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HomeAlaska IssuesMayor Berkowitz and the Assembly Prepare to Divert CARES Act Funds

Mayor Berkowitz and the Assembly Prepare to Divert CARES Act Funds

With apologies to Anthony Watts who first used the phrase:  People send me things.

One of the things that came across my desk early this week were a couple documents based on AR 2020-271(S) “A resolution of the Anchorage Municipal Assembly establishing the priority areas and framework for allocation of the COVID-19 Relief funds.” This was incorporated into AO 2020-241 on Tuesday night.

It is dated Aug 11, has the names of all 11 Assembly members along with Mayor Berkowitz.  It was prepared by Assembly Chair Rivera, Member Perez-Verdia, Assembly Counsel and the Mayor’s Office.  The original document also contains a supporting spreadsheet that is well worth your time to take a look at

Granted that this the opening bid for disbursement of CARES Act funds, you remember the funds that Ethan and his Assembly plan on spending for homeless shelters and treatment centers.  As far as I can tell, this has not been passed as yet, though I do expect them to try.

What are looking at?  Remember that CARES Act funds are intended to address the impact of the Wuhan Flu (COVID-19) on businesses damaged by the shutdown.  Ethan and his Assembly must believe that the Muni is the entity most harmed by the shutdown, as they have reserved a full 60% of all CARES Act funds for their use. 

What follows is a breakdown of the nearly $157 million in available funds.  Data comes from the supporting spreadsheet linked above.

Spending AreaMillions of DollarsPercent of $157 million
Small business$1610%
Rental reimbursement and childcare$3522%
FEMA 25% match$12.58%
Government$93.760%

Perhaps this is why the Treasury wants to speak with the Muni this week.

To be fair, they did ask about ideas for disbursement.  Problem is what they came up with.

The Muni and Assembly plan on squirreling away their cut of the total in a number of slush funds.  These include A first responder payroll reserve ($21 million) and a contingency fund ($20 million).  Their property acquisition for the homeless gets $12.5 million, the Girdwood Health Clinic gets $5.5 million, Mental Health first responders get $4 million, what they call the Cultural Pillars Stabilization (museum, PAC, ANHC, zoo, wildlife conservation) gets $3.5 million.  Not content with that bite, they are back again for another $2 million for Arts & Culture organizations stabilization.  Energy efficiency gets $1 million.  Covenant House expansion gets $3 million.  Nonprofit stimulus gets $3 million. 

There are more, but you get the idea.  This is literally every single wet dream of both our beloved Mayor and his veto-proof, public employee union supported and elected Assembly. 

But not to worry, they propose a whopping $7 million for Small Business Stabilization (Hospitality and Tourism), for a total of $16 million for relief and assistance of businesses he has economically destroyed with two unnecessary, irresponsible, counterproductive and outrageous shutdown orders, throwing a bone at outraged business owners, employees and customers, hoping they won’t notice he is absconding with the lion’s share of what congress, the governor and the legislature allocated.  I’m sure the Cultural Pillars are far, far more important to the future of this town than businesses who actually employ people and provide goods, services and property tax revenue.

Folks, this is what we get when we elect democrats.  This is what we get when we allow the public employee unions (Police, Fire and teachers unions in Anchorage) to install veto-proof majorities in office.  This is fraud upon the citizens of Anchorage, and it should not be tolerated.

I don’t know if this is what they will finally end up doing.  But I know with dead certainty that this is what they WANT to do and WILL do given the opportunity.  Perhaps we, the people ought to do something about that. 

Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.

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