Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Zareh Sinanyan Attacks, But Still Hasn't Denied Writing Hateful Comments or Apologized For Them* (04/19 Update: He Has Now Admitted Responsibility & Expressed Regret)

The Glendale municipal election is over, and Zareh Sinanyan has secured a place on the Glendale City Council. A mere 356 votes separated him from Chahe Keuroghelian, who came in fourth. Voter turnout was low, at an estimated 18.2% of registered voters.

The Burbank Blog did a write up on the election results that I highly recommend reading.

If you’re reading this, I’ll assume you’ve also read the hateful comments that every available piece of evidence shows were written by Zareh Sinanyan over a period of several years. Not because I or anyone else says so, but because the allegations are verifiable using cached versions of both the comments and Zareh’s confirmed online accounts. If you haven’t read my previous posts on the allegations, please read them now to understand why this is serious:

Neither Sinanyan, nor anyone else has provided one shred of evidence challenging his authorship of the comments. All it would have taken to fully exonerate Sinanyan was documentation from Google that his account had been hacked for the period in question. When asked directly if he wrote the comments, Sinanyan (campaign motto: "Bringing Transparency and Accountability to Glendale"), gave one of the most misleading non-denials the world has ever seen

Truly, the video must be seen to be believed:

So just to be crystal clear on this:

Sinanyan has neither denied writing the hateful comments, nor apologized for their content.

Rather than responding to the evidence against him, Sinanyan and his supporters accused anyone drawing attention to the comments of conducting a “well-funded, well-organized racist smear campaign." Sinanyan himself, on the record, at a city council meeting, claimed that an anonymous source on *my blog* claimed their goal was to “take the Armenian community in general down.” This is 100% factually untrue. It was a cynical lie, meant to bully me and others who would demand an explanation into silence, close ranks within the Armenian community, and polarize Glendale along ethnic lines. I cannot find words to express my disgust.

The attacks directed at Councilmember Laura Friedman were far worse. For example, in an Armenian-language interview on Horizon TV posted on his official campaign Facebook page, Sinanyan compared Friedman to a Turk who doesn't care about Armenians* (minute 24):

SINANYAN: "And do you know what is unfortunate, maybe she has a small group of people with Armenian names, who aren't really true Armenians, they give her political legitimacy. In other words, you know when you meet some Turks and the first thing a Turk will say to an Armenian - and this is a really well known thing - is you're Armenian? I have many Armenian friends. And this is like Laura Friedman."

In Glendale, saying something like that is inflammatory and inexcusable. It should be denounced in the strongest possible terms by any organization or political candidate with a shred of decency**. The only reason these shameful tactics continue is because members of the community who should know better - most appallingly, The Glendale Teacher’s Association - remained silent.

So where does that leave us? It leaves me embarrassed for Glendale by what can only be explained by either tacit acceptance of bigotry or ignorance, enabled by low turnout. Local elections have a far bigger impact on day to day life than national elections, and proportionally, your vote is thousands of times more important to the outcome. Yet hardly anyone pays attention. Sinanyan was voted for by approximately 4% of Glendale's population. If you're catching up on this now and stayed home during the election, you deserve some of the blame.

Sinanyan will be sworn in at the City Council Reorganization meeting on April 15th.

Until Sinanyan takes responsibility for his actions and apologizes for both the comments*** and the cynical, divisive response to a scandal of his own making, the community must continue to demand an explanation from Sinanyan for his behavior. 



* I had this translated by two different Armenian-speaking friends to verify the context and accuracy of the translation.

** Here’s a challenge for my Armenian-speaking readers: if you see anyone involved with Glendale politics saying something hateful in Armenian language media, record the TV program or save the article and send it to me with a summary in English. I will have an Armenian speaker verify the accuracy of the content and, if it is offensive, will post the original media together with an English language transcript so that the community at large can judge for themselves. Alternately, if you see a non-Armenian candidate using racially charged or discriminatory rhetoric towards Armenians and have a recording or a quote in English language media, send me that too. There should be one standard for hateful racial rhetoric in Glendale, not an English-language standard and an Armenian-language standard. Such rhetoric should be universally condemned.

*** Or provides actual exonerating evidence!


Anonymous said...

I have a cynical loco theory. What if the exposure of Sinanyan's comments bolstered his support financially and politically? I recall reading that he received a surge of financial support. Maybe Sinanyan is just channeling the prevailing attitude of the community. I would find that to be unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

This scandal is dead. Sinanyan went to the voters and the voters rejected the anti-Armenian and Armenophobic agenda of Sinanyan's opponents. If Friedman wants to actually govern Glendale with the rest of City Council she needs to apologize to Sinanyan and the Armenian community and move on.

Anonymous said...

Low voter turn-out is a result of negative campaigns. The attacks on Sinanyan based on alleged comments made years ago caused the low-voter turn out. Glendale has a history of exclusivity and there is a segment of the population that is nostalgic for a Glendale that is more homogenous. The reality is that the Armenian American and Korean American voters are not going anywhere, they are here to stay. Critics will say the immigrant vote is voting along ethnic lines. Glendale voters voted for Sinanyan because he represents the empowerment of the city's south side. Glendale could create districts like Pasadena or Los Angeles where candidates could vy to represent neighborhoods with common interests. The Southern part of Glendale needs more parks for youth, stronger community policing and different needs than Montrose or the area north of Glenoaks. It's unlikely that Glendale will get divided into districts unless the districts are designed to divide the Armenian American vote. Ethnic hate is a venom, and the City Council needs to work on reconciliation versus further infighting.

Anonymous said...

Armenians are tolerant people because they have seen ethnic and religious intolerance in Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and the Holy Land. Presently extremists are killing Armenians in Syria because the Armenians are Christian. If you read Charles Bukowski's "Ham on Rye," his autobiography, the writer is recruited to go to the headquarters of the American Nazi Party in Glendale in the 1930s. Armenians started moving to Glendale in the 1970s. You need to read and learn more about Glendale history.

Anonymous said...

I scoff at the "this issue is dead" comment by a previous poster. This guy is, at best, a liar. At worst, he's a racist sociopath who belongs in therapy to work out his issues. Either way, he shouldn't be allowed a free pass now that the elections are over.

Unfortunately, we are stuck with Zareh for the near future. I only hope his decision making improves for the collective sake of the city. I will also say that I'm hopeful (though doubtful) that he's learned a few things about honesty and humility through this episode.

Anonymous said...

As an Armenian American my hope is that Chahe will prevail and Zareh will be out. Let this be a lesson to Armenian Americans in Glendale; we should have done more to disavow this guy. Zareh and the ANC spun the issue into their favor and alleged the issue is an attack on Armenians. They even made a last minute “ endorsement” of Chahe, though most of their members and affiliates got the wink wink from the ANC leadership and did not vote for him. Let this also be a lesson to the non-Armenian Americans living in Glendale. The Armenian community is not a hegemonic one. There are many sides, and organizations to the Armenian community. Yes the ANC is at the moment the most organized and funded but that does not mean they speak for or represent the entire Armenian American community in Glendale. This lack of understanding of the Armenian community led to non-Armenian individuals labeling all Armenians as the same and thus did not vote for (non-Zareh) Armenian-Americans. Imagine if 10% of those who voted for Laura or Sam also voted for Chahe, we wouldn't be in this situation. We should all learn something from this and make sure we don’t make the same mistake in the future. Lastly, what is the process for recalling a City Council member?

Anonymous said...

Yes Zareh, you hit the nail right on the head. All of us Armenians that oppose you are not TRUE Armenians. Although my ancestors went through the same genocide yours may have gone through because of the intolerant Ottoman Empire that refused to accept people that were a different ethnicity/race/religion. Oh the irony.

Scott said...

I’ll never get why he didn’t quietly step down from CDBG and apologize immediately. If he did, a few people would have read my first post, but for the most part, everyone would consider the matter settled and moved on. I would have considered the matter settled and moved on! Instead, a month later, Zareh still hasn’t seriously addressed the evidence or just plain apologized, and is now likely headed to a council that he’s spent a month alienating.

To the first commenter: I wondered if this helped his turnout too, but I strongly doubt it after looking at the precinct-by-precinct vote counts. Compare his precinct-by-precinct votes to Ara Najarian’s:


Ara Najarian is broadly acceptable in Glendale because he smartly does everything he can to avoid controversy or ethnic divisiveness. As a result, he does very well both north and South of the 134. Zareh was on a path to Ara-like numbers when this broke. Though Zareh may have won a seat, barely, his votes ended up geographically mirroring Chahe, not Ara, despite the full weight of ANC support and his own very tightly organized and well-funded campaign. If another non-incumbent had managed to energize the electorate even a tiny bit Zareh wouldn’t have made it. I think the clumsy response -- which, amazingly, is ongoing, in the comments above from 4:59, 5:20 and 5:25 -- was more harmful to him than the original comments.

Anonymous said...

Gatto wants to get re-elected without Armenian American votes. He can't do it. He needs to make peace with the Armenian American voters.

Who even runs the Burbank Blogger? The Burbank Blogger called Zareh "a monster." Burbank Blogger's headline is quintessential demagoguery. Even Scott, who is a die-hard Friedman loyalist has to admit that calling Zareh a monster is ridiculous.

Burbank Blogger has never written anything positive about an Armenian American political candidates, ever. Who runs that blog?

I was looking forward to Scott discussing whether the City Council should appoint Chaheh because he has the Fourth largest number of votes.

Anonymous said...

What is clumsy about saying that Armenians are tolerant people?

Scott said...

To 10:05am: Your comment attempted to link the response to the comments to the entire history of the Armenian people. The comments were either written by Zareh and Zareh alone, or they weren’t. There is zero evidence that they weren’t and lots of evidence that they were. Responding to anything other than the authorship of the comments by one man, based on the evidence, is a non-sequitur.

Anonymous said...

I don't know another ethnic group in Los Angeles who would've supported a candidate who called various other ethnic groups "mongol fucks", "mindless nomadic cock-suckers", and implied Mexicans were low-lifes.

It's not Zareh that concerns me -- every group has its hateful jerks.

I'm scared of a community that votes that man into office, when he hasn't proven those words aren't his. As Scott pointed out, this an easy thing to do. His supporters know that. Yet he won't do it. You know why? Because Zareh wrote those posts, plain and simple.

To attack Zareh's hate posts isn't anti-Armenian -- unless your definition of Armenian is to call people "whores" and "cocksuckers"?

This is NOT a dead issue. The man who wrote those ugly words now has political power over the Asians, the Latinos, the Gay people, the Muslims, the Women, who he obviously disdains.

Ethnic hate IS a venom, and now it's sitting on our city council.

Anonymous said...

This forum is not discussing whether Armenians in general are tolerant. I'm sure most Armenians are tolerant. I'm Armenian and I am far beyond tolerant (what a weak word to use by the way.. what about loving, embracing and caring of ALL of humanity) .. I consider everyone equal and I would never disrespect any race or gender or group of people.

What we are discussing is the INTOLERANT comments by one individual..which have not been denied.
That is the topic. And in light of that topic your comment IS clumsy because it is understandably irrelevant to the matter at hand.
Not to mention one bad apple spoils the bunch...

Anonymous said...

AT this point it doesn't really matter if Zareh apologizes, he's revealed himself to be racist, and any policies he holds or actions he takes in public office will be informed by that racism. We cannot have that in Glendale in this day and age.

Anonymous said...

I'm the same person who posted the previous comment about Zareh being racist. I'd very much prefer to use my real name but I live & own a home in Glendale and have business with the city and I fear retribution.
That also is an unacceptable situation.

Scott said...

11:52am. I agree, it's shameful. You should be able to criticize a candidate for their own actions, which they themselves have not denied, without fear of being bullied by their supporters.

Anonymous said...

How will Friedman repair her relationship with the Armenian American community? She needs to go out of her way on April 24 to send a message of harmony.

Anonymous said...

Friedman doesn't need to repair her relationship with the Armenian community. The Armenian community should try and repair their relationship with her. We now have to go out of our way to show Laura Friedman that not all Armenians are like this and there are rational ones who will not stand for injustice which is what was committed towards her. Zareh has literally screwed us all by making Armenians look like idiots.

Who is Zareh to speak for me and say that Laura is like a "Turk" (whatever that means, I have no qualms with the Turkish people, just the intolerant ones and their government). That statement alone is disgusting because it makes an overly broad generalization about a large group of people.
People like this should not be used to represent the good Armenian people of Glendale who vastly outnumber the ones who give us a bad name.

Scott said...

I agree that it's important not to generalize too widely about the Armenian community, which is quite diverse and not represented by any one organization. Many of the private messages of support I've received have been from Armenians who don't like the way the ANC operates and are fearful of publicly criticizing an ANC-backed candidate. I would hope this election convinces them to speak up more loudly.

Anonymous said...

There are many wonderful Turkish people who saved Armenians during the Genocide. That doesn't mean that there isn't a full-blown campaign of hate against Armenians in Glendale. Friedman needs to throw her hat in with the 40 percent of Glendale she represents, not those outside of Glendale that are using her.

Anonymous said...

Please tell us what Laura Friedman has done for the Armenian Americans in her city? Did she propose a moment of silence in the city council for the Armenian victims of pogroms in Sumgait? Did she go to the memorial in Montebello? Has she shown real support for the community? She needs to show Armenian Americans that she loves them.

Scott said...

To 2:35pm: Is the implication that if Sinanyan proposed a moment of silence in the city for the victims of Sumgait that it would somehow make his comments okay? The two things are entirely unrelated. Your attempts to use horrors that have been perpetrated on the Armenian people as a political weapon are sordid and cheapen those very real tragedies. Any further comments along those lines will be removed immediately out of respect.

Nora Moss said...

I want to commend you for re-posting about this, and I want to remind everybody that important events, issues, and scandals are not in and of themselves "alive" or "dead" as some people are erroneously claiming here. It's through the commitment of caring, responsible, and passionate citizens (alongside with good journalism) that ANY issue can be kept alive, and followed through to resolution. Which is why I strongly feel you should NOT stop posting (and talking) about this, or bringing it up, until this is publicly addressed by Zareh, either through an acknowledgement and apology, OR proof from Google/YouTube that his account was in fact hacked, and the comments did not come from him. And I'm being real nice on that one, because you know how I feel about that "theory." But hey, if he really believes that's what happened - then he can go to the source and they can look into it. I'm almost positive that Google/YouTube could provide records of the time period and even if they can't provide PROOF that it was a hack, maybe they could release a statement that it COULD have been a hack, no? Hmmm, I wonder how that inquiry is coming along, or if he's actually trying it. ;)

What's disturbed me more than anything since this broke out is similar to what Anonymous @ 10:24AM writes. That it's not Zareh who is the real problem, since every bunch has its rotten apple. But what this says for citizens and organizations (both Armenian and non-Armenian) who are staying silent, thus allowing *his* silence to continue without repercussion. That is not only frightening, but inexcusable. And if you care about your city, you will urge groups/organizations who have more power (than a relatively small group of blog readers/posters) to grow a backbone, step forward, take action, and be the leaders they claim to be in their own community.

Anonymous said...

Scott, I believe you've misunderstood Mr. Sinanyan's comments.
You wrote: "Sinanyan himself, on the record, at a city council meeting, claimed that an anonymous source on *my blog* claimed their goal was to “take the Armenian community in general down.”"

But do you realize that one of the anonymous comments on your blog did include this? No, of course you didn't. You just decided to patronize a man with four kids trying to run for city council. Next time, please think twice before.

Anonymous said...

Aww the poor man with 4 children and a wife. Maybe him and his ridiculously illogical followers shouldn't use those poor kids as a force field for Zareh. Wouldn't that be something? And try to not to mention the Armenian Genocide any more.. or Turkish Intelligence. How's that sound? Probably horrible because the sad truth is that is 99% of all the substance in these stupid arguments.

The guy is an idiot. He posted the comments. He screwed up. End of story. Now get another candidate to worship and MOVE ON. What makes people defend a man like this? It's seriously upsetting. A man that throws everyone he can under a bus to save himself. Truly deplorable.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the excellent work Scott. Never give in to the ignorance and hate. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

This issue will never go away. The internet is forever and the facts will come out. Guaranteed. They have the watch but we have the time......

See you at Phonecia!

Anonymous said...

How many of Zareh's enemies are African American? Asian American? Openly gay? None. The people who hate him don't like a strident Armenian American. Yes, they have a token Armenian friend, but they will never tolerate Armenian Americans who are not willing to kow-tow. Yes this issue of hatred of Armenians is not going away, because this isn't the Glendale with "sunset laws." To call Zareh's supporters "idiots" is racist. As the Bible says, take out the log from your own eye before you tell your brother to take the sliver out of his eye.

Scott said...

to 9:46pm: Not true. After the meeting I double checked the comments on all of the Zareh related post to make sure I hadn’t missed something. On the first post, the third anonymous comment says that “they hope Zareh continues to deny this, taking the ANC down with him,” but that is completely different than saying “our goal is to take the Armenian community in general down.” No one ever said that in my comments section, and if they did I would remove it immediately. And if I do miss something like that in the volume of comments, e-mail me privately to bring it to my attention and I will remove it ASAP.

Additionally, even though the comment quoted by Zareh *wasn’t even accurate*, the implication was that I had chosen to post it “on my blog” when it was actually an anonymous comment. As you can see, as long as the comments stay fairly civil and on topic, I have no problem leaving up comments that I don’t agree with, even if they are criticisms of me.

Scott said...

to 6:44am: Actually, I’ve spoken with and received numerous e-mails from Muslims and gay people who live in Glendale and are pretty damn upset about having Glendale publicly represented by someone who tosses around terms like “f*ggot” and “raghead cockroach” and hasn't apologized for it. Turns out they don’t appreciate that so much.

I agree with you that there is some anti-Armenian bigotry in Glendale, but asking a public official to apologize for horrible statements that he doesn’t deny making isn’t racism, it’s accountability

Logs and slivers aside, there’s another story you might learn from: “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

Anonymous said...

@6:44 Hah, gay people not upset.... The most opposition I've seen have been from gay people... some of them being Armenian as well. Also pretty much anyone with an ounce of intelligence was offended that someone like this would be elected. The most upset are the intelligent Armenians.

They're all out man only people still in support of the Zarevolution are the old Armenian parents being lied to because they don't know anything about the internet and are being lied to by the Armenian talk shows.

Anonymous said...

Scott, are these emails anonymous, as always? There is not a single openly gay or muslim person who has publicly condemned Zareh. That is a fact. Laura Friedman has to represent all of Glendale, she can't ignore the thousands of constituents who were repulsed by her campaign.

Scott said...

To 11:51am: That is not a fact and those individuals are far from anonymous. As of now, they rightfully fear being attacked by Zareh's supporters. Just look at the bullying behavior of the Zareh supporters in these comments. I couldn't possibly make a better case against their behavior than they make in their own words. One might say the attacks by his supporters don't "reflect" well upon the best qualities of their candidate since he himself chose to set that tone at the council meeting.

Again, Sinanyan has neither denied writing the hateful comments, nor apologized for their content. The onus is on him to take responsibility or prove his innocence.

Scott said...

Also: until Sinanyan takes responsibility and either A) apologizes for both the comments and the divisive response, B) provides definitive evidence clearing his name; I will run regular "Zareh-Watch" posts to continue to draw attention to the fact that he has still not denied writing the comments nor apologized for their content.

Anonymous said...

No one has bullied anyone on this blog. Opponents of Zareh call his supporters senile Armenian idiots. That's an opinion, not bullying. Zareh's supporters want Laura Friedman to show support for the Armenian American community and tone down the rhetoric. How is that bullying? People openly write that they hate the ANC? Scott, you need to have more faith in people. If they are outraged they can write to the News Press or go to City Council meetings.

Anonymous said...

Zareh supporters just need to take a step back, and answer the question for themselves: If Joe Shmoe made those comments, or was accused of making those comments, what response would you demand? Was Zareh's response, or lack of response, appropriate? He is running for public office and that opens him up to a higher level of scrutiny that you and I don't have to face and more importantly, a much higher standard of accountability and transparency. His actions demonstrated neither of those (btw, both of which are part of the campaign slogan we've had to hear for months).

The "tkats unem" mentality as it relates to everyone else (basically, "I don't give a shit" in Armenian) is most frustrating for the well informed Armenians. The campaign was all about dominating the Armenian vote, period, and squeaking by.

For those of us that are Armenian and watched him and his campaign managers speak on Armenian language TV, it was all about obfuscating, obstructing, and diverting truth. A lot of "they are trying to take an Armenian candidate down". It's a rally cry based in fear and loathing vs. honesty, transparency, accountability, truth, issues. Unfortunately, it's an easy one to get behind, particularly when you rely on that particular medium (almost exclusively) for consuming your information. How many of those voters watched the hearing? How many actually read the alleged posts? One sided...

Scott said...

To 12:39pm: Tone down the rhetoric? Laura Friedman needs to tone down the rhetoric? Watch the video of the city council meeting again. Laura Friedman's rhetoric was along the lines of, "Did you write these comments?" Sinanyan's rhetoric -- in response to a scandal of his own making, and in response to direct, fact-based questions -- was "I am a victim of a racist smear campaign by people who want to take the entire Armenian community down!" Then, Sinanyan went on Horizon TV, and, in Armenian, compared Laura Friedman to a Turk who doesn't care about Armenians, and also claimed that Armenians who supported her weren't "true Armenians." So who exactly is heating up the rhetoric in Glendale?

And if you haven't detected the ethnically-charged bullying here -- for example, calling anyone who legitimately criticizes the ANC or an Armenian candidate a racist, or trying to turn a moment of silence for the victims of Sumgait into a political weapon -- you must be blind. The only reason I leave those comments up, and yours, is because they are so nakedly dishonest that any third party viewing them can't possibly take them seriously. They are intellectually self-discrediting.

And again, the fact remains: Sinanyan has neither denied writing the hateful comments, nor apologized for their content.

Anonymous said...

What has Laura Friedman done for Armenians in Glendale? She's been working hard to improve the quality of life for EVERYONE in Glendale, and that includes the large percentage who are Armenian.

Anonymous said...

Genderqueer here, a long-time Glendale resident and even longer member of the LesbianGayBiTrans community - which, according to some of these posts, doesn't readily exist in Glendale. Oh poor little ignorant people, I assure you it does despite all wishes to the contrary, many to my face over the years here in Glendale.


April 9.

2:12 a.m. YES!
4:59. Friedman did not create this, Sinanyan did.
5:20. not applicable.
5:25. not applicable.
7:10. we need not be stuck with Zareh. there are many paths to a non-Zareh Glendale.
8:07. Chahe the gun-cock better than Zareh the pig? How about Kedikian or Engel or anyone not uncivilized?
9:22. !
9:56. ?
10:05. -
10:24. Thank you.
10:28. Agreed: this is not an Armenian issue; it's an issue of pure, unadulterated dumb.
11:49. Yes!
11:52. I feel your pain.
12:27. Again, Friedman owes you NADA. This is Sinanyan's doing. (Nice try on the bait-and-switch.)
12:35. Sorry for your...challenge.
1:27. What the?
2:35.Again, neither a Friedman nor an Armenian issue. It's about HATE.

(so many McFly's!)

6:56. Too long, it seems good.
9:46. over my head. (sorry.)
10:35. Awesome, let's do coffee!

April 10, christ, finally.

12:22 A fan! Good.
6:44 AM. Wow, it's WAY too early for this sort of thing. Strident, agreed, I don't like strident anything. Bible? Oooh, sorry, unfamiliar with ways to use the bible to support my own selfish agenda.
9:44. Dude! Join me and 4/9/13.10:35 for coffee!
12:39. This is not Laura Friedman's doing, she owes you NADA.
1:08. Coffee, on me.
1:15 pm. Oh, hey, it's Scott. Indeed, Sinanyan NEVER denied writing those comments, he only weaseled his way around them. Then he spun a paranoid tale to enough gullible takers to get him elected to City Council.

Everywhere people get fired for this sort of thing but in Glendale you get elected. Awesome town! Looking forward to running on the Monkey Boy Genderqueer ticket...as soon as I look up Monkey Boy. In the meantime, I have a newly-elected city council member who never denied posting these sentiments. Don't get too comfortable in your plush victory, Mr. Sinanyan. Love and Big Gay Kisses!

Anonymous said...

Zareh just won the election.

Anonymous said...

Zareh is the Harvey Milk of South Glendale, fighting for the little guy.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding, Anonymous 600 pm?

Anonymous said...

you guys are the worst racist, and you call Sinanyan a racist :)))
and you all still continuing putting him down and talking like ……….. after tragedy in Boston, wow, you all should be questioned who’s side you guys are