Tempers flare at New Hanover Co. Commissioners meeting; Updated with video from meeting

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Submitted: Tue, 10/04/2011 - 3:59am
Updated: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 5:03pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioners voted to pass an amendment to the county’s industrial zoning district Monday night. The ordinance will make new companies file for a special use permit, including Titan if or when it comes to the region. The vote came after a heated exchange between one commissioner and the public.

Vice-Chair Jason Thompson asked the audience at the meeting how many of them were there simply to stop Titan rather than to see the zoning ordinance through. When only a few admitted to it he said he appreciated their honesty but then said he felt many others in the room were being dishonest. The audience then exploded.

Thompson’s framed picture in the lobby ended up in a bathroom stall after a handful of people were escorted out of the meeting.

“Each commissioner has the ability to state their opinions and their thoughts and I respect what each of my fellow commissioners have to say,” said Jonathan Barfield, New Hanover County Commission Chair. “I don’t always agree, as you can tell with meetings that we have, but I do respect all four commissioners that I serve with.”

Whether the large crowd showed up at the meeting to stop Titan or not the night did end with the passing of a zoning ordinance which requires industries to have a special use permit.

The motion carried 4 to 1. The only commissioner against it was Thompson.

“When a business wants to come here that will indeed be heavy industrial we will be able to pretty much analyze what they are going to be able to bring to our community, whether they are going to be having smokestacks, those kind of things and the effect,” said Barfield. “Then we can make a decision whether or not to allow them to come to New Hanover County.”

For Titan that means they will have to come to the county commission and ask for a special use permit if they decide to expand their operation.

The few people who were opposed to the amendment implied that it would be restrictive to industry and further limit jobs in the area.

“I don’t think its going hamper economic development at all. If anything I think it’s going to increase and enhance our opportunities to bring quality organizations to New Hanover County,” added Barfield.

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO FROM THE MEETING (CHOOSE THE “ITEM 7 PART 2 OF 2″ AND “PUBLIC COMMENTS” LINKS) http://newhanovernc.swagit.com/player.php?refid=10032011-78


  • Guest1458 says:

    was one of the few people to stand up to Thompson and do so with ferocity. Thompson probably deserved that lashing for calling a room full of people liars but he’s probably not entirely incorrect. I sense that a lot of people believe these ordinance changes will stop Titan and that’s why the base of support for the ordinance changes was so vocal. It might stop the next Titan but unfortunately, if history is any indicator, all the angry crowds you can muster won’t usually get a no vote on most development projects. Unless a new type of candidate emerges in all future elections and wins, you’ll see future boards listen patiently and then vote yes on these future special use permits with a rubber stamp.

    Thompson made an important point when he said that because these industrial projects will be special uses, you can no longer email, call, talk to in person, etc commissioners before the vote. You can only show up the night of the vote and rant to a future board that will pretend to listen before they vote yes. For this reason, the opponents of the revisions were grasping at straws in their attempts to paint these changes as job killers. If a good company wants to establish operations in New Hanover County, a fact based special use permit process won’t discourage them – especially given the commissioner’s history of voting yes. The board has to consider facts/data and not the emotions of an angry crowd and upset nearby land owners. It’s a very good thing that these industrial uses can no longer begin operations without a public hearing (to shine some light on the project if nothing else) but the idea that a public hearing will stop most of them is laughable. But that is up to the voters and who they elect in the future.

  • Guest1876 says:

    Hey gang lets not just pick on other two. Davis and his coziness with airlie gardens and past support for titan, catlin and his two faced positions on so many issues like the ballpark and development-just follow the money and barfield who voted yes last night but plays golf regularly with titan lobbyist. Picking on other two doesn’t do justice to the kinds of shennanigans these other self advancing stooges engage in on a regular basis—none of these saints is free from criticism.

  • Guest 19 says:

    WWAY, how about pursuing Jason Thompson wearing his military uniform to Louise McColl’s 70th birthday party. His appearance at this function appears to be a violation of USMC uniform code.His presence shows he has no allegiance to his political party. I think they call them RINO’s.As for always challenging someone to a physical confrontation, shows his IMMATURITY. A personal message to Mr. Thompson, in life there is someone who is always bigger and stronger than yourself therefore DO NOT be surprised one day when you have met your match. I will say it was deserved due to your cowboy attitude. I work with two Citadel graduates and they are not impressed with your behavior. Shame on the rest of the board members for not condemning his actions.

  • Gramps1935 says:

    At laest this time he didn’t challenge someone half his size, to step outside, in the parking lot.

  • Guest20 says:

    Yes, actually, he did. One of the posters below wrote:

    “Jason Thompson chased a guy down the steps after the meeting and held up his fist and told the guy he will settle it with him “at an MMA match”. The guy was much smaller than Jason and had a very scared look on his face and walking backwards away from the building trying to move away from Jason. Deputies also came out of the building to intervene in this altercation.”

    The guy was apparently half Jason’s size, but they were already in the parking lot. Like I said in a previous post, Jason is nothing but a bully. I sure hope one day someone takes his up on his threats. I would PAY to see that one!

  • No Body says:

    In the past, when watching news interviews with Thompson, I’ve noticed rifles standing in a rack behind him in an office.

    Is that his personal office, or is it an office provided by the county?

    If it’s his personal office, I have no problem with it.

    It it’s his County Commissioner office, they need to be removed.

    I’m sure there are signs stating “no weapons allowed” in the building.

    Functional or not, the letter of the law should prevail, and if on County property, they should be removed, and citations issued.

    Personally, I don’t care for his personality, and his confrontational, belligerent attitude.

    I’m sure New Hanover County could do better in representation that someone who has a chip on his shoulder.

    He certainly seems to have a very short fuse, for someone in politics, and I don’t see him going any further than Commissioner, or political lackey.

    I thank him for his military service, however, when an elected official forgets that he/she is representing all the people, not just the one’s that agree with him, it’s time to resign and allow someone with a cooler head to help guide the County into the future.

    Thompson should chill out before his political career follows his
    “framed picture” into the toilet.

  • OwenRoe says:

    To Guest7969
    I hear voices in my head AND they don’t like you!

  • Guest7969 says:

    To see this train wreck that is anti-Titan move….LOL..the commissioners GUARANTEED that Titan WILL be coming to NHC last night by passing this…your heads are going to EXPLODE when you realize it!

  • Guest110 says:

    Me think that you have it wrong. Most voters do trust him to do what is in their interest not the usual self dealing and arrogance that we get from Catlin and Thompson. He has made mistakes-but so have the others.
    As other commenters have noted given some of the past antics of Catlin and the rest of the “stooges” they are in no position to throw stones. Unlike them, none of his supporters have engageed in dirty tricks to embarrass another person- like stealing personal notes and unlawfully leaking information from his confidential HR records. Those are simple facts which only in this town aren’t prosecuted. Imagine if it had been Barfield or Davis? Some of the things done to him, represent the worst in our politics. So at least for me, I’ll give him another chance. We have transparency and no taxpayer funding for an arts council and a ball team—primarily thanks to him. So we can blast him for mistakes- but remember he has helped many of us by being there.

  • Guest20 says:

    Sorry to disagree, but Berger is just as much an embarrassment as Thompson with his razor slashings, property destruction, and hundred plus texts of suicide. He is mentally ill and needs to get some serious help.

    Nice in person or not, he’s not the kind of County Commissioner I want to represent me. He hasn’t got the balls to admit he’s wrong because he’s constantly trying to blame everyone else for his own actions. He’s lost all credibility, and voters don’t trust him as far as they can throw him.

    Benjamin Franklin said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” How right he was!

  • Guest20 says:

    They’ve been telling us for years to drop dead…so what else is new?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    One of the biggest complaints among the left-wing crazies (Republican or Democrat) is “economic injustice” and the growing wealth gap between rich and poor. They are constantly whining about the evaporating middle class.

    Here we see the county commissioners championing a policy that will widen that spread even more in New hanover County. What they’re is saying by making heavy industry unwelcome, is “We don’t care about the poor or middle class.”

    The commissioners are telling everyone without a college degree to simply accept a job as a waiter or clerk.

    The commissioners are telling the poor and uneducated, “You’ll never get off food stamps, or out of public housing, because you’re never going to get a job that pays enough to support a family.”

    If we sincerely believe that we can attract and accept only “green jobs” and white collar office jobs then we are falling into the same mindset as Barfield, which is to ignore economic and historic reality. Any successful urban area needs a mix of jobs, from high paying white collar through noisy, stinky industrial jobs where you come home dirty every day. People pointing to RTP as a model need to understand that it is an isolated, intentionally structured pocket of desireable industries located withing a large urban area with a wide variety of jobs, exactly as I describe. You can’t support a growing city on the RTP model. It’s a suburban industrial park, not a city or urban county.

    So if you possess neither a college degree nor the wardrobe to work in an office every day, the County Commissioners just told Titan…AND YOU…to drop dead.

  • Guest461 says:

    …instead of sending the media to Bergers house as a distraction. Thompson is back where he used to be, where he belongs and displaying his true character. His portrait finally ended up where it should be and should stay…in the sewer. Kudos to those who delivered! Perhaps next time, they can put his real bust in the stanky toilet instead of a painted one…

  • Guest20 says:

    I have always said from the get-go that Jason Thompson was a bully. He was a bully as a City Councilman, and he’s a bully as a County Commissioner. He and Brian Berger are both a disgrace to the office they hold and should be kicked out. One is just as bad as the other and both are a stain on New Hanover County.

  • Guest1999 says:

    Jason Thompson is a bully, at times humorous at times disrespectful and threatening. I have seen the video and in this case, I am inclined to side with Thompson. He could have been more diplomatic, but was making a point. The crowd reaction was an uneccessary escalation, but this is one time Jason walked the line but I dont think he crossed it last night. Perhaps he has gained restraint and self-discipline with age!
    Brian Berger, to even mention in the same breath as a bully like the other commissioners, is laughable. Berger is the anti-politician, good intentions but not great delivery, and he is reasonable and will talk to any citizen about any issue with dignity, respect and a genuine interest in helping people get the growing tentacles of government out of lives and homes. Have you ever met Berger? Anyone who has knows he has a good heart, sincereity, intelligence and a quiet demeanor that quietly brings results on issues you’ll never find on wway or the liberal, big government shrill from the star-news (better for housetraining puppies than getting accurate news.
    I dont know Jason thomompson well, but I’ve heard things that amaze me he isn;t in jail. On the other hand, Brian Berger is a fresh voice with heart and courage and strength few possess. Agree or disagree, Berger treats people with respect and decency and that has to be tough considering the gratuitous attacks by catllin and friends sandy criner (judge..lol) and sandy best, the other commissiners, staff – yet Berger has shown incredible perseverance. He is the nice guy who doesn’t fit with the others forged from a more self-serving mold.

    Berger will be fine if he does end all contact with his psychologically unbalanced and rage-driven woman Heather B. Berger can do better and will be fine if he finds a woman with a bigger heart, and more intelligence, than heather. I see no embarassment there…unless it becomes a pattern. Thompsons threats and bullying are a long term trend…

  • Owen O'Neill says:

    Thompson was out of line. Belittling members of the audience and trying to embarrass members of the Planning Depts has no place with our elected officials. He brings nothing to the dance but his ego.

  • Guest757 says:

    I agreee with you 100%!!!!!!! He thinks he is better than everyone else.. and he does try to belittle people.

    Everytime he opens his mouth he is the laughing stock. he has lost everyones respect, to have respect you MUST learn to give it and he has never learned that one.

  • 22yearsinwilm says:

    We complain all we want but Voters will forget when election time rolls around how our politicians act and what they say! I have talked to This Man “child” on one occassion and he became very angry when I disagreed with him. He ended our discussion by telling to “PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS” as far as supporting another candidate who would run against him. I know he has also said he will not run again but we will see…….

  • Disgraceful says:

    I attended the meeting last night and it was disgraceful to have a sitting Commissioner insult the public that he purports to serve. Mr. Thompson has a profound inability to express himself without becoming a bully or to stoop to namecalling. I’ve heard Jason say on more than one occasion that citizens don’t participate in government like they should, perhaps it’s because when they do…he calls them liars. How dare you? I am pretty sure this is not the Code of Conduct you learned at the Citadel. This time, however, the crowd wasn’t having it and they said so…i think your political bullying days are over big boy.

  • charmike943 says:

    is uncertain. As you can see on his myspace for Commissioner;
    The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina
    • Commandants List
    • Dean’s List
    • Palmetto Medal
    • Regimental Operations Officer

    Military Experience:
    The United States Marine Corps
    • NCO of the Year
    • Navy Achievement Medal
    • Presidential Unit Citation
    • Combat Operations – Desert Storm

    He lists that he was on the Commandants List and the Dean’s List only to come out as an NCO (Non Commissioned Officer)???
    That doesn’t happen to Citadel Grads…so the question remains…what did he learn, or better yet, did he even graduate??

  • GuestStinger says:

    This is rather funny! I’m no Thompson defender but I have to wonder what the little guy said to him. The little fellow probably thought because Thompson is a commissioner that he’d just stand there and take it. One of life’s most important lessons: be careful in whose face you jump.

    The people who threw Thompson’s portrait in the toilet, you didn’t hurt Thompson but you could have potentially cost taxpayers money to replace that portrait. Kudos to that deputy for fishing it out of the toilet before it was ruined. I supported the ordinance revisions but I’m now embarrassed to be on the same wavelength as some of you juveniles. Is this what happens when you trustafarians suffer a single criticism in your oh so perfect and pampered lives?

  • Guest titan horse says:

    Jason was singing in full military dress to Louise McColl at McColl’s 70th birthday party the other week (with Titan’s Bob Odom in attendance). McColl of course the king maker of the democratic party and Thompson are great friends. Thompson’s use of the uniform was in violation of federal law.


    Jason Thompson wants so much to be loved by Titan and all their supporters. So much so he violates federal law to suck up to McColl and then uses his position as a county commissioner to intimidate a room full of people at a public meeting. Calling them liars? He should have a restraining order against him for abusive language and stupidity.

  • Mary says:

    Jason Thompson chased a guy down the steps after the meeting and held up his fist and told the guy he will settle it with him “at an MMA match”. The guy was much smaller than Jason and had a very scared look on his face and walking backwards away from the building trying to move away from Jason. Deputies also came out of the building to intervene in this altercation.

  • billy says:

    off with his head!!!

  • Guest9807 says:

    at a candidates forum and I think he said that he joined the Marines out of high school, served in Desert Storm and then went to the Citadel.

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