Commission’s tactic to remove Berger last worked in 1935

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Submitted: Wed, 04/10/2013 - 3:27am
Updated: Wed, 04/10/2013 - 1:19pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger has had a history of run-ins with his fellow commissioners. It appears after last night’s meeting they have finally had their fill. Now they’re moving to censure him and remove him from office after a 40-minute public argument. That run-in may have been one of Berger’s last thanks to a little-known law.

Near the end of last night’s meeting the board voted 3-1 to censure berger and use something call amotion to remove him from office.

Amotion is a seldom used common law that has been on the books in North Carolina for years, but it hasn’t been successfully used since 1935, according to Frayda Bluestein, a professor at the UNC School of Government.

“It’s a concept that a corporation, and in the government context a city or a county is a municipal corporation, has an inherent right to remove an officer that is a part of the governing board of a corporation for reasons of a pretty significant degree,” Bluestein said.

Though Berger’s actions could be described as erratic, it is unclear at this point if he can be removed from office, because he was elected to the position by voters.

“It’s a power that has been applied by public agencies, and it’s unclear whether local governments have the authority to do it given the framework of election to office and given the fact that there is nothing specific in the statutory provisions that govern cities and counties that specifically delegates any authority to remove a member,” Bluestein said.

Bluestein says Berger now has two options. He can resign from his position, or choose to fight the amotion in court and let a judge decide his fate.


  • Guest2020 says:

    I think I get what you mean. In this case it’s not just a matter of him not agreeing with their point of view, but if they do this to him, then what is stopping them from doing it to someone else in the future just because they don’t see eye-to-eye. It just doesn’t sit well with me that these commissioners are trying to strong-arm Berger out of office when it is the people who voted him in.

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    ..are about Bergers PERSONAL life. And that only comes into play because the other commish’s and the media have Berger in the microscope and chose to make a huge public issue out of everything he does. There are hundreds of cases EVERYDAY concerning the very same issues that you bring out against Berger. Why do you think it is we don’t hear about each and every one of those as front page headlines? You get 3 guesses and the 1st two don’t count…

  • Common Sense says:

    We should have a recall law that would allow the people to remove him like they do in other states. That way it’s the people’s decision.

  • jj says:

    The key to it is he was voted in by the people and the people should be the only ones to remove him by voting him out. We can’t have a law that will allow others to remove someone that doesn’t agree with their point of view.

  • SouthEastNC says:

    JJ – I’ve seen your comments on here regarding Berger.

    NOBODY CARES that he “doesn’t agree with their point of view” or as you commented yesterday – that he “isn’t a pushover ‘Yes Man’ ” (nice job getting some air-time on the 5:30 news, by the way).

    The beef people have with him is that he does not fulfill his duties as a Commissioner, and that he is an embarrassment to New Hanover County. Now the embarrassment part isn’t as big of a deal… many people were embarrassed by President Bush… heck, President Clinton got caught fooling around IN THE OVAL OFFICE! But – they at least did the job they were elected to do.

    Brian is routinely late to meetings yet he doesn’t have a job, significant other, or children as an excuse for being tardy (for example, 75 minutes late to the Jan. 22nd NHC Commissioners meeting), and he is frequently absent from Agenda briefings and meetings of his assigned boards. OK, that’s 1 strike.

    He sends erratic emails to fellow commissioners and NHC staff berating staff members, sometimes in the middle of the night. OK, that’s strike 2. (examples include here here here

    Alienating himself from the rest of the board, he has essentially created a 4-person Commission. He touts conspiracy-theories and throws accusations of corruption at fellow board-members yet when asked to provide specific examples of said corruption Berger only speaks in circles and never delivers specifics. See Monday night’s meeting, and the July 2012 meeting when they took away his travel privileges.

    On top of all that, he is an embarrassment to NHC. In-and-out of court for domestic disputes, driving without a license or insurance, violating a protective order, and DUI. Then the scene with the Governor.

    I mean… come on.

  • Guest2020 says:

    Unless there is a law specific to the removal of an elected official, then they should not be allowed to do so. If you don’t like something, change the law. Don’t spit in the face of it.

  • Guest Vader says:

    What we really need is a law allowing the citizens to get rid of poor leaders at any time after thay are elected and fail to do their job .

  • ChefnSurf says:

    I completely agree with your position except for one small thing. I don’t think anyone was really capable (including Berger ) of knowing he would melt down like this.

    Let’s stop the blaming and start the waiting.

  • Guest525 says:

    He was an idiot when he ran and the people, because he was associated with the “Tea Party” voted him in. Well, we now have the Mad Hatter among us and those that voted for him are to blame. Ignore him! There is no rightful solution to this mess right now and until laws are passed to do something about it, don’t compound the problem by doing something unethical. Again, ignore him. He will fade away.

  • Guesty1234 says:

    I agree!
    I see no legal way to remove him as it stands?? The area Tea B@&&*#! lined up behind him and voted him in so deal with it I say until next election. By the way where are all the Republicans and Tea Party supporters now….their silence is deafening. Berger is representative of the people that voted him in I say!

  • Guest1313 says:

    They fear the Bergermeister. I hope thre isn’t a grassy knoll or book depository near the county building. LOL

  • Burgerboy says:

    This is outrageous and preposterious, letting that old has-been tommy wolf try to kick our ELECTED official out of office, just b/c he won’t go along with the “good old laddy” network of whatever it was taht they do in new hangover county, and that old woody white lays up and don’t do nothing abot it, they should kick him out too, and elect someone with some common sense in their gourd, b/c these clowns up there are trying distract the public by stirring up so much trouble about brian burger so that they won’t see what crooks they are and how they’re running the county into the ground like a bunch of professional politicers, god bless brian burger!

  • SouthEastNC says:

    ha, you had me going there for a minute

  • ChefnSurf says:

    …. with friends you you defending him, he doesn’t even need enemies.

    Quick question ….. Are you really this stooooopit or are you just pulling everyone’s leg because you think you’re funny?

  • Guest9743 says:

    I think Berger is/was more of an embarrassment to Woody White than anything else….he embarrassed the chairman when the new governor was in town and he can’t get over it. If he is that afraid of him maybe New Hanover County needs a chairman that isn’t so afraid, also if he was such a threat to the governor then why didn’t his security team “take him to the ground”?

  • factchecker says:

    Make no mistake- This is a corrupt effort to oust one person so they can appoint another political stooge like Wood and move their hidden agenda. Lets get them under oath- and lets make certain White and Dawson have to answer questions under oath. This is glowing example of some politicians at their worst- we may not be fans of other commissioner’s conduct- but this conduct by White and Dawson stinks and smells – we believe the Gov should appoint a special counsel to investigate White and Dawson- they have lied if nothing else- this isnt just your normal sleaze politics. Woody White is in the opinion of many as much a disgrace as those he attacks. White’s conduct and words needs to be subject to the same public scrutiny as those he maliciously attacks.

  • Guesty1234 says:

    If they don’t watch it Bereger will end up with one heck of a payday over this?? Imo removing a Commisioner in any other way besides a public “voted on” RECALL election would be a slippery slope. I doubt if the rest of the Commissioners want to go the recall route either as this would then put themselves at risk for the same, hence they’re looking for any other way to do this.
    Yes I completely agree that Berger has issues and is irresponsible but as far as I know he’s made no threats or taken no violent actions against anybody on the board. I think the best we can do is wait it out and then vote him out. Don’t forget, Beger was duly elected and openly supported by the area GOP and TP. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

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