By Ted AYALA
Tense debate was held over the nomination and appointment of candidates – a total of 24 altogether – proposed by councilmembers Rafi Manoukian and Dave Weaver to sit on various city commissions and boards at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Attracting particular criticism was Manoukian’s nomination of Richard Espiritu, a member of the Glendale Vanguards, whose criminal record was alluded to in past council meetings by former councilmember John Drayman.
Weaver was unequivocal in his desire to hold off any vote on the appointees to May 31.
“I’d like to wait on some of Mr. Manoukian’s resumes. I have nothing on some of these individuals. In all fairness […] I’d like to look at all the resumes before we vote.”
The atmosphere turned tense when Manoukian asked city staff which of his candidates had turned in incomplete applications and resumes for their positions.
When staff named Alexander Oganessian as having turned in an application, Manoukian cut in brusquely. “The veteran of special forces, who is a veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia will hold off on that one.”
Manoukian later quipped that he “felt prejudice” towards his nominations.
Citing Mayor Laura Friedman’s comment that city council had only received the relevant applications and resumes for review that morning, Weaver elaborated on his withering criticism of the nomination process for these candidates.
“This is the first time, in my 15 years [working for the city] that we have done it this way,” said Weaver. “Everybody always had to have [the resumes and applications] before [the due date]. Now we even have some turned in after nominations. I have never heard of that before.”
The focus of much debate and criticism were Manoukian nominees Richard Espiritu, Vartan Gharapetian (nominated to serve on the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Commission), and Aram Kazazian (Planning Commission).
Gharapetian, coming under deep scrutiny by the city council for a clandestine organization he formed during his previous tenure on the Design Review Board meant to undermine city influence, was vigorously defended by Manoukian. against the inquiries of his colleagues. “I’ve known Gharapetian through AYSO for a number of years,” said Manoukian. “He cares about the community; he cares about the kids. […] That’s why I nominated him. I respect his volunteer work.” Gharapetian added, “I’m tired of this […] defamation of character.” Mayor Friedman said she was “torn” on the issue of Gharapetian’s nomination as she respected his work for the AYSO, but also had deep misgivings about the perceived deceitful manner in which Gharapetian’s group had collected the personal information of the community under the pretense of supporting preservation efforts for the Brand Library.
Ultimately the city council voted to approve the Manoukian’s (with Manoukian withdrawing Richard Espiritu’s nomination) and Weaver’s candidates, while approval of the candidates with incomplete application is pending for May 31st.