WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY'S 'THE RANT') -- While various boards, councils and commissions around the Cape Fear are languishing in dysfunction, under investigation or have lost public trust, the members of the New Hanover County Commission did something rare these day: They took a stand and did what was right for the greater good.
It's hard to believe that Commissioner Brian Berger has only been in office for 12 months. Harder still to think he has three more years to go.
This TV station was the first local media outlet to begin covering his quirks and eccentricities last winter. That's when we were told his now ex-girlfriend Heather Blaylock and her two children were living with him. Sources told us he refused to turn on the heat in the house. Blaylock mentioned on her Facebook page that they finally bought space heaters and would be able to get a good nights sleep. We also reported on Blaylock's call to 911 to report violent behavior.
Berger denied all those allegations during a phone conversation and threatened to sue us in an e-mail if we aired the story. It was the first lie of many he would tell us. The complaint even led to a DSS investigation.
Things have gone downhill for Berger ever since.
I understand that he honestly believes his personal life should not reflect badly on his political career, but it does. That's the reality we live in.
He has made a mockery of the county, the commission and the people who elected him into office. The man can't even show up on time. In the real world, he wouldn't have even lasted through a 90-day probationary period.
His fellow commissioners warned him for months to shape up. They counseled him after his first arrest. Others, including supporters, attorneys and friends warned him not to get so wrapped up in Blaylock that he lost sight of the bigger picture, but he's chosen to ignore them.
So the shoe dropped Thursday. It was time to reorganize committee and board reassignments, and Berger's fellow commissioners felt it was time to limit his future opportunities to embarrass the board. While the move was uncomfortable to watch play out in public, it was an opportune time to clip Berger's wings.
I am a firm believer in what Jim Collins calls in his book "Good to Great" - the philosophy of getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. It has been the biggest reason this TV station and its newsroom have gained so much momentum over the past few months. And while the county commission is limited as to what it can do to individual commissioners, the majority saw an opportunity to make a smart move.
This was not politically motivated, as Berger would deflect and have some believe. It was a personnel issue. It was a fix to a dysfunctional problem. The board has wanted to break up with Berger for months because of how he conducts his personal life. Berger refused to bow out gracefully.
So now, Brian, the ball is actually back in your court. You have a choice come Monday at the meeting and all of next year. You can chose to fight this during the vote next week. You can rally all of your red-shirted supporters to come to the meeting and raise holy hell on your behalf. Or you can quietly take your medicine like a man. Then you can focus on the "Great Berger Makeover of 2012!" People have short memories, Brian. You can spend this next year flying straight, gaining the people's confidence back, making a difference, or you can chose to keep going down the path you're on now, which obviously leads to nowhere good.
It'll be interesting to see what you decide.