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FIRST ON 3: Commission chair asks Berger to resign; Berger says no

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A familiar name is back in the news, and those close to him believe he is becoming desperate.

At a news conference this afternoon, the chair of the New Hanover County Commission echoed an earlier e-mail and called for Commissioner Brian Berger to resign. White says it came after a series of strange behavior by Berger, including an encounter with the governor yesterday.

In a phone conversation with WWAY this afternoon, Berger said he has no plans to quit.

"If Woody, Beth (Dawson) and Tom (Wolfe) resign, I'll resign," Berger said. "Other than that, I'm not going to let the people who got me to run force me to resign and reap the benefits of my sacrifices."

White says he is concerned about Berger's well being.

READ THE E-MAIL EXCHANGE BETWEEN BERGER AND CHAIRMAN WOODY WHITE

"Over the last 20 days Commissioner Berger has demonstrated an increasing level of irrational and unpredictable behavior, and it's frightened our staff," White said. "It's made us all fell increasingly unsafe."

The tipping point appears to be a manifesto Berger wrote and has distributed around the community and apparently tried to give to Gov. Pat McCrory during his visit to Wilmington Thursday.

READ BRIAN BERGER'S MANIFESTO

In the document, Berger claims it was illegal for commissioners in late 2011 to remove him from the DSS Board before his term was up. He is still upset deputies removed him from the DSS Board's next meeting.

Berger also recently has asked the county to reimburse him more than $3,600 for a trip to Washington, DC. County leaders say they won't, because they did not approve Berger to make the trip.

White also said Berger used county resources to make thousands of copies of his document. Berger reportedly tried to give them out during the conference in Washington.

White says he's received other strange notes from Berger.

"The writing is different sizes," White said as he showed reporters a note from Berger written in red marker, "and again this is just one of many things we could show you."

This is not the first time Berger's been asked to step down. The previous commission asked Berger to resign in September 2011.

Commissioners can't make Berger quit, but White says there are other steps they can take.

"One of our options is to look to (NC General Statutes) Chapter 50C and initiate a process to ask a court to give us a restraining order to prevent him from coming around us and our staff," White said. "The decision has not been made to do that. It has been discussed extensively, and we are consulting with attorneys to determine whether or not we're going to do that."

Berger says the county is discriminating against him, and that it has ruined his reputation in Wilmington and beyond.

The governor's office says McCrory never looked at what Berger gave him yesterday. A spokeswoman said the governor was never in any danger during his visit to Wilmington.

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