Mayor's vagrant hotel purchase plan postponed - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, April 20, 2021
HomePoliticsMayor’s vagrant hotel purchase plan postponed

Mayor’s vagrant hotel purchase plan postponed



The band of protesters cheered when an unmasked Assembly Member Jamie Allard pf Eagle River arrived at the Loussac Library for the special meeting of the Anchorage Assembly on Monday.

They booed when Mayor Ethan Berkowitz arrived, masked and ready for battle.

And they chanted “Vote No” when the other members of the Anchorage Assembly scurried by in masks to go into the building that the public was not allowed to enter — by order of the mayor.

One by one, six of the Assembly members filed into the chamber out of sight of the protesters.

In that empty chamber, they discussed for five hours Mayor Berkowitz’ plan to establish a web of services for vagrants throughout Anchorage, including shelters in family neighborhoods and drop-in day service centers close to schools where children are present daily.

About 70 citizens with signs and fighting spirit showed up at the library where the Assembly Chambers are located to express their displeasure with a set of ordinances that would use various pots of money to serve the vagrant population in Anchorage.

The money would come from federal CARES Act money, from the sale of Municipal Light & Power to Chugach Electric, and from the new alcohol tax that voters passed this past April.

The total investment includes purchasing four buildings in different neighborhoods, renovating, remodeling, and then establishing various services for the people who sleep on the streets, in doorways, and in encampments in the woods of Anchorage.

After five days of public testimony, Monday night’s discussion of the mayor’s plan went on for another five hours, as Berkowitz’ Chief of Staff Jason Bockenstedt answered questions from Assembly members. His slide presentation was 66 pages long.

[See Mayor Berkowitz’ slide deck on the vagrant plan at this link.]

Assemblyman John Weddleton tried to pull the Golden Lion Hotel on 36th Avenue and New Seward Highway out of the package. That failed 7-3. But Must Read Alaska has learned the Mayor’s Office has already signed a contract with the Golden Lion to purchase that building for $9 million. The Assembly, which is the appropriating body, does not seem to be aware of this. Update: Another source close to the matter says no contract has been signed.

Weddleton eventually said it was clear from the public testimony “…Public has lost confidence in us.”

Assembly Chair Felix Rivera brought in Mike Abbott, who has served as Municipal Manager, to provide special testimony. He now runs the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.

That’s when Allard asked for a point of order, to ask Rivera explain why one person was allowed in the chambers, when other people were not allowed.

Assembly member Forrest Dunbar then snapped back at Allard that he thought property was available in Eagle River for a homeless center on Yosemite Drive, across from the Eagle River High School. He was threatening her. Allard didn’t back down; she told Dunbar he should be more worried about his military career.

Late in the evening, the Assembly majority laid on the table an information memorandum that contained the over 700 pages of public testimony. When an item is “laid on the table” means it is not published on the agenda, which makes it harder for the public to access.

In the end, the clock struck midnight and the decision on the vagrant plan was postponed until Aug. 11. The regular Assembly meeting tonight has a host of other controversial items on the agenda, including a ban on any therapies to help young people overcome their homosexual, transexual, or other gender-related behaviors.

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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

  • The mayor signed an offer to purchase? My parcels were on a 2 year due process and diligence review including a $50,000 independent study with community input on impacks with approval from the Fairview Community Council. Now they are buying 4 properties ahead of this purchase which is next to BFS. If yo want know what is coming at these locations,watch Last Stop on Karluk Street and call me 229-3232 and I’ll explain my lawsuits and what is coming to your neighborhood.

  • The Golden Lion assessment was dropped a million bucks to $8.5 million over the last two years but he is paying $9 million? WTF? Look at property tax appraisal.

    • If he’s buying it for himself I bet he can. Then sell it to the city for a profit. Typical Democrat

  • Can a mayor enter into a legally binding contract, without the knowledge/consent of the Assembly?

      • Not sure either, but this whole approach on the aid to the homeless really smells bad. My compost pile and organic fertilizer smell a lot better, and that’s saying a lot.! How can this be stopped? It needs to be thoroughly investigated and laid out clearly for the voters and tax payers. Something’s really wrong, in my humble opinion, and I’m not a lawyer. Who’s the appropriate authority? I’m old and tired, but I’ll contribute to a valid effort to rid this city of corruption of this magnitude.

  • Dunbar wants to hit back at my Representative on the Assembly? Come out to our neck of the woods. Don’t play games, Dunbar you will lose.

    • Dunbar – what a disgrace to the Assembly and public process! But wait folks – he’s in the running for Mayor. Good on Jamie Allard, my honorable rep, for standing up to this threat. I’m glad I voted for her. She and Crystal are my reps on this one-sided Assembly. I hope their tenure survives the tainted mail-in vote. One can only hope. God bless, and vote in person if you can.

  • “Mayor’s Office has already signed a contract with the Golden Lion to purchase that building for $9 million”. Guess halfwitz will have to ask his parents to buy it for him……..

  • Total BS !!!

  • Any assembly member siding with the little man-boy and voting yes on 66 should be worried about their political lives and futures in Alaska.
    I guarantee Anchorage citizens will forget or forgive their vote.
    Get ready South Anchorage and Hillside, you’re next.

  • Many things are said in the heat of the moment. I expect to see yet another apology from Mr. Dunbar. If it is not forthcoming, with appropriate contriteness, it becomes a looped clip played by mayoral election opponents, I’d guess. More significantly, voters beware this leftist disdain for diversity of ideas.

  • Eaglexit now more than ever. Gain our own representation from this tyranny. Wake up Eagle River and Chugiak and support the movement.

    • On the face, Eaglexit sounds like something I would support right now, given the apparent corruption on the Assembly and Mayor about dealing with the homeless and needy. Sadly, the homeless are being used as political tools for this current administration. However, it would be a costly proposition for our community to secede from the municipality as I see it. Building a a local Government and infrastructure for a community of 30K with a limited tax base raises questions that all of us who are really fed up might want to consider. Based on what I’m seeing right now with the Anchorage Assembly and Mayor, I’m all for it. However, I believe this horrible administration and Mayor might pass and we may again have a reasonable Anchorage governing body. I’d humbly suggest thinking about that before shooting myself in the foot, tax wise. The Mayor and current administration/assembly (with the exception of Crystal Kennedy and Jamie Allard) need to be put on a tramp steamer and shipped back to San Fran, in my humble opinion.Let them do mayhem there and not in the beloved City of Anchorage.

  • Wow what a show of power hungry Liberals !!!

    • A quote from Thomas Jefferson: “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”

    • We need a revolution in this city. All this administration has acomplished is to make our city a sanctuary city, highest murder rate in the US per capita, crime out of control, homeless everywhere, etc. Had enough?????

  • Alaskans better start standing up for what we believe in.These people have forgotten who thay work 4 we the people the voters. Show your displeasure and vote them out.

  • I do not have cable television. That may a good thing. It is unclear why Mike Abbott’s testimony was “special.” What is clear is that Mr. Abbott is the golden boy for many of the Left on local government issues, bouncing gracefully from Muni to State to Anchorage School district and now the Mental Health Trust. He is articulate and even likable but he has been and forever will be a reliable tool for the likes of Knowles, Begich and Berkowitz. His involvement is intended to normalize, rationalize and clean-up things.

  • MRA reported the Mayor had signed contract to purchase Golden Lion. Chief of Staff advised Assembly there is no contract to purchase on this building. Who should we believe?

  • Good guy on the face – a chameleon – sadly I think so. I’ve always liked him – hope I will be proven wrong in my latest assessment of a public figure.

  • Mayor Berkowitz is showing the Anchorage residents just how much of a dictator he truly is. Tyrants feed on their self aggrandizing power.

  • Homeless “street partiers” are a nuisance and danger to tax payers and businesses alike.

    I want our city to spend wisely: minimize the threat to citizens, business and entite industries (particularly tourism in this case).

    Police calls re “street partiers” cost a lot both fiscally and take law-enforcement wise. Numerous numerous officers are involved in any arrest, then there’s the added costs of DOC workers and in the courts.

    That labor is not free. The legal system costs us money.

    It may not be cheaper in the long run to keep our quid-pro-quo. I’m open to suggestions on solutions to this problem.

  • PS that said – I swear no reason to overspend on any unnecessary renovations. To me, a room with a microwave and restroom (even a bed and heating!) would seem luxurious versus camping under trees.

  • I experienced first hand how the libs silenced Free Speech at the Assembly meeting. Didn’t like We The People clapping for testimony from a woman with facts and figures against mask wearing. So they stopped any further public comments, stating they would clear the room if anymore “outbreaks” occurred, and they were out of time. Of course there was plenty of time to pat each other on the back for 20 years of public service. To hell with the pressing issue of the over-reach of our tyrannical Mayor.

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