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Morning news headlines for September 27, 2012
Kasich signs pension reform; Lawmaker calling for federal election monitors; American Greetings founder makes repurchase offer
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


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Amanda Rabinowitz
 
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  • Kasich signs pension reform package
  • Pension company declines arbitration with Delphi retirees
  • Lawmaker calls for federal election monitors
  • Ohio’s largest school districts question computers in attendance-tampering probe
  • American Greetings founder offers to take company private
  • Blue-green algae found at Euclid Beach
  • Hocking College announces layoffs
  • Kasich signs pension reform package
    Gov. John Kasich has signed a package of bills shoring up Ohio's five public pension funds. At a bill-signing on Wednesday, the Republican governor said the legislation represents serious progress in terms of stabilizing the funds. The bills make changes to funds covering some 1.8 million retirees, future retirees and their families. They include increases to some premiums, reduced payouts, and tighter retirement eligibility requirements for funds covering teachers, police, troopers, and other public workers. The package of bills is aimed at keeping the funds solvent. They cleared the state Legislature two weeks ago with bipartisan support.

    Pension company declines arbitration with Delphi retirees
    Attorneys for a federally backed pension corporation have declined to enter mediation with retirees of a former auto-parts supplier suing to have their full pensions restored. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. rejected the suggestion of non-binding mediation with Delphi salaried retirees. A Delphi Salaried Retirees Association official says it came after six weeks of discussions. The retirees have been struggling for three years to get their full pensions from the former major automotive parts supplier. In July 2009, a then-bankrupt Delphi surrendered its pension obligations to Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. That resulted in pension payments that were 30 to 70 percent lower than the retirees expected. There are about 1,500 salaried retirees in the Mahoning Valley.

    Lawmaker calls for federal election monitors
    A state lawmaker is asking Attorney General Eric Holder to send federal election monitors to Ohio in November to protect voter rights. Democratic Rep. Alicia Reece of Cincinnati says two recent federal court decisions have the potential to confuse Ohio voters trying to cast in-person early ballots and or trying to cast provisional ballots. Reece tells Holder in a letter that federal observers will help restore the integrity of the voting process and prevent Ohioans from being denied their right to vote. Earlier this year in Cincinnati, Holder said the Justice Department opened a record number of more than 100 new investigations into possible voting rights discrimination across the country last year.

    Ohio’s largest school districts question computers in attendance-tampering probe
    Ohio's eight largest big-city school districts say a state computer system at the center of the statewide attendance-tampering investigation is riddled with deficiencies. Districts use the Educational Management Information System to submit attendance data to the state as well as test scores. A new evaluation by the influential "Ohio 8" which includes Cleveland, Akron and Canton, highlights errors, delays, inconsistencies and a lack of training. The districts are asking to work with the Ohio Department of Education to address problems they've experienced.

    American Greetings founder offers to take company private
    The family that founded American Greetings is offering to buy back the greeting-card company’s stock and take it private. In a letter to shareholders, Chief Executive Zev Weiss says American Greetings should “return to its roots.”  Weiss is offering a little over $17 a share, which is about 20 percent more than the stock has been trading. The company is based in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn, and went public in 1958. It’s building a new headquarters at an estimated cost of $150 million in Westlake, and is getting nearly 100-million dollars in tax credits, low-interest loans, grants and other incentives over 15 years.

    Blue-green algae warning at Euclid Beach
    Toxic blue green algae is still a problem despite cooler weather.  State officials have posted a new warning at Cleveland Lakefront State Park’s Euclid Beach. A Sept. 17 water test detected a liver toxin in the water. Euclid is the second Lake Erie beach to get an algae warning, following the beach at Maumee Bay State Park. 

    Hocking College announces layoffs
    A small southeast Ohio college says it's laying off 23 workers to cope with a $4.3 million budget shortfall. Enrollment at Hocking College in Nelsonville is about 1,300 fewer students than last year, and that's hurting the budget. Laid off employees will include administrators, professional staff and support staff.

     

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