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Brian Berger voted out of New Hanover Co. Commission

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- After two years of trials and tribulations, Brian Berger is no longer a New Hanover County Commissioner.

That was the result of a 3-2 vote that some said was overdue, but it may have raised more questions than answers moving forward.

After months of discussion New Hanover County Commissioners successfully used a common law which has not been used since 1935 to remove Berger from office, at least temporarily.

"I wasn't elected to go along, and that's caused problems for the last two years, and that upsets people who are accustomed to a process where decisions are made in backrooms and they come out and choreograph how they announce decisions," Berger said.

Berger was not the only member of the day's proceedings to question the legality of the hearing. Commissioner Jonathan Barfield made it clear he felt it was an attack on democracy.

"It's the people of my community that voted this man into office, and it should be their ability to remove him," Barfield said. "The old saying is that absolute power corrupts, and in my opinion putting that much power in four people's hands is too much authority and too much power. In my personal opinion, I don't think it was fair at all. I'm sick to my stomach right now."

Barfield said he thought the local delegation should have passed a bill allowing a recall election in November.

Prior to the amotion hearing, the county added two pieces of evidence to its case without letting Berger's attorneys review the material.

Berger's attorney Chris Anglin called just two witnesses during the hearing: Clerk to the Commission Sheila Schult and citizen Carolyn Bordeaux, who is a friend and supporter of Berger. At one time, Anglin asked Bordeaux if she knew Berger had been diagnosed with autism, to which she said, "Yes." When asked about Berger’s autism after the hearing, Anglin would not comment.

Anglin said Berger would take the stand in his own defense, but after a break in the hearing, the commissioner did not testify.

Afterward Anglin said the quasi-judicial hearing was illegal.

"The North Carolina Rules of Evidence in a lot of those exhibits would have been not allowed," Anglin said." The way the hearing was conducted first of all was one of our concerns. Our second main concern is the inaccuracies of the documents that they produced."

"It's unfortunate that county taxpayers have been subjected to this absurd waste of money," Berger said.

Berger said a lot of what was said during the hearing was "excruciatingly dishonest."

"I take the work up here very seriously," Berger said. "More seriously than I take my own well-being."

At times, the quasi-judicial hearing became confrontational, as Commission Chairman Woody White and Anglin debated legal issues, which the two clearly did not agree on.

At the start of the hearing, Barfield said he was washing his hands of the process. He raised concerns about the board taking the wrong course of action. Later he said he worried that the commission's decision would draw out in the courts past the Nov. 2014 election, when Berger is up for reelection and cost the county's taxpayers a lot of money. Barfield, who, as chairman, called for Berger's resignation in 2011, said the process will come back "to bite the county in the foot and everywhere else."

Commission Vice Chair Beth Dawson said commissioners came to the hearing without any preconceived judgments. She said her main reason for wanting Berger out was the claims of harassment and concerns for safety and security from county staff. Berger denied he's ever threatened anyone. She also said she wished Berger had resigned and gotten the help he needed so the county would have five commissioners representing its residents.

Berger said the amotion proceedings were rigged. He went as far as to say his replacement was picked months ago, but he would not say who it is.

"I'm not perfect, but what the board is doing is wrong," Berger said.

Commissioner Thomas Wolfe says in his experience as a business leader, he would never allow the kind of behavior Berger has displayed to happen in a private corporation. He said regardless of the eventual outcome of the process in the courts, some times you have to stand up and do what's right.

White said he came to the meeting with an open mind. He said he had hoped he would learn during the hearing that Berger was under the care of a doctor, but he said he did not hear that.

Berger’s supporters say they are not surprised over Monday’s outcome, calling it a Kangaroo Court. During the second half of the meeting they pinned home-made signs to their shirts mocking the process.

“When they make these accusations about him threatening, that's not true. Brian doesn't even defend himself,” Annette Justice, a supporter said. “Now who will hire Brian? They have taken away his right to even be a citizen. We don't do that to our citizens, especially our disabled citizens.”

Berger now has 30 days to file an appeal to New Hanover County Superior Court. In the meantime the Board of Commissioners has decided not to name a replacement.

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Tell it, Barfield!

Well, I've never been a big fan of Jonathan Barfield, but he gets points for speaking out. If the other commissioners thought ahead at all they would see that this is going to turn into an un-winnable discrimination lawsuit. (Disablism- discrimination against the disabled, including mental disability). Who would have thought that not showing up for meetings would have such a big payday?

Autism? rrriiiiiiight

Brian Berger is about as autistic as a potatoe LOL, he's using it as an excuse if he really is. Autism or not, that's no excuse to behave in public office like this. Surely more LULZ will be had @ his expense. LOL

It's about time

It's about time that the commission finally dumped Mr. Berger
It's been a long time coming. Mr. Berger has no one to blame except himself. Not showing up to meetings, showing up late, and disrupting the meetings with off the wall comments that had nothing to do with the matter at hand. Now that he is out I pray that the commission can get back to looking out for the people of the country.
Now on another matter dealing with Mr. Berger, if he decides to run for office in 2014 and the people put him back in office then they and the country are as crazy as he is. Good luck and let's all pray that this washes out now.

Love Berger? Then elect him the next round

For the malcontents and Jerry Springer fans who feel disrespected and slighted, simply put Berger on the ballot the next round and elect him. I'm glad the nightmare is over.

Amotion video now online

you can now watch the meeting here:
http://newhanovernc.swagit.com/play/05212013-630

23 minutes in...

so far, not impressed at all with Mr. Anglin.

I agree

I work with many attorneys and this guy is not on his A game.

Now he can return and spill

Now he can return and spill the beans...if'n he has beans to spill on our illustrious leaders. Here's one:
1. "Prior to the amotion hearing, the county added two pieces of evidence to its case without letting Berger's attorneys review the material." (Unquote)
Somebody just shoosted themselves in the feets...and we need "60 Minutes" down heeya to vestigate!

Can you say ADA lawsuit?

Way to go county commissioners, You just saddled the taxpayers of New Hanover County with a 7 or 8 figure award because of your impatience for the 2014 election cycle.

Questions

I have a LOT of questions regarding Mr Berger's ability to serve the citizens whom ELECTED him to office. However, I have, even more, questions about the legality of this process to remove him. Whereas, I believe that if any other County employee had the same work performance (on or off the clock), that employee would have been terminated, long ago; unfortunately, we don't hold our, elected, employees to the same standards. It is my, humble, opinion that, since the citizens hired (elected) Mr Beeger, it should have been left to the citizens to fire (not re-elect) him regardless of how much some would consider him an "embarrassment".

Wilmington Observer

I do hope those 3 comissioners realize they...

...just committed political suicide! They'll be lucky to get a job as a bagboy now.

The "people" didn't agree with Bergers performance, but one thing is for sure...the "people sure as hell don't believe what these commissioners did was proper, correct, legal or fair. It's blatanty obvious that this commission is made up of greedy, self-serving, scared individuals that lack any sense of integrity OR honor. They are a disgrace to this county and their names will live on as such.

The "people" will remember this "cowboy roundup" come the next vote and will take "real" and appropriate action to get them out of office. They forget who put them there, but they will remember who takes them out! Can't wait for the next election!

actually....

"the 'people' sure as hell don't believe what these commissioners did was proper, correct, legal or fair."

Actually... the poll on the front page of this very website shows that quite a few of 'the people' do think Berger deserved to get the boot. 72% of poll participants at the moment.

I don't disagree that Berger needs to go, but the method...

...used is crooked, unfair, robs the power of the voters and just happened to open up one of the largest lawsuits you've ever seen NHC be a part of. It'll come out of your pocket too! Haste makes waste.

When ousting a public official, you have to do it by the available laws. The cap and ball game doesn't work and "vigilate lawyering" doesn't either! You aren't much of a believer in Constitutional rights are you?

what?

You made the statement that "the 'people' sure as hell don't believe what these commissioners did was proper, correct, legal or fair."

I pointed you to a poll which asked "Do you think Brian Berger should have been kicked off the New Hanover Co. Commission today?"

The vast majority of participants in said poll answered in the affirmative - showing that perhaps your opinion about what "the people" think of today's proceedings might not be so cut-and-dry.

Personally, I would've rather seen Ted or Rick or Thom introduce re-call legislation. But it'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Watching the video of the meeting now in between calls.

You simply pointed out a poll of "opinion".

That opinion being that most were in favor of Berger being removed. The poll did not ask if the "people" thought the method used was proper or legal, which is my point. Most respondents now do NOT approve of the commissioners method of removal! It was backdoor bullying, unconventional and forceful event to force the man out of the commission the "people" voted him in for. Think about that as you observe the NHC Comissioners waste your tax money, increase your taxes and spend it on crap that does this county no good. There won't be a damned thing you can do about it! When you witness this type of "just push him out of the way behavior" from your county commissioners, do you really believe they have ANY honor at all, ANY integrity or any sense of community? Hardly so by any sense of the imagination.

You need to understand and remember one very important fact: The NHC commissioners were voted in to work FOR and answer TO the citizens of this county. WE DO NO work for or answer TO them! I can guarantee you that you will witness some serious changes during the next elections! Honor goes a long way, backdoor politics gets you fired! Look at what happend to Thompson due to his disrespectful, threatening and bullying methodology on the commission!
No matter how weak you are and no matter how intently you feel that the government is responsible for your well-being and care, the vast majority of hardworking, taxpaying citizens still happen to believe the government reports to the people, not the other way around! This is STILL the U.S.A., not the U.S.S.A.!

?

The question the poll asked was "Do you think Brian Berger should have been kicked off the New Hanover Co. Commission today?"

So you're saying that the people who voted "yes" really meant "sure he should have been kicked off the Commission today, but I feel it was terrible that he was kicked off today."

Brian - is that you?

S E NC

I agree with Guest O Matic on this one.
If the poll ad asked:
"Do you agree with the amotion process being used for the Removal of Brian Berger" I believe the vote would have been closer.
The county commission clearly over stepped it's bounds on this one.
Vog

It sounds as if you are part

It sounds as if you are part of the group who pushed for Berger's election. It also sounds as if you are part of the group in New Hanover county who sort of rallied around Curtis Wright. I feel certain that you are part of the group who thinks they speak " for the people" , when you really only speak for yourself and a handful of folks who like to be loud and confrontational.

You can speculate all you like!

You can "think" and you can "feel" and you can "sounds like" until the fat cows come home. My point is, ejection of a public official must be done by the available process. That process is fully in the hands of the voter and was not followed. The other commissioners were desperate and panicked in their goal to oust Berger, it was totally obvious. All they had to do was simply wait until the 2014 elections. You can't just go off on some hell-bent tangent to oust a Commissioner using some outdated, possibly illegal process to get your way. This is still America!

Now Kilroy, YOU watch what the "people" do at this next election! Watch carefully! The "people" didn't care for Berger. Even more, the "people" detest backdoor, under the table moves like just happened. It really makes people think that maybe...just maybe Berger was on to something with the other cronies! They appear on the same lines as casino monkeys trying to break arms to get their way!

are you seriously kidding me???

How anyone can defend this political abomination is beyond comprehension. He beats his girlfriend, charged with assault, DWI, etc etc. .....and still gets to hold office. and you dim wits get to say that the people should vote him out? Should we have waited to vote Nixon out, or Obama? Politics and religion. Candy for the ignorant masses

You idiots!

You got rid of Berger when you should have left him alone. What ever he said in Chambers could have been overturned by the rest of you. Now you set up the County for a lawsuit because of his autism. If that happens, then the taxpayers will suffer. I think you all will need to step down if that happens. That lawyer will tear you all new butts.

this is one of the most

this is one of the most underhanded dirty deals that have ever been done to the voters, when someone that has been elected get kicks out because he doesn't fit the good old boys mold at the time, this is dangerous times for the taxpayers and citizens, when a few can overcome the majority.

The Berger File

Remember though, the majority voted for these commissioners, all but Mr. Wolfe. As far as his attorney's ability or lack thereof, that has yet to be determined.

There will be no successful lawsuit by Berger.

Next stop for him is the unemployment line then over to the welfare office.

With all of the transparency he speaks of, had he disclosed his autism in a prudent manner this may have been somewhat averted. Brian again was tardy in the procurement of his defense. I would like to see documentation as to the autism claim. Berger has claimed so many things that are baseless. The circus has not reached the final act.

Peyton

I will respectfully disagree here.
Finding an attorney to take on such a case is going to be hard because there is little to no case law history on this subject. If my timeline is correct, they gave Berger 3 weeks and he spent two weeks seeking out counsel.
As for the reasons for seeking removal
A- the money. It would appear as though Berger did, in fact, stay at that hotel. Whites case on this evaporated with that disclosure from the hotel staff.
B - Harassment of county workers. Sorry but the law applies to County employees but does not apply to elected officials. This reason has now been rendered moot.
C - Ethics. Many of the ethics provisions were being written while Berger's antics were ongoing.
D - what we are left with is tardiness. Well that is NOT justification for an amotion hearing IMHO.

Don't get me wrong, Berger should not be a County Commissioner, but conversely nor should the County Commission be judge, jury, and executioner either. Because there is no recall law in NC the voters are left wit the electoral time frames for removal.
Mr White chose to usurp that authority and grossly over stepped his bounds.
In doing so he demonstrated that this was a matter of political expediency rather than one steeped in "law".
Mr White should be subjected to an amotion hearing. Then the GOP members of the board can vote to keep him on, and then all of them can be judged accordingly.
I sense a very severe voter reaction to this come 2014, and 2016.
Censure should have been the line in the sand. Mr White crossed it.

Vog

#boohoo

#boohoo

THE PEOPLE PUT HIM IN

THE PEOPLE PUT HIM IN OFFICE, THEY SHOULD BE THE ONES TO GET HIM OUT OF OFFICE. SHOULD NOT BE LEFT UP TO 5 PEOPLE. OF COURSE THE JUDGE IS ON THE COMMISSONERS SIDE. IS THIS PROCEDURE LEAGAL? OF COURSE BERGER CAN'T APPEAL. WHO WOULD HE APPEAL TO IN THIS TOWN?

LOUD NOISES!!!!!!

LOUD NOISES!!!!!!

Seriously

I'm a voter. After two years (almost three)..I have serious buyers remorse. I want this guy out of office now! I have now recourse because this state has no recall policy (only 1 of 12). Do I have to put up with the guy for another year or two because the fools in this state can't put together a basic recall law?

I have heard some very ignorant reasoning why this can't be done. Apparently, 38 other states found a way! Watch out Arkansas, we're gaining on you!

Berger

I am sick and tired of N.Hanover County Commissioners taking up front page news with their childish rants about Brian Berger. If they had spent half as much time doing what they were elected to do the county would be bringing in new jobs and business instead of watching the jobs go elsewhere. The whole board is a trainwreck. Boo!

mr berger

darn now that he is gone I will not have anything to follow on my news sights. (quit getting the paper 7-8 years ago). He was fun to follow and see what he would do next. Darn, now what am I supposed to do??LOL!!