SAN DIEGO–More than 100 Greek and Armenian community representatives packed the Westin Hotel in San Diego–California on Monday–to voice their displeasure to the California Public Employees Retirement System Board over their retention of consultant Marvin Zonis and remarks made by CalPERS Board Vice Preseident Charles Valdes.
Earlier this year–Zonis– a professor at the University of Chicago Business School–prepared a report for the CalPERS Investment Board–which manages a $155 billion state employee pension fund–in which he outlined the economic potential of investing in the Republic of Turkey and described the Ottoman Turkish Government’s actions against the Armenia’s and Greeks during World War One as "the very large Greek minority fled to Greece. The Armenian minority was dealt with in a different way."
After months of protest by the Armenian National Committee–and members of the Greek community and following the testimony of a several prominent Greek and Armenia’s during the hearing–including attorneys Walter Karabian and Berdj Boyadjian–the CalPERS Board voted to rescind approval to hire Zonis.
Board members also acknowledged the inappropriateness of remarks made by Board Vice-President Charles Valdes who–during an October meeting of the Board dismissed fellow Board Member–California State Treasurer Phil Angelides’ reservations about Zonis by stating "What we have hear is a Greek Treasurer who doesn’t like Turkey–who doesn’t like Turks."
Valdes’ remarks prompted dozens of phone calls and letters of concern from the ANC and a number of elected officials including Governor Gray Davis–State Assemblymembers Lou Papan–Scott Wildman and Howard Kaloogian and State Senators Charles Poochigian–Jackie Speier and Adam Schiff.
In response–Valdes wrote an apology to Angelides in which he attempted to explain his actions and stated "My commen’s were intemperate. I can only tell you that my apology is sincere and heartfelt."
"The Armenian American community is pleased that Members of the CalPERS Board have finally acknowledged the dangers of relying on consultants who present information that fails to accurately reflect history," stated ANCA-WR Executive Director Vicken Sonentz-Papazian.
"Treasurer Angelides relentless efforts to expose the historical truth both demonstrates his commitment to his Armenian American constituents and the need for both Armenian and Greek Americans to take a more active role in the American political process so that their colleagues become sensitized to issues that impact both communities," concluded Sonentz-Papazian.