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Headline News for Thursday, April 14, 2011
Governor is asking for more money from casinos, Cleveland's credit rating has been downgraded, welding company is leaving Northeast Ohio

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Gov. John Kasich is hinting that he’ll ask casino operators for more money than is required by the constitutional amendment they backed and voters passed in 2009
  • Fitch Ratings lowed the rating on the city’s $248 million in debt by one notch
  • ESAB is closing its Ashtabula plant after more than 40 years
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Gov. John Kasich is hinting that he’ll ask casino operators for more money than is required by the constitutional amendment they backed and voters passed in 2009. Under the constitutional amendment, the four casinos opening in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo must pay $50 million each in licensing fees and invest $250 million or more in their casinos. They’re also to pay a 33 percent tax on casino revenues. Kasich says he won’t try to increase the tax rate, but may be asking for extra payments up front.


“VLTs” are video slot machines that the racing industry wants to install at Ohio’s seven horse tracks. The governor plans to hire a gambling consultant by the end of next week. Casino operators say any delay could cause trouble for them. That’s because it could make it tougher for them to get financing to build their casinos.



The city of Cleveland’s credit rating has been downgraded. Fitch Ratings lowered the rating on the city’s $248 million in debt by one notch that could lead to slightly higher borrowing costs in the future. City officials tell the Plain Dealer they are expecting little impact. Fitch tells the newspaper the downgrade is the result of dwindling cash reserves, but say plummeting income tax collections since 2008 have begun to stabilize.



100 jobs are leaving Northeast Ohio as a welding company has agreed to build a new plant in South Carolina. ESAB is closing its Ashtabula plant after more than 40 years.  Company officials tell the Plain Dealer that Ohio’s offered tax breaks weren’t enough to counter a South Carolina county’s offer to buy a building for the company.



Cuyahoga County’s executive spent some time in Washington this week asking for lawmaker support for more flexibility in local government spending.  Ed FitzGerald is pushing for universal free kindergarten programs and economic development tax credits. He also wants flexibility in how the county can use neighborhood stabilization money administered through the federal housing department.



Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is inching closer to make his bid for US Senate official. Mandel has hired a veteran Washington fund-raiser to raise money for his possible challenge to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in 2012. Mandel maintains he has not made an official decision. Democrats have already begun criticizing him for breaking his pledge to voters to serve a four-year term as Ohio Treasurer.



Two Akron post offices are closing despite a nearly two year fight to keep them open. The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday offices in Goodyear Heights and downtown Akron will close in June.  Goodyear Heights residents had collected 2,000 petition signatures and rallied since 2009 to prevent the closing. 


The city of Akron has lost another round in its fight with its police union. A visiting judge on Wednesday denied the city’s request to delay police officers’ raises. A state conciliator ruled in January that the city can afford to give the raises, ending a nearly two year battle. The pay increases were set to take effect April 3rd. City officials tell the Beacon Journal that a request to reconsider the conciliator’s ruling is still pending in court, so police still won’t’ see the raises this month.


A bill headed to Gov. John Kasich's desk would open the state's door to a service-oriented teaching program that targets low-income areas. The non-profit Teach for America program recruits recent college graduates and professionals to teach for two or more years in low-income urban and rural communities across the country. The bill passed the Ohio Senate Wednesday.  Kasich in his State of the State speech in March vowed to bring the program to the state.



Hollywood likely will have more of a presence in Cleveland. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald plans to announce today more county funding for the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, which works to bring in new movie production in Northeast Ohio. The superhero film The Avengers is set to film in Cleveland this summer.



The Stark County Sheriff’s department is investigating complaints from more than a dozen residents who received Ku Klux Klan fliers on their doorsteps.  The fliers named the United Northern & Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and listed an address and a website. The group formed in 2005 and is the largest Klan group operating in Michigan. Deputies tell the Canton Repository plastic bags containing the fliers have been taken to a lab for fingerprinting.



Two state lawmakers are pushing to end the death penalty in the state. Democratic state Reps. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood and Ted Celeste of Grandview Heights are sponsors of the bill. They argue studies find racial disparities in death sentences and they point to a Maryland study that an average death penalty case costs three times that of a life without parole sentence.  In the past two years, Ohio has been second only to Texas in the number of executions. The state is on pace for a modern record 10 executions this year.



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