Berger MIA as Commission, School Board talk money

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Submitted: Sat, 05/14/2011 - 3:59am
Updated: Sat, 05/14/2011 - 8:47pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A meeting between the New Hanover County Commission and School Board this morning was supposed to help get the two groups on the same page. While it may have helped bring them together as they work on funding for schools, it also showed a continuing division among commissioners.

“I’m willing to take the political risk of saying to the people of New Hanover County, ‘If you need to blame someone, don’t blame the county commissioners. Blame the school system, because we’re the ones asking for the money,'” School Board member Ed Higgins said as the two sides talked about money for education. “And if we’re asking for the money, we should be prepared to defend it.”

Higgings does not apologize for putting the needs of education above all else. He volunteered to be the scapegoat if the commission would raise taxes to fund education, but County Commissioner Ted Davis said absolutely not to the idea of raising taxes again.

Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield said he understands their needs, but the School Board is not the only entity asking the commission for money.

“The reality is you only have a finite supply of resources, finances, coming in, and you’ve got to best allocate those as you can,” Barfield said.

School Board member Elizabeth Redenbaugh said education should not be cut on anymore.

“Children, they are the future,” she said. “They are the future of our county. It impacts the economics for this county, not only now but for 10, 20, 30 years in the future.”

Besides the tension between commissioners and school board members, another elephant in the room was the absence of Commissioner Brian Berger.

Berger was criticized at Thursday’s agenda briefing for always being late. He claims the other commissioners have a gang mentality, but Barfield said Berger is just out there, while the rest of the them get along fine.

“It’s important that when you’re elected to serve in the role that we’re serving in and the level that we’re serving in, that you’re committed, number one, to your responsibilities, that you show up on time and that you educate yourself on the issues, so that when you speak, you can speak intelligently,” Barfield said.

We called Berger and tried to find him at his house, but no one answered.

Back at the meeting, most involved said despite previous problems, they were satisfied.

“I thought the county commissioners listened to the concerns of the school system, and expressed a willingness to go back and look at their budget and to see what they may be able to do to help us,” Higgins said.

The meeting ended with appreciation for what the County Commission has done, but School Board members say the children are still in dire need of more funding

As for Berger, his absence comes the morning after he was late to that agenda briefing, where he accused another commissioner of poking him during an argument. It’s the latest in a series of squabbles between Berger and his fellow commissioners


  • Help NHC says:

    I just watched the video where he was interviewed by WWAY and he seems like he is short a few chromosomes? I’m asking seriously..did NHC vote a mentally challenged person in office? His speech and body actions seems so..

  • Guesthere says:

    Hey Berger, throw me a 3!

    Seriously, I think you are going to start seeing even more than in the past people voting against incumbents in local and national elections. Unfortunately, both Democrats and Republicans that take a seat away from an opponent make the mistake of thinking that they were voted for, when in reality it was just a vote against the incumbent or incumbent’s party.

  • Guest994 says:

    Let me get this straight…Jason Thompson, the HOTHEAD of the century, a man who challenged Curtis Wright to a fight outside, who uses the F-word in every other sentence, who challenged the Mayor of Leland to a fight, who routinely threw fits at Wilmington City Council meetings is giving Berger advice on how to act?
    Barfield was not elected because he is talented, either…he is elected by Black voters singleshotting elections. Catlin is more interested in helping his personal business on the board and Ted Davis is a lawyer so enough said about his general ethics. Yes, Berger is not a good representative but NONE of these commission yahoos is a good choice!
    Any more ganging up on Berger is going to look like the board is mocking a guy with an obvious mental disability and I feel sure it is going to backfire. Let Berger do his own thing…the voters will hold him accountable.

  • WilmingtonMAJ says:

    Does anyone see a resemblance between Berger and Dustin Hoffman in Rainman?

  • Guester says:

    I might agree that Jason Thompson is certainly a hothead and I don’t always agree with him, but he at least is a straight shooter, shows up for meetings on time and has looked at the materials enough to formulate his own opinion, like it or not. So what about Berger?

  • Joyce Ingraham says:


  • Guest2011nhc says:

    This mans behavior is erratic. If you are elected to represent people in this county at least show up on time. He goes on rants and is very confused in some statements to the media. The are obviously some big problems with this man’s personal life. Someone needs a mental evaluation and a drug test.

  • kate says:

    At least you see Berger “is not a good representative” and the comment about Barfield is completely unwarranted. I’m white & voted for Barfield so it wasn’t “Blacks” or “singleshotting”.

  • Sal says:

    Brian Berger certainly gives hope to Ricky Meeks

  • GuesttseuG says:

    This is why a person shows up on time to all other appointments. So, when something serious comes up, no one questions their absence.

    Do a google search for the term “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. It’s an amazing story.

  • Guest11221 says:

    This guy is a frickin nut. I live in Brunswick County, but what were you guys looking at when you voted this freak into office. Did you even look at the ballot or did you vote based on alpabetical order. I really do not care for Thompson at all. He is as arrogant as it gets, but he shows up and generally makes reasonable statements. I think someone should call him on his challenges to throwdown in the parking lot, but he makes competent statesments. Right or wrong and if I agree or not, they are competent. Berger is just a nut!! I cannot think of anything else to call him. A frickin nut!!

  • WilmWatcher says:

    Give me a break – this wall-to-wall Berger being late coverage is pathetic. Sure he needs to be on time – but you guys are making this like he committed some atrocious crime – how many more people are going to write some pseudo-witty comment about him being mentally challenged? He’s late to meetings so he’s mentally challenged? Give the guy a break – he took the place of Bill Caster who was a monument to the good ol boys way of doing things – Caster could always be counted on to support the status quo – Berger doesn’t fit the mold, so he’s constantly being marginalized and sidelined. The other commissioners don’t want to work with him; don’t respect the will of the people who elected him there – so they pitch fits and scream and yell so that the mindless, feckless media echo chamber will dutifully continue to fight the PR war against him for the sake of the other commissioners. Then brainless morons who are probably still being breastfed and have never accomplished anything in their wretched lives can show up anonymously on the internet and repeat each other’s comments over and over again; pretending to be original, witty, and intelligent.

  • Guest3344 says:

    This rant must have been brought to you by “I didn’t read the article.”
    Apparently you didn’t read the article, or the one before it. THIS article is not about his tardiness, it’s about him NOT fulfilling his commissioner obligations and attending this meeting. If it would have been a meeting about what types of paper to put in the copier or what types of pens to buy, that would be one thing. Berger 100% missed a meeting on education and didn’t get any of “the people he represents” ideas into the future of the children of the county HE represents. Nobody is talking about HOW he represents New Hanover County, it’s that he DIDN’T represent them period.
    What happened at the agenda briefing, he was asked to vote on his support of WDI and his response was that he wanted to revamp how funding from the county is done. That was not the issue and it was not the time for him to bring that up. At least the other commissioners had the decency to table the issue for until he got there so he could vote.

  • Guesthere says:

    So this is your defense:

    Our guy is bad, but the rest of the commissioners are terrible.


    Our guy is bad, but he replaced a guy that was terrible.

    Come on, this is the problem. If this guy is going to bring the much needed change, he needs to have his ducks in a row.

    His ducks are all over the damn place.

    And to those who think it’s unfair to see people ganging up and posting messages against Berger on this site, where were you when Thompson and Barfield were being dragged through the mud over the past few months on this site?

  • 9743 says:

    About the meeting on Friday between the NHC Commissioners and the NHC Board of Education, it was reported yesterday’s edition (5-14-11) of the Star News that Board chairman Don Hayes, a republican, is calling for a tax increase on the residents of New Hanover County, WHAT!! This is just one reason why the BOE does NOT need taxing authority now or at anytime in the future….if they ever get it you’d better hold onto your wallets because it will be a long and expensive ride!!!

  • Guest 50 says:

    Yes I will agree Berger appears to be out there….something is wrong with this guy!!!! However has anyone looked at the other righteous ones on the board….Thompson is a bully, loud mouth sore loser that is why he will not run next election…THANK GOD! Barfield was a pushover to be in charge since the bully Thompson made a comment he is the man and guess what everyone went with it…was that out of fear? After all we do have recordings of Thompson wanting to duke it out with folks as this fine christian man uses word that are not only inappropriate but offensive to some. Then you have Davis a lawyer…who only wants what is good for his cronies and then the other one who he goes with the group. How sad!!! ALL OF YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF…MY 10 YEAR OLD ACTS OLDER THAN ALL OF YOU. SOLUTION……GET RID OF ALL OF YOU AND PUT A NOBODY UP THERE WHO HAS NO TIES IN THE LEGAL WORLD, CONSTRUCTION, BUILDER ETC WORLD. THEN MAYBE THE PEOPLE WILL BE REPRESENTED TRULY!!!

  • Guester says:

    I was thinking more along the lines of Forrest Gump.

  • Guest3344 says:

    First of all, education is very important and should be funded fully with what is NEEDED. My hat’s off to the Board & Commissioners in attendance for being civil and trying to work things out. The problem with education today is every kid has an excuse pre-made for them as to why they act the way the do or why they can’t perform to the level they are supposed to. Let’s get back to the old school teaching where when a kid screws up, they face their punishment. Many schools have students constantly breaking the rules and teachers not enforcing them bc they don’t get the support from administration. TAKE CELL PHONES, IPODS, ETC from kids who have them at school. Maybe then they wouldn’t be distracted and could actually learn something.

    Now as for Berger….he must be a complete fool. I did not vote for him and will NEVER vote for him. How can a person be taken seriously when they can’t fulfill the commitments that they have? OH WAIT, maybe this was one of those back room, secret meetings that he didn’t know about and was excluded from. OUT WITH BERGER!!!!!!!

  • WilmWatcher says:

    Berger was tending to a friend who was in a terrible accident – and as of this writing, I don’t even know if he lost his life or not. I know that is no excuse for missing out on watching Barfield add another 200 lbs. stuffing greasy bacon in his mouth, or listening to Thompson insult the school board for daring to ask for more funding – but that’s just the way it is. So suck it.

  • Guest00 says:

    We know this can’t be true because I thought the only friend he has is you. Then again maybe the puppet master isn’t a true friend to his puppet.

  • guest111 says:

    The term is ‘suck it up’

  • Guest333 says:

    At first I thought it was somewhat comical, soap opera drama and silly shenanagans, but after taking a MOMENT of Critical Thinking, I quickly understood that these were the individuals that we took the time to cast our vote for or against, and one after the other is ending up in the news with the most nonsensical stuff.

    First we had the offer from a goofball commissioner to go fist-city in Leland
    Then, a Commissioner threatened members of the school board
    Then a commissioner will not respond to a reporter because he stated that he had “to go iron his shirt”

    Now,there’s more TROUBLE Right here in River City!

    NOW, that’s a capital “T” and that rhymes with P
    That stands for Poll
    *And, I guarentee you fella’s, Your poll numbers would be at an all time LOW if we even bothered to chart such stats.

    You lunatics made Page One Headline in the Star News today. Hope you’re Proud!

    It certainly makes me sooo proud when summer visitors come to town and see this utter nonsense and laugh at us for electing CLOWNS.

    The next candidates for these Council, Commission and Board Seats need to be examined and scrutinized much more closely because I would hope that none of us are willing to put up with insanity anymore. I don’t think candidate forums with news panels are enough!!

    LET’s SET IT UP FOR ONLY THE PUBLIC TO ASK THE QUESTIONS…like have you seen your mental health provider today?

  • Josepsh says:

    I met Mr. Berger the other day for the first time ever.This guy couldn’t even speak. I thought he was playing at frist,then I relized he was serious. I hope he doesn’t waste his time with running another term again. I was born and raised here in New Hanover, been here for 76 years with seven generations in the past in New Hanover and NEVER thought a guy like this would ever be representing this county like ours.

  • Guest19375 says:

    Mr. Berger is the laughing stock of NHC. Was he trying to play a joke on this county by putting his name on the ballot? Were the citizens hoodwinked?
    This is one burger lacking the cheese!

  • Jay Hanig says:

    We have been going through a similar uproar in Topsail Beach though for very different reasons. Our solution was to get our state representative to push a local law through the state legislature which just passed yesterday. Now, like Oak Island, we have a mechanism to remove ineffective or misbehaving commissioners between elections.

    Maybe you folks need a similar law? Go to:

    and look up H193. See what you think.

  • Straight Shooter says:

    If Berger doesn’t do the right thing and step down than we should have a recall law in place to usher him out!

  • Guest-of-the-day says:

    who ostracize and assault their fellow board members, and represent business interests exclusively.

  • Guest-of-the-day says:

    adjusted for inflation, are we asking for the same amount of money from tax payers that we were asking for 50 years ago? Why are children coming out of K12 under performing in the three R’s (for those that don’t remember what those are, they’re: reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic)? Maybe schools can up those stats by getting rid of the computers, i-pads, and all those other CRUTCHES and concentrate on some good ‘ol basic teaching and come under budget? Or is that too easy?

  • Guest1022 says:

    And only 10 years overdue.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    However, to the rest of us, Castor personified everything WRONG with this county. He obviously took off his integrity when he took off that uniform.

    If you ever long for the old days, just cast an eye on CFPUA, Castor’s Frankenstein.

  • Guest111 says:

    I would have voted Charlie Sheen in office before I would vote Caster. God, Please don’t let that fool come back. I doubt he will. He tucked tail and ran when he lost the election. . . like a little brat who didn’t get his way.

  • JM says:

    The saddest part of the “Bergermeister” sham is the fact that because of poor voter turnout during last yrs election, that a fine, dedicated, trustworthy and well repected commissioner (Mr. Caster) lost the election. Any chance we can get him back?


  • sevenseas says:

    No, most of the citizens of New Hanover County were not hoodwinked, just enough tea partiers and their lackeys were hoodwinked into voting this guy into office but he’ll be gone long before his term ends, any bets?

  • Guest111 says:

    Go back and look at what the Sheriff’s old downtown office and jail sold for. One Million Dollars and it was valued at 6 or 8 million or more. The commissioners let it go for nothing. They should have all walked out the door and ran, in shame!

  • Guest333 says:

    Dear GuestoftheDay,

    Berger is just NOT Working Out!

    Plain and Simple!

    Who was behind this Candidate? Who endorsed him?

    Now, we all know that the other boys in the playground are bad boys, and they will all pay with lost seats during the next go around, but Berger is clearly a problem child that needs to step down now.

    It is too late to salvage his reputation, it’s shot, he’s just too weird. He’s a wimp.

    Commissioner Hot Head, Narcistic maniac gave him some “testing” grief, and Berger responds by being a cry baby about it and attempts to ‘get even’ by NOT SHOWING UP to a vital meeting on time. Poor response logic.

    “Commissioner” (and I use that term loosely) Berger appears to be extremely unstable and openly unraveling with each encounter of his fellow commissioners.
    If he can’t handle the heat, he needs to GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN, before he self ignites!

  • Guest-of-the-day says:

    What’s next? Threats on his life? A guy can’t stand for what’s right around here without being physically abused? Why does that not surprise me?

  • Guest333 says:

    You are absolutely correct strait shooter!

    BB should indeed step down because some people are just not ABLE to be County Commissioners ;.)

  • Straight Shooter says:

    If Berger truly cares about this county. as he says, than he should stop this madness, admit he made a big mistake and resign!

  • Guester says:

    Obviously this guy is in WAY over his head. He doesn’t have a clue what to say about any issues or can’t make decisions unless “someone else” tells him what to say. I didn’t vote for him or his ghost writers, and this is exactly why. He is only a front man for a whole other cast of characters. He can’t even make it to a meeting on time, if he shows up at all, and he complains that things are happening behind his back? Give me a break. Next time you say you are fighting for the taxpayers, Mr. Berger – don’t include me. Looks like I’m paying you to do absolutely nothing.

  • Guest65465646565 says:

    time for a “Time Out”… go to your rooms .

    and dont come out till you can play nice..

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