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Commissioners call for censure, removal of Berger from board is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Commissioner Brian Berger responds to Chairman Woody White’s invitation to prove accusations he’s made of wrongdoing by board members and county staff. The board later called for Berger to be censured and removed at its next meeting. Photos by Jonathan Spiers.

New Hanover County commissioners called for the censure and removal of member Brian Berger after a 40-minute back-and-forth about his recent behavior.

Chairman Woody White led the board in requesting that staff prepare documents for their next regular meeting, scheduled April 22, to formally reprimand Berger and go about a process of removing him from the board.

Commissioner Thomas Wolfe, after challenging Berger about his accusations of wrongdoing by board members and county staff, seconded the motion made by Vice Chairwoman Beth Dawson. Commissioner Jonathan Barfield, who was present for most of the exchange, had left the meeting just prior to the vote, citing discomfort due to a recent illness.

Dawson’s motion called for the board to remove Berger by way of amotion, which allows for corporate entities to remove officers considered unfit to serve.

The action follows the board’s recent call for Berger to step down from the board on his own, following an incident in which Berger approached Gov. Pat McCrory when the governor was in Wilmington to present him with several documents. White has said the incident constituted a security breach.

White invited Berger to respond to comments from resident Ricky Meeks, who asked Berger directly, during the public comments portion of the meeting, to take a three-month leave of absence in light of recent events and the rest of the board’s request for additional security measures at meetings.

Berger responded with a minutes-long, rambling statement that included his contention that White had represented his exchange with McCrory as if he was out to “assassinate” the governor.

Berger said he is “not crazy” but has studied up on laws and maintains that some have been broken by past board members and current county staff. White repeatedly—and patiently—asked Berger for examples to support his accusations, but Berger declined to go into details.

“The last 15 or 20 minutes, Mr. Berger was given ample opportunity to further demonstrate why he has the opinions he has. He failed to do so,” White said. “And while we have great sympathy for what obviously is a difficult situation that he is in, I don’t think there’s a citizen that watched or listened to that exchange that believes that Mr. Berger is fit to conduct public business and comprehend the serious business that we have and deal with every day. Anyone that would conclude otherwise, I think, would be wrong.”

Later, White added, “It’s evident, commissioner, that you have a different view of the world than most folks. And therefore this board believes and has instructed its staff to take whatever steps necessary to consider a censure for the purpose of considering your removal from this county corporate entity.

“We have spent almost 40 minutes tonight discussing something that could have been devoted to discussing a whole range of other important issues facing these citizens. And we’ve done it the respectful way, but it has been short on facts and long on unsubstantiated allegations.”

Wolfe called Berger a disgrace to public office and urged him to resign on his own.

“You have made this staff really and completely uncomfortable,” Wolfe said. “And I’m talking about female staff who are at the point of tears, fearful for their lives and, I would say, paranoid about you coming in there.

Berger responds to Commissioner Thomas Wolfe, who chastised Berger for behavior he described as intimidating staff. “I’m not going to put up with it anymore,” Wolfe said.

“I know that you talk about these people, these wrongs that have been done to you, that you don’t want to discuss them publicly. Yet you go to Washington (D.C.) and hand out a manifesto about these wrongs, quoting these laws… I’m just a little confused about you rambling here about you don’t want to discuss it, yet you can go out in public and ostracize these people…

“I for one on this council am not going to put up with you intimidating this staff. Somebody’s got to take a stand, and if it has to be me against you, I’ll do it,” Wolfe said. “But you’re a disgrace to what we call a public office.

“I think the best thing you can do is resign,” Wolfe said. “You brought shame and dishonor in front of this council. I’m not going to put up with it anymore.”

“We’re going to have to disagree on that,” Berger said in response.

“Of course we are,” Wolfe said. “You can’t see where you’ve done anything wrong.

“You think you’re a white knight on a shining horse, but I’ve got news for you Mr. Berger: you’re not,” Wolfe said. “You’re a disgrace.”

Jonathan Spiers is a reporter for Port City Daily. He can be reached at (910) 772-6313 or On Twitter: @jrspiers



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Posted by on April 8, 2013. Filed under Local News,New Hanover County,Wilmington. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

10 Responses to Commissioners call for censure, removal of Berger from board

  1. Vog46

    April 9, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Berger’s term expires in Dec of 2014.
    He would have to file for re-election sometime THIS year I believe for the Nov 2014 ballot.
    It will take about a year to remove Berger if he challenges the removal in court.
    So we would remove a commissioner with months left in his term – for what?
    At a cost of tens of thousands of dollars – for what?

    Elections have consequences as this past one did. The voters should decide, not White, Dawson, Barfield et al.


  2. The Goat

    April 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Yes, Vog, it may take about a year to remove Berger, but I would be really surprised if this process did not also include an order of protection barring Berger’s access to county facilities, due to safety concerns.

  3. Lurker

    April 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Well, at least thanks to Berger “Tea Party approved” means “probably not qualified, possibly nuts” in New Hanover County from now on. The fact that he is not balanced isn’t the problem, the fact that the staff are afraid of him is. How much do you think a jury would hand over to someone he followed them home to “watch”, or award the victim/family if Berger actually did attack someone. If the County doesn’t get proactive, they (ie: WE) will be paying for it.

  4. Vog46

    April 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    @the Goat –
    Until such time as a Judge declares Berger insane they will be hard pressed to enforce that.
    The problem is – if he’s deranged and given access to county buildings it’s too late if he “goes off”.
    We NEED clearly acceptable measuring sticks to use for removal of an elected official from office.
    We don’t have that and I doubt that White and Associates will devise a set of standards either. This might or should be left up to the legislature but they don’t want to touch this either.
    We are in a very bad Catch – 22 here.
    Berger is being judged by a standard that has not been developed yet. That is grossly unfair to him and to future commissioners and to voters.

  5. Woody White

    April 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Folks- some facts: today, the NC state bar approved the county attorney proceeding instead of retaining outside counsel. Which means it is not costing the taxpayers anything for the process. Who knows how much it is costing us to deal with a mentally unstable person on a daily basis, not to mention the lack of businesses we may be chasing away. When the citizens see the facts that will be in the pleadings, everyone will have an open and unobstructed view of what is happening behind the scenes, and how unstable he really is.
    I do not understand why some believe his election inoculates him from accountability . Why is his position more important than any other elected official who can be removed for lack of mental capacity? Could we not remove the sheriff if he became delusional and acted in the same way? What if he were in a coma for the next two years, or if he were habitually drunk? Would we have to keep him in office and keep paying him? Of course not. If he were in any other position, he would have been fired long ago. It is incredible to me that anyone would advocate to retain an unfit person in a public office. The people did not elect the person that we are dealing with. Something has happened since the election and I do not know what.
    Brian needs help, first and foremost but he has refused it. But while his health is of great concern to us all, it does not outweigh the public and fiduciary duty we have to the citizens as a whole. Anyone wishing to discuss this with me can call anytime – I always welcome your comments. My numbers are: 910-313-3336 and 910-232-3374.

  6. Vog46

    April 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    I don’t know if the county is liable for that. If they were, wouldn’t they have paid off Brian’s girlfriend who filed the assault charges?
    As for Brian permanently disparaging the reputation of the Tea Party …….on the local level I think the TP is still “safe” from being “Berger’d”.
    On the National level the TP has destroyed itself with the likes of O’Donnell, Bachmann, Aiken, and Palin.
    It’s too bad too – we needed another party…


  7. Lurker

    April 10, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Vog – Berger’s GF was not a county employee.
    let us assume (ha) for a minute that message is from the real Woody – it confirms what many suspect: that there is a lot we do not know and the complaints of employees have to be taken seriously. Even if it not the real Woody White: If a company (in this case county) allows dangerous conditions to continue after they have be alerted, it is quite likely to be sued if something does happen. With the media circus surrounding this case, a jury would be hard pressed to say the County did not know Berger has issues and could be violent. I agree that the National TP is now a running joke thanks to the buffoons you named. We do need a 3rd party

  8. Vog46

    April 11, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Mr White- if thats who you really are:

    How can you disclose Mr Berger’s psychological problems? Are they NOT covered by the HIPPA laws which protects HIS privacy?
    Second, please reference a written statement bythe state AG’s office indicating you can use county attorneys for this debacle.
    Third – please don’t insult our intelligence by saying “it won’t cost us anything”. The County attorney had NOT planned on this legal proceeding in his budget and this will take away from other duties.
    Please keep a log of all cost asscoaited with the removal of Brian Berger from Office and report back to us with a total cost of this removal.
    YOU sir have a fiduciary responsibility to the county as does Brian. YOU as Chair will have to tell us how much this cost.
    WE pay your salary and Brian’s. We elected both of you to the positions you hold. You are going AGAINST the wishes of the electorate by removing Berger from office – that is OUR job. WE make mistakes by electing officials that don’t do a good job.
    If you fail to keep detailed records of costs for this political grandstanding then we’ll correct one of the two mistakes when YOU are up for re-election.


  9. Vog46

    April 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    You are right about the GF part.
    As for county liability, I’m not sure there is any. Brian can keep is med/psych record private under HIPPA and our illustrious Mr White should know this as an attorney. He can not divulge any records relating to the state of Berger’s “mind”. He is neither a shrink (nor a good lawyer apparently) nor a medical professional.
    WE can sit here and say Brian’s a “whack” – he’s a public figure and subject to public ridicule or praise – deserved or not.
    But White is different – he is acting officially and removing Brian from a job that Mr White did not assign to Berger – we did. White has to be careful on this because he opens the County up to slander lawsuits if he’s wrong about Brian.
    A judge has to declare Brian as crazy. Woody White cannot.


  10. Major

    April 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    I fail to see any disclosure of medical or psychiatric records in any of “Mr. White’s” comments. Those comments were general observations about someone’s state of mind and in no way represent a disclosure of private and protected medical information. Using a public forum like this to comment on the mental health of another person is not a violation of HIPPA laws in any way (presenting medical evidence of such at the hearing next month would be but so far I don’t think that possibility has been tabled).

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