Saffo says threat from Sen. Berger doesn’t overrule city’s rights


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Submitted: Fri, 12/23/2011 - 3:04am
Updated: Fri, 12/23/2011 - 6:02pm
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With Christmas quickly approaching, many leaders in Raleigh are packing up and heading home to spend time with their family and friends. But not everyone is full of the holiday spirit. North Carolina State Senate majority leader Phil Berger sent a letter to some city leaders, including Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, that’s not so jolly.

“He would like us to drop the lawsuit (challenging new annexation laws), and if we didn’t, there could be some dire consequences for the cities in the state of North Carolina,” Saffo said.

Sen. Berger sent out a letter Wednesday defending the recent victory over forced annexation by telling city leaders who are against the new law allowing citizens in affected areas to petition against the land grab to back off. Saffo says regardless of what Berger says, the cities have the right to move forward with the lawsuits against the state.

“Nobody ever threatened the right of a citizen that took on the city in respect to an annexation lawsuit, ever,” Saffo said. “For them to turn around and threaten cities because the cities are using their Constitutional rights, I think it’s unfortunate.”

In the letter, Sen. Berger says the General Assembly has put much thought into the process of forced annexation, and the cities should not waste the tax payers’ money by moving forward with legal action.

Saffo says he thinks the General Assembly was the one that wasted the citizens’ money by changing the law in the first place. He says threatening local leaders is not the way to get what you want.

“I don’t think that’s good public policy,” Saffo said. “I think good public policy is working with the people. I hope he’ll try to understand where we’re coming from.”

Saffo says he does not know what the City of Wilmington will do about the lawsuit. He says the City Council will talk to the other cities involved before making any type of decision on what to do next.

49 Comments

  • Guest2020 says:

    We pay for it with our sales dollars. If not for the people outside of Wilmington, the city would be an economic disaster. Also, the people from the county pay for the library as well as many other buildings and government services that are located in the city limits. If the county residents must pay tolls to get into the city, then they should move all of the county’s services to outside the city limits, including the courthouse. That will provide less traffic on the streets in the city and less traffic into the businesses within the city limits.

    Regardless of what you think of North Carolina’s way of enacting this law, forced annexation has always been unconstitutional. The people being annexed have no say so in it therefore they have been subject to taxation without representation which is unconstitutional.

  • Guesto says:

    Lowes or Home Depot were the last stores that had me driving into Wilmington. The Lowes opening in Porter’s Neck last year thankfully put an end to that. Also, to this day I’ve never spent a single penny in downtown Wilmington. I’m more than happy to keep out.

  • Guestt says:

    Have you not seen the parking meters downtown? If that is enough for you to justify using the beach’s services why aren’t the city’s meters enough for me to use their services?

    Tourists are not freeloading? I don’t see why a person from Wake County is any different than someone from NHC.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    There are fantastic restaurants OUTSIDE the city limits, including my favorite, Jerry’s.

    Let me emphasize this once again – your city has absolutely no impact or effect on my life whatsoever….and that’s the way I want to keep it.

  • Monkey Junction says:

    So you compare Saffo with one of the worst humans that ever lived. When you make these silly comparisons, you diminish the validity of your comments.

  • GuestSued2Bx99 says:

    I think I saw the light. Mayor Saffo is really a fine man who has set aside his personal power and pecuniary interests to REALLY make our dear Wilmington a genuine shining city on a hill.

    I sincerely urge my fellow citizens to set aside personal interest and adopt the desire that the mayor does know what is truly good for us.

    Let’s get to work on overturning that silly new law that stops involuntary annexation.

    Santa, please don’t pour all the good Bourbon into the egg-nog.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    ….to the annexation policies of Wilmington.

    No difference. “We want it, we take it.”

    Sorry if the truth escapes or offends you, but if you don’t want to be compared with someone evil, don’t behave like someone evil.

  • efqefef says:

    our tax system, which the county commissioner’s hog for themselves, is ad valorem. the city, which does generate the most taxes, does not get the share it generates. So, you may spend money in the city..the city you suck on the teat of while not paying you fair share, but you do not contribute with your taxes because of the way your county gov has set it up. It is a nice little trick and one that is equalized through annexation and one that is right and justified. You can let tommy boy run his “god bless america” bull on talk radio all he wants, but we in the city have leaders that understand the common good and understand that those in on our borders are just users who get away with not pulling their own weight. You are worse than those who abuse the welfare system becuase you have resources, you USE everything and you want it all for nothing. What great Americans you are. How proud you must be when you lift your flags on July fourth. pathetic.

  • Louise says:

    Berger’s comments to mayors in cities considering annexation is another example of republican bullying. He should remember this is the first time in 100 years republicans are leading the state and their goal should be to make all of NC better with jobs, education, and commerce. If I was him I wouldn’t get to comfortable. He and his party are attempting to carry the state of NC and the nation backwards 100 years. Their policies and bigotry are regressive. These mayors have every right to consider annexation as a way to progress their cities. Laws pertaining to annexation should be exercised and the outcome determined on its merit. Berger thinks he can tell these mayors what to do and how to do it. I guess these city leaders didnot pad his pockets the way the anti-annexation crowd did.

  • Guest91yo says:

    Your comment is hilarious. County residents who want nothing more than to be left alone are somehow bad Americans, but those in favor of the city forcing its taxes on others outside their borders without a vote are “great”. Sorry, not in my book. A vote has been taken. Lift your flag on July 4th and accept that vote. Hilarious.

    Why don’t you put your energy towards trying to tax Brunswick County residents. I see thousands of them crossing the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge into your “great” city every morning.

  • Guest Reply says:

    I believe this story on Saffo has surpassed the number of “hits/readers comments” Brian Berger’s stories have received…or so it seems to have anyway. Would like to see a Poll on this WWAY if possible…would love to see Saffo on TV news responding to the citizens and their opposition on his remarks in the news…as of late.
    Berger sat down with the TV news media…how ’bout you Saffo???

  • Well says:

    If you think the city’s budget problems are due to unincorporated area residents possibly needing a cop or firefighter while inside the city limits you are truly delusional.

  • Guest7969 says:

    Your road system is subsidized by both the state and federal governments. Second…your precious little city would DIE without spending from county residents.

  • Guest7969 says:

    “Nobody ever threatened the right of a citizen that took on the city in respect to an annexation lawsuit, ever” BECAUSE IT DIDN’T MATTER WHAT THEY THOUGHT…they were being annexed..PERIOD.

    “I don’t think that’s good public policy,” Saffo said. “I think good public policy is working with the people. I hope he’ll try to understand where we’re coming from.” SOOoooo…you worked WITH the people who DIDN’T want to be annexed…NO..you just had your little meetings, which meant NOTHING, and annexed them against their will…your just mad because you have been STOPPED from forcing your will on the people….SCROOGE!

  • My_Opinion says:

    “I think good public policy is working with the people. I hope he’ll try to understand where we’re coming from.”

    Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor. Talk about a disconnect…God help us.

  • Challengetheworld says:

    You are wasting money challenging this! The people VOTED, THEY DO NOT want it! Give it up, you will need to balance your budget via other means!

  • guesty says:

    From the story: “I don’t think that’s good public policy,” said Saffo. “I think good public policy is working with the people. I hope he’ll try to understand where we’re coming from.”

    Then take some of the grease off your fathead so this can sink in, the people voted and said a resounding NO to the City of Wilmington. Now you have to work with the people and respect their wishes.

  • Guest 4545 says:

    If it’s not good for Bill Saffo personally, then it’s not good for Wilmington. Bill always knows best!

  • Guest461 says:

    …needs to get a fresh can. I can’t believe the people of the city voted this crook back into office. He is bound and determined to go full against the peoples wishes.

    Let’s just call it “Saffo City”…

  • Guest28451 says:

    Saffo is all about “citys rights” cept he’s forgotten the rights of the citizens he and his money hungry city council keep trying to kidnap into their tax base to spend more money friviously. (I used to live in Wilmington believe me Im well aware of the waste of funds Saffo and the rest are spend happy with).

  • MonkeyJunctionproud says:

    Saffo is an idiot. Yes, you are wasting thousands of tax payers dollars by fighting something that is completely wrong. The really sad part is, you are proving our point. How much money of the City tax base are you willing to waste on fighting this? This is exactly why we don’t want to be annexed and have to pay for your corrupt, poor spending.
    Get over it. Move on. Find a new way to get your money to waste on 2012 and beyond. Here’s an idea. Cut back an ridiculous projects that you and the city council dip your own interests in. Start there and move forward. We at MJ are happy with what the county provides and don’t want nor need you.

  • Guest28429 says:

    First thank you Sen. Berger for your support of the citizens. For to long cities have been able to forceably annex areas and the citizens had no real voice in the process. The new law now gives citizens that voice. No one but city councils are shocked that citizens do not want or desire to be annexed. Citizens in affected areas deserve to decide if they want to be annexed by any city. Forced annexation has been used for a long time as a way to increase the tax base of cities. This amounts to nothing more than a pure money grab.

  • alex b says:

    Mr Saffo,
    what about the rights of the property owners. Those who buy property, with the intention of “not” being in the city limits. Thos whose property becomes incorporated into the city limits without their consent. Those who have to pay city taxes for years without the full benefit of services those taxes provide

  • Guest1313 says:

    Ok, everybody who doesn’t live in the city limits wants to rejoice and bash Saffo…..I have a solution for you. We’ll set up tolls at the city/county lines and if your license doesn’t have an address inside the city limits you can pay a toll to drive on our roads, help pay the power bill for the street lights & stop lights, for using the city parks. We’ll increase sales taxes for people who live outside of the city limits in restaurants and at businesses bc the city had to pay for the infrastructure to give those businesses what they need to be able to operate.
    All I keep hearing is “I moved into the county so I didn’t have to pay city taxes.” If that’s the case, stop coming into the city!!!! You don’t pay for it, so stay out. What the state has done is backhanded. If they want to make new rules about annexation, it should take effect for all new applications. Wilmington did everything by the book for the annexation the way it was layed out and at the last minute the state came in and said “well now you can’t do it that way.” That’s like you building a house and the day the inspector comes they enact some new rule about zoning and tell you that you can’t live in that house bc it doesn’t meet the new zoning requirements. I understand you don’t wanna pay extra taxes, times are tough…..but if you don’t wanna pay for it, don’t use it

  • Guest Reply says:

    I don’t think this was a threat from Senator Berger…but a promise for Saffo and other cities to keep their Paws Off!
    Speaking of Berger…as for our local Berger…people are trying to oust him from office. Maybe they should add one more name into the pot…and his last name starts with an “S”!!!
    You better believe the annexation of Monkey Junction’s tax money had…
    1. Support the new Convention Center…
    2. Help build a hotel next to that huge mistake of an investment…
    Q: What has Saffo done “for” Wilmington any way that stands out above everything else?
    A: “NOTHING!”…except raise parking rates and not doing anything about traffic conditions and our pot holed road systems and raise taxes.
    Maybe the “Day of the Saffo” will slowly set in the west soon.

  • Mike T says:

    McDonalds calls this a McDouble. You can find them on the dollar menu.
    That’s about where these two belong!!

  • Guest343 says:

    Guest1313 – If your license doesn’t have an address inside Wrightsville Beach, Kure Beach, or Carolina Beach you better not go to those places either. Right? It’s only fair since you don’t pay for their roads, lights, etc.

  • GuestUsed2B99x says:

    1313, I have a suggestion of a dark place where you can shove your proposed toll gate.

    YOU, the Clown Prince (errr ahhh I mean Mayor) and a small coterie of idiots actually have convinced yourselves of the importance of this enclave you have named the City of Wilmington…

    NONE of you pro involuntary seizure of property [annexation] advocates have been able to explain in dollars and cents what the benefits would be to your intended victims [property owners].

    Downtown Wilmington is a couple economic baby steps from reverting back to the sh!+hole it was. I bid you and the mayor’s sycophants to quit whining, go home and take a long whizzzzz facing a cold wind. You LOST. Get over it.

  • Guest Reply says:

    Good comparison. I watched the movie “Downfall” last night…and it rung a bell! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0363163/
    The movie is currently on Netflix. Talk about a takeover gone bad?

  • Robert Green says:

    My question is, who keeps re-electing this moron! Billy, there has been a positive change in Raleigh after 100 plus years of corruption.You are not going to be able to get your way anymore.People have caught on to liberal politics and their wasteful ways.You had no problem strong arming citizens when you had control and cronies in Raleigh.Unfortunately, Billy, more changes are coming to Raleigh once Happy Perdue gets the boot from Pat McCrory and there is a veto-proof General Assembly next go round.You and Laura Padgett need to order alot of Kleenex for all the crying that is to come.You will be isolated and quickly dismissed by state legislators in the coming years.

    Thank you, Phil Berger, you are a great patriot!With folks like Rep. Carolyn Justice and Sen. Thom Goolsby working on our behalf, they will change the way business has been done in the past and improve the welfare of the community.

  • Well says:

    I can certainly agree with you that Berger doesn’t need to be mean about it, but as far as this being a Democrat vs Republican thing, you are mistaken. While the majority of leaders in Raleigh may have voted along party lines, I can assure you there is no other issue that brings constituents from all parties together like forced annexation.

  • Guest20 says:

    If you lived outside the city limits, you would be screaming just as loud in the opposite direction.

    You chose to live within the city limits, knowing you would be paying city AND county taxes. Now you’re complaining to those who were smart enough to choose to live outside the city limits that you want them to help ease your burden.

    I live in the county, and I have to pay the parking meters at the beaches too. Likewise, if a crime is committted against you while you’re driving through the county, my tax dollars pay for the sheriff’s deputies to come to your rescue.

    Your complaints don’t hold water. You made your bed, now lie in it.

  • GuestUsed2Bx99 says:

    First, Louise, get something right… what you disparagingly refer to as the “anti-annexation crowd” are TAXPAYERS and VOTERS. Your second to last sentence is almost correct…. here’s how it should read: Laws pertaining to annexation should be EXCISED…

    You pro annexation politicians are the ones who have been the bullies for far too long. Voters and taxpayers, just like you politicians have brains and limits. The “annexation” crowd has exceeded both limits and decency. Good job all in all, Mr. Mayor. You have succeeded in keeping this issue and your own personal arrogance under the radar just long enough to get elected for another term.

    The voters and taxpayers have said “enough”. When will you heed the message?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    Everything Saffo learned about annexation and “working with people,” he learned from Adolph Hitler, the Polish Corridor, and the Sudetenland. That’s exactly how the city has approached previous annexations, and it’s high time someone reined in these tyrants.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    I can obtain anything I need on-line or in the county. Your city holds ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for most of us out here. We don’t need you and we certainly don’t want to be part of you.

  • Guest1313 says:

    My city would die without tourism, not the county residents. I already have to pay to go to any of the beaches, have you not seen the parking meters????? SOME roads are subsidized by the state and federal government, but the business and services you use are not. If you go to a restaurant, the land is part of the city. Not to mention when any crime is committed against you while in the city, it’s MY tax dollars paying those officers to respond to you being somewhere you don’t pay for. It’s called freeloading. As for the whole water/sewer issue, it’s split between the county and city. Have you not heard of the disaster called the CFPUA? It’s easy to cry when you party at your neighbors house and then complain when he wants you to thrown in for the booze.

  • thumpp says:

    Didn’t mean to be insulting, just trying to clarify. Take a chill pill and leave the humor to the experts, because you are lousy at it.

  • Wade Griffis says:

    I am very aware (sir,mam, whatever) that Brian Berger and Senator Berger are two different people. Since the issue has become so heated, I sought to put a little humor into it. Evidently it passed right over your head.

  • Guest111 says:

    The next thing you do is get over it and yourself. You keep forcing some sort of lawsuit now and you are in the same category as Berger. Let it go. You lost and that’s that. YOU are the one who needs to work with people. You don’t listen to John Q Public, if you did you would know everyone is against annexation. Don’t bring any more embarrassment to Wilmington and New Hanover Co. Berger has done enough of that. Find something worth while to focus on.

  • thumpp says:

    Please be aware that this story references State Senator Phil Berger, NOT embattled outgoing Councilman Brian Berger. Two completely different people. NC has a lot of Bergers, come to find out…

  • Guest111 says:

    I am referring to Brian Berger in this comment. . .

  • Guest2020 says:

    Cities do not have rights, people do. How can Saffo say with a straight face that good public policy is to work with the people? Is that what he and his cohorts on the city council were doing when they built the convention center against the wishes of the people? The newspaper says that the cities are appealing saying that ending forced annexation is unconstitutional. Really? What is unconstitutional is taxation without representation which is what forced annexation is. I wish that the citizens of Wilmington would quit re-electing him.

  • Guest Reply says:

    Don’t go away mad…just go away!
    Now the mayor knows how being a target feels…as have the citizens of this city under his thumb with taxation and screw ball leadership.
    The BIG BOYS said “NO” Mr. Mayor…and “NO” means “NO”!!!!!!!
    $700,000 spent of our tax money on an assumption you’d get Monkey Junction huh? Can’t always pick our pockets for more and more and more just because you want to. Go get your own cash for your own battles!
    This was one battle you couldn’t play the Senator’s roll and get by with it.

  • Guest62 says:

    What about the constitutional rights of the people who don’t want to be annexed?

  • Wade Griffis says:

    First we had Brian Berger dominating our news. He is mostly a plain old ham Berger. Now, we have some politician in Raleigh threatning us. He seems to be a Phill-y cheese Berger.

  • GuestUsed2B99x says:

    Dear Mr. Mayor,

    I am enjoying my morning coffee right now. I like it kind of strong because it helps me wake up and be alert. I wish you were here so I could offer you some too.

    In your comments, you say: “Nobody ever threatened the right of a citizen that took on the city in respect to an annexation lawsuit, ever,” said Saffo. “For them to turn around and threaten cities because the cities are using their constitutional rights I think it’s unfortunate.”

    Your constitutional right to sue isn’t being taken away. If you feel so strongly about this, take out your own checkbook along with your supporters and go out and fight for your position as private citizens.

    What is being denied to you is the ability to further squander taxpayer dollars in now vain attempts to gain money that is not yours to waste in the first place. Your office spent $700,000 on this land-grab. Heck, you would think that this is the first time ever that a large sum of taxpayer money was EVER wasted. Maybe this is a contingency that you and the City Council should have thought of before playing Santa Claus with taxpayer funds having parties and handing out bonuses…

    As to the $700,000, who was actually paid this amount of money? How many hours did they spend working to earn this sum? What rate was charged to the city for these “services”?

    This time, Mr. Mayor, the will of the people prevailed despite the process being heavily rigged in your favor. The unconstitutionality here that has been finally fixed is that you no longer have the right to take property from citizens without their consent.

  • GuestUsed2B99x says:

    From the article: Saffo says he thinks the general assembly was the one who wasted the citizens money by changing the law in the first place. He says threatening local leaders is not the way to go about getting what you want.

    Mr. Mayor, I left the quotation marks off the above remarks excerpted from the article in the sincere hope that you in fact did NOT really say this.

    It is a WASTE of MONEY for citizens to prevail on their representatives to enact or change a law?

    Until this, the most outrageous quip by a politician this year was our esteemed governor’s calling to suspend the elections. You BOTH need to be impeached.

  • John A. Difloure says:

    Poor Saffo. Sounds like he’s going to pick up his ball and go home. It’s okay for cities to threaten their neighbors but when the shoe is on the other foot —-. His reasons for annexation stink. They’re personal.

  • greenie says:

    I did not perceive Berger’s statement as a threat. In response to Saffo’s quote, constitutional rights are settled by the courts, but legislation is constructed by the General Assembly. Annexation reform has been long overdue to protect basic homeowner rights from taxation without representation due to forced annexation by municipalities.

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