BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
You may have read Ara Khachatourian’s “Playground Gear at Center of Glendale City Council Race” last week. In this piece, we learned of a strange situation that arose at a Glendale City Council meeting.
The short version is this. The playground equipment at Glendale’s Maple Park had reached an age at which the city’s rules require it to be replaced. It was still in good shape, so one of the city council members proposed sending the old gear to Artsakh. After discussion, the council voted 3-2 to AGAINST this idea.
You’re probably thinking “wait, doesn’t Glendale’s city council have a 3-2 Armenian majority?” Yes, it does and the three Armenians are exactly the same ones who voted against the proposal. Hence, the strangeness of this episode of politics.
The arguments used against the idea of donating the gear included “Armenians aren’t beggars” and “we can do better” by sending new, unused equipment by doing some fundraising. There was also the assertion that the proposal was made by a member of council to pander to the city’s large Armenian population. This councilmember is not Armenian and is up for reelection next year.
I think our Armenian contingent on the city council ended up looking ridiculous by adopting this position, even if the proposal was, indeed, made based on political calculations. The argument against donating the equipment just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Remember the fire truck given by the city of Montebello to Artsakh? What about all the used clothing, shoes, and other items we’ve been sending to the homeland ever since the collapse of the Soviet union?
The more important point to be made here is that Artsakh s far too critical a place, issue, and aspect of the Armenian universe to be reduced to a political football, the object of posturing and political grandstanding.
With the 2020 elections coming up (for Glendale they will be earlier than in most places, since the city has opted to have them coincide with California’s statewide primary election in March, 2020), many candidates will by currying favor with various constituencies. Armenian communities in some electoral jurisdictions are large enough to be among those entering the minds of the candidates as targets.
We have to be ready for this and demand more. The days of placating us with a pretty proclamation (calligraphy and all) or lofty-sounding resolutions are long gone. We must expect more substantive actions from our electeds at all levels. At the federal level, candidates’ positions on issues of aid, trade, finances (including tax issues), and international relations must be in line with justice, rationality, and the secure development of the two Armenian states. On the state and local levels, the needs and concerns of Armenian communities must be substantively addressed, from Genocide curricula being required in schools and funding needs of Armenian cultural and community endeavors to preventing discrimination against Armenians.
We must not tolerate the kind of grandstanding and/or opportunism in evidence in the Glendale incident (possibly on both sides) and those guilty of it should be given a polite talking-to.
Get involved in the mass of election campaigns coming your way so that your (and through you, OUR) voice will be heard by those who ultimately succeed in getting into office and becoming policy-makers.