BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN
Although I’d promised to devote my last column to my attempt at keeping to a Lenten diet of vegan wonders and delights, I feel that I must digress and weigh in on some interesting happenings in the political world of New Yerevan or as the “odars” call it, Glendale, California.
I promised my readers that I’d incorporate their culinary suggestions into my Lenten column, and I will write about some of the ideas that my readers have written to me asking that I address. But for this week, I need to get something off my hairy Armenian chest.
For the last month, I have had to endure some of the most ridiculous political drama (outside of the antics of the White House in DC) and it has gotten my blood to boil over to a point that I can’t take it anymore.
For anyone reading this column in any other place other than Glendale, let me paint a quick sketch of what Glendale is to Armenians worldwide. Take everything that our community has fought to preserve over the last 5000 years that makes us uniquely Armenian (culture, music, art, religion, cuisine, literature, what little pride we have left, etc.) and personify it in your mind. Come up with an image of a person who best represents these qualities – maybe a bent over old man with an aquiline nose and strong features but pride and fists that can still tear down mountains; or a frail old Armenian grandmother with deep set wrinkles in her brow that tell of the suffering she’s seen but the resolve to survive. You have that image of “Armenianness”? Good. Now put that person in the middle of a town square where there’s a community of about 100,000 Armenians and picture him or her being beaten like a mangy dog all day long. Yup… that’s Glendale.
“But Skeptik! How can you paint such a negative picture of our community? We built churches and we make music and art everyone loves,” you say?
“But Sinikian Efendi,” you want to argue. “Surely you’re too hard on Glendale’s Armenians. Things can’t be that bad in a community where every mansion or apartment has at least one BMW or Mercedes parked in front of it?”
I will concede that Armenians in Glendale have amazing banquet halls named after the most beautiful Las Vegas Casinos, and to not mention some of the world’s best backgammon and “Blot” gamers this side of the Arax River would be a disservice to Glendale. But kebab and card sharks can’t make up for the ridiculous charade unfolding in the local political contest for the 43rd State Assembly District. Here’s the Readers Digest version.
Paul Krekorian who held that seat, vacated it when he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council. Now, even before PK was elected to City Council, would be heirs to his seat had already lined up. Like ants to a picnic, they lined up ready to pounce on the seat. But after he left, PK endorsed Glendale School Board member Nayiri Nahabedian to replace him in the legislature. Now, before Nayiri could do that, she had to go through a little thing called a Special Election and face off against some formidable challengers.
But given the likeability of PK and his endorsement, Nayiri seems like the candidate to beat…until. That’s right, there’s always a twist. Until, perennial loser Chahe Keuroghelian – a convicted criminal, disgraced Glendale city official, and all around wet blanket jumped into the race. Chahe’s only political accomplishments include being thrown out of the Glendale Police Department as their spokesperson when it was discovered he was misusing city stationary to illegally print documents for his clients for the immigration consulting business he ran on the side. Well, long story short, he ends up fired, marital problems ensue, a nasty divorce where his private life is dragged into the public eye and he even is sentenced to 30 days house arrest for a domestic disturbance where he brandished a weapon.
Just the type of guy you want representing you in the State Legislature you say? I thought so.
But here’s the strange part – Chahe has run for Glendale City Council not once, not twice, but THREE times and lost every time – and he didn’t even come close. I just checked the Glendale city’s elections website and he finished at least fourth or fifth in all three elections. So why would anyone who has run for City Council three times and lost, think that they have what it takes to run for State Assembly and win.
Chahe has no website (www.VoteChahe.com is just a picture of him looking like a member of the Soviet Prolet-Bureau with an insipid slogan “Because I care!”) He has no visible operation of volunteers. Chahe has not raised any money. He has no endorsements that I know of.
So why is Chahe in this race? Arrogance? Pride? Delusions of greatness? Who knows? I don’t. Who cares? Everyone voting in the 43rd Assembly district, and every Armenian that has a semblance of pride left in our community should.
Whether we like it or not, our community is judged not by our best but by our worst. It’s the age we live in. Kim Kardashian does something silly or stupid, and every non-Armenian equates her antics with Armenians worldwide. She could win the Nobel Prize or invent the next life saving medical device, and no one would give two shish kebabs. But do something ridiculous and you become the world’s laughing stock and no one forgets.
That’s what Chahe’s only real accomplishment is in this race. He jumped in with no chance to win simply to taint the process for everyone else and more capable candidates. That’s the real reason why he’s in this race. He cares only about himself and shamelessly promoting his business. And by both Armenian candidates losing this seat, we’ll be the laughing stock of the whole political world from the Verdugo Mountains to the Potomac River.
Here’s my prediction for this election (held April 13, 2010.) I don’t know who’s going to win but I predict that there will not be an outright winner who gets more than 50% of the vote. Instead there will be a runoff between the top two candidates which will most likely be the only Republican and the top Democrat. But one thing I am absolutely, 100 percent, willing to bet my collection of Harout Pamboukjian bootleg vinyl on is that Chahe Keuroghelian will finish this race not in first, second or third place, but dead last. Not even a bronze medal for this Prince of Spoilers.
The question for Chahe to answer then will be “What now? Another inept campaign bid for the next City of Glendale elections in 2011?”
If his campaign slogan is true and he does really “care” then he should do us all a favor–especially his supporters–and not ruin this community’s future by being an “also-ran.” Chahe should step aside and help others do the work that he has tried to do unsuccessfully four times over.
Skeptik Sinikian hopes that everyone goes out and votes on April 13, 2010 and makes the right decision. Voting is the most important right we have as Americans and no one will take us seriously, until we claim our rightful place in the process. You can encourage him to run for President in 2012 by emailing him at [email protected]