Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Hanover tempest: “Brian you are a commissioner, not der fuhrer,” says Jason Thompson in explosive email to courageous GOP outsider Brian Berger.

Source of story headline: 

Bigoted remark by combative Thompson is sign of boiling resentment New Hanover commissioners feel toward first-term colleague Brian Berger. 

By Verne Strickland / September 10, 2011


Brian Berger statement on his philosophy in his run for office in 2008.
As a candidate for the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners in 2008, Brian Berger received approximately 20,000 votes, advocating policies to prevent future tax increases, spur private sector job growth, protect property rights and the environment, and strengthen ethical standards, accountability and openness in local government. He has been a consistent advocate for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and ending the "culture of corruption" in Southeastern North Carolina. 

Berger has spent years advocating for limited government, accountability, transparency and ethics. He has pushed innovative and time-tested solutions for long-term job creation, lower taxes and fighting the growing problems of crime in our community. 

Berger has stood up against the unethical behavior of local elected officials, Republicans and Democrats, by opposing "business as usual," the corruption and wasteful spending that takes money out of your wallet and squeezes families trying to stay afloat in today's economy.


Forgive me, but there’s something about the spectacle of this feisty little leprechaun Brian Berger driving his brutish, brash “colleagues” nuts that just flat tickles the hell out of me. 

Bravo. I know that this will irritate some no end, but I’ve been successfully irritating types I don’t like for years – radical left-wing Democrats, Muslim jihadists, communists, socialists, atheists, cynical anti-American Europeans, over-zealous unionists, illegal aliens, drug traffickers, career welfare leeches, Mormons with more than six wives, and Barack Obama. 

But let’s bring it back closer to home – our beloved Cape Fear region. Just a few heartfelt observations: 

The three stooges of the New Hanover Board of Commissioners may be big, and they may be bold, but they are bringing dishonor to themselves, and to the county where they claim residency, in their crusade to bring down Brian Berger.

If the level of embarrassment visited on our citizens is a reason for retiring from the field of battle, then the stooges should be the first to clear out.

Let’s face it – this Berger dude is tough. He stands his ground, and he has ground to stand on. They can grouse all they like, but they can’t throw him out, and he’s made it clear that he’s not going to knuckle under. Stalemate.

Brian has friends. He has enemies. He has admirers. He has detractors – vicious, hurtful detractors. He’s on a lonely quest. But I think there’s a lot to love with this guy. He shows courage, he doesn’t quit.

Under similar circumstances I would’ve hidden under a rock. But not Commissioner Berger. Folks, this dude is a rock!

Now, look --  I know that Jonathan Barfield hasn’t cut himself with a razor (you seen that lush growth on his face? He doesn’t even own a razor!), and that Ted Davis hasn’t ripped the handle off somebody’s car (he can’t open a beer bottle with a twist-off top) and that Jason Thompson hasn’t spent a night in the slammer, and that Rick Catlin is not taking unemployment pay-outs from the feds. At least that’s what they claim.

But, fellas – how about cutting the guy a little slack?

The picture of a big, burly phalanx of stern brutes standing should-to-shoulder, albeit very uneasily, for the cameras, tells it all. Three Goliaths glowering down at one David.

From the outset of his tenure, Berger was a marked man. He said in advance that he would not be a member of the NH Good Ole Boys’ Club. And boy was he ever right.

He criticized the tactics and ethics of the incumbents, who evidence no clue that they have ever read Robert’s Rules of Order – or even seen the movie. Berger called them on that.

The newcomer to the hallowed halls of the county power machine berated his brethren for fiscal irresponsibility and lack of transparency, among other things.

What’s not to like?

While Berger pleads guilty to a penchant for being late – which can justly be categorized as rude and unprofessional – if you put a stopwatch on these meetings – I think you might be impressed by the lulls in the action, and the cute, frivolous banter, that waste time and taxpayer dollars.

One of Berger’s early complaints was that he was culled out of the action -- the vital flow of official information by the excessively incumbent serving commissioners. He has been ignored and made to feel irrelevant. Fair and reasonable accusations, I submit.

In board meetings, Berger has been for the most part quiet and respectful. Outside the board room, his behavior has not been quite so circumspect. And this has been amply and even excessively covered by shock jock attack-style journalists.

 "This stonewalling and secrecy and attempt to filter information is NOT ACCEPTABLE," Berger wrote. "THE ACTIONS OF STAFF AND CERTAIN COMMISSIONERS HAS BEEN AN AFFRONT TO OPENNESS AND ACCOUNTABLILITY."

County Commissioner Jason Thompson wrote to Brian, "This is ridiculous. Brian you are a commissioner not der fuhrer. Your email shows you do not understand a manager/commissioner form o govt (sic)."

Berger responded via email stating that he found Thompson's comments "offensive and inappropriate".
One online expression I thought quite relevant was this:

When the Titan Project was getting incentives and being approved by the county commission, Catlin was nowhere to be seen or heard. Only recently did this become an issue he took a stand on. Lately, on non-attainment he has been doing more grandstanding, so I think Berger is correct to point out this is an issue for all of us. 

Berger may not be as slick as Catlin but he is far more correct on asking these questions and not allowing Catlin to ignore his concerns or those of others in NHC with these non-responsive answers. Catlin is handling this matter poorly and Berger is right to ask questions and demand answers in a timely fashion. Maybe if we had fewer Catlins we would not have issues like the CFPUA and R3. Given Barfield's trying to take over schools, when it comes to unprofessional who is he kidding?

The landscape is littered with instances of tabloid “journalism” sensationalizing Berger’s plight. This is deplorable. But local television anchor Bob Townsend did the right thing. Surely you know all about that. A tabloid muckraker on the Star-News took care of that by releasing text of a private email exchange between Townsend and Berger.

And Townsend didn’t intend to gather any attaboys for his compassion toward Berger. Very noble, I thought, in these callous times. It may cost him. But it shouldn’t.

In closing, this is Brian Berger’s personal statement as he conducted his campaign for office as a New Hanover County Commissioner: 

Actions matter. Accountability matters. In this election, you have a choice to continue with an agenda of high taxes, wasteful spending and misguided priorities represented by these four gentlemen. We're overtaxed, but these gentlemen don't think we're taxed enough, they need more of our money to spend. The environment and education have been disregarded, but these concerns only matter to our local officials when its election time.
I am asking you to join me in reforming New Hanover County government. That means low taxation, fighting wasteful spending, prioritizing public safety, education, infrastructure and the environment.
Actions matter. Withdrawing the $4.2 million giveaway to Titan Cement. Fighting Forced Annexation and Eminent Domain with the same energy these gentlemen put into lobbying for the homebuilders and billboard owners. Putting resources into fighting crime, gangs and planning for infrastructure and education that these gentlemen have a record of neglecting. Those are my priorities, and if they are yours too, send a powerful message by voting for Brian Berger and taking back YOUR government.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Wilmington's Ilario Pantano to participate in 10th Anniversary 9/11 commemorations at Ground Zero.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster /  September 9, 2011

Pantano Will Be A Featured Speaker at 9/11 Freedom Rally

Wilmington, NC:  Ilario Pantano, Conservative Republican Candidate for North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District, announced today that he will be participating in National September 11th commemorations at Ground Zero this weekend including the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s 2nd annual Freedom Rally in Raleigh on Sunday afternoon.

“It is a real honor to be able to take part in these commemorations, to honor the memories of those who perished on 9/11 and those who survived but whose lives were forever changed, and to give my reflections on the impact of 9/11 on my life and on our nation,” Pantano said.

“I look forward to personally meeting the 9/11 first responders who will be attending this rally.  It is shameful that they along with clergy members and family members of 9/11 victims have been barred from the official ceremonies on Sunday morning. As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of that horrific day we must never forget what happened and we must remain vigilant and do our very best to make sure an attack of this magnitude never occurs again.”

On Sunday afternoon, Pantano will address AFDI’s Freedom Rally, organized by Pamela Geller.  The rally begins at 3pm at the corner of Park and Broadway and Pantano will speak at approximately 4:15pm. While they are barred and/or not invited to the official 9/11 ceremonies clergy members, 9/11 first responders, and 9/11 family members will be welcome at the Freedom Rally and they are encouraged to attend.

Members of the clergy will be delivering the invocation at the rally, and first responders will be addressing the rally attendees.  Pantano addressed the inaugural Freedom Rally on 9/11/ 2010.  Between 30,000 and 40,000 people attended the inaugural rally and an even larger crowd is expected to attend this year.

Pantano has a very unique and personal 9/11 story.  At the time of the attacks, Pantano had recently started a media consulting business in New York. On his way to a meeting in Manhattan, he witnessed the Twin Towers burning in the attacks of September 11, 2001. Friends and colleagues of Pantano’s were killed in the attacks. A building where Pantano had worked, 4 World Trade Center, was destroyed. 

Pantano rushed to a recruiter’s office and began the lengthy process of returning to service in the Marines, this time as an officer (Pantano had previously served as an enlisted Marine during the Gulf War). Upon graduation of Infantry Officer’s Course, 2nd Lt Pantano and his family were assigned to Camp Lejeune North Carolina, where he took command of an Infantry Platoon with the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Marine Regiment, the WARLORDS.

Pantano would later deploy to Iraq where he would lead his men into combat in Fallujah (2004) during some of the toughest fighting of the war. During combat operations, Pantano was charged with murder for killing terrorists, but was later exonerated of all charges.

Pantano later became a Sheriff’s Deputy in North Carolina and wrote a book about his Experiences, “Warlord”, published by Threshold Editions of Simon & Schuster.  Threshold recently published Vice President Dick Cheney’s book, “In my Time” and is re-releasing Pantano’s book this fall.


Video of Pantano’s speech can be found at

Our mailing address is:
Ilario Pantano
PO Box 11280
Wilmington, NC 28404

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NC Democrats claim gay marriage ban could hurt business recruitment. (Oh, I really don't think so.)

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / September 7, 2011

 RALEIGH – House Democratic leaders and a couple of business representatives decried the potential effects of a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

They said that now is not the time, given the current economic climate, to be considering such a ban, adding that it could have a detrimental effect on luring business to North Carolina.

“We have in North Carolina at the president time many problems – the economy exacerbated by a terrible hurricane that has hit our coast, in particular the Northeast and flooding among areas in the East,” said Rep. Joe Hackney, D-Orange, the House minority leader. “We have a sluggish economy which we ought to be focused on reviving.”

The N.C. General Assembly is scheduled to return to Raleigh next week, primarily to consider proposed amendments to the N.C. Constitution. The most contentious amendment is one that would define marriage between a man and a woman as the only domestic union recognized in the state.

Andrew Spainhour, an attorney for Replacements Limited in Guilford County, said the proposed amendment could end up affecting domestic partner benefits that Replacement Limited and many Fortune 500 companies offer their employees.

“To those who say this won’t hurt business, we say put yourselves in the shoes of someone trying to entice an LGBT professional or business leader or educator or some other member of a creative class to come to North Carolina, a state considering an anti-gay amendment in the year 2011,” Spainhour said. “We’re incredulous frankly that we can’t all agree that that’s a tough sell.” LGBT refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

 He said that such a constitutional amendment could have unintended consequences.

“I am not in a position to take on faith that domestic partner benefits will not be impacted,” Spainhour said. “Doing no harm is generally the right answer and that is certainly the case here.”

Anthony Pugliese, senior vice president of the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants said that finding a welcoming, accommodating environment for their work force was a major factor in his organization deciding to relocate from the New York tri-state area to Durham.

“Our decision would have been significantly altered, been swayed, it would have been reconsidered had this amendment been in place at the time we were making the decision,” Pugliese said.

Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, said the amendment could send the wrong message to people in the military who are stationed in North Carolina.

Martin noted that the military’s controversial Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy is set to expire soon. “You’re going to have many, many openly gay serving members of the military in North Carolina,” Martin said.

Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, said that an unintended consequence of such an amendment could affect North Carolina’s domestic violence laws. She said that in Ohio, some domestic violence laws related to unmarried heterosexual couples were affected once that state adopted a similar amendment.

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