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Morning news headlines for June 19, 2012
Supreme Court delays execution; Former Ohio lawmaker gets prison term; Red Cross strike settled

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Supreme Court delays execution
  • Former Ohio lawmaker gets prison term
  • Red Cross strike settled
  • Canton mayor eyes changes to plug deficit
  • Rootstown post office named for fallen soldier
  • Ohioans get share of Anthem settlement
  • Cleveland RTA head gets raise
  • State calculating tax amnesty totals
  • Kent State advances

  • Supreme Court delays execution
    The Ohio Supreme Court formally has delayed this week’s execution following a judge ruling that the inmate is too mentally ill to be put to death. Abdul Awkal was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday for killing his estranged wife and her brother 20 years ago inside a Cuyahgoa County courthouse building. The high court’s ruling does not set a future execution date, but the court can set one if Awkal is found to be mentally competent in the future. The execution could be delayed for a while because the state has executions scheduled through January 2014.

    Red Cross strike settled
    The American Red Cross in Cleveland says blood-collection workers have ratified a four-year contract agreement to settle a four-month strike over health care costs and working conditions. The Red Cross says the agreement provides pay increases and some guarantees to protect against rising health care costs. Workers are expected back on the job in the next few days. More than 230 members of the union went on strike Feb. 14. The strike prompted the Red Cross to dip into its national blood inventory to meet demand at Cleveland area hospitals.

    Former Ohio lawmaker gets prison term
    An ex-Ohio state lawmaker will spend three years in prison after pleading guilty to bribery and other charges. Carlton Weddington a Columbus Democrat, resigned his Ohio House seat and surrendered to authorities in March. Authorities say he accepted all-expenses-paid trips to South Beach, Miami, and California's Napa Valley from a fake business entity set up by the FBI. In exchange, the entity had asked Weddington for certain legislation. Weddington served on the Columbus Board of Education until he was first elected to the Ohio House in 2008. 

    Canton mayor eyes changes to plug deficit
    The mayor of Canton is proposing some big changes to help close a projected $4 million budget shortfall next year. William Healy unveiled a range of proposals Monday, including installing so-called red light traffic cameras, capping the city’s income tax credit, closing a fire station and eliminating the park board commission. The city has been weighing options to close the deficit, including asking voters for an income tax increase this fall. Healy has said the city will have to lay off up to 100 police and firefighters next year if it fails to plug the shortfall. 

    Rootstown post office named for fallen soldier
    It took a federal law, but the Rootstown post office is officially named for fallen Marine Corps Sergeant Jeremy Murray. The 27-year old died in 2005 when a roadside bomb exploded in Iraq. Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and Congressman Tim Ryan sponsored a bill to rename the rural town’s post office, and President Obama signed it. Jeremy Murray is one of nearly 300 Ohio men and women killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Ohioans get share of Anthem settlement
    About 250,000 Ohioans will get a share of a $90 million settlement with Anthem Insurance. The 2005 lawsuit was filed in Cleveland on behalf of nearly 750,000 former Anthem members who alleged that they didn’t get the fair value of their interests when Anthem changed from a mutual company to a stock company more than a decade ago. Anthem's parent company, Wellpoint Inc. agreed to the settlement which cancels a trial set for this week.

    Cleveland RTA head gets raise
    The head of Cleveland’s public transportation agency is getting a $26,000 salary increase. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority board voted Monday to extend Joe Calabrese’s contract to 2020. He’ll earn about $243,000 a year. He received a 3% increase in pay, in line with other RTA workers, and a $20,000 increase. The board said Monday that Calabrese has guided the agency through budget problems in recent years that resulted in higher fares and route reductions. RTA’s union leader tells the Plain Dealer the pay raises is unfair and extravagant.

    State calculating tax amnesty totals
    A six-week-long tax amnesty program for Ohioans ended last Friday, but tax officials don’t yet know how much total money has come in as a result. Ohioans who had failed to pay sales taxes, income taxes, and other taxes were told they could avoid all the penalties and half of the interest charges… if they came clean and paid up now. Department of Taxation spokesman Gary Gudmundson says, as of last Friday, $17 million had poured in, but there's still a chance that, once the unopened mail is processed, the total take may indeed reach the earlier forecast of $36 million.

    Kent State advances
    Kent State’s run in the College World Series will continue. The Flashes held off top-seeded Florida 5-4 in an elimination game last night. There were some nervous moments at the end of the game, when Kent State pitcher Josh Pierce worked himself out of a one-out, bases loaded jam. Kent State next faces two-time defending World Series champs South Carolina Wednesday night. The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7pm. 

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