Friday, September 23, 2011

New Hanover GOP executive session dodges the fireworks, nixes roast of Brian Berger

By Verne Strickland / September 23, 2011

Most monthly meetings of the executive committee of the New Hanover County Republican Party are pretty tame and civil affairs.
But Thursday night's session in the conference room of the Jungle Rapids amusement complex on Oleander Drive had the potential for turning into “Rumble in the Jungle.”

Item number 16e on a crowded agenda was “Issue of Comm. Berger”, which promised an airing of the high-profile saga of embattled New Hanover Commissioner Brian Berger, who has been in the news of late due to a procession of domestic problems and scrapes with the law. 

The anticipated excitement, though, fizzled like a county fair fireworks display on a drizzly week-end as a motion was made to postpone indefinitely any further discussion of the Berger situation. The motion passed with near unanimous support.

County GOP Chairwoman Rhonda Amoroso seemed circumspect about how the outcome, which could have resulted in considerable linguistic blood-letting.

“We had a great turn-out tonight,” said Amoroso. “When you have something exciting on the agenda, people show up. At the end of the day, the folks have spoken -- or not spoken. I think the issue is going to be put to rest with Commissioner Berger right now."

VS: “I told Brian when I came up here tonight I wondered if the meeting would be a sequel to the Charlie Sheen Roast, with him as the roastee. But it didn’t happen.”

Amoroso: “Well this gave the folks on the executive committee the chance to voice their concerns. So the issue has now been postponed indefinitely.”

Chairwoman Amoroso closed the evening out on a positive note:

“I want to appeal to all of you to make unity the number one watchword as we get deeper into this election season. There are a number of different groups that comprise our executive committee. But make no mistake about our future – if we want to throw Barack Obama out, we will have to work together. I know you will take this to heart. So, all hands on deck!”

Following the meeting, I interviewed Commissioner Berger.

VS: Did the sudden cut-off of the discussion tonight relieve you, or did you want the discussion to proceed?
“I guess it would depend on the tenor of the discussion that would have taken place.”

VS: Forgive me, but I think there would have been plenty of opportunity for that to go off the rails.

“That’s possible. Actually I’m kind of shocked that there was no discussion, but that’s what the majority wanted.” 

VS: If you could focus public attention in the future on your political principles instead of personal problems, don’t you think that would be helpful to you?

“My main goal now is going to be rebuilding relationships with the other commissioners, and being proactive with that. That is a constructive stance that I want to take from here on out.”

Excerpt from WWAY-TV3 coverage of NCGOP executive committee meeting:

Media were not allowed inside the executive session, but leaders of the NHCGOP said less than a minute was spent talking about the commissioner. In that time, though, a motion was made.

"The issue has been postponed indefinitely," said NHCGOP chairwoman Rhonda Amoroso. "That is what came out of the meeting tonight."

The party has put the issues around Berger to rest. It will not take a position on the controversy that has surrounded the commissioner this year; from an alleged suicide attempt to domestic issues involving his ex-girlfriend Heather Blaylock.

As for Berger, he was in attendance. Berger said very little as he walked away from reporters, but he did stop after asked how he would move on.

"What's in the past is in the past," Berger said. "I'm very encouraged with all the support I have gotten."

Those inside Thursday night's closed-door meeting said they were asked by the NHCGOP board if anyone wanted to speak about Berger, but no one did. When asked for his reaction to that, Berger declined to comment and was ushered away.

"I'm not at liberty to discuss what happened in a closed meeting," Berger said.

Verne postscript:
About the only excitement beyond the main event was a goofy shoving match that took place as I maneuvered to interview Commissioner Brian Berger after the meeting. 
Some boorish buffoon who obviously wanted Berger’s attention more than I did corralled the Commissioner and physically pulled him away, apparently staging some kind of low-grade hostage situation.
As Verne the intrepid newsman gave chase, the man snarled, “I’m not through,” and pushed me away. I objected to the physical contact, which he then denied. 
I said, “If you touch me again, it’s going to cost you.”
“I’m scared to death,” he retorted. I don't think he was. But he seemed to think he was in the cage at an MMF amateur match, while we were actually at a political meeting. They can bear many similarities, I know.

He took a swing at me, but I ducked and threw the book at him – Robert’s Rules of Order – which had been bandied about to great excess by some attention-starved dolt who worked feverishly and with great success to bring the whole meeting to a screeching halt. 
Except for the antics of the aforementioned "dolt", none of this last stuff really happened. And it couldn’t because I  know that my days as a schoolboy pugilist are over. I am a 74-year-old 170-pound writer with Alzheimer’s and coronary artery disease, and not capable of putting a scare into nobody – except liberals, atheists, communists, jihadists, welfare leeches, and Mormons with more than six wives – all of whom I take great joy in skewering at every opportunity in my blog.
But dang, darlin’, I sure can write. It’s why God sent me to this earth. Anybody got a problem with that, I’m asking you outside.