- Published on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 23:06
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
NEW HANOVER CTY - The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners voted Monday April 22, to censure commissioner Brian Berger and begin the "amotion" process to remove him from the board.
According to New Hanover County officials, "In addition to the censure, the Board adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance of a petition in amotion to remove Brian Berger from the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners; service of a notice of hearing; and adoption of a revised amotion hearing rules and procedures. Commissioner Berger was served with a copy of the petition shortly after the resolution was adopted. The hearing is scheduled for May 20, 2013 and is expected to take place during or immediately following the regular meeting."
The amotion is a quasi-judicial process and hasn't been used in North Carolina in over 100 years. County officials consulted with the State Bar and feel the process is legal.
The Board kept discussion to a minimum on Monday basically following a predetermined script with Berger making several objections.
The resolution censuring Berger reads:
WHEREAS, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, as public officials, are charged with upholding the trust of the citizens of this County, and on December 6, 2010, Commissioner Brian Berger took an oath to support and maintain the Constitution and the laws of the United States and the Constitution and laws of North Carolina and to faithfully discharge the duties of the Office of Commissioner; and,
WHEREAS, on December 6, 2010, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Code of Ethics; and,
WHEREAS, according to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Code of Ethics, Board members should act with integrity as they exercise the functions of their offices, including but not limited to: 1) behaving consistently and with respect towards everyone with whom they interact; 2) exhibit trustworthiness; 3) live as if they are on duty as elected officials regardless of where they are or what they are doing; 4) use their best independent judgment to pursue the common good; and 5) recognize that they may not act on behalf of the Board unless specifically authorized to do so; and,
WHEREAS, according to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Code of Ethics Board members should faithfully attend meetings and it has been documented that Commissioner Brian Berger, on a consistent basis, has been tardy to regularly scheduled meetings of the Board and has accrued twelve unexcused absences from December 6, 2010 to April 8, 2013; and,
WHEREAS, Commissioner Brian Berger, in response to incidences on June 10, 2011, June 14, 2011, August 30, 2011, September 8, 2011, November 23, 2011, January 27, 2012, December 18, 2012, and January 16, 2013 has incurred repeated criminal charges pertaining to disturbances, court order compliance, and driving while intoxicated, thereby creating serious distractions to conducting public business; and,
WHEREAS, Commissioner Brian Berger has, without any supporting evidence, repeatedly made completely unfounded and totally groundless defamatory statements against County officials, citizens, and staff in person, printed correspondence, emails and text messages; and,
WHEREAS, Commissioner Brian Berger has failed to fully repay monies owed to the County according to the travel policy resolution unanimously adopted by the Board on June 18, 2012; and,
WHEREAS, on September 7, 2011, the New Hanover County Board of County Commissioners formally requested Commissioner Brian Berger to resign stating that it will be in the best interest of the County and its citizens, and he declined to do so; and,
WHEREAS, on March 23, 2013, the New Hanover County Republican Party adopted a resolution "censuring and repudiating the actions of Brian Berger" and called "for his immediate resignation as a member of the County Commissioners."
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners that Commissioner Brian Berger be, and is hereby, CENSURED in the strongest terms for his repeated inappropriate conduct. The Board fully recognizes the gravity of its action, but is compelled to act to address unacceptable conduct impinging upon the integrity, trust and respect for local government.
The Board voted four to one to adopt the resolution with Berger voting no.
The Board also voted to adopt a resolution adopting "amotion hearing rules and procedures and issuing petition and setting an amotion hearing regarding commissioner Brian Berger."
The resolution stated in part, "The Board of County Commissioners has determined that for purposes of accountability, consistent with applicable laws, Code of Ethics, public trust and duties, that an Amotion Hearing be scheduled to determine whether Commissioner Brian Berger is to retain his office" and,” The Board of County Commissioners desires to establish and adopt Amotion Hearing Rules and Procedures to provide and conduct a proceeding that is fair in form, appearance, and substance."
The Board voted three to two with Berger and commissioner Jonathan Barfield voting no.
Berger was served with the resolution and notice of hearing the same day.
A large document containing evidence, emails and text messages was presented at the meeting.
Berger said during the meeting, "Calling into the question the legality of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners purpose of adopting this motion, I contest and dispute the misleading and false allegations in the amotion document and this entire process."
The Board voted four to one to adopt rules and procedures for the amotion process. Berger voted no.
The hearing will be held May 20th, 2013 during or immediately following the regularly schedule commission meeting.
If Berger retains legal representation, that attorney must file a notice of representation with the clerk to the board on or by 5PM May 17th.
Berger recently switched from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party.
If he is removed through the amotion process, the Republican Party can still make a recommendation to the board to fill that vacant seat. However, the Board ultimately can vote for any person to fill that vacancy regardless of the party recommendation.