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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigns, effective Oct. 23

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Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz delivers a COVID-19 team briefing on July 17, 2020 at Metropolis Corridor. Berkowitz on Tuesday launched that he would resign, effective Oct. 23. (Loren Holmes / ADN archive)

Berkowitz, who is married, launched his resignation in a statement read by his chief of workers, Jason Bockenstedt:

“It is with profound disappointment and humility that I resign as Mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage. My resignation outcomes from unacceptable non-public behavior that has compromised my ability to salvage my responsibilities with the level of interest and believe that is required. I know my behavior has carried out colossal injury to my household, my workers, to Municipal workers, and to the americans of our team, and for that, I’m deeply sorry. To impress this transition as tranquil as doubtless, my resignation may well well be effective Friday, October 23 at 6 p.m.”

Because the statement change into read, a crowd within the Meeting chambers erupted into cheers till Meeting chair Felix Rivera beneficial them to end.

In conserving with town’s structure, the Meeting chair will rob over as acting mayor till a totally different election is held.

Nonetheless, the Meeting can vote to reorganize the Meeting and resolve a recent chair sooner than the mayor’s resignation goes into build in 10 days.

In the course of Tuesday’s assembly, Assemblywoman Jamie Allard made a motion to reorganize, however the motion failed 8-3.

Berkowitz, an attorney and former Democratic articulate legislator, change into elected mayor in 2015 and re-elected three years later. His timeframe change into to be up subsequent twelve months. In most up-to-date months, he came below fire from americans in opposition to a series of emergency orders aimed at limiting the unfold of the coronavirus.

The mercurial downfall of the articulate’s top elected Democrat started on Friday, correct after midday, when Maureen “Maria” Athens, an anchor/reporter for stations KTBY and KYUR, posted unsubstantiated allegations in opposition to Berkowitz on social media, accusing him of posting inappropriate photos on an “underage lady’s online net page.”

The following chain of events incorporated prison investigations, a death threat in opposition to the mayor and his wife, prison charges in opposition to Athens, revelation of the mayor’s relationship with her and a city authorities thrust into uncertainty and controversy as the team remains sharply divided on how one can tackle the pandemic at a time when town has viewed a persevered surge in contemporary COVID-19 cases.

Protesters line up had been Anchorage Meeting contributors enter the chambers for Tuesday’s assembly assembly on Oct. 13, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Metropolis supervisor Bill Falsey, who is working for mayor, beneficial the Meeting on Tuesday that top administration officers build up a “firewall” between the administration and the Anchorage Police Department, which investigated allegations that — if correct — would delight in constituted a prison act.

The Anchorage Police Department and FBI delight in said they stumbled on no proof that the allegations about Berkowitz had been correct.

On Monday, Berkowitz admitted to the inappropriate relationship. High workers contributors independently made up our minds the mayor couldn’t continue in his job, Falsey said.

“In a roundabout way our personnel reached the conclusion it’d be untenable for the mayor to continue in his characteristic,” he said. Berkowitz agreed, he said.

The mayor had now not responded to an intensive checklist of questions Tuesday, including whether or now not he sent inappropriate messages to any totally different individual, as the knowledge anchor has alleged, and whether or now not Athens is being investigated for doubtless prison charges linked to a death threat she left on his voicemail.

Athens, within the interim, spoke to the Daily Recordsdata in regards to the connection, which she says started in early 2016.

At 11 p.m. on Monday, the mayor’s office released a threatening voicemail they said Athens sent Berkowitz on Friday.

In the voicemail Athens accuses Berkowitz of pedophilia, says she’s going to “instruct” him in a TV legend “and preserve an Emmy.”

“You both damage yourself, flip yourself in or attain what you like to realize,” she said.

She then threatened to “personally” damage Berkowitz and his wife.

“You Jewish fragment of living f–king s–t,” she said on the voicemail. “It is doubtless you’ll maybe additionally delight in met your match.”

Athens change into arrested Friday afternoon on assault, disorderly behavior and prison mischief charges for a fight that day with her TV set supervisor, whom she furthermore described as her fiance in a court hearing Saturday.

Athens is to this level now not facing any charges linked to the voicemail threats or for posting what she said change into a nude photograph of the mayor’s backside on Facebook.

“Clearly it change into a death threat and an anti-Semitic death threat, and so how is he supposed to react to that but to advise she’s now not OK,” said Chris Constant, who represents downtown Anchorage on the Meeting.

In a cell phone interview Monday, sooner than town released the recording, a Daily Recordsdata reporter requested Athens whether or now not she made a death threat to the mayor. On the time, she denied making the threat.

Athens said she and Berkowitz started exchanging messages extra than four years within the past.

“When he slided into my texts, he change into so tranquil collectively with his cramped witty slogans and photos,” Athens said. They wrote to each totally different using the communications utility WhatsApp, she said.

On the time, she said, she change into feeling isolated in Alaska, some distance off from East Hover household.

Between 2017 and 2018, Athens posted photos and video on her skilled Twitter and Facebook accounts of now not lower than six on-camera interviews with Berkowitz.

“He gave me consideration when I change into lonely,” Athens said. She wouldn’t suppose whether or now not the connection ever change into bodily.

Athens didn’t present copies of the messages and said she deleted them from her cell phone, which she said is now within the possession of legislation enforcement.

Athens claimed that she knew of 1 totally different woman Berkowitz sent inappropriate messages to. The mayor’s office didn’t straight answer to a series of questions about Athens’ claims, including whether or now not Berkowitz had ever sent identical messages to any totally different individual.

Whereas the nude photograph shared by Athens helped to point out the connection, Athens has now not supplied proof to relieve her assertion that Berkowitz had performed some roughly unlawful task engaging “underage girls.” On Monday she wouldn’t suppose who or what that accusation change into in response to, totally different than sources she wouldn’t point out.

Anchorage police suppose they’ve investigated the topic, with the FBI, and stumbled on no proof of a crime. In an e-mail Monday, the FBI Anchorage office said, “The FBI Anchorage Field Place of work coordinated with the Anchorage Police Department within the early levels of their investigation into allegations made in opposition to Mayor Berkowitz, concerning inappropriate photos on an underage online net page and perilous communications he obtained. In conserving with that preliminary investigation, there change into no rapid proof to relieve a violation of federal legislation; on the opposite hand, the FBI Anchorage Field Place of work continues to video display the challenge.”

Talking loud and rapidly, Athens talked about her cherish for being a reporter and continually made references to being in sick health, announcing she had pancreatitis. As she talked, Athens read thru an earlier Daily Recordsdata legend about her arrest and disputed parts of the costs.

Athens said she and set supervisor Scott Facilities had been riding in a files car on C Avenue after they pulled into a Midtown automobile parking location. The costs in opposition to her suppose she punched Facilities on the aspect of his face and hit him with her cell phone; Athens said Facilities change into riding recklessly and that she grabbed his arm.

After a chum drove her to the knowledge set and she or he change into taken into custody by police, the costs suppose Athens “started kicking at the patrol car’s relieve residence windows and had to be placed in fat restraints.” She said that’s now not appropriate.

“I change into by no approach in fat restraints. They correct build me within the police automobiles because I change into cold. I didn’t freak out,” she said.

Athens faces charges of fourth-diploma assault, prison mischief and disorderly behavior. She paid $100 bail, she said, and on Sunday change into released from prison.

Outdoor the Loussac Library on Tuesday evening, Amielle Conant joined a number of dozen americans that protested in opposition to the extension of the mayor’s COVID-19-linked emergency authority as the Meeting met inside.

Conant said she change into bowled over by the mayor’s resignation, but felt it change into the ethical switch as a result of stage of scrutiny Berkowitz may well well be below if he hadn’t.

“From his apology letter, it didn’t sound cherish he change into going to resign,” Conant said. “It change into a colossal shock to the machine.”

Sara Boyer holds a trace alongside 36th Avenue exterior the Loussac Library whereas the Anchorage Meeting meets on October 13, 2020. The resignation of Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz change into launched at the assembly. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Standing nearby, John Cunningham said he gave commentary to the Meeting earlier on Tuesday regarding virus-linked commerce restrictions. The mayor made the ethical name by resigning, he said.

“I insist cherish that change into ethical part to realize. I don’t accept as true with most of what he did or stood for, but rather frankly it’s now not in actuality ethical to send any native authorities into an upheaval cherish this,” Cunningham said.

“Nonetheless I deem what we seen change into sending it into an upheaval already, so that can also had been the ethical part to realize to quell it.”

ADN’s Marc Lester contributed.

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