The 'civil emergency' has ended, so what now? - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, December 7, 2019
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The ‘civil emergency’ has ended, so what now?

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz declared a civil emergency in Anchorage because the State of Alaska was withdrawing its funding for various programs in the city, expecting the city to step up and take care of its own drug-addled campers. The State of Alaska, as most Alaskans know by now, is out of cash.

That was back on July 24. The Anchorage Assembly later allowed an extension of the civil emergency until Sept. 24, even though funds were restored for key programs he was worried about.

“Whereas, the impact of these cuts within the Municipality of Anchorage will include the loss of more than 700 jobs, decimation of services critical to the wellbeing of the m most vulnerable members of the Anchorage community, and a predicted increase of almost 800 individuals in the Anchorage homeless population…” the mayor’s proclamation wrote.

Berkowitz went on to say that cuts to Medicaid, senior benefits, early childhood education, legal services, domestic violence case management and support, and behavior health, would lead to “drastically increase the number of individuals experiencing a dangerous level of poverty…” and he described it as a “manmade calamity.”

Yes, you read that right: He said that cuts to early childhood education would cause an increase in dangerous levels of poverty.

But wait, there was more to be done to protect the “public order, safety, and welfare.”

In the meantime, the city moved money around to help keep shelters going, taking responsibility to pay for things the city had never had to pay for before. The homeless population seems stable, although data is scant.

What else happened during the civil emergency?

Nordstrom closed. JC Penney furniture warehouse closed.

The mayor went on a junket to Japan.

The plastic bag ban ordinance took effect, and people started having to pay 10 cents even for a paper bag handed to them out of the take-out window at McDonalds.

BP sold its entire operation in Alaska to Hilcorp.

Tent cities sprang up, with out-of-state activists brought in to keep them organized and the protesters fed. The Anchorage Daily News made the case that “Because of the chaos that was created by the budget dynamics, they had an influx of people coming down for food, so they needed more bathroom facilities,” according to Ona Brause, Berkowitz’ chief of staff.

The city began the Camp Berkowitz abatements, with 10-day notices, keeping protesters and drug addicts on the move.

Mayor Berkowitz told the University Board of Regents to ignore the stepped-down funding agreement signed by the President of the University and Chair of the Regents.

But mostly the mayor was absent, missing in action.

On Sept. 19, Berkowitz attended the Assembly meeting and told the members, “at this point there’s nothing that would cause the administration to seek an extension beyond the proposed termination date of Sept. 24,” and then he went on at length to talk about his trip to Japan.

Was the civil emergency real? Was it just kabuki theater? With a mayor like Berkowitz, for whom politics is a blood sport, theater is always a solid bet.

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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

  • It is more important to ban nuclear weapons I guess.

  • Raise property taxes, sales tax or pass the hat. I don’t really care. This is a local problem not a state problem and it should be handled locally.

  • Over the last decade or two, the left has come to resemble a plague of locusts, wreaking havoc and destruction wherever they land. Y’all notice that?

  • The Anchorage Tax Payer gets “Schlocked by the Burkowitz” once again! This guy is bad news for Anchorage and hasn’t achieved anything of meaningful value.

  • The only emergency the city is apparently addressing is speeding on the Glenn Hwy.

  • Leftism, Socialism, and Communism are a plague. Listen to the so called Presidential candidates from the (Socialist/Communist Democrat Party). Everything that spewes from their mouths, envolves taking from one, to redistribute to another. Maggie Thatcher……… Socialism is great untill you run out of everybody else’s Money.

  • He should have been at his desk strategizing ways to rid of us the homeless, clean up the streets and fix Anchorage’s part of the fiscal problem instead of raising my taxes…. again. I didn’t vote for him the first time, won’t ever vote for him or his council leftist boors. We can’t walk down the street without smelling pot smoke, can’t drive down the road without some inebriate walking in front of traffic and can’t go to the store without watching someone get busted for shoplifting. Our cars and properties are broken into, possessions taken, police overworked with this stuff. So he takes off for Japan? Enough said. We need someone with some moxie in office that will support this Governors vision.

  • He is a complete failure as a mayor or in any public position. He could not run animal control successfully.

  • Most of Alaska’s “homeless” are Alaska Natives who have an income and a house back in the village. They come to Anchorage using medical visits to a doctor as an excuse, with transport paid for. They end up vagrant, on drugs, and booze. They come to escape the abuse in the villages and end up right back in the same trap.
    The difference between them and the Outsiders on our streets?
    They have an income.
    They have a house in the villages they came from.
    They are not truly poor in the sense of not having an income.
    They made a choice.
    Get them off the street, check them for disease and mental health issues, and ship those able back to the villages they came from.
    The public safety and public health demand this be done.
    Berkowitz and the Dems want this mess to get worse to continue until the gov’t order collapses.
    Marxism is the goal.

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