hosted a town hall meeting on behalf of the various local organizations.
Arick Gevorkian, the chairman of the center, introduced the event as a “one-on-one opportunity” with Congressman Adam Schiff, who represents the 29th Congressional District.
Schiff has served in Congress since 2001. His district is wide-ranging, including Burbank to the west, Pasadena and Temple City to the east, Verdugo and the San Gabriel Mountains to the north, and Monterey Park to the south.
“It’s an interesting district and eclectic district to represent. It’s diverse ethnically, diverse economically, an exciting district to represent,” Schiff said in his opening remarks.
Schiff began by discussing a number of points, including the redistricting of the 29th district, the payroll tax cut, his goal to help small businesses thrive, working to keep the federal budget in control, as well as international security and human rights issues. Following his introduction, the floor was open for attendees to ask their own questions.
One of the issues brought up to Schiff by the participants in the town hall meeting was the need for resources to expand the Armenian Community & Youth Center. Schiff recommended identifying grants that could help expand the center expand in size and programs. Simultaneously, he commented on the possibility of looking into state or county grants as well as private contributions.
“I understand it is difficult for non-profits. When the economy is hurting, the need for your services is greater than ever. Private contributions are down, it’s a double whammy and unfortunate,” Schiff said. “We’ll do whatever we can to help with our resources.”
Other community issues raised by attendees included the joblessness in the area as well as emergency first response plans for natural disasters .
“We should look at the windstorm as an unplanned disaster drill. This windstorm took us by surprise and we can learn from it,” stated Schiff.
Apart from local issues, an area of concern was international politics. Locals specifically addressed President Barack Obama's recognition of April 24 as the date of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey, rather than a "tragedy." The tense relationship between Georgia and Armenia was also discussed.
“I’ve discussed with [Obama] and urged with his administration to follow through with their commitment. It’s deeply devastating and disappointing,” commented Schiff. “But he’s not a president who likes to fail to keep his word. It bothers him and there will be an opportunity to persuade him. I also believe that Turkey is doing everything they can do to help us.”
After the open forum, attendees were able to meet with Schiff one-on-one.
Constituent Tsogik Melkhouyan talked to him about issues such as the status of collecting Social Security benefits and taxes.
After his event in Montrose, Schiff held another town hall meeting with the Armenian-American community in Hollywood.