Anchorage has become a lawless city under the leadership of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and the mostly hard left-leaning members of the Assembly. Just ask Eric Connick, general manager of Lithia Kia of Anchorage.
Early Thursday morning vagrants torched five vehicles sitting on his lot near the old Alaska Club on Tudor. The very same Alaska Club Berkowitz wants taxpayers to buy to enable and grow the already increasing number of law-breaking drug and alcohol addicts living on the streets of Anchorage.
“At 3:30 in the morning two guys on a bicycle approached my dealership and it looked like they stole the whole back seat out of a vehicle or tried to steal the car or they tried to light the car on fire,” said Connick. “I can’t tell you what happened. But we lost five cars last night. It was a big fire and explosion, the whole nine yards.”
Connick says this is the first time in his five years managing the dealership vagrants burned vehicles. But it’s not the first time he’s had to deal with the homeless. Connick says that happens almost nightly.
“When I pulled up to my store today with the officers and the Anchorage Fire department there after we put the fire out, I had to go let them pull into my facility. As I pulled into my facility, I had someone sleeping in a car who took off on his bike,” said Connick.
Connick was one of the many who testified before the assembly in opposition to Berkowitz’s plan to buy four properties to grow and enable the lives of law-breaking vagrants. Connick’s testimony was memorable, convincing, and compelling. But he does not believe Thursday morning’s attack on his dealership was retaliatory in nature.
“It crossed my mind but I don’t think so no,” Connick said.
Connick says the out of control and ever-increasing lawlessness in Anchorage boils down to failed leadership.
“We have the wrong people running the town,” said Connick.
Jamie Allard agrees. She’s one of the few Assembly members not attempting to transform Anchorage into Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, or Los Angeles where lawless vagrants are coddled and enabled.
“We’re completely enabling the homeless. They’re taking their city. It’s their city. They’re taking it over. And it’s not homeless. It’s vagrants and criminals. It’s bad. It’s addicts. They’re taking over our city,” said Allard.
How did we go from fewer than 200 homeless camps before Berkowitz to now more than 1,000? Connick says voters need to step up and take their city back.
“Only 30% of Anchorage voted in the last mayoral election. Our mayor only got a little more than 20% of the population to vote for him or just north of that. That is the problem. Nobody is getting out and voting for change and that’s my message to the community,” said Connick.
Nick Begich Jr, son of former Rep. Nick Begich who died in a plane crash and brother of Mark and Tom, also testified against the Berkowitz plan to buy four properties under the guise of helping the homeless. Begich says there’s been a shift under Berkowitz of placing the homeless above the law. He says that’s why we’ve seen an explosion of growth in their numbers.
“When you have the opportunity to make an arrest you make one. Whether it’s for indecent exposure public defecation or masturbation,” said Begich.
Begich says arresting vagrants when they break the law gives authorities an opportunity to then evaluate them while in custody and then get them help if they want it.
“Arrest people for the crimes they commit. Hold them accountable and use it for an intervention as an opportunity to find out what happened and then do a multi-step program. After you make an arrest, you make an assessment and then you divert them to the appropriate plan for that person,” says Begich.
As to why current city leadership refuses to arrest the lawbreaking vagrants, Begich says too many of them have “adopted a cutout of a national liberal justice agenda.”
Begich also criticized Berkowitz using COVID-19 as an excuse to rush to buy these facilities. Begich says not a single homeless person has yet to test positive for the coronavirus.
“The CARES Act money is not meant to solve a long-standing problem that’s fermented over the last five years under Berkowitz and this Assembly. That money is meant for families in fear worrying about whether they’ll be able to pay rent and help small business owners,” said Begich.
The $22.5 million in CARES Act money would go a long way in helping those devastated economically by the government shutdowns. Begich believes, in the end, the Berkowitz plan will cost taxpayers more than $90 million with staffing and maintenance expenses of the four properties.
And then there’s the fact the idea of buying hotel rooms for the drug and alcohol addicted solves nothing. They’ve spent millions of dollars in San Francisco doing so resulting mostly in the trashing of hotel rooms.
And then there’s this email I received from a listener.
“I work as maintenance for a hotel out here in the valley and we have a local Pastor that is always trying (thinking) he is helping out the druggies and alcoholics by giving them a meal ticket and renting them a room…I won’t say Every time but more often than not we end up calling the Police in the middle of the night for disturbances and they usually get hauled off to jail anyhow, then the next day me and the housekeeper have to put the room back together which often includes patching drywall and broken furniture and ruined linens, this has gotten to the point we don’t allow this Pastor to rent rooms from us. If Anchorage decides to get into the homeless hotel business, they are nuts.”
Dan Fagan hosts a radio show weekday mornings on NewsRadio 650 KENI.