City Flag Lowered in Face of Controversy

JAMIE LITTLEFIELD
El Vaquero Staff Writer

After months of letters, controversy, and political proclamations, the American flag was lowered to half-staff over Glendale City Hall last month in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

The flag controversy is nothing new to Glendale. This bitter debate has raged for months, manifesting itself in newspapers and city meetings.

Some claimed that lowering the flag would be inappropriate. “If we’re going to lower our flag to honor what happened 86 years ago in Turkey, how come Armenia doesn’t lower their flag to half-staff for Memorial day, in memory of World War I and II?” asked GCC student Paul Carney, who said he believed that the American flag should only be lowered for events that directly involve the United States or its’ citizens.

Others felt that lowering the flag would be a symbol of respect for those who suffered because of the Genocide. “How’s it going to hurt anyone?” asked student Tatevik Shakhbandaryan. “The United States is not just about Americans, we have all these other nationalities here.”

Although Armenian Student Association president Ronny Hovanessian was initially against lowering the flag, he changed his mind after speaking with others involved and listening to speeches at City Hall. “The city should show understanding because we’ve been struggling to make the Genocide known,” he said.

On April 17, the city council, under the direction of Mayor Gus Gomez, issued a proclamation requiring the American flag to be lowered in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

Many in the city and community supported the decision made by the newly elected council. “Glendale has the largest population of Armenians outside of Armenia,” said student Jean Schindler. “I think it showed respect for the

Armenian community that chooses to make Glendale a refuge of safety and a place to flourish.”

Others, however, felt that the council made a poor choice. “It was an inappropriate decision,” said Schindler’s sister Kartina. “I think there are other ways to show your solidarity with their cause.”

Former city council candidate Joe Mandoky even took actions to recall the mayor. He set up a recall campaign to collect signatures against Gomez. The petition was served to Gomez at a city council meeting April 24.

During a meeting on May 8, resident Henry Astengo strongly expressed his anger for the decision, and asked the mayor to resign immediately. “Mr. Mayor, as head of the council, I hold you to a higher standard than the other council members,” he said. “You have brought great shame and dishonor to our city.”

While some members of the community were speaking out against Gomez, others were backing his decision. Several have stood up to support the mayor in meetings, and many on campus have expressed their confidence in his choice. “I will support him in any way right now,” said Hovanessian.

Council members Bob Yosefian and Raki Manoukian also said that they would stand behind the decision, and insisted that their names be included in the recall with Gomez.

The fate of the council members remains largely undecided as the recall campaign continues and the emotions and controversy die down. It is still unknown whether the flag will fly at half-staff over City Hall a year from now.

Instruction technology, such as faster Internet access is also being looked at.

There is also a possibility of a one-stop student services building where a student could visit Admissions, Financial Aid, and Counseling without traipsing all over campus. The current proposal places this building adjacent to the AA annex within one of the faculty parking lots. If extended upward, the building could contain more classrooms, as well as a bridge to “Cardiac Hill” with elevators for easier access to the rest of the campus.

There are also long waiting lists at the Adult Community Training Center (ACTC). Plans exist for the doubling of the existing facilities that currently serve a burgeoning student population.

Current election laws would allow for a bond of up to about $100 million to be put on the ballot. “We would never need an amount that high,” claimed Serot. The highest estimates put all the construction projects on the “wish list” at about $80 million. Polls and examinations of voter opinion to be completed in the near future would probably set a much smaller figure.

The earliest that a bond measure could go on the ballot would be March of 2002.