Saturday News: Take a hike, boys

GOVERNOR COOPER WANTS TO MOVE CONFEDERATE STATUES FROM CAPITAL GROUNDS: Gov. Roy Cooper's administration formally petitioned the state's Historical Commission Friday in an effort to remove three Confederate monuments from the Capitol grounds in downtown Raleigh. Cooper wants to move the statues 45 miles south to the Bentonville Battlefield historic site in Johnston County. A state law passed in 2015 to protect Confederate monuments and other "objects of remembrance" restricts what the state can do, even with consent from the Commission, which is slated to meet Sept. 22. The law says no state-owned monuments or works of art can be removed without its approval, but it also lays out rules for when the commission does allow changes. Monuments can be relocated only "when appropriate measures are required by the state" to preserve them or when removal is needed to make room for construction.

NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ABOUT RUSSIAN HACKING IN DURHAM TICKS OFF ELECTIONS OFFICIALS: The Durham BOE released a statement on Friday calling on The New York Times to correct several points, including coverage of Durham County’s being targeted by Russian hackers. The NYT story alleged that the Durham BOE “rebuffed help” from federal officials and from an organization called Free & Fair after technical problems arose on election day related to the county’s electronic poll books, according to a statement emailed by both the state and local boards. County officials said they found no record of contact with either that group or with federal officials about Russian hacking. “County officials did not receive an offer for help from outside entities as stated in the coverage,” said the statement. “Many of the allegations contained in the coverage are based on remote hearsay or were otherwise unverified by election officials in North Carolina before the story was published.”

HOUSE REPUBLICANS ACT LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN OVER HARVEY AID/DEBT CEILING BILL: House Republicans hissed and booed senior Trump administration officials Friday as they pitched President Donald Trump's deal with Democrats to increase the nation's borrowing authority. Conservatives have demanded budget cuts in exchange for any hike in the debt limit, and they were unhappy with a deal that combined more than $15 billion in disaster relief with the less palatable debt increase. "Vote for the debt ceiling for me," Treasury chief Steven Mnuchin pleaded with Republicans on Friday at a closed-door meeting at the Capitol, according to several lawmakers. Yet Republicans questioned why they would cast a politically risky vote for Mnuchin, who has no strong ties to Congress and also happens to be a former Democratic donor. Mnuchin is a banker and former hedge fund manager.

MEADOWS' CLAIM HE "ACCIDENTALLY" SIGNED GERRYMANDERING BRIEF IS JUST ANOTHER LIE: Meadows was quoted multiple times in the Supreme Court brief, which he said he reviewed before accidentally signing. “Partisan gerrymanders move affected members towards their respective ideological poles, encourage members to eschew principled, bipartisan compromise, and transfer power from voters to political parties,” the brief states at one point. “Importantly, these gerrymanders prevent members (of Congress) from following the cardinal rule of serving as a representative of the people, which amicus Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina has succinctly set forth: ‘My allegiance is always to my constituents and never to a party.’” Meadows’ spokesman did not respond to a question about whether his removal of his name from the brief meant he supports politically motivated gerrymandering or not.

SEVERAL TOXIC SUPERFUND SITES ARE IN IRMA'S PATH IN SOUTH FLORIDA: A risk analysis by EPA concluded in 2012 that flooding at such sites in South Florida could pose a risk to public health by spreading contaminated soil and groundwater. Flooding could disturb dangerous pollutants and wash it onto nearby property or contaminate groundwater, including personal wells, said Elizabeth "Betsy" Southerland, who retired last month as director of science and technology in EPA's Office of Water after 30 years at the agency. "The agency needs to quickly respond with careful monitoring after the storm," said Southerland, who has criticized EPA's current leadership under President Donald Trump. A recent analysis for the Government Accountability Office by two researchers at American University found that a storm surge in South Florida of just 1 to 4 feet could inundate the half-dozen sites visited by AP in recent days. Irma was predicted to push in a wall of water up to 12 feet high.