Under pointed questioning before the City Council he is campaigning to join, city commissioner Zareh Sinanyan this week refused to deny he was the author behind threatening and racist comments posted online under his name, saying only that they do not reflect who he is.
“The words attributed to me are not me. They do not represent who I am as a person,” he said. “They do not reflect my values, my ideals.”
Sinanyan, a Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee member who is considered a front-runner in the City Council race, called a proposal to strip him of his commission seat an orchestrated smear campaign because of the comments.
Councilwoman Laura Friedman, Councilman Ara Najarian and Mayor Frank Quintero asked for the discussion to be brought before the council last week. Friedman and Najarian are both seeking to keep their seats in the April 2 election.
When asked whether he wrote the comments — which on YouTube referred mostly to Armenia's geopolitical enemies as “lazy,” “degenerate thieves,” “dirty” and more vulgar terms — he refused to say, adding he had not seen the comments council members were referring to.
“Saying that they don't represent you is very different than saying that you didn't write them,” said Friedman.
Sinanyan went on to say: “I'm investigating this issue and trying to understand.”
Since the online comments became public, Sinanyan has lost several high-profile endorsements, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, and both Los Angeles mayoral run-off candidates, Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel.
While the council discussion was focused on Sinanyan's commission seat, Sinanyan's supporters quickly turned the public comment period into an attack on Friedman, who first introduced the motion. The crowd of about 90 heckled her several times during the proceeding.
“I'm disappointed that I would be attacked for bringing up hate speech, very serious, very disturbing hate speech,” Friedman said.
At one point, in response to her claim that she was not responsible for the reaction to the alleged comments, Sinanyan got out of his seat and whispered to his supporters: “She's lying.”
In the end, the council unanimously decided to take no action, and tabled stripping Sinanyan of his commission seat.
“The election will decide everything,” Councilman Dave Weaver said.
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Photo: Zareh Sinanyan. Credit: Glendale News Press