GOP LEADERS REFUSE TO ACT ON COOPER NOMINEES FOR NCUC: The North Carolina Utilities Commission, which sets electricity and other utility rates, barely has enough members to function. The commission has seven seats, but only four of them are filled. That's the minimum for the quorum the group needs to do anything official. In May, Gov. Roy Cooper nominated three people to fill the empty seats, but the General Assembly hasn't confirmed or rejected them. It's not clear why. The Governor's Office said all three are non-controversial, that they've met with legislators and answered questions and that no one has questioned their qualifications or ability to serve fairly. "There is no reason to delay highly qualified people from sitting on the Utilities Commission that regulates the safety and affordability of water and electricity for all North Carolinians," Cooper's office said in a news release.
SOME CANDIDATES STILL BITTER ABOUT RALEIGH CITY COUNCIL ELECTION: Two city leaders unhappy with last week’s Raleigh election results are criticizing the winners. First, council member David Cox called the election of a “pro-development” council “devastating.” Then Stef Mendell posted a letter to The News & Observer on Facebook criticizing incoming council member Saige Martin. Cox won his re-election bid but most of his allies, including Mendell, will not return to their seats in December. Mendell was defeated by David Knight while Martin defeated council member Kay Crowder. In the letter posted Wednesday, Mendell asked why The N&O didn’t explain its reasoning for not endorsing Martin. The N&O recommended Brittany Bryan for the District D seat. The decision was made by the newspaper’s editorial board, which is separate from its newsroom. In her letter, Mendell writes that Martin is listed as “White — Not Hispanic or Not Latino” in his voter registration and “refused to respond to inquiries about his identity.”
TRIAD JUDGE DIES OF HEROIN/FENTANYL OVERDOSE: An autopsy report shows a North Carolina judge died of a fentanyl and heroin overdose. The News & Record of Greensboro reports District Court Judge Tom Jarrell was found unresponsive on the bedroom floor of his home in High Point on Aug. 3. The report from the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner also says the 56-year-old Jarrell had alcohol in his system. According to the report, Jarrell had a medical history with an irregular heartbeat, but police found a plastic bag with a powdered substance in his pocket. The autopsy found that there was a possible needle puncture in his right arm with dried blood. Also, the report said police found a pocketknife and a piece of paper containing a powdered substance in his bathroom.
MICK MULVANEY ADMITS TRUMP PUSHED UKRAINE FOR DIRT ON BIDENS: First came the lengthy infomercial touting President Trump’s private golf resort in Florida as “far and away the best” site in the country to host next year’s Group of Seven summit of world leaders. Then, an admission: Trump did, in fact, withhold aid to Ukraine because he wanted the government there to investigate Democrats. For 39 minutes Thursday, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney turned the press briefing room into a sort of confession chamber, openly admitting to several acts that could deepen the legal predicament for the president. Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry into whether he has abused his office for personal and political gain. Mulvaney’s retort to those charges came in a three-word mantra that now forms the central theme of the White House impeachment response: “Get over it.” In admitting that Trump had personally intervened to award a multimillion-dollar summit to his own company, and that the president had also used taxpayer money as leverage to push a Ukrainian investigation into Democrats, Mulvaney embraced a classic Trumpian tactic: saying the quiet — and potentially illegal — part out loud.
CEASE-FIRE IN TURKEY'S ASSAULT ON KURDS IN SYRIA SIGNALS A MASSIVE U.S. FAILURE: The best that can be said for the agreement is that it may stop the killing in the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. But the cost for Kurds, longtime American allies in the fight against the Islamic State, is severe: Even Pentagon officials were mystified about where tens of thousands of displaced Kurds would go, as they moved south from the Turkey-Syria border as required by the deal — if they agree to go at all. And the cost to American influence, while hard to quantify, could be frightfully high. In the 11 days between Mr. Trump’s fateful phone call with Mr. Erdogan and the trip to Ankara by Mr. Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, the United States has ceded ground in Syria — including American bases — to the Russian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad. And it has shaken the faith of American allies that, in a time of stress, Washington will have their back. “This just looks like a complete cave-in by the United States to everything the Turks demanded,” said Eric S. Edelman, a former ambassador to Turkey and a senior Defense Department official in the George W. Bush administration. “I don’t see what the Turks gave up.”