make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

Berger flips out on fellow commissioners, county manager and staffers

READ MORE: Berger flips out on fellow commissioners, county manager and staffers

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) - New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger sent a scathing email on Monday to members of the county staff, ripping them apart for not getting information to him he requested regarding an air-quality issue.

In the email, Berger claims aside from not getting the info he wants, he's also not been invited to what he calls "secret meetings" and not being included in on the decision making process.

He also says, "THIS PROCESS IS ABUSIVE, INDICATIVE OF CORRUPTION, AND IT ENDS TODAY." (The all caps are his.) "I am extremely disappointed in the County's secrecy, concealment of information, indications of hidden agendas, and if there is no validity to these assertions...drop the games."

We have reached out to Berger to find out more about his accusations. He won't call us back. We're also talking with Commissioner Jason Thompson right now and we'll have his reaction on WWAY NewsChannel 3 at 6.

EDITOR'S NOTE: There was no way to forward Berger's email back to the TV station, so we had to type it out long-hand. This is a copy of the entire email. The caps and bold font are Berger's.

FROM: Brian Berger
SENT: Monday, March 28, 2011 10:59 AM
TO: Bruce Shell (New Hanover County Manager), Chris Coudriet (Assistant County Manager), Chris O'Keefe (County Planning Manager), Shawn Ralston (Senior Environmental Planner)
SUBJECT: RE: Request for Information on Non-Attainment Issues

Chris and Shawn,

Where are the original documents and information I requested amd have yet to receive from your department?

If I wanted filtered documents I'd have asked for filtered documents and information, I asked for a complete file of raw information, documents, meeting schedules and written summaries of previous meetings from the past six months and next six months. I do not want that information "cleansed" "filtered" or "altered" and my patience is wearing thin. I don't appreciate the secrecy and games being played with this issue.

Shawn, Please PROVIDE THE RESPONSE TO MY REQUEST DIRECTLY TO ME TODAY WITH ALL THE RAW INFORMATION I REQUESTED. I did not ask for that information to be sent to a middleman to "filter" the information for me to decide what I can and can't see, this is not acceptable.

Shawn, I want all the documents I requested which you have not provided to me delivered to me AS REQUESTED immediately. A full un-altered file as you proveded to the County Manager(s) EXACTLY as provided.

Bruce and Chris C, if you have directed Chris O'Keefe and Shawn to stonewall my request that is unacceptable. However, given the secretive meetings involving other commissioners and staff on the non-attainment issues, please add the dates of any meetings among staff and any commissioners present and a briefing of who was at those meetings, the dates, decisions and proposals discussed, and an explaination for why I was left in the dark?

I want added to Shawn's documents which should be delivered to me this morning in full without an revisions, a separate set of documentation from the County Manager including a list of all meetings involving internal staff, commissioners selected without discussion who were part of that process I have been kept in the dark about, and any documentation of substance not in Shawn's file for me -- priovdided separately TODAY -- this can be added to Shawn's file sent to County staff but not me (who made the request but apparently the only one to not receive the information despite being the source of the request).

Rick Catlin has alluded to secretive meetings where issues have been discussed and misinformation and strategies were discussed. I want a full account of all such meetings.

I expect to be invited to and involved in scheduling for any meeting (including internal) on non-attainment and related issues beginning TODAY!!!!

This stonewalling and secrecy and attempt to filter information is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Any information you can add that supplements the file Shawn has compiled send to me under separate cover, I expect to receive Shawn's raw information responding to my original request sent to me electronically THIS MORNING. BRUCE and Chris C., I expect any additional information provided separately without altering one word or removing a single document from shawn's file fulfilling my request. Any additions to Shawn's file including meetings Rick C. has alluded to I expect from the County Manager today! Separate from Shawn's file with all the documents, correspondence and other info I requested.

I want full information on these internal meetings and external meetings, and stategy discussions I was barred from any knowledge or notice about over the last six months. Who was there? What strategies were discussed? Date? Location? All memos, correspondence, strategy and position documents I Want this morning!!!!,,


The way this is being handled is, I repeat, NOT ACCEPTABLE. Maybe this is how things were done in the past and some (Commissioners and unelected individuals in the community want to handle this) but it HAS TO CHANGE.

I want the documents I requested today, directly from Shawn and Chris O'Keefe unedited and unchanged, in full compliance with my request. PLEASE TELL ME HOW YOU WILL FINALLY MEET MY REQUEST TODAY...ALL DOCUMENTS AND INFO SHOULD be provided electronically ASAP. Any information on meetings, documents, correspondence or additions to fulfill the spirit of my request which are in possession of Any County Manager(s), Legal staff, I expect to be provided as well today. Separate from the raw documents I want directly from County Planning. Bruce and Chris C. provide ALL ADDITIONS requestes here or reasonable additions and documentation and correspondence not in Shawn's file fulfilling my request may be inserted into Shawn's file I asked for but you received while I have been kept in the dark, sent under separate cover or inserted into Shawn's file but how you provide these documents and written information SHOULD NOT DELAY THE FILES SHAWN WAS TO PROFIDE TO ME, DIRECTLY,

THIS APPROACH IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. I want a list of every meeting involving County Manager(s) today, I want any correspondence not in Shawn's file today. I want a list of meetings involving County staff, commissioners, external regulatory agencies, community organizations, correspondence, memos, strategy suggestions, meeting summaries, sent to me today separate from Shawn's complete file of unaltered or filtered documents delivered to me today unfiltered.

I EXPECT TO BE FULLY SATISFIED IN MY REQUESTS TODAY, AND A FULL SCHEDULE OF ALL MEETINGS FROM THE COUNTY MANAGER TODAY!!!! I expect a complete list of past and future meetings on "non-attainment" today, and an invitaton to attend every meeting scheduled from 9:00 am today until further notice.

After MY REQUEST for written files, is fully satisfied today (after unnecessary and unacceptable delay tactics).

I am absolutely appalled by the handling of this matter and I don't want phone calls, or "updates"...It's too late for that after what has occurred so far,. After I receive complete fulfillment of my requests from the Planning Dept. and County Manager(s), in writing, complete today, then discussions can occur on moving forward in a practical manner that ends the unacceptable handling of this issue to date.

BRUCE AND CHRIS C, instead of "filtering" the information from Planning, please send me a full transcript of meetings on this issue the past six months, who was present, who said what, strategy and position statements, correspondence, memos, and I want a schedule of internal and external meetings (every single meeting held or scheduled) with extensive details.

The secrecy and "spinning games" demand that I formally request a seat at the table for EVERY SINGLE meeting and conversation on this issue effective immediately, beginning today.

After my request is met today, in full, with separate responses from Shawn and Chris O'Keefe, and separate responses from the County Manager(s) to the request sent to Planning Dept. last week from the County today,as well, provided separately, in writing, with all electronic files sent electronically.

I am appalled at the way this has been handled. Secerecy was unneccessary but clearly the approach of County staff, and Commissioners who were not "kept out of the loop" as I have been. I was elected by the people and should not have to file FOIA requests or deal with this abuse of power by certain commissioners and/or staff.

When my request is satisfied by both the County Manager(s) and Shawn, today, separately, then we can talk about this issue, but not until my request is met, exactly as requested.

"Updates" are not an appropriate response to my request for original information, until I am satisfied my request has been met, all documents and meeting briefings are provided, TODAY!!!!


Every document and correspondence I want from both Planning and County Managers, provided separately...and I want staff to develop a document with a complete list of what actions are needed to ensure the way this non-attainment issue has been dealt with NEVER happens again on any issue!!!!

I EXPECT MY REQUEST WILL BE FULFILLED TODAY, that from today forward I will have a seat at the table for every single meeting on this issue from now on, every document requested from the period I was kept out of the loop, and who was involved, decisions made...suggestions, position recommendations, correspondence.

I expect the information from Planning provided in full...exactly as requested, including the file sent to County Manager's exactly as sent...And County Manager's to only add ANY additional materials which are not part of the file prepared by the Planning department. Thos materials from County Management and Legal should be provided today, separately, inwriting, original documents and only meetings scheduling from today forward, and a full account of meetings the past six months or documents not provided to Shawn sent to me under separate cover.

This secrecy and approach ends today. I am fed up at being excluded and the misinformation and unauthorized activity on "non-attainment."

Bruce and Chris C., I will send you the request sent to Chris O'Keefe and Shawn last week which I await a response to...I expect it today directly from Shawn. Nothing changed. You may revise that file but not delay or alter that file. If you wish to make any changes that must be provided in addition to the "raw" information. I expect TODAY a response in writing with all the information requested from Planning from your office as well.

Before amending anything from Shawn and Chris O'Keefe's file in response to my request I WANT A LIST OF MEETINGS SCHEDULED, A SUMMARY OF PAST MEETINGS, STRATEGY DOCUMENTS



I am extremely disappointed in the County's secrecy, concealment of information, indications of hidden agendas, and if there is no validity to these assertations...drop the games. I was elected by the citizens and I am appalled that I being stonewalled and excluded from secretive discussions on the "non-attainment" issue. Get me that schedule of future meetings THIS MORNING, NOTE I WILL EXPECT TO BE PRESENT AT EVERY MEETING FROM NOW ON, AND GET ME ALL THE INFORMATION ON THIS MATTER PER MY REQUEST TODAY.



Thank You for Getting Me a FULL Response with unaltered materials and documentation TODAY!!! (See request below to Chris O'Keefe and Shawn Ralston..I expect a full response from Planning today and a separate response from County Manager's, completely separate from the response from Planning Dept., TODAY as well)

I hope this provess will end now and this is the last time I am excluded from discussions I should be involved in and the last time I request information and get stonewalled instead of a response, a total disregard for the public who expect that this "business as usual" from New Hanover County Government will end and we the people will be spared misleading information like that which has defined the handling of this non-attainment issue by the County is never repeated.

A FULL RESPONSE TO MY RERQUEST I EXPECT TODAY! No More excuses. We can talk "updates" and other actions to prevent a repeat of this affront to accountable open transparent government following fulfillment of my request, now with the same request being delivered (with this e-mail) to County Management that was previously sent to Planning Dept,. and I want responses from both today!

I expect to be at EVERY meeting and copied on all correspondence pertaining to "non-attainment" effective immediately, forwarded all previous correspondence and meeting info, today.

Thank You,


Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


About as well.....

About as well as the buttercup in the white house is working out for you!!

Better a tea bagger than self serving mediocrity

Brian may not be smooth but he sure is an improvement over Barfield, Thompson and Catlin. Thanks to them we have CFPUA, R3 and a bunch of other messes we need our leaders to clean up. Better someone asking questions on what we are doing and why, than Barfield seizing the schools, Thompson threatening to punch out mayors and Catlin and his hypocrisy. Catlin's arrogance is no substitute for results.
Berger has every right to be mad as heck--so should we all.

Got voter's remorse?

I thought of an idea to alleviate the county's budget problems: They could sell raffle tickets and the winner gets to slap all 30,000 voters who put this thing into office. If there was ever an example of why a basic civics & literacy exam should be required to get a voter registration card, Berger is it.

WAY TO GO BRIAN!! I suspect

WAY TO GO BRIAN!! I suspect any derogatory remarks have been posted by Barfield's cronies,lazy moochers who live for a handout, or the criminals who funnel taxpayer money into their own pockets. The corruption in this county is absolutely appalling and those guilty should go to jail for it. It is not surprising that they would withhold incriminating information from the ONE and ONLY elected official who is trying to put a stop to those who steal from us and screw us. Voter's remorse??? Are you smoking crack?? This is EXACTLY what he was elected to do which is to stop the secret deals, stealing, and corruption. For those who thought disclosing this email would hurt him, you are dead wrong. It only affirms he is doing his job for the taxpayers and voters; and anyone who opposes or obstructs him WILL BE VOTED OUT.

Tell us what corruption

Tell us what corruption you're talking about, don't just sit there and generalize, be specific, if you can that is!!!!

Berger is Mentally Unstable, should resign

First, there was the issue with the domestic violence. Now this. Obviously, Berger is a lunatic. Let's remember who put him in office -- the Tea Party nut jobs like Ben McCoy, ABLE, and the old fart, Curtis Wright. Rick Catlin is the best county commissioner we've had in years, and it's a shame Berger has alienated himself from the other Republicans. Berger should be held legally responsible for his lies about corruption in the NHC government -- it's called libel. He has tarnished the name of honest public servants. He must resign. He is a disgrace to the New Hanover County GOP.


Did I hear you say "honest" in the same sentence referring to politicians?????? Surely you jest!!!!!!

Not in this county, in any other county, in the state, and most certainly not in Washington DC. The biggest liars of all are in politics mostly. Say anything to get a vote, do what they want once elected. Can't say as I blame Berger here....he is tired of the run around and not getting the proper information. All county governments do these "little secret meetings" and don't for a second doubt it. They do a lot of it on those taxpayer paid for cell phones too!! We are all paying for them to do what they can to line their own pockets and such and help just the special interests of the few.

So glad 2012 is not that far away now!!!!


one of the rats who lives in the court house basement.

Internal Memos

Who sent Brian Berger's internal Memo
"Request for Information on Non-Attainment Issues"

Was it:
Bruce Shell (New Hanover County Manager;
Chris Coudriet (Assistant County Manager);
Chris O'Keefe (County Planning Manager;
Shawn Ralston (Senior Environmental Planner);

A Concerned Citizen

Info... Brian Berger....looks like he CC'd himself

Guest - we got Berger's

Guest - we got Berger's email off the New Hanover County email server at the Government Center. Anyone and everyone has access to it.

Scott Pickey
News Director

Scott Pickney: How do we DE-Commission a County Commissioner?

Scott Pickney: I believe the tax payers would like to know how to remove a Comissioner from the Comission? I'm sure that would be a good follow up story for the front page of the paper.

Can taxpayers have a Recall Election?

Is this True below?
Write: Legislative Mailing Address: NC House of Representatives 300 N. Salisbury Street, Room 420. Raleigh, NC 27603-5925 and tell her we want the same recall legislation introduced for New Hanover County as you did for Topsail Island

How about some more answers. . . .for the people so they can take it back into their own hands.

Curious Question

Do you routinely peruse emails on the Government Center mail server, or were you directed to this particular email? If so, who directed you to it? A Staffer?

If that is his email word-for-word, typos and all, it reads like an an email sent in a fit of anger without any proof-reading or post-typed editing. It's like he exploded and hit send.

Rather than headlining "Berger Flips Out" - would not your time have been better spent investigating the allegations he made IN the email? After all, without that subsequent information, this email really has no context, other than he was pissed when he sent it.

Were there really secret meetings as he claims? Why aren't there links to copies of the redacted documents he says he received? I'm sure he would have provided copies to you to draw attention to this matter. Why not make the request for information directly to Shawn, as Mr. Berger did?

Not a very thorough approach to journalism. I have no love for Mr. Berger, but I think it's clear that whomever the copywriter and editor for this article were, they need refreshers in journalistic integrity.

Let's try to set a better example in future articles. This is supposed to be news, not op-ed or entertainment.

Two-Faced Catlin Called Out by Berger

Dicky Catlin looks, talks, and acts like a slimy used car dealer...talking out both sides of his mouth. He sounds smooth delivering polished lies...he got called out by someone smarter and unlikely, berger is down to earth and real, unlike slick rick. Berger is the genuine article, and Dick Catlin is a fake...he pretends to oppose titan while secretly working for the biggest polluters. He lies and Berger called him on one of his lies...probably not the last time. People who work for the County like Berger...most of us. He's what we need, a fighter, and he says what he means. Catlin is the opposite, just another slick typical politician who tells us what we want to hear...even though its all lies. We need more people in office like Berger, and less Dick Catlins. WWAY hates Berger, but even the stations poll showed that all the lies and BS from this station can't fool everyone...Give it a break Pickey...people are sick of your lies about Brian Berger. He's legit...take notes. you might learn something...about being a decent human being...for starters. Go Berger!

WilmingtonWatcher EXPOSED as an un-employed hack

Thanks again Ben McCoy for your many alias comments to boost ABLE's fringe cause. If you get a real job -- I forget you have a "job" as you're a self-employed graphic artist working out of your home -- and stopping blogging all day, the world would be a better place.

Secrecy in County Politics

Whats new, this has gone since I came here in 1970. Commissioner Berger should do more than flip out. He should introduce legislation to fire any County Employee whom refuses or circumvents request from any citizen and especially a County Commissioner. Further, Mr. Berger should expect just the facts, no inuendo, no suggestions, no nothing but the facts he request and any middlemen is unacceptable. If the County Manager does not have control of his employees and those employees honor request from the public or anyone else then he needs to go. I am sick and tired of politics and we need more Politicians like Mr. Berger who will not lay back while the county does what it wants. Mr. Berger make them pay, threaten their jobs, ensure your desire to make County Governement more transparent is adhered to, or else.

Give them a Break

Contrary to the perception of a lot of nutjobs, 99.9% of public employees do not give a flip about politics or conspiracies. 99.9% of them just want to do their jobs and go home to their families. For Mr. Berger to attack line staff is a low blow. In most governmental organizations, there is a chain of command. These employees should not be subjected to be gophers for individual commissioners. If Mr. Berger has a concern, he needs to ask the county manager. It's then the manager's job to get the information for him. Not some mid-level planner. I don't agree with Thompson on much, but he is right to question Berger's knowledge of the council/manager form of government. Leave Ms. Ralston and Mr. O'Keefe out of this. If he has issues, he needs to address them to his fellow commissioners or the county manager.

The county manager reports to the commissioners

and the rest of the employees report to the manager. There is a protocol that commissioner's are supposed to follow and Berger violated it. Sounds like Jason Thompson is going to get this little Napoleon some further training and it seems like he needs it. It reads like the employees did exactly what they should and that's give the information to the manager so the information could be given to the commissioner.


there is a chain of command....but if your bosses boss asks for information...YOU GET IT TO HIM!...just the way it goes. Sounds like that is all the guy wants...and it looks like people are stonewalling and hiding information.....makes you wonder WHY?

and they getrit to him in a timely manner...

BEFORE the day of the meeting - that he has to find out about by demanding answers! Any manager (which is what he IS by definition) would get angry at being INTENTIONALLY KEPT OUT OF THE LOOP, and now they re trying to ostracize him for doing so.

This county obviously has many self interest rats eating away at the rafters of local government so that the voters are left with a leaky governmental roof; more concerned about taking care of its own than about the people it serves - as many of us have suspected for a long time - If anyone needed proof of this, consider it QED THANKS to BRIAN BERGER.

He is only ONE MAN against what looks like an entrenched family of corruption, but hopefully any light shed on this matter will be seen for the truth that it represents, not the corporate propaganda that this corporate lapdog is trying to present.

gimme a break

I suppose now us taxpayers will have to pay for an employee to work fulltime getting him information the second he demands it. he sounds like a paranoid cry baby to me. you know these people are doing their work, too. be reasonable about when you request and how long it may take to compile and you might get somewhere. Alienating every single person you work with is no way to get a job done.

ABLE's Ben McCoy

Thanks Ben McCoy for you many aliases. I am sure ABLE is looking forward to electing you to Wilmington City Council. NOT!