Wednesday News: Corrupted, absolutely


NC REPUBLICANS CONTEMPLATE AMENDMENT TO GRAB MORE POWER FROM GOVERNOR: Legislative leaders are considering a constitutional amendment that would limit Gov. Roy Cooper's power over the state elections board. House Rules Chairman David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, confirmed the possibility Monday but said details of the amendment are still being worked out. "The elections and ethics board is something that we are indeed looking at in terms of its structure," Lewis told reporters. "I believe that the people of the state are committed to having elections administered in a free and fair way, and that includes free from influence from the chief executive." Lewis wouldn't say who'd appoint elections board members under a constitutional amendment, but said the language would make clear that "it is not an executive agency, it is a quasi-judicial agency that is not subject to the whims of one person."

NEIGHBORS STILL NOT SATISFIED AFTER MEETING WITH CHEMOURS OVER GENX CONTAMINATION: "The bottom line is they need to get their act together and clean it up," said resident James Griffith. "These people are only going to do what the government, or the state or the DEQ or EPA is requiring them to do, and that's what they said, 'we're going to do what's required of us,' and they're not going above and beyond," Webb said. Chemours has already stopped dumping GenX and other compounds into the Cape Fear River, but it emits chemicals into the air, and there is enough in the ground near the facility that heavy rains wash the chemical, which is used to make Teflon and other products, into the water. DEQ also issued a notice of violation to Chemours Monday for 18 additional compounds found at the plant, which were detailed in a Jan. 31 report by the company. Groundwater data showed levels of the compounds above allowed concentrations, and DEQ "is exploring all legal options, including civil penalties, for the violations," the department said.

DUANE HALL JOINS REPUBLICANS TO OVERRIDE COOPER VETO OF BUDGET: The North Carolina Senate voted last week to override Cooper's veto by a vote of 34-13, and the state House of Representatives followed suit Tuesday with a 73-44 vote to pass the $23.9 billion spending plan into law. Tuesday's override vote was largely along party lines. Democratic Rep. Duane Hall voted with Republicans against Cooper. Cooper had asked Hall to resign following sexual harassment allegations. Hall, who lost a primary election this spring and won't be back in the legislature next year, said he wanted to support state workers and thought they were treated well in the budget. When Cooper vetoed the budget last Wednesday, he said it didn't do enough for public education and the environment while at the same time continuing to give additional tax breaks to corporations and wealthy people that he wanted to stop.

TRUMP TOUTS QUESTIONABLE SUCCESS AFTER NORTH KOREA SUMMIT: President Donald Trump declared on Twitter Wednesday that there was "no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea," a bold and questionable claim following his summit with leader Kim Jong Un that produced few guarantees on how and when Pyongyang would disarm. There were worries, especially in Tokyo and Seoul, which have huge U.S. military presences, about Trump agreeing to halt U.S. military exercises with South Korea, which the North has long claimed were invasion preparations. That concession to Kim appeared to catch the Pentagon and officials in Seoul off guard, and some South Koreans were alarmed. On the issue the world has been most fixated on — North Korea's pursuit of a nuclear arsenal meant to target the entire U.S. mainland — Trump and Kim signed a joint statement that contained a repeat of past vows to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. The details of how and when the North would denuclearize appear yet to be determined, as are the nature of the unspecified "protections" Trump is pledging to Kim and his government.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO PUT MIGRANT CHILDREN IN TENT CITIES IN TEXAS: The Trump administration is looking to build tent cities at military posts around Texas to shelter the increasing number of unaccompanied migrant children being held in detention. The Department of Health and Human Services will visit Fort Bliss, a sprawling Army base near El Paso, in the coming weeks to look at a parcel of land where the administration is considering building a tent city to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children, according to U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the plans. The aggressive plan comes at the same time child shelters are filling up with more children who have been separated from their parents. The number of migrant children held in U.S. government custody without their parents has increased more than 20 percent as Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen rolled out the administration’s new zero tolerance policy that separates children from their parents who now face prosecution. More than 10,000 migrant children are being held at HHS shelters, which are 95 percent full.