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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigns, effective Oct. 23

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Anchorage

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

Berkowitz, who is married, presented his resignation in a press commence be taught by his chief of crew, Jason Bockenstedt:

“It is some distance with profound unhappiness and humility that I resign as Mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage. My resignation results from unacceptable private habits that has compromised my ability to procure my responsibilities with the focus and belief that is required. I do know my habits has achieved gigantic hurt to my household, my crew, to Municipal workers, and to the people of our community, and for that, I’m deeply sorry. To procure this transition as gentle as conceivable, my resignation shall 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 unless Assembly chair Felix Rivera instructed them to discontinue.

In step with the city’s constitution, the Assembly chair will opt over as appearing mayor unless a special election is held.

Then again, the Assembly can vote to reorganize the Assembly and seize a brand modern chair before the mayor’s resignation goes into build in 10 days.

For the interval of Tuesday’s meeting, Assemblywoman Jamie Allard made a dart to reorganize, but the dart failed 8-3.

Berkowitz, an attorney and ragged Democratic recount legislator, used to be elected mayor in 2015 and re-elected three years later. His interval of time used to be to be up next yr. In fresh months, he came under fire from other folks in opposition to a bunch of emergency orders aimed at limiting the unfold of the coronavirus.

The fleet downfall of the recount’s high elected Democrat started on Friday, precise after noon, 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 base shots on an “underage woman’s website online.”

The next chain of occasions incorporated legal investigations, a loss of life threat in opposition to the mayor and his wife, legal charges in opposition to Athens, revelation of the mayor’s relationship with her and a city authorities thrust into uncertainty and controversy as the community stays sharply divided on deal with the pandemic at a time when the city has viewed a persisted surge in modern COVID-19 cases.

Protesters line up were Anchorage Assembly members enter the chambers for Tuesday’s assembly meeting on Oct. 13, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Metropolis manager Bill Falsey, who is running for mayor, instructed the Assembly on Tuesday that high administration officers build up a “firewall” between the administration and the Anchorage Police Division, which investigated allegations that — if licensed — would have constituted a legal act.

The Anchorage Police Division and FBI have mentioned they chanced on no proof that the allegations about Berkowitz were licensed.

On Monday, Berkowitz admitted to the bottom relationship. Top crew members independently decided the mayor couldn’t continue in his job, Falsey mentioned.

“One way or the opposite our crew reached the conclusion it may per chance per chance per chance even be untenable for the mayor to continue in his objective,” he mentioned. Berkowitz agreed, he mentioned.

The mayor had no longer spoke back to an intensive listing of questions Tuesday, including whether he sent base messages to any other particular person, as the records anchor has alleged, and whether Athens is being investigated for capability legal charges linked to a loss of life threat she left on his voicemail.

Athens, on the moment, spoke to the Day to day News concerning the connection, which she says started in early 2016.

At 11 p.m. on Monday, the mayor’s region of business released a threatening voicemail they mentioned Athens sent Berkowitz on Friday.

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

“You either damage your self, turn your self in or enact what or no longer it shall be predominant to enact,” she mentioned.

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

“You Jewish portion of living f–king s–t,” she mentioned on the voicemail. “You are going to have met your match.”

Athens used to be arrested Friday afternoon on assault, disorderly habits and legal mischief charges for a fight that day with her TV location manager, whom she also described as her fiance in a court listening to Saturday.

Athens is up to now no longer going by any charges linked to the voicemail threats or for posting what she mentioned used to be a nude photo of the mayor’s bottom on Fb.

“Clearly it used to be a loss of life threat and an anti-Semitic loss of life threat, and so how is he presupposed to react to that but to remark she’s no longer OK,” mentioned Chris Constant, who represents downtown Anchorage on the Assembly.

In a phone interview Monday, before the city released the recording, a Day to day News reporter asked Athens whether she made a loss of life threat to the mayor. On the time, she denied making the threat.

Athens mentioned she and Berkowitz started exchanging messages bigger than four years ago.

“When he slided into my texts, he used to be so gentle alongside with his little witty slogans and shots,” Athens mentioned. They wrote to one one more the utilization of the communications application WhatsApp, she mentioned.

On the time, she mentioned, she used to be feeling isolated in Alaska, away from East Hover household.

Between 2017 and 2018, Athens posted shots and video on her legitimate Twitter and Fb accounts of no longer decrease than six on-digicam interviews with Berkowitz.

“He gave me consideration when I was lonely,” Athens mentioned. She wouldn’t exclaim whether the connection ever turned bodily.

Athens did no longer provide copies of the messages and mentioned she deleted them from her phone, which she mentioned is now in the possession of law enforcement.

Athens claimed that she knew of one other woman Berkowitz sent base messages to. The mayor’s region of business did no longer as we affirm reply to a bunch of questions about Athens’ claims, including whether Berkowitz had ever sent identical messages to any other particular person.

Whereas the nude photo shared by Athens helped to showcase the connection, Athens has no longer offered proof to boost her assertion that Berkowitz had conducted some create of unlawful project intriguing “underage ladies.” On Monday she wouldn’t exclaim who or what that accusation used to be in line with, other than sources she wouldn’t showcase.

Anchorage police exclaim they’ve investigated the topic, with the FBI, and chanced on no proof of against the law. In an electronic mail Monday, the FBI Anchorage region of business mentioned, “The FBI Anchorage Field Trouble of labor coordinated with the Anchorage Police Division in the early stages of their investigation into allegations made in opposition to Mayor Berkowitz, pertaining to base shots on an underage website online and threatening communications he got. In step with that initial investigation, there used to be no instant proof to boost a violation of federal law; on the opposite hand, the FBI Anchorage Field Trouble of labor continues to show screen the topic.”

Speaking loud and instant, Athens talked about her take care of for being a reporter and many times made references to being in ailing health, announcing she had pancreatitis. As she talked, Athens be taught by an earlier Day to day News myth about her arrest and disputed parts of the fees.

Athens mentioned she and placement manager Scott Centers were driving in a details vehicle on C Avenue after they pulled into a Midtown parking zone. The charges in opposition to her exclaim she punched Centers on the facet of his face and hit him with her phone; Athens mentioned Centers used to be driving recklessly and that she grabbed his arm.

After a friend drove her to the records location and she used to be taken into custody by police, the fees exclaim Athens “started kicking on the patrol vehicle’s back windows and wanted to be positioned in fleshy restraints.” She mentioned that isn’t any longer precise.

“I was never in fleshy restraints. They precise build me in the police cars because I was frigid. I didn’t freak out,” she mentioned.

Athens faces charges of fourth-level assault, legal mischief and disorderly habits. She paid $100 bail, she mentioned, and on Sunday used to be released from jail.

Outdoors the Loussac Library on Tuesday night time, Amielle Conant joined a number of dozen other folks who protested in opposition to the extension of the mayor’s COVID-19-linked emergency authority as the Assembly met within.

Conant mentioned she used to be taken aback by the mayor’s resignation, but felt it used to be the precise pass thanks to the stage of scrutiny Berkowitz would be under if he hadn’t.

“From his apology letter, it didn’t sound cherish he used to be going to resign,” Conant mentioned. “It used to be an infinite shock to the system.”

Sara Boyer holds a impress alongside 36th Avenue open air the Loussac Library whereas the Anchorage Assembly meets on October 13, 2020. The resignation of Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz used to be presented on the meeting. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Standing end by, John Cunningham mentioned he gave statement to the Assembly earlier on Tuesday concerning virus-linked industry restrictions. The mayor made the precise name by resigning, he mentioned.

“I genuinely feel cherish that used to be precise thing to enact. I don’t bear in mind most of what he did or stood for, but somewhat frankly it’s no longer genuinely lawful to send any local authorities into an upheaval cherish this,” Cunningham mentioned.

“But I deem what we saw used to be sending it into an upheaval already, so that can were the precise thing to enact to quell it.”

ADN’s Marc Lester contributed.

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