Mayor Berkowitz labels Save Anchorage an 'astroturf' group, not real grassroots - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, October 25, 2020
HomeThe 907Mayor Berkowitz labels Save Anchorage an ‘astroturf’ group, not real grassroots

Mayor Berkowitz labels Save Anchorage an ‘astroturf’ group, not real grassroots

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Alaska Public Media has sideswiped “Save Anchorage” by allowing the mayor of Anchorage to label the growing community action group “astroturf.”

“Mayor Berkowitz went a step further than Dunbar, arguing that Save Anchorage isn’t purely grassroots, but the product of conservative political orchestration and calculated misinformation campaigns,” the public station wrote.

“There are people who genuinely disagree with what I’m doing. But a lot of the anger that’s been whipped up here has been done through some very orchestrated means and it is not genuine, grassroots but more astroturf in its nature.” – Ethan Berkowitz, mayor of Anchorage

According to Wikipedia, “astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants. It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term astroturfing is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word “grassroots”. The implication behind the use of the term is that instead of a “true” or “natural” grassroots effort behind the activity in question, there is a “fake” or “artificial” appearance of support.”

Save Anchorage began with a small group of Facebook users and has grown to nearly 9,000 members. The group grew quickly and organically and is now run by a loose knit group of a half dozen people. It is nonpartisan and many of the players have never been involved in politics at any level, according to some of its members. They are just community-minded people who have had enough of the poorly run city of Anchorage.

Save Anchorage has held a few rallies in front of the Loussac Library, where the Anchorage Assembly meets. In the history of Anchorage, no one remembers seeing anything like the activism now occurring in Anchorage in opposition to its Assembly and mayor.

The group formed in reaction to a massive plan to place homeless and drug services adjacent to neighborhoods around Anchorage. That plan has passed the Assembly, but Save Anchorage and others are trying to get it on the April ballot to repeal the action.

The story in Alaska Public Media allowed Assembly members Forrest Dunbar and Mayor Berkowitz to label the group as conservative, when in fact many involved are just fed up with the policies of the Assembly and mayor. Separately, there are small groups working to recall various members of the Assembly. A homeowners group called Alaskans for Real Cures for Homelessness has now incorporated as a nonprofit.

Yet another group known as Open Alaska has several members who overlap with the Save Anchorage Facebook group.

Bernadette Wilson, who has been outspoken on the mayor’s COVID mandates, said the story mischaracterized her involvement by saying she had spoken at several Save Anchorage events. In fact, she has never spoken at any of them.

Assembly member Dunbar also blamed Must Read Alaska for fomenting anger at the Assembly, and reiterated that the purchase of the Golden Lion Hotel is not for a homeless shelter, while blaming this publication for riling people up.

The Alaska Public Media reporter accurately reported this author saying that Dunbar was “splitting hairs” but did not quote the rest of that comment. The full comment was that the municipality can call it a “residential treatment center,” for addicts and alcoholics, but the impact on the local neighborhood is the same as a traditional homeless shelter, and will attract the same kinds of problems to the neighborhood.

Further, a building can be repurposed through time and become a homeless shelter, even if it starts out as a residential drug and alcohol treatment center, this author pointed out.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • You can always tell what the progressives are up to by how they blame and characterize any of their opposition.
    It is the very words they use in negativity and fake disgust that they themselves are up to.

    What a bunch of shameful crap, Berkowitz and his assembly crew are reprehensible.

    • The biggest tell is when they use existential – or even better, literally existential.

  • I hope they like how history is going to see them. As a bunch of losers who couldn’t run a lemonade stand.

  • Spoken like the true petty tyrant he has demonstrated himself to be. In his world, it is not possible that a group could disagree with him. I has to be some kind of political partisan action.

    When do we get rid of him?

  • Who the hell listens to what this Berkowitz character says?

  • Berkowitz has succeeded – he has made a name for himself. And not one he expects. He and his liberal minions will learn a hard lesson in the few next Alaska elections. The jig is up. My prediction, Berkowitzs’ days of elected public service are over – no governorship, no senate seat, no appointments. He showed his true colors. He and his minions are toxic. The Anchorage and Alaska Public won’t forget. Sidebar: get rid of mail-in voting!

    • One thing that 2020 has done is demonstrate across the board that your elected officials are not on your side. (For the most part). I think this upcoming election is going to be very interesting. A lot of people who just wanted to be left alone have gotten riled up.

    • No we’re not getting rid of mail in voting

  • So who are you going to believe, Ethan or your own lying eyes?

    If the protests are astroturf, then the Muni lawyer and Muni Clerk need to get out of the way of the recalls and other efforts to roll back Assembly actions and let them go to the ballot. If Ethan is correct, they will all fail horribly. But he isn’t, which is why he dare not let this start. His problem is that the next mayor will, which may end up seeing half of the current Assembly recalled. Cheers –

  • The Mayor needs to remember that he is a public servant and works for US. Not the other way around. He serves at the pleasure of We, the People.

    Consequently I suggest he quit being a petulant brat, pointing fingers, and do what We, the People, tell him to do. Not what the special interests want. It’s not time to parse the makeup of a group formed to oppose him. It’s time for him to reflect on WHY that group was formed.

    • Tell that to your Assembly representatives. They are the ones that keep extending God Emperor Berkowitz’s emergency powers. In some ways, I do not blame the Mayor for his overreach. It is human nature to take advantage of a situation.

  • If there is anyone phony around here, it is the mayor. Counting on the constituents to sit around on their hands while the oligarchy of Anchorage decimates where we live, while attempting to impoverish the taxpayers is not happening.

  • “Save Anchorage” is highly partisan. In July, I offered testimony before the assembly opposing the use of AK CARES Act funds for the purchase of Anchorage real estate for homeless and treatment services. I also suggested that people contact three federal agencies to complain about these purchases and, since then, have had several conversations about this with representatives of these agencies. I showed up at two demonstrations at the Loussac Library. Soon after I joined the “Save Anchorage” facebook group I discovered that it IS partisan! Unless a person is pro-Trump and agrees with all of the numerous posts about him and how great he is, this person is unceremoniously disallowed further comments and then removed from the site. So, in future writing on this topic, Suzanne, please refrain from labeling Save Anchorage as “non-partisan” because it is highly partisan.

    • Hi Barbara. I know several folks on that group, and I am not entirely sure your assessment is 100% accurate. It is quite possible that your commenting was curtailed because of the content of your comment, not because you dislike the President, and the group does.

      Can I request that you provide the readership of MRAK with a few of your comments that were removed?

      There is a difference between being removed because of politics, and being removed for a confrontational post.

      • I do not have copies of any of the comments I made and that were removed. Two deleted comments were in response to disparaging and untrue comments that “Tim” made about me. Also, I was in compliance with each of the posted rules, so the deletions cannot be attributed to that.

        • Needed to ask. I personally know several folks that act like spoiled brats online and then act all victimized when they are bounced from on-line discussions. Glad to see you are not one of them.

    • Thank you for clarifying much appreciated

  • There is wide spread distain for Berkowitz.

    He knows and doesn’t care. Its about growing government and funneling that money back into political power. Our tax dollars pay for Democrats’ campaigns. Sun Tzu would be proud.

  • Seems unfair to characterize Must Read Alaska as formenting anger. You generally report events and sure commentors vent thier frustrations but you rarely call for action yourself. I don’t put much into anything Alaska Public Media writes myself.

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