September 13, 2019 - 16:05 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A Glendale city councilman has accused some members of a local homeowner’s association of asking him to leave an event for racially and politically motivated reasons.
Councilman Vartan Gharpetian left a Royal Canyon Homeowner’s Assn. event this past Sunday evening feeling “extremely offended and discriminated against” after he was asked to leave by association president Beth Volpe because it was a members-only event, he said during a City Council meeting.
Mayor Ara Najarian arrived while Gharpetian was on his way out and was also told he could not stay, Najarian said during a phone interview on Wednesday.
Volpe said she was on her way to thank Najarian for a commendation the association received during the event on Sunday, but he left before she reached him.
An invitation to the event featured reservation check boxes for both members and nonmembers. Fellow council member Paula Devine, who is a member of the association, was at the event, presenting the commendation from the City Council, but she left before either Gharpetian or Najarian arrived.
Gharpetian said he and Najarian were asked to leave, in part, because they are of Armenian descent.
“No one deserves to be treated the way I was treated at that event,” Gharpetian said during the council meeting.
Volpe, however, attributed the “uncomfortable situation” on Sunday to a misunderstanding when she spoke during the same council meeting on Tuesday.
The Summer Social event is the association’s sole members-only event, requires an affirmative reservation and is meant to be nonpolitical in nature, she said. Acknowledging the nonmember reservation check box on the invitation, she said, “We mean that for our neighborhood, we’re trying to get new members.”
Both Devine and Gharpetian are up for reelection in March and have each stated their intentions to run.
Gharpetian said that before Volpe got involved, a man “sharing her last name,” approached him in a hostile manner, accused of him of talking politics and said he was “not one of us.” The man, Joseph Volpe, is Beth Volpe’s husband and is not one of the association’s board members, she confirmed later.
Nothing was said specifically about Gharpetian’s ethnicity, but “he didn’t have to,” Gharpetian said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “His tone of voice, the hate in his face and his eyes — it was clear,” he said.
Gharpetian also said he came to the “conclusion that it was all preplanned and politically motivated,” after replaying the incident in his head over and over again after the event.
Because the mayor was not asked to present the commendation, as is customary, it “makes me believe it was also racially motivated,” Gharpetian said. He said he was not levying the accusation at all of the association’s members but rather a select few in leadership positions.
Devine, who did not speak about the incident during the council meeting, said in an email on Wednesday that she had asked Najarian if she could present the commendation because he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to attend.
While Najarian said it was highly unusual to be turned away from a neighborhood event and felt personally affronted, he did not accuse the association of having a racial or political agenda.