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Saffo says threat from Berger doesn’t overrule city’s rights

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With Christmas quickly approaching, many leaders in Raleigh are packing up and heading home to spend time with their family and friends. But, not everyone is full of the holiday spirit. North Carolina State Senate majority leader Phil Berger sent a letter to some city leaders, including Wilmington mayor Bill Saffo, that’s not so jolly.

“He would like us to drop the lawsuit and if we didn’t there could be some dire consequences for the cities in the state of North Carolina,” said Saffo.

Senator Berger sent out a letter Wednesday defending the recent victory over forced annexation by telling city leaders who are against the new law to back off. Saffo says regardless of what Berger says, the cities have the right to move forward with the lawsuits against the state.

“Nobody ever threatened the right of a citizen that took on the city in respect to an annexation lawsuit, ever,” said Saffo. “For them to turn around and threaten cities because the cities are using their constitutional rights I think it’s unfortunate.”

In the letter, Berger says the General Assembly has put much thought into the process of forced annexation and the cities should not waste the tax payers money by moving forward with legal action. Saffo says he thinks the general assembly was the one who wasted the citizens money by changing the law in the first place. He says threatening local leaders is not the way to go about getting what you want.

“I don’t think that’s good public policy,” said Saffo. “I think good public policy is working with the people. I hope he’ll try to understand where we’re coming from.”

Saffo says he does not know what the city of Wilmington will do about the lawsuit. He says the city council will talk to the other cities involved before making any type of decision on what to do next.

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