Commissioners in New Hanover County took steps to censure fellow member Brian Berger, and begin the process to have Berger removed from the board
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Commissioners in New Hanover County voted 3-1 to begin the process of formally censuring fellow Commissioner Brian Berger, and instructed staff to start working on another process, called "amotion", to have Berger removed from the board.
Amotion is based in common law as a way for corporations to get rid of an officer based on behavior or violations of ethics. A censure is a public reprimand that has no legal effect other than to express the dissatisfaction of the board (or a majority of the board) for one member's behavior or violation of ethics.
Berger was involved in a discussion with several fellow commissioners during Monday night's meeting, where he was asked to give specific examples of where he was mistreated by members of the board and county staff. He claimed several times that this was not the proper time to do so, and several times Chairman Woody White told him that the public forum was the right time.
"While we have great sympathy for what obviously is a difficult situation that he (Berger) 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, to comprehend the serious business that we have and deal with everyday," White said near the end of the meeting. "Anyone that would conclude otherwise would be wrong."
The newest member of the board, Thomas Wolfe, openly chastised Berger for making members of the county staff fearful for their safety.
"I for one on this committee, on this council, am not going to put up with you intimidating this staff," Wolfe said to Berger. "Somebody's got to take a stand. If it's going to be me against you, I'll do it. But, you are a disgrace to what we call a public office. I think the best thing you could do is resign. You've brought shame and dishonor upon this council, and I'm made about it and I don't want to put up with it anymore."
"We're just going to have to disagree on that," Berger responded.
Commissioner Beth Dawson made the motion that the board instruct staff to begin drafting a resolution to censure Berger, and take steps to begin the process of filing an amotion, to remove Berger from the board. The documents could be ready by the April 22nd meeting.
Commissioner Jonathan Barfield asked to leave the meeting, saying he was not feeling well. He did not vote on the censure/amotion resolution brought up by Dawson.
Berger cast the lone "no" vote to the resolution. He repeatedly tried to defend his actions during a recent trip Governor Pat McCrory made to Wilmington. It was after that incident that White voiced concerns about Berger's behavior and asked Berger to resign. Berger refused to step down.
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