Saturday News: Blackout


HATTERAS AND OCRACOKE SUFFER HEAVY ECONOMIC LOSSES FROM POWER OUTAGE: A power outage that drove tourists from two North Carolina islands wiped out a significant chunk of the lucrative summer months for local businesses. It could take days or weeks to repair an underground transmission line damaged early Thursday by construction crews working on new a bridge between islands. Business owners were upset that the disaster was caused by human error, not Mother Nature. The construction company drove a steel casing into an underground transmission line, causing blackouts on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands. "It's a hard pill to swallow that someone forgot where the power cable was," said Jason Wells, owner of Jason's Restaurant on Ocracoke Island. "How do you forget where the power cable is?"

NC's GOP LEADERS ENGAGE IN PARTISAN BUDGETING, PUNISHING DEMOCRATS AND SHOWERING THEIR OWN WITH MONEY: Most of the publicity has centered on Stein, the newly elected Democratic attorney general who had $10 million cut from his budget or about 35 percent of the funding for his legal and administrative staff. Compare this with the budgets of Republican office-holders. Troxler, the agriculture commissioner, saw his budget jump from $116.9 million to $133.6 million. Newly elected State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, a Republican, saw his department’s budget jump from $38.3 million to $48.8 million. (The budget had been flat under his Democratic predecessor, Wayne Goodwin.) Newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, a Republican, was given $700,000 by the legislature to hire 10 new policy positions. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest saw his budget increased from $672,972 to $793,708. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, a Republican, saw her budget increased from $15.8 million to $17.6 million.

AFTER SCARAMUCCI RANT, REINCE PRIEBUS REPLACED AS CHIEF OF STAFF: The tenure of Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff has ended after six months. President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on Friday that he's replacing the former Republican Party chairman with the secretary of homeland security, John Kelly. Priebus says he offered his resignation after Trump indicated he wanted to go in a different direction. Kelly is a retired Marine Corps general and could bring military-style discipline to a White House undercut by insider quarrels. Priebus had been a frequent target of rumors about his job security amid infighting and confusion within the White House and a long whisper campaign by Trump allies. Then, on Thursday, he was assailed in a remarkable and profane public rebuke by Trump's newly appointed White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci.

AFTER SENATE FAILURE, MEADOWS IS PUSHING FOR ANOTHER OBAMACARE REPEAL EFFORT: Just hours after Senate Republicans failed to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act — seemingly ending a dogged legislative effort — members of the North Carolina congressional delegation were pushing for a new attempt. “Obamacare repeal is not optional — American families are hurting. It’s on Congress to keep working until we deliver on our promise,” said Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, leader of the House Freedom Caucus. Meadows, who represents the far western part of the state, went on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” on Friday morning to press for a new bill. Democrats, who have rebuffed attempts to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, were pleased with Friday’s vote in the Senate. “While last night’s news is a great relief, the fight to protect the ACA is far from over,” said Rep. David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat.

CONGRESS FORCES TRUMP'S HAND WITH VETO-PROOF RUSSIA SANCTIONS BILL: The Senate is sending a package of stiff financial sanctions against Russia to President Donald Trump to sign after the bill received overwhelming support in Congress. Moscow has already responded, ordering a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia and closing the U.S. embassy’s recreation retreat. Trump’s likelihood of supporting the measure is a remarkable concession that the president has yet to sell his party on his hopes for forging a warmer relationship with Moscow. Trump’s vow to extend a hand of cooperation to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been met with resistance as skeptical lawmakers look to limit the executive power’s leeway to go easy on Moscow over its meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Senate passed the bill, 98-2, two days after the House pushed the measure through by an overwhelming margin, 419-3. Both are veto proof numbers as the White House has wavered on whether the president would sign the measure into law.