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!!!!,,
I EXPECT TO BE INVOLVED IN EVERY MEETING FROM NOW ON THIS ISSUE,.
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 MEETING ENSURE I AM PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR FROM NOW ON!!!!
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