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Ron Kaye: The Gatto plot thickens

February 02, 2013|By Ron Kaye

The clumsy statements by Assemblyman Mike Gatto's political team denying that he ran a slate of delegates for the 43rd Assembly District's seats at the state Democratic Party convention — and that challengers were threatened and intimidated — also contained a direct attack on a single individual.

“I also heard too that one gentleman in particular was being watched because he has a reputation of busing in elderly Republicans from the day-care facility that he owns,” Gatto campaign political director Stacey Brenner wrote in an email response to questions about racial profiling of Armenians at the Jan. 12 election.

She continued: “These folks often have no idea where they are. I hesitate to call this elder abuse, but you are free to draw your own conclusions. The same guy has a history of being investigated by the state for other improprieties.”

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Serious specific allegations, so it didn't take long to find someone who fit the bill.

“She must be referring to me. I don't know who else she could be referring to,” said Berdj Karapetian, a soft-spoken businessman who denied ever having “been investigated for anything … or being found guilty of anything.”

Karapetian heads the state Adult Day Health Care Assn. that has protested steep cuts in state funding that provides services to so many frail elderly people. He's highly regarded in the community for his activism on behalf of Armenians and underserved minorities.

He brought two people from his center to vote at the delegate event, and both were challenged. A man suffering from Parkinson's disease was credentialed, but the other was rejected — though Karapetian says his Democratic Party voter registration later turned up in official records.

I went searching for Karapetian because I thought the enmity toward him, and the Armenian community's toward Gatto, was symptomatic of just how deep the rift had become — something that clearly was unhealthy for the party, the Armenian community, Gatto and the Glendale-Burbank region.

Karapetian traces the breakdown in relations to his role as chairman of an Armenian National Committee task force that organized support for Democrat Nayiri Nahabedian in the April 2010 primary special election to succeed Paul Krekorian, who had resigned when elected to the L.A. City Council.

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