Commission explores Berger censure


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioner Rick Catlin has had enough of Brian Berger’s public humiliation and accusations. In an e-mail sent to his fellow commissioners on Wednesday, Catlin calls for a “censure” in the subject line saying, “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.”

When we spoke with Catlin Friday and asked about the potential censure, he said the commission was trying to move forward before taking action.

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“We did not discuss that in last night’s meeting,” Catlin said. “We left the meeting last night with a gentlemen’s agreement to try to work together, and I intend to honor that agreement. I hope we got all of that behind us, and I’m focusing on upcoming issues and doing the people’s business.”

County Commissioner Jason Thompson has been in public office for both the county and the city for more than 11 years. He said although opposition is normal, conflict on this level is not. He said in a decade of service, he has never seen anything like this before. He doesn’t think anything will move forward without these issues being resolved.

“It takes consensus to get anything done,” Thompson said. “I might have the best ideas as a commissioner that anybody’s ever had, but if I can’t get two people to agree with me because I’ve alienated them so much, then everybody suffers.”

Thompson said the commission came to an agreement at its agenda briefing meeting Thursday night. They decided that the baseless accusations as well as bickering among commissioners had to come to an end.

“If they don’t stop, then censure for any commissioner I think might be warranted,” Thompson said.

He said if commissioners are going to make claims, there needs to be proof to support their accusations. Without proof, Thompson said Berger may have to eat his words about Catlin.

“Right now we have accusations,” Thompson said. “We have no proof, and it’s getting to the point where he’s going to have to recant or he’s going to have to prove.”

Both Catlin and Thompson said they think the commission has a much more positive outlook after last night’s meeting. Thompson said now it’s a waiting game to see if the feeling changes.

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