Euphemisms have always played a part in racism. For those disposed toward cowardice, subtle overtures of a perceived enemy have allowed segregationists to convey their message to the like minded without saying what the masses think. This has been happening in Glendale, and throughout the Los Angeles area, for at least a decade, and now it has come to a silent fever pitch.
Last week, Zanku Armenian artfully examined the state of politics in the City of Glendale. This week, his observations were put on public display. In the Crescenta Valley Weekly, John Drayman, who is running for re-election to the Glendale City Council, attests that “On April 5th some are hoping that you won’t vote”. Wait, I’ve heard that somewhere before.
I wonder, are these the same people that Mr. Drayman’s supporter, Gerri Cragnotti, a popular Glendale real estate agent, was referring to when she sent out an invitation for select Glendalians to come meet Mr. Drayman and Dave Weaver, another council candidate, at her home? That message read, “Maybe certain special interest groups, groups that win by absentee ballots, may not want you to go to the polls to vote on Tuesday April 5?”
Cloaked in ambiguity and doublespeak, the messages don’t arouse suspicion to the casual onlooker but to their constituents, they serve as an effective fear mongering tactic to suggest that there is some Armenian conspiracy that non-Armenians do not vote.
There are few, if any, “special interest groups” that are more engaged in the empowerment of voters in the Glendale area than the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). And, because a part of the ANCA’s voter registration efforts aim to help elderly, incapacitated voters, these individuals are registered, and vote, by absentee ballots, primarily because they cannot go to the polls because of their disabilities. This has been shamefully twisted into an ironic rallying cry that “special interest groups”, like the ANCA, who has registered thousands of new voters, are interested in people not showing up to the polls.
But Ms. Cragnotti was right. There are people in the city that do not want their fellow citizens to vote and their names are John Drayman, Dave Weaver, and Frank Quintero.
In 2008, these three members on the City Council voted for an ordinance that effectively made it more difficult for non-English speaking (which, in Glendale, means Armenian) voters to apply to vote absentee.
The effects of this measure were real. In 2007, the percentage of Armenians in Glendale that voted by absentee ballot was 70%. In 2009, after the measure was passed, that number fell to 62%. The three councilmen who voted for passage of this measure, Messrs. Weaver, Drayman, and Quintero, certainly achieved their objective of temporarily lessening the strength of the most powerful voting group in our fair city.
For all the bemoaning of the complaints against him, Mr. Drayman has curiously taken to projecting his troubles unto others – when he’s not curbing voter access, that is. He has made tacit suggestions, in meetings like the one at Ms. Cragnotti’s home, that Ardy Kassakhian, the City Clerk of Glendale, possibly the most upstanding of all Glendale city officials, has been remiss in his duties, with nary a factoid to support his hyperbolic discharge.
It might come as a surprise, then, that while he’s taking shots at Mr. Kassakhian in both public and private, Mr. Drayman is under investigation for criminal activity. It is he, after all, who was cited in the Los Angeles Times, as having work done on his condo by not one, but six, subcontractors for a firm that defrauded the City of Glendale out of millions of dollars.
This is not even something that Mr. Drayman rejects. He simply says that he did not know. It must have been, then, the merest of coincidences that six different subcontractors, all of whom were associated to a company whose services he had dedicated millions of taxpayer dollars to, were the same six doing renovations on his condominium.
Mr. Drayman is adept at deflecting any exposure of his transgressions. Either by trying to focus the attention on someone else by making baseless claims or by smugly ridiculing allegations against him as though they were incredulous. Well, one can only claim for so long that their character precludes them from such misdemeanors while establishing a steady track record of them.
All this ruckus simply underscores the success of the Armenian-American community in becoming politically engaged and active – they vote in higher numbers than any other group in Glendale. But for some reason, cynical people like John Drayman, Dave Weaver, and Gerri Cragnotti, have a problem with this. They have a problem with (certain) Americans exercising their right to vote. They have some inexplicable problem with the same people whom they underhandedly defame. They have created a false conspiracy to serve their own interests.
April 5 is Election Day. Some people don’t want you to vote – and some of those people are running for re-election to another four year term. It takes five minutes to vote. Should the Armenian-American community have to take another four years of attempts to marginalize and disparage them? You decide.