Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Commissioner Berger berates county staff in text messages while eyeing bigger role.


 Verne Strickland Blogmaster / September 26, 2012


New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger 
sent a series of text messages to the county manager
in September threatening the jobs of the county 
attorney and clerk to the board. StarNews file photo
 
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 2:19 p.m.
New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger sent a series of text messages to the county manager in September threatening the jobs of the county attorney and clerk to the board, according to county officials.

County Manager Chris Coudriet confirmed the text messages earlier this week. One of the messages from Berger instructed Coudriet to inform County Attorney Wanda Copley and Clerk to the Board Sheila Schult they were "on notice" and could be fired from their jobs. Coudriet said he spoke with both women about Berger's message. Copley and Schult had no comment on Berger's text messages.

Both the county attorney and clerk, like the county manager, work directly for the board. For them to be fired, the board would have to vote to do it. Vice Chairman Jonathan Barfield and Commissioner Rick Catlin said there is no support for such a move. 

The text messages are another example of how Berger is only critical of county staff and officials via electronic messages. Mainly silent during public meetings, Berger has written several disparaging messages about Coudriet and the county staff in the past couple of weeks, including accusing the county manager of "discrimination, retaliation, intimidation" on a statewide listserv.

Barfield said Berger's attacks are unwarranted and unfair. "Staff hasn't done anything to Brian," Barfield said. "We shouldn't be sending threatening messages to our employees." 
Berger refused to comment on the text messages. "This is not an issue the public wants the county to focus on," Berger said.

Commissioner Jason Thompson could not be reached for comment.