Sticking to Sports! Alaska edition
October 16, 2020 6:33 AM   Subscribe

From our friends at Defector, the strange tale of the mayor of Anchorage.
posted by zenon (27 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Good lord! Sounds like they should get the Palin family in there to restore some sense of normalcy to the place.
posted by TedW at 6:48 AM on October 16 [5 favorites]

"Have a great Friday, you motherfucker"

I've found my new email sign-off...
posted by Betelgeuse at 6:57 AM on October 16 [15 favorites]

Suddenly, Sarah Palin as governor makes complete sense.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:18 AM on October 16 [7 favorites]

Uh, fair warning, since apparently Defector doesn't roll with content warnings: the twitter account of "redhead rae" (@angelbbx2), aka Blakeley's daughter, is pretty NSFW.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:04 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

It reminds me of the advice for women seeking an eligible man in Alaska.

The odds are good, but the goods are odd.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:06 AM on October 16 [16 favorites]

I don't even know what to say about this piece, other than every time you think it can't keep going, can't get weirder or more coincidental, it does.
posted by thecjm at 8:19 AM on October 16 [3 favorites]

Cold Florida.
posted by tclark at 8:43 AM on October 16 [11 favorites]

The Anchorage Daily News's story is pretty thorough.

The reporter was arrested for assaulting the TV station manager, who she later described in court as her fiancé .
posted by a complicated history at 10:22 AM on October 16 [5 favorites]

Is it not enough or is it too much booze in the cookies?
posted by riverlife at 10:30 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

Anchorage’s electoral politics seem deeply unpleasant, one example of this being his first mayoral race in 2015, which devolved enough that Berkowitz needed to make the statement “I was angry. It was a hypothetical insinuation, and let me repeat again: I oppose incest” the day before the election.

...I have questions, but to be honest, I'm pretty sure I don't want answers.
posted by kalimac at 11:18 AM on October 16 [5 favorites]

I just learned from, uhh, Emmy award-winning journalism,

Oh yikes.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:53 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

It reminds me of the advice for women seeking an eligible man in Alaska.
The odds are good, but the goods are odd.

Sounds from her rant that Alaska is quite egalitarian when it comes to odd goods.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:59 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

The Anchorage Daily News's story is pretty thorough.

Hey, the Anchorage logo you can see behind him in that image is a nice bit of design!
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:02 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]

So.. this particular incident is unusually bizarre and colorful even by Alaskan standards but the state has had a run of very high-profile male politicians in recent years who have torpedoed their careers by not being able to behave professionally around women with whom their jobs required them to interact. It is, perhaps, a very modest sign of progress that that kind of misbehavior now comes with the risk of professional repercussions but we have so very, very far to go.

Besides Berkowitz's mayoral meltdown, these come to mind as prime examples: Those are just the successful office-holders. For bonus Alaska crazy, it always helps to make a stop in the Mat-Su Valley.
  • Withdrawn Libertarian candidate for State Senate seat charged with murder in road-rage incident
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:05 PM on October 16 [5 favorites]

Oh my god, from a complicated history's link:

Blakeley [the interview guest who happened to be in the studio before this happened] chimed in with an anecdote of her own.

“I said something like: ‘I’m not his biggest fan either, I believe my daughter was trafficked a few years ago and he was one of her customers.’ ”

At the time, Blakeley believed what she was saying was true, she said.

Two years ago, she learned her daughter, then 18, had been posting on websites such as “SeekingArrangement,” which primarily connects men with younger women for “sugar daddy” relationships. Worried, she asked about her daughter’s clients.

The way Blakeley says she remembers it, her daughter told her a favorite client was a “short man” in Anchorage who worked in government.

Blakeley says she assumed — but did not confirm — it was Ethan Berkowitz, because of his high profile as mayor and short stature.

Wrong, says the daughter, who is now 20 and goes by her middle name of Rae in her work as an adult content producer. The Daily News is not using Rae’s full name because she is concerned about clients being able to locate her.

Rae says she was simply trying to get her mom off her back, and made up a fictional short government worker.

I'm losing my mind. Neither of these people is even the main focus of the story!
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:07 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]

Suddenly, Sarah Palin as governor makes complete sense.
Too much derail potential but if you want more on how Sarah Palin came to be our governor, MeMail me. In my opinion you can't understand how the Palin governorship came to be without understanding how the (Frank) Murkowski governorship ended. Don't worry, it's still craaaazy.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:13 PM on October 16 [5 favorites]

I assure you, how Sarah Palin came into the governors seat is not a derail.
posted by zenon at 1:15 PM on October 16 [10 favorites]

> Don't worry, it's still craaaazy

C'mon, spill!
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:57 PM on October 16 [4 favorites]

Half-term-Governor Palin, surely.
posted by JackFlash at 2:19 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]

I wondered whether Nestle Toll House might be party to all of this.
posted by hototogisu at 2:30 PM on October 16

dances_with_sneetches "the goods are odd" I once spent a tremendously fun evening in 1990 in a bar with five Alaskan women while they read out the offerings in that months Alaska Men. Many of the goods were indeed quite odd, while Alaskan women were amazing and confident and fun.

It was all the more fun for me as I came out on top which was a new thing.
posted by unearthed at 10:11 PM on October 16

As a former Alaskan, none of this seems that strange. I mean Lisa Murkowski got primaried two elections ago and came back as an independent to win/keep her seat anyway. I grew up in the crazy Joe Vogler era. Alaska is where people go when normal is just too damn boring.
posted by taterpie at 11:47 PM on October 16

So: I am a lifelong Anchorage resident and this is pretty awful. I know it seems funny, and it’s definitely interesting, but in reality it’s a giant bummer for lots of people including me.

Berkowitz clearly totally screwed up personally a couple years ago but has done a lot to lead though the pandemic in a way that has kept the rest of the state much safer, since our idiot mini-Trump governor got bored with science after a couple months (Berkowitz also did a great job communicating and transparently rebuilding after our enormous 2018 earthquake). He has faced a ton of pushback from assholes brewing trouble in an incredibly toxic Q-Anon-leaning Facebook group numbering in the thousands? Tens of thousands?, and the comments in every article in the paper that references him are anti-Semitic and ugly. I hate for those jerks to feel like they have a victory.

Because Anchorage is a big tiny town, I have a bunch of connections to his family and have interacted with them in a number of different capacities. His wife is brilliant and amazing, and neither she nor his kids- one of whom is still in high school- need or deserve any of this attention. I get why he resigned (family life newly a mess, it was hard enough already and the city needs a credible leader and his ability to do that is compromised) but having a power vacuum at this particular moment is really, really shitty.

COVID has doubled here in the last month. When we were trending steeply before in August, he shut down bars and indoor dining again, which helped significantly (but also really angered a lot of people). He was early to adopt an indoor mask order despite significant ongoing opposition. It really, really helped us that he was not running for re-election because he was going to be term-limited out in April, and it really freed him to do what the health department thought was best.

We’re now at 267 cases per 100,000 and climbing and there’s not really anyone to do anything about it. Our school superintendent yesterday unilaterally announced a hell-or-high-water-case-rate-be-damned plan to begin to bring students back to school next month at full classroom capacity , our governor is not going to do anything to stem the tide, and with Berkowitz resigning we can no longer count on literally anyone to do anything to keep people from killing themselves and their neighbors.

The Assembly did appoint a new chair to be interim mayor tonight and she is the first woman and as far as I know the first gay mayor we’ve had so: yay? a tiny bright spot? But this is an impossible job right now and she’s new and inexperienced and will likely face even uglier opposition and bigotry as she tries- I hope!- to keep the city on the right track until an April election.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:31 AM on October 17 [17 favorites]

the first woman and as far as I know the first gay mayor

I hope they back her because that sounds like a "glass cliff" or "scapegoat" job.
posted by clew at 1:22 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]

I hope they back her because that sounds like a "glass cliff" or "scapegoat" job.

Sure does. The Assembly- with the exception of one right-wing anti-masker- probably will try to keep things calm. I’m worried about the population of the city, though. We’re bluish-tinged purple when it comes down to it, but the deep red fringe folks are vocal, ugly, and organized in their hate.
posted by charmedimsure at 2:22 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]

I kept waiting for bears to invade Anchorage. Then this story would have made sense.
posted by SPrintF at 7:54 AM on October 18

Here's a little more from our local weekly alternative about the whole thing and the details behind the toxic group, should anyone be interested.
posted by charmedimsure at 5:00 PM on October 21

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