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DEVELOPING: Catlin fights back, wants Berger censured

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- New Hanover County Commissioner Rick Catlin is exploring whether or not to pursue censuring fellow Commissioner Brian Berger.

On Wednesday, Berger told us he contends Catlin stole his notes during a commissioners meeting and leaked them to the media as part of a smear campaign. When asked if he could have accidentally left his notes behind, he said that may have happened too.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE NOTES: http://www.wwaytv3.com/doc/Brian_Notes.pdf

We asked Berger about the notes, because they list item by item what Berger should say, ask and how he should vote. They apparently are also written by someone other than Berger. For instance, under Item 22, it reads, "legislative agenda for county--if BD (board) approves resolution to oppose ABC privitizing (sp) that should be added--I think MV (motor vehicle) impoundment is Ok--but that is YOUR call--on election of Board chairman--I think it might be better for the board to pick among itself but don't be the lone dissenter-if others go for it--let it go."

We asked Berger who wrote the notes for him. He said they were cut and pasted from notes he had written. We then asked if he talks to himself in the third person and leave notes for himself. He wouldn't answer.

Wednesday evening, Catlin sent an e-mail to Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield, Vice Chair Jason Thompson, Commissioner Ted Davis and copied County Manager Bruce Shell and County Attorney Wanda Copley. In it he writes, "Berger has gone on record of accusing me of stealing his notes. This is harmful to my business and my employees. You could be next. I have asked Wanda for her input. I would appreciate yours. We can discuss tomorrow."

He also sent an e-mail to Shell asking for added security at Thursday's agenda briefing. In it he writes, "After discussing Brian's email with folks with experience in this type of behavior, perhaps we should have a deputy at our meeting Thursday?? I am also concerned about staff's safety."

Catlin was referring to a six-page rambling rant that Berger sent out Monday chastising Shell and other county staff members for not getting information about an air-quality issue to him quickly enough. He also accused Catlin of having secret meetings on the issue and the staff of stonewalling him. Berger has since said he wishes he didn't send the e-mail.

Catlin said he and Berger talked at Thursday's agenda briefing meeting and now have a gentleman's agreement, but didn't say whether or not he wants to pursue censure.

Berger has not returned our calls.

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