Devin Kelly

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says he’d like state money that has been set aside for a bridge across Knik Arm to go instead to the Port of Anchorage redesign.

In a Monday interview with Alaska Dispatch News, his first since he was sworn in last week, Berkowitz also said he’s looking at changing the chains of command in the police and fire departments and wouldn’t commit to keeping Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew in his post.

He also said his rival in the mayoral runoff, Assembly member Amy Demboski, has not been returning his phone calls, but he said he doesn't expect any issues working with her.

Below are excerpts of the interview, edited for length and clarity.

You’ve been in office for a couple days. What’s happened so far?...

Devin Kelly

An Anchorage entrepreneur is seeking approval from the city to build an aerial adventure course and zip line at Hilltop Ski Area.

Scott Amy, a local pilot and paragliding instructor, has submitted a proposal to the city for a treetop obstacle course with cables, ropes and aerial platforms in the ski area on the Anchorage Hillside. He said he wants to eventually build a longer zip line -- where riders slide down a cable on an incline suspended by a pulley -- in the ski area, similar to ones in Seward and Talkeetna...

Devin Kelly

Ethan Berkowitz was sworn in as Anchorage’s new mayor Wednesday afternoon in a downtown inauguration ceremony that incorporated his family and displayed the cultural diversity of the city.

Jack Roderick, who was mayor of the Greater Anchorage Borough from 1972 to 1975, administered the oath of office to Berkowitz. Several hundred people, including city employees, community leaders and nearly all of Anchorage’s living mayors, packed into Town Square Park and stood on grassy knolls to watch speeches and music and dance performances...

Devin Kelly
Primary Category: 

Ethan Berkowitz was sworn in as Anchorage’s mayor Wednesday afternoon in a downtown inauguration ceremony that showed off his family and the cultural diversity of the city...

Devin Kelly

One of the powers awaiting Anchorage Mayor-elect Berkowitz: The power of the remote.

The mayor’s office decides what channel will play on the TV screen across from the elevators in the City Hall lobby, said city spokesman Bryce Hyslip. As of Tuesday afternoon, the administration of Mayor Dan Sullivan, a Republican, had the TV tuned to Fox News.

That will change once Berkowitz, a Democrat, takes office, his staff said Tuesday.

“Official channel will be CNN,” spokeswoman Nora Morse wrote in a text message. She said Berkowitz and chief of staff Susanne Fleek-Green “have talked about it.”

In an email, former Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat, said he also turned the lobby TV to CNN.

Devin Kelly

As far as titles go, Mara Kimmel cringes a bit at “first lady.”

“We have to find a different name,” mayor-elect Ethan Berkowitz’s wife of 15 years said half-jokingly, though she acknowledged she probably couldn’t get “first dudette.”

Whatever her title, as Berkowitz prepares for his swearing-in as mayor on Wednesday, Kimmel can be counted in Berkowitz’s circle of close advisers. A lawyer and an academic with a sharp sense of humor, Kimmel has forged a career centered on Arctic governance issues and access to justice, and Berkowitz said he relied on her experience on certain occasions in the campaign and transition process...

Devin Kelly

Police say they’re having trouble keeping people who flout the law out of Anchorage parks.

If a person is caught drinking alcohol or dealing drugs or found naked in a park, a police officer can write a ticket or make an arrest. But there’s nothing to stop that person from returning to that park or another more than 24 hours later and be free from the threat of arrest.

The system is frustrating to police and parks officials who say they’re finding themselves busting the same people over and over, yet police can’t use trespass laws to prevent them from returning to a park and making life unpleasant for others...

Devin Kelly

Anchorage’s police dispatch and record-keeping computer systems are showing their age and the city is embarking on a major push to modernize them with interactive software that could someday connect to residents’ smartphones.

Vastly improved mapping technology, more sophisticated laptops for patrol cars and new systems for writing police reports and processing evidence are all pieces of a planned upgrade project, mostly centered on operations at the Anchorage Police Department. The upgrade would place police and fire departments in the same software system for relaying 911 calls to emergency responders, officials said...

Devin Kelly
Primary Category: 

Anchorage’s police dispatch and record-keeping computer systems are showing their age and the city is embarking on a major push to modernize them with interactive software that could someday connect to residents’ smartphones...

Devin Kelly,Loren Holmes

Mayor-elect Ethan Berkowitz announced several key administration hires Friday afternoon, including the positions of fire chief and city attorney.

Denis LeBlanc, director of maintenance and operations for CH2MHill’s North Slope operations, has been appointed fire chief, according to a statement from Berkowitz’s transition team. LeBlanc was previously city manager for Mayor Mark Begich and he was hired by Mayor George Wuerch to review Anchorage Fire Department operations before becoming budget director...

Devin Kelly