The necessity of now?

During an interview with a reporter, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz talked about the Assembly meeting Tuesday featuring a fourth round of public testimony on the city’s plan to spend $22.5 million in CARES Act funding to buy four properties for homeless services. He said time is of the essence in the purchases.

“One of the things I’m going to tell the Assembly when they come time to make a decision is we don’t have the luxury of perfection, we have the necessity of now,” he told the KTVA interviewer. 

The “necessity of now,” Berkowitz said. We are always stirred awake whenever a politician begins talking about necessity and spending money almost in the same breath. It calls to mind a quote by the Right Honourable William Pitt the Younger during a speech in the U.K.’s House of Commons on Nov. 18, 1783.

“Necessity,” Pitt told the assemblage, “is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”

The “necessity of now” must not be allowed to blur public process or trample the rights of home and property owners near the two hotels, the Alaska Club building and the Bean’s Cafe campus the city wants to acquire. It must not be allowed to destroy the value of property they have worked hard to acquire and improve, nor must it be allowed to endanger the very people it supposedly is to help.

The haste and lack of transparency in the effort to begin the complicated process of buying the properties have left many in the dark, with some property owners and residents finding out about the acquisition plan only days before the first public hearing last week.

The city seems in a lather to spend nearly 19 percent of the city’s $116 million share of Alaska’s $1.5 billion slice of CARES Act funding aimed at helping businesses, nonprofits and individuals hard-hit by coronavirus. It even proposes changing zoning ordinances to buy the properties to help deal with Anchorage’s 1,100 or so homeless.

Three days of public testimony last week showed staunch opposition to the acquisitions. It remains unclear whether those in the neighborhoods that would be affected will be part of a reasonable solution – or victims of “the necessity of now.”

6 Responses to The necessity of now?

  1. Fred Flintstone July 22, 2020 at 8:56 am

    During the Sullivan administration when they did camp abatement they brought social workers to connect the homeless with services. They found half the “homeless” already had housing options available to them, they just preferred what they called the “rebel” lifestyle.

    Enforce some simple laws, and half the problem goes away. Gee maybe I should run for Mayor? That wasn’t hard at all.

  2. Jack July 21, 2020 at 7:23 am

    Money for the economic ravaged Anchorage businesses should be the first priority and not for individuals of a chosen life style not compatible with normal standards of individual responsibility and self respect.
    How many times have the arms of help been given with the result being only regression and apathy. It has only encouraged more to come to Anchorage for the freebies given for no cost.
    Oh, except for the tax payers who are its citizens and business owners that are at the base of the local economy. They bare the cost. And for what?–non support from a spineless administration who cannot see anything but their own short sighted agenda and not the economy that allows all to thrive.
    Sadly they do not see what the have created and how that has perpetuated itself over the life of this city administration.

  3. Morrigan July 20, 2020 at 10:51 pm

    Would like to see Rick Davidge and Mr. Editor collaborate on an op-ed, or series of op-eds, on homelessness which includes Rick’s paper on the subject.
    We have three concerns on the subject: the first two are who’ll be stuck with the tab, and what the tab’ll be, especially after Eaglexit;
    third, nothing appears to prevent homeless shelters from being used as physical addresses so operatives can exploit Anchorage’s easily corruptible mail-in ballot system by “helping” their homeless brethren register to vote, vote, and mail in their votes.
    For us, number three won’t go away, it’s a show stopper.
    Remember, Anchorage’s easily corruptible mail-in vote system was forced on voters arguably to assure no bond, tax, or incumbent was left behind; it seems to work well in that respect.
    How could this thing be enshrined permanently, safe from would-be Deplorable reformers?
    Simple… giving physical addresses to homeless folk might be all that’s needed to corrupt municipal-elections permanently by “pre-stuffing” the mail-in ballot box with ballots which helpful folks helped homeless folks fill out and mail.
    So, what now?

  4. Marlin Savage July 20, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Actually, “son of sam mayor halfwitz” said, “Let the Taxpayers eat cake”……………

  5. Ric Davidge July 20, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    The Midtown CC has been working on the homeless problem on our streets for 3 years. Our paper on the issue garnered national attention because we said things others would not. Want a copy, just ask.

    We have also suggested that more likely the Johnson Tire company facility, on market for 5 years, is in the heart of the problem and is huge. You don’t have to use it all at once, but it offers lots of options.

    To get them off the street we MUST have space for them as required by the 9th Circuit Court and there are other ‘legal’ limitations, but we think we can make progress.

    These hears have been very helpful in our efforts. Actually I think it will result in more people coming to Council meetings, that would be a nice change.

    The roll out of this idea by Ethan was not good. But you have to understand ‘the necessity is now’ for da mayor, mainly because he has the money to spend.

    We will continue the discussion because there is a lot more going on here.

  6. RevBill July 20, 2020 at 11:04 am

    What I’ve been hearing from experts is that this move to grab federal money is non-compliant with the rules of the grants. That any money spent in this way will ultimately have to be paid back. Apparently there is some hope that the state can be roped into the deal so, when reality comes around, the muni will run free and taxpayers statewide will be stuck with the bill.

    Wake up, Attorney General, and act as necessary, including injunctions/lawsuits to avoid putting both feet into a trap!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For information, sizing, and rates of banner advertising space we have available, please e-mail Mark Hopkin at, or call him at (907) 276-4262.