What a Ride III: Glendale & Special & Burbank

Not only was the election with me as a candidate very illuminating (see What a Ride II), but Glendale’s April 7 and California’s May 19 special elections must also serve as eye-openers.

Let’s start with California. As you’ll remember, the big issues were fours propositions, placed on the ballot by the legislature as part of the solution to a large budget deficit. All but one of the six measures failed. The one penalizing legislators is the only one that passed. That’s odd, because voters are part of the problem, having tied the hands of the legislature through various initiative ballot propositions (i.e. those put their through petitions). Now, the State Senate and Assembly are in a situation similar to having an over-constrained set of equations in math.

Both ends of the political spectrum voted against these ballot measures, though obviously for different reasons—the Democratic end because of limitations placed on future ability to expand expenditures in better times; the Republican end because of opposition to taxes. But the latter side’s legislators have been doing that since these problems began. At this point, they’re simply being obstructionists, not governing but grandstanding. Had a reasonable action, the restoration of the highest tax bracket—eliminated in better financial days—been taken when first necessary six or seven years ago, this whole mess might have been avoided. So now, the Republicans, and obviously their constituents who keep electing them and therefore must agree with this approach, should bear the brunt of the budget pain. I say let the cuts being made fall largely on their districts. Since they’re so convinced the state government “wastes” money, they should have no problem living without the benefit of those expenditures.

On my other electoral recommendations: It looks like Paul Koretz (for whom I recommended a vote) will win a very close race for LA Council District 5, though the count is not yet final. In the LA city attorney race, Carmen Trutanich has won. You’ll remember I recommended a coin-flip-hold-your-nose-vote on this one. For the LA Community College Board, one of my endorsees, Nancy Pearlman, won, but not the other, Angela Reddock. Finally, in the 32nd Congressional District, my candidate Judy Chu emerged as the Democratic candidate with the most votes in that special election. It is a heavily Democratic district, so she’ll win in the runoff.

Let’s move on to Glendale. As you know, the results are perceived as a disaster from an Armenian perspective. This was due to internal divisions and personal vendettas on the one hand and external manipulation on the other. Armenian turnout was in the vicinity of 42 percent, certainly higher than the overall average, and something to be proud of.

Internally, a small segment in our community with business, specifically building/development-related, felt outright wronged by the incumbent Armenian city council members and took it upon themselves to seek the former’s defeat. They succeeded in knocking one of them out. How? By supporting other candidates and, more importantly, scattering the Armenian vote by fielding more Armenian candidates. In this, they were aided and abetted by other candidates and political operatives. Three of the seven Armenian candidates who ran stood no chance whatsoever of wining. Unsurprisingly, they placed 9th, 11th, and 12th out of the 12 candidates. These people should be shunned in the community.

Another bellwether race was that for Glendale city treasurer. Rafi Manoukian, challenging the incumbent, got 10,449 votes. But by my count (possibly by no more than 25 due to misspelled names, by the county), 10,820 Armenians voted, just over 42 percent of the total 25,651 turnout. You figure out what this means. Here again, internal rivalries and antipathies cost votes.

The school board election results, while not positive, were at least not disastrous. The Armenian incumbent and a non-Armenian ANC endorsee won. However, the two know-nothing Armenian women, who have run before and are huge spoilers, did their job again. Somehow these two fear- and hate-mongers who are an embarrassment to our community must be removed from their cable TV perches whence they spew their inanity and win over the ill-informed newcomers to this society. But for them, another well-qualified Armenian would likely have gotten elected. The city clerk (uncontested) and college board (four candidates vying for three seats) results were unsurprising and positive for the Armenian community.

Two important issues must be addressed. When personal interests and community needs conflict, a mechanism for constructively addressing such clashes must be instituted. Otherwise, we’ll forever be bewailing our losses, as we’ve done for the same reasons over the last three Glendale elections. The other: Who has a rightful claim to Armenians’ votes? Any -ian/yan?

Finally, Burbank, home sweet home. I’ve received compliments for a well-run campaign. There were some early stumbles, but in the general election those were remedied. Armenian turnout approached 38 percent, here again well above the overall average. What’s really a mystery is how the person who finished fourth in the primary was able to more than double her vote count in the general election, coming about 200 votes shying of toppling an incumbent. Scuttlebutt has it that a serious effort was made by Republican Party operatives, though I have difficulty believing that was sufficient. Partly, it may have resulted from voters who wanted to throw out one or the other of the incumbents jumping on her bandwagon because she was closest to the top three vote-getters in the primary, which included the two incumbents. Another explanation floating around in the community is her parents’ long-time ownership of a restaurant and the familiarity that engenders. Likely, it is a combination of these factors.

The anti-Armenian sentiment in Burbank is also stronger than I thought. Not necessarily in terms of the number of people who bear such ill-will, but the depth of it among those who do. Hopefully, within a few years this will clear up as the familiarization and integration processes progress, outreach and education efforts expand, and the older generations pass.

But the most amusing incident came the weekend after the election. For this, you’ll have to watch this or other newspapers or the Garen for Council website. It should be up within two weeks. Enjoy it.


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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