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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigns, effective Oct. 23

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Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz delivers a COVID-19 neighborhood briefing on July 17, 2020 at City Hall. Berkowitz on Tuesday announced that he would resign, efficient Oct. 23. (Loren Holmes / ADN archive)

Berkowitz, who’s married, announced his resignation in a assertion be taught by his chief of group, Jason Bockenstedt:

“It is with profound sadness and humility that I resign as Mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage. My resignation outcomes from unacceptable within most behavior that has compromised my capability to manufacture my tasks with the point of interest and belief that’s required. I do know my behavior has performed astronomical anguish to my family, my group, to Municipal workers, and to the of us of our neighborhood, and for that, I’m deeply sorry. To impress this transition as gentle as imaginable, my resignation will be efficient Friday, October 23 at 6 p.m.”

Because the assertion used to be be taught, a crowd in the Assembly chambers erupted into cheers till Assembly chair Felix Rivera suggested them to pause.

In step with the metropolis’s constitution, the Assembly chair will decide over as acting mayor till a various election is held.

Nevertheless, the Assembly can vote to reorganize the Assembly and decide a fresh chair earlier than the mayor’s resignation goes into discontinue in 10 days.

Right through Tuesday’s meeting, Assemblywoman Jamie Allard made a motion to reorganize, nonetheless the motion failed 8-3.

Berkowitz, an felony reliable and extinct Democratic shriek legislator, used to be elected mayor in 2015 and re-elected three years later. His length of time used to be to be up subsequent 365 days. In recent months, he came beneath fireplace from of us against a chain of emergency orders aimed at limiting the unfold of the coronavirus.

The rapidly downfall of the shriek’s top elected Democrat started on Friday, honest after noon, when Maureen “Maria” Athens, an anchor/reporter for stations KTBY and KYUR, posted unsubstantiated allegations against Berkowitz on social media, accusing him of posting substandard photos on an “underage girl’s web establish.”

The next chain of events integrated criminal investigations, a loss of life chance against the mayor and his wife, criminal costs against Athens, revelation of the mayor’s relationship along with her and a metropolis executive thrust into uncertainty and controversy because the neighborhood stays sharply divided on be taught how to address the pandemic at a time when the metropolis has viewed a persisted surge in fresh COVID-19 conditions.

City manager Bill Falsey, who’s running for mayor, suggested the Assembly on Tuesday that top administration officials build up a “firewall” between the administration and the Anchorage Police Department, which investigated allegations that — if correct — would comprise constituted a criminal act.

The Anchorage Police Department and FBI comprise acknowledged they chanced on no evidence that the allegations about Berkowitz had been correct.

On Monday, Berkowitz admitted to the substandard relationship. Prime group members independently determined the mayor couldn’t proceed in his job, Falsey acknowledged.

“Within the kill our group reached the conclusion it would be untenable for the mayor to proceed in his role,” he acknowledged. Berkowitz agreed, he acknowledged.

The mayor had now now not answered to an intensive checklist of questions Tuesday, along side whether he despatched substandard messages to any other particular person, because the guidelines anchor has alleged, and whether Athens is being investigated for doable criminal costs linked to a loss of life chance she left on his voicemail.

Athens, for the time being, spoke to the Day to day News referring to the relationship, which she says started in early 2016.

At 11 p.m. on Monday, the mayor’s shriek of job released a threatening voicemail they acknowledged Athens despatched Berkowitz on Friday.

Within the voicemail Athens accuses Berkowitz of pedophilia, says she’s going to “show” him in a TV memoir “and decide an Emmy.”

“You either abolish yourself, turn yourself in or discontinue what you comprise to total,” she acknowledged.

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

“You Jewish fragment of living f–king s–t,” she acknowledged on the voicemail. “You would possibly perhaps well perhaps also comprise met your match.”

Athens used to be arrested Friday afternoon on assault, disorderly behavior and criminal mischief costs for a fight that day along with her TV establish manager, whom she additionally described as her fiance in a court listening to Saturday.

Athens is to this point now now not going through any costs linked to the voicemail threats or for posting what she acknowledged used to be a nude photograph of the mayor’s backside on Facebook.

“Clearly it used to be a loss of life chance and an anti-Semitic loss of life chance, and so how is he supposed to react to that nonetheless to claim she’s now now not OK,” acknowledged Chris Constant, who represents downtown Anchorage on the Assembly.

In a cell phone interview Monday, earlier than the metropolis released the recording, a Day to day News reporter requested Athens whether she made a loss of life chance to the mayor. On the time, she denied making the chance.

Athens acknowledged she and Berkowitz started exchanging messages bigger than four years in the past.

“When he slided into my texts, he used to be so gentle along with his diminutive witty slogans and photography,” Athens acknowledged. They wrote to every other utilizing the communications application WhatsApp, she acknowledged.

On the time, she acknowledged, she used to be feeling isolated in Alaska, far from East Soar family.

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

“He gave me consideration after I used to be lonely,” Athens acknowledged. She wouldn’t disclose whether the relationship ever turned physical.

Athens didn’t provide copies of the messages and acknowledged she deleted them from her cell phone, which she acknowledged is now in the possession of law enforcement.

Athens claimed that she knew of one other girl Berkowitz despatched substandard messages to. The mayor’s shriek of job didn’t directly answer to a chain of questions about Athens’ claims, along side whether Berkowitz had ever despatched identical messages to any other particular person.

While the nude photograph shared by Athens helped to demonstrate the relationship, Athens has now now not supplied evidence to improve her assertion that Berkowitz had conducted some selection of illegal job exciting “underage girls.” On Monday she wouldn’t disclose who or what that accusation used to be according to, instead of sources she wouldn’t demonstrate.

Anchorage police disclose they’ve investigated the topic, with the FBI, and chanced on no evidence of a criminal offense. In an e mail Monday, the FBI Anchorage shriek of job acknowledged, “The FBI Anchorage Enviornment Office coordinated with the Anchorage Police Department in the early stages of their investigation into allegations made against Mayor Berkowitz, pertaining to substandard photos on an underage web establish and threatening communications he received. According to that initial investigation, there used to be no prompt evidence to improve a violation of federal law; on the opposite hand, the FBI Anchorage Enviornment Office continues to video show the problem.”

Talking loud and hasty, Athens talked about her admire for being a reporter and repeatedly made references to being in sick health, announcing she had pancreatitis. As she talked, Athens be taught through an earlier Day to day News memoir about her arrest and disputed system of the costs.

Athens acknowledged she and establish manager Scott Centers had been utilizing in a info automotive on C Road when they pulled staunch into a Midtown automotive parking zone. The costs against her disclose she punched Centers on the facet of his face and hit him along with her cell phone; Athens acknowledged Centers used to be utilizing recklessly and that she grabbed his arm.

After a chum drove her to the guidelines establish and he or she used to be taken into custody by police, the costs disclose Athens “started kicking on the patrol automotive’s aid windows and needed to be placed in rotund restraints.” She acknowledged that’s now now not staunch.

“I used to be by no come in rotund restraints. They simply build me in the police vehicles due to I used to be chilly. I didn’t freak out,” she acknowledged.

Athens faces costs of fourth-level assault, criminal mischief and disorderly behavior. She paid $100 bail, she acknowledged, and on Sunday used to be released from penal advanced.

Outside the Loussac Library on Tuesday evening, Amielle Conant joined about a dozen of us that protested against the extension of the mayor’s COVID-19-linked emergency authority because the Assembly met within.

Conant acknowledged she used to be greatly surprised by the mayor’s resignation, nonetheless felt it used to be the upright switch thanks to the extent of scrutiny Berkowitz would be beneath if he hadn’t.

“From his apology letter, it didn’t sound treasure he used to be going to resign,” Conant acknowledged. “It used to be a huge shock to the machine.”

Sara Boyer holds a set apart along 36th Avenue exterior the Loussac Library whereas the Anchorage Assembly meets on October 13, 2020. The resignation of Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz used to be announced on the meeting. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Standing close by, John Cunningham acknowledged he gave comment to the Assembly earlier on Tuesday referring to virus-linked enterprise restrictions. The mayor made the upright name by resigning, he acknowledged.

“I obtain treasure that used to be upright thing to total. I don’t agree with most of what he did or stood for, nonetheless rather frankly it’s now now not truly upright to ship any local executive into an upheaval treasure this,” Cunningham acknowledged.

“Nonetheless I have faith what we saw used to be sending it into an upheaval already, so that can need been the upright thing to total to quell it.”

ADN’s Marc Lester contributed.

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