso?
But that’s how cronyism works. It’s sort of like, if you rub my back, I’ll rub yours. The only difference is the present and future state of Hayward lies in the balance. Need a visual? Travel to Foothill Boulevard and experience the monument to the city’s long history of cronyism and corruption. A freeway running through its downtown.
The most absurd aspect of some Hayward councilmembers attempting to meddle in the affairs of the school board is they have no business offering advice. There are worse school board in Alameda County, but when it comes to city councils, Hayward is squarely at the bottom of the list and its been there for years.