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Glendale City Council members ready to move on

One says Sinanyan admission is step in healing a wound for the city.

April 24, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Council candidate Zarah Sinanyan listens to a question during a debate, which took place at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale on Saturday, February 2, 2013.
Council candidate Zarah Sinanyan listens to a question… (Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

The City Council members who faced criticism after they called on council candidate Zareh Sinanyan to account, in public, over accusations that he posted homophobic, anti-Muslim and other harsh comments online say they're ready to move on after he admitted to being the author of those comments last week.

At the time, Sinanyan, who went on to win election, refused to say whether he had posted the comments to YouTube and other forums several years ago, and his supporters backed him by alleging that the comments had been trumped up to sink his campaign.

But last week Sinanyan admitted to Glendale News-Press columnist Ron Kaye that he had in fact written the comments, and was prompted to accept responsibility for them after several speakers at his first council meeting — including a 14-year-old Muslim high school student — publicly called on him to come clean.

Councilman Ara Najarian, who along with Councilwoman Laura Friedman had taken heat for asking Sinanyan to address the accusations before the election, said the admission was an important step in healing what became "a wound for the city of Glendale."

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"His supporters clearly indicated these were Laura's fabrications and that we made this up," Najarian said. "I guess the point is that this thing spun out of control for anyone associated with it. He should have admitted it before the election."

As a candidate and city commissioner, Sinanyan refused to directly address whether he had written the vulgar comments, saying only that they did not reflect who he was as a person. The question lingered over his campaign and eventual election through last week, when at his first meeting on the dais, several speakers again brought the comments up.

One of them was Zehra Siddiqui, the 14-year-old Muslim high school student who asked Sinanyan to take responsibility for his actions. Now that he has, Zehra said in an interview that she wanted to make sure he knows that "I do 100% forgive him."

"We wanted an apology and that's what we got and I think it's time to move forward and maybe this can bring everyone together," Zehra said.

Sarah Aujero, who created the popular Twitter account that spawned the Meatball the bear phenomenon last year, brought Zehra and other Muslim students to the City Council meeting.

"It must have been really difficult for Zareh to admit making the comments, but we respect his apology and would like our communities to get together to heal from the situation," Aujero said in an email.

Friedman echoed those sentiments.

"I'm glad that he's apologized and that he's admitting there was no conspiracy against him and that he's taken responsibility for his own words," Friedman said. "It's important that we all, as a community, stand up and say we'll condemn hatred and racism even when it comes from our own community."

The Armenian National Committee of America Glendale chapter, which endorsed Sinanyan, released a statement after the admission went public "unequivocally and categorically" denouncing the online comments, adding that "such sentiments are diametrically opposed to all that the ANCA stands for and believes."

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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