Timeline set for Berger's appeal

By Ashley Withers
Ashley.Withers@StarNewsOnline.com

WILMINGTON, NC (StarNewsOnline.com) -- An official timeline has been set for the rest of former New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger's appeal.

Berger was removed from the county board May 20 following an amotion hearing and the ousted commissioner filed an appeal of the decision with the New Hanover County Superior Court in mid-June. The case was later assigned to Special Superior Court Judge James Gale.

Attorneys representing Berger and the board of commissioners met at the NC Business Court in Greensboro last week for an appeal hearing before Gale. Gale did not make any decisions at that time and instead requested more information on the process of the original amotion hearing.

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Now we have not 1 but 2 briefs which must be filed.

Not certain where someone came up with the thought that a decision will be made in September?

It's not going away; and meanwhile Berger continues to draw pay, various expense stipends and maintain his health insurance.

And meanwhile the law firm continues to bill the County for all these brief actions.

And meanwhile more tax payer dollars are wasted on a process the voters would have taken care of in the next election. Woody White should man up and admit this was a mistake before the cost skyrockets. Any embarrassment and lost political clout will only be multiplied as this process continues........especially if/when the courts rule in Brian Berger's favor. None of the "terrified" workers testified in the kangaroo court process aka the amotion hearing. One of the other charges was Berger's attendance........and with this process, Woody white might have assured that Brian Berger will receive full pay and benefits for the rest of his term without being allowed to attend another meeting. If White, Wolfe, and Dawson are so sure they were correct in circumventing the voters and removing Berger, why are they still paying him?

If every employer/government agency continued to pay salary and benefits to dismissed workers, people could make a career out of being "fired."

If this process is allowed to stand, Woody White has set the precedent for future boards to bypass the voters and stack the boards to their liking. This will no longer be a democracy.....it will be a dictatorship.

Rick, in principle your arguments are irrefutable. The reality I see is that there won't be any long term political embarrassment or loss of clout as you say. Comm. White has taken a calculated political risk in advancing this amotion process and has succeeded in eliminating the effectiveness of Berger on the County Commission.

White is only seven months deep into a four year term as commissioner. All we have to consider is the Mayor of Wilmington running for re election unopposed in light of his financial dealings with city funds to realize either how short the collective memory of the voters really is or how disjointed and unorganized any opposition is.

I don't feel strained to say that it is guaranteed that this will be forgotten before White has to face the voters again.

GuestBullIsht,

I concede that you might be correct in your assumption. If you are correct, then Woody White should end this madness before it cost the taxpayers a truckload of cash. If this drags out for a year or longer with Brian Berger winning, then I believe the voters will have a longer memory and make Woody White pay.

I was also surprised that the Mayor is running unopposed. With the Convention Center losing money hand over fist, the city employees being substantially underpaid when compared to other cities in our area, and the parking deck they keep selling and buying back at a substantial loss, I was shocked the Mayor does not have a challenger. Then throw in the fact that Mandalay is now for sale and if not for the common sense shown by the voters, the city could have been stuck with a 54 million dollar taxpayer funded stadium for mosquitoes to breed in. This does make me wonder how the Mayor will get another term. I still hold out hope that all of the current council members will be defeated.

If I am still around when/if Woody White runs for reelection, I will do everything I can to remind the voters of how he circumvented the electoral process. I will also remind the voters of the cost of this process. I do not believe I am the only one.

You are not the only one. I no longer live in Wilmington and cannot vote, but I love Wilmington and the things that happen there. You can ask my husband and he will tell you that I remember everything he has done wrong in the twenty years we have been together, (not saying it's right, just the way I am) and I will be doing the same at election time. I really wish that y'all could get a viable candidate to run against Saffo.

I don't think Gale will EVER come to a decision:
"Gale said he does not feel it is within his power to decide if counties and other municipalities have the power of amotion. Instead, he will only make a determination on whether due process was followed. Gale said last week that if it is found that due process was not followed, the only authority he has is to send the issue back for a retrial."

Interesting case, but already you can see the time frame running into next year.

Vog

you can see attorney fees mounting. Two briefs must be filed. Then await a decision.

And if he sends it back for retrial, that does not address the real issue which is -- did the Council led by Woody even have the authority to remove him? And if it goes back because they did not follow due process, does Berger return to his seat?

This could become a reality tv show.

Does a retrial (since there's no jury) constitute double jeopardy?
If Brian is found "guilty" again and then Gale rules amotion is not the right process what then? If the amotion process is not the right one to use then the trial seems to be useless- no?yes?

very troubling situation

Vog