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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A meeting between the New Hanover County Commission and School Board this morning was supposed to help get the two groups on the same page. While it may have helped bring them together as they work on funding for schools, it also showed a continuing division among commissioners.

“I’m willing to take the political risk of saying to the people of New Hanover County, ‘If you need to blame someone, don’t blame the county commissioners. Blame the school system, because we’re the ones asking for the money,'” School Board member Ed Higgins said as the two sides talked about money for education. “And if we’re asking for the money, we should be prepared to defend it.”

Higgings does not apologize for putting the needs of education above all else. He volunteered to be the scapegoat if the commission would raise taxes to fund education, but County Commissioner Ted Davis said absolutely not to the idea of raising taxes again.

Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield said he understands their needs, but the School Board is not the only entity asking the commission for money.

“The reality is you only have a finite supply of resources, finances, coming in, and you’ve got to best allocate those as you can,” Barfield said.

School Board member Elizabeth Redenbaugh said education should not be cut on anymore.

“Children, they are the future,” she said. “They are the future of our county. It impacts the economics for this county, not only now but for 10, 20, 30 years in the future.”

Besides the tension between commissioners and school board members, another elephant in the room was the absence of Commissioner Brian Berger.

Berger was criticized at Thursday’s agenda briefing for always being late. He claims the other commissioners have a gang mentality, but Barfield said Berger is just out there, while the rest of the them get along fine.

“It’s important that when you’re elected to serve in the role that we’re serving in and the level that we’re serving in, that you’re committed, number one, to your responsibilities, that you show up on time and that you educate yourself on the issues, so that when you speak, you can speak intelligently,” Barfield said.

We called Berger and tried to find him at his house, but no one answered.

Back at the meeting, most involved said despite previous problems, they were satisfied.

“I thought the county commissioners listened to the concerns of the school system, and expressed a willingness to go back and look at their budget and to see what they may be able to do to help us,” Higgins said.

The meeting ended with appreciation for what the County Commission has done, but School Board members say the children are still in dire need of more funding

As for Berger, his absence comes the morning after he was late to that agenda briefing, where he accused another commissioner of poking him during an argument. It’s the latest in a series of squabbles between Berger and his fellow commissioners


Comment on this Story

  • guest111

    The term is ‘suck it up’

  • Guest00

    We know this can’t be true because I thought the only friend he has is you. Then again maybe the puppet master isn’t a true friend to his puppet.

  • Berger was tending to a friend who was in a terrible accident – and as of this writing, I don’t even know if he lost his life or not. I know that is no excuse for missing out on watching Barfield add another 200 lbs. stuffing greasy bacon in his mouth, or listening to Thompson insult the school board for daring to ask for more funding – but that’s just the way it is. So suck it.

  • Guester

    I was thinking more along the lines of Forrest Gump.

  • Guest 50

    Yes I will agree Berger appears to be out there….something is wrong with this guy!!!! However has anyone looked at the other righteous ones on the board….Thompson is a bully, loud mouth sore loser that is why he will not run next election…THANK GOD! Barfield was a pushover to be in charge since the bully Thompson made a comment he is the man and guess what everyone went with it…was that out of fear? After all we do have recordings of Thompson wanting to duke it out with folks as this fine christian man uses word that are not only inappropriate but offensive to some. Then you have Davis a lawyer…who only wants what is good for his cronies and then the other one who he goes with the group. How sad!!! ALL OF YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF…MY 10 YEAR OLD ACTS OLDER THAN ALL OF YOU. SOLUTION……GET RID OF ALL OF YOU AND PUT A NOBODY UP THERE WHO HAS NO TIES IN THE LEGAL WORLD, CONSTRUCTION, BUILDER ETC WORLD. THEN MAYBE THE PEOPLE WILL BE REPRESENTED TRULY!!!

  • 9743

    About the meeting on Friday between the NHC Commissioners and the NHC Board of Education, it was reported yesterday’s edition (5-14-11) of the Star News that Board chairman Don Hayes, a republican, is calling for a tax increase on the residents of New Hanover County, WHAT!! This is just one reason why the BOE does NOT need taxing authority now or at anytime in the future….if they ever get it you’d better hold onto your wallets because it will be a long and expensive ride!!!

  • Guesthere

    So this is your defense:

    Our guy is bad, but the rest of the commissioners are terrible.


    Our guy is bad, but he replaced a guy that was terrible.

    Come on, this is the problem. If this guy is going to bring the much needed change, he needs to have his ducks in a row.

    His ducks are all over the damn place.

    And to those who think it’s unfair to see people ganging up and posting messages against Berger on this site, where were you when Thompson and Barfield were being dragged through the mud over the past few months on this site?

  • Guest3344

    This rant must have been brought to you by “I didn’t read the article.”
    Apparently you didn’t read the article, or the one before it. THIS article is not about his tardiness, it’s about him NOT fulfilling his commissioner obligations and attending this meeting. If it would have been a meeting about what types of paper to put in the copier or what types of pens to buy, that would be one thing. Berger 100% missed a meeting on education and didn’t get any of “the people he represents” ideas into the future of the children of the county HE represents. Nobody is talking about HOW he represents New Hanover County, it’s that he DIDN’T represent them period.
    What happened at the agenda briefing, he was asked to vote on his support of WDI and his response was that he wanted to revamp how funding from the county is done. That was not the issue and it was not the time for him to bring that up. At least the other commissioners had the decency to table the issue for until he got there so he could vote.

  • Give me a break – this wall-to-wall Berger being late coverage is pathetic. Sure he needs to be on time – but you guys are making this like he committed some atrocious crime – how many more people are going to write some pseudo-witty comment about him being mentally challenged? He’s late to meetings so he’s mentally challenged? Give the guy a break – he took the place of Bill Caster who was a monument to the good ol boys way of doing things – Caster could always be counted on to support the status quo – Berger doesn’t fit the mold, so he’s constantly being marginalized and sidelined. The other commissioners don’t want to work with him; don’t respect the will of the people who elected him there – so they pitch fits and scream and yell so that the mindless, feckless media echo chamber will dutifully continue to fight the PR war against him for the sake of the other commissioners. Then brainless morons who are probably still being breastfed and have never accomplished anything in their wretched lives can show up anonymously on the internet and repeat each other’s comments over and over again; pretending to be original, witty, and intelligent.

  • Guest11221

    This guy is a frickin nut. I live in Brunswick County, but what were you guys looking at when you voted this freak into office. Did you even look at the ballot or did you vote based on alpabetical order. I really do not care for Thompson at all. He is as arrogant as it gets, but he shows up and generally makes reasonable statements. I think someone should call him on his challenges to throwdown in the parking lot, but he makes competent statesments. Right or wrong and if I agree or not, they are competent. Berger is just a nut!! I cannot think of anything else to call him. A frickin nut!!

  • GuesttseuG

    This is why a person shows up on time to all other appointments. So, when something serious comes up, no one questions their absence.

    Do a google search for the term “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. It’s an amazing story.

  • Sal

    Brian Berger certainly gives hope to Ricky Meeks

  • kate

    At least you see Berger “is not a good representative” and the comment about Barfield is completely unwarranted. I’m white & voted for Barfield so it wasn’t “Blacks” or “singleshotting”.

  • Guest2011nhc

    This mans behavior is erratic. If you are elected to represent people in this county at least show up on time. He goes on rants and is very confused in some statements to the media. The are obviously some big problems with this man’s personal life. Someone needs a mental evaluation and a drug test.

  • Joyce Ingraham


  • Guester

    I might agree that Jason Thompson is certainly a hothead and I don’t always agree with him, but he at least is a straight shooter, shows up for meetings on time and has looked at the materials enough to formulate his own opinion, like it or not. So what about Berger?

  • WilmingtonMAJ

    Does anyone see a resemblance between Berger and Dustin Hoffman in Rainman?

  • Guest994

    Let me get this straight…Jason Thompson, the HOTHEAD of the century, a man who challenged Curtis Wright to a fight outside, who uses the F-word in every other sentence, who challenged the Mayor of Leland to a fight, who routinely threw fits at Wilmington City Council meetings is giving Berger advice on how to act?
    Barfield was not elected because he is talented, either…he is elected by Black voters singleshotting elections. Catlin is more interested in helping his personal business on the board and Ted Davis is a lawyer so enough said about his general ethics. Yes, Berger is not a good representative but NONE of these commission yahoos is a good choice!
    Any more ganging up on Berger is going to look like the board is mocking a guy with an obvious mental disability and I feel sure it is going to backfire. Let Berger do his own thing…the voters will hold him accountable.

  • Guesthere

    Hey Berger, throw me a 3!

    Seriously, I think you are going to start seeing even more than in the past people voting against incumbents in local and national elections. Unfortunately, both Democrats and Republicans that take a seat away from an opponent make the mistake of thinking that they were voted for, when in reality it was just a vote against the incumbent or incumbent’s party.

  • Help NHC

    I just watched the video where he was interviewed by WWAY and he seems like he is short a few chromosomes? I’m asking seriously..did NHC vote a mentally challenged person in office? His speech and body actions seems so..

  • Guest3344

    First of all, education is very important and should be funded fully with what is NEEDED. My hat’s off to the Board & Commissioners in attendance for being civil and trying to work things out. The problem with education today is every kid has an excuse pre-made for them as to why they act the way the do or why they can’t perform to the level they are supposed to. Let’s get back to the old school teaching where when a kid screws up, they face their punishment. Many schools have students constantly breaking the rules and teachers not enforcing them bc they don’t get the support from administration. TAKE CELL PHONES, IPODS, ETC from kids who have them at school. Maybe then they wouldn’t be distracted and could actually learn something.

    Now as for Berger….he must be a complete fool. I did not vote for him and will NEVER vote for him. How can a person be taken seriously when they can’t fulfill the commitments that they have? OH WAIT, maybe this was one of those back room, secret meetings that he didn’t know about and was excluded from. OUT WITH BERGER!!!!!!!

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