Political Landscape: Pelosi hoped to recognize Armenian geocide

This year House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated she would do everything in her power to bring to a vote the legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915.

But Pelosi's power is much diminished since the Nov. 2 election swept Republicans into the majority in the House. On Wednesday, she became House minority leader. Advocates for the genocide legislation acknowledge there is work to do if they are to see the controversial resolution pass.

This week, Armenian National Committee of America Chairman Aram Hamparian praised Pelosi for having championed the resolution.

"John Boehner has not," Hamparian said, referring to the Ohio Republican who will be Speaker of the House when the 112th Congress convenes in January. "He doesn't have that same record."

But Hamparian was quick to say that many Republicans, including likely House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), support the resolution.

"We've always been fortunate as a community to have friends on both sides of the aisle," Hamparian said.

The legislation by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has stalled because of opposition from Turkey, whose leaders see the resolution as divisive and who say its passage would strain U.S. diplomatic relations with an important regional ally.

On Wednesday, Schiff said support for the measure has been bipartisan, though it has been much stronger on the Democratic side of the aisle.

He added that he is seeking to lock down more support.

"We will move the resolution forward just as soon as we're confident we have the votes," he said.

If that doesn't happen during the current lame-duck session, Schiff said he would reintroduce the resolution in the new Congress.

He said the United States needs to acknowledge the genocide in order to have the moral authority to act or speak out when other atrocities occur around the globe. In addition, he said survivors are still among us.

Time is also of the essence as survivors of the atrocities continue to grow older, he said.

"There is a sense of urgency about recognition of the genocide in their lifetime," Schiff said.

While the resolution is largely symbolic, Hamparian has said it has implications for the long-term future of Armenia. At a Sept. 16 ANC banquet in Glendale, Hamparian said the point of the resolution is not merely to seek the truth for the truth's sake.

"We are seeking truth for the sake of justice," he said. "We are seeking justice for the sake of security."

Hamparian said his organization also is working on U.S.-Armenia issues other than the genocide recognition resolution.

One is America's diplomacy in the region and specifically President Obama's nomination of Matthew Bryza to be the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, an uneasy neighbor of Armenia.

Hamparian said Bryza — a deputy assistant secretary of state from 2005 to 2009 who oversaw American oil interests in the Black and Caspian seas as well as policy in the contested region of Karabakh — is the wrong man for the job. Bryza has ties to Turkey and is accused by Armenian supporters of being too close to Azerbaijan.

In September, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Robert Menendez (D- N.J.) blocked Senate confirmation of Bryza's nomination. The nomination expires at the end of the year, and Hamparian said he would like to see Obama tap another candidate for the post in 2011.

"If the president nominated an ambassador that did not have all this baggage, that would offer a fresh start," Hamparian said.

Hamparian also said his organization is working with the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Treasury Department to gain new tax and trade treaties with Armenia, paving the way for increased commerce between the nations.

"Right now, U.S. and Armenia talk about aid," he said. "There is no ongoing dialogue on trade, and there needs to be. Today there is $200 million in U.S.-Armenian trade. There is no reason we can't reach $1 billion in five years."

Burbank and Glendale: a tally of two cities

Burbank is a little more liberal than Glendale, but not as liberal as nearby parts of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

Those are the rough lessons from the Nov. 2 election, according to preliminary results from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's office. The results have not yet been certified, though that is expected by the end of the month.

In the 43rd Assembly District race between Democrat Mike Gatto and Republican Sunder Ramani, Glendale went for Gatto 59% to 41%, while Burbank went for Gatto 60% to 40%. Overall, Gatto won 66% to 34%, which means he found his greatest level of support in Silver Lake and environs.

Burbank voters favored Proposition 19, the failed marijuana legalization initiative, by a slim margin, 50.4% to 49.6%. Glendale voters just said no, 57% to 43%.

In a statewide race that remains undecided, Burbank voters favored Democratic attorney general candidate Kamala Harris by just 79 votes out of nearly 25,000 cast. Glendale favored her Republican rival, L.A. County District Atty. Steve Cooley, 49% to 44%.

One anomaly was the 29th Congressional District race, where Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) easily won re-election over GOP rival John Colbert. Glendale went for Schiff 61% to 36%, Burbank 59% to 37%.


The Glendale Democratic Club holds its quarterly meeting at 7 p.m. today at the Pacific Community Center, 501 S. Pacific Ave. Non-members are welcome.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World