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Noon headlines, Jan. 3, 2013: Fraud, remedial courses, Kucinich, land deal, supermajority
Mortgage allegations, college remedial standards, Kucinich says goodbye, developer objects, Ohio's statehouse

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
During his final statement, Dennis Kucinich said that the United States needs a new system of politics.
Courtesy of CSPAN
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In The Region:
  • Mortgage fraud indictments
  • New standards to cut college remedial courses
  • Dennis Kucinich's farewell
  • Developer challenges Cuyahoga deal
  • No sure supermajority for the Ohio GOP yet
  • Kucinich's full speech

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    Mortgage fraud indictments
    Three people from Northeast Ohio are facing fraud and conspiracy charges in a $1.4 million mortgage deal.

    A federal grand jury has indicted 42-year-old Camille Harris of Cleveland, 56-year-old Kenneth Embry of Lyndhurst and 43-year-old Deon Levy.

     Each is charged with conspiracy to launder money and wire fraud, and all three were arrested this morning.

    According to the U.S. attorneys office, Harris was president of Ameribuild Management in Cleveland, a general contracting company and Embry and Levy were top officers. The indictment says all three signed off on phony invoices, pay and tax forms and other paperwork back in 2007 and 2008 tied to a property in North Carolina. They allegedly used the bogus information to get a mortgage worth nearly $1.4 million, and started writing out checks to themselves.

    New standards to cut college remedial courses
    Ohio’s public colleges and universities now have uniform statewide standards for students to be ready for college-level English, writing, math and science.

    According to the Ohio Board of Regents, one in four public high school students entering a one of the state’s public colleges and universities must take a remedial English or math course before moving onto college-level courses. In announcing the new standards, Chancellor Jim Petro says they will “make it clear to students, parents and educators exactly what is needed to be considered remediation-free at any Ohio public college and university.”

    Dennis Kucinich's farewell
    The 113th Congress convenes today without one of its loudest voices of dissent: Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich. In his farewell speech yesterday, Kucinich decried the state of politics in Washington.

    KUCINICH'S farewell and the state of politics
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    “The rhetoric would change to one of mutual respect; the questioning of motives would end. The poison system of pay-to-play would be transformed by public financing. And our government would be rededicated to addressing the practical aspirations of the American people for jobs, for health care for all, for education for all, for retirement security for all and for environmental security.”

    Kucinich, a Democrat, spent 16 years in Congress, and made two runs for president. He has criticized both Democratic and Republican administrations, including over the use of drone strikes in the Middle East.Ohio’s Republican Legislature redrew his district to pit him against fellow Democrat Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, and he lost in the March primary.

    Also gone from Congress is Ohio's Steve LaTourette, a moderate Republican who announced this fall he was fed up with Washington gridlock and would retire.

    Developer challenges Cuyahoga deal
    A Miami developer with major investments in downtown Cleveland says Cuyahoga County’s plan to sell the Ameritrust complex will cost it at least $34 million more than his proposal.

    County council has not yet discussed Chaim Schochet objections but says it will hear him out over the next few weeks.

    Schochet of Optima Ventures is proposing a different deal from the one recommended by county Executive Ed FitzGerald. FitzGerald wants the county to sell the downtown  complex to the Geis Cos., which would build new county administrative offices there. The rest of the complex would be downtown housing.

    But Schochet is pushing the county to move instead into the former Huntington Building on  Euclid Avenue. Schochet estimated to council that over the 26 years of a lease, the Geis plan would cost the county the extra $34 million. He also raised his own bid for the Ameritrust complex by $15 million. 

    But county real estate consultants estimate the Geis deal undercuts Optima by $2.2 million.

    The county put up $45 million to buy and renovate the Ameritrust property before deciding it was unusable as county office space.

    No sure supermajority for the Ohio GOP yet
    A lawsuit will determine if Republicans have a supermajority in both the Ohio House and Senate for the next two years,

    Tuscarawas County hired a Columbus attorney this week at $325 an hour to defend it against claims by Democrat Josh O’Farrell. O’Farrell lost his 98th District House race to Al Landis by eight votes and is challenging some provisional ballots that were thrown out by the county board of elections.

    The district covers Tuscarawas County and a large part of Holmes County.

    If O’Farrell wins his suit, Republicans would still have a huge majority in the House – 59 to 40. But that would be one shy of the so-called supermajority that gives Republicans a veto-proof majority and other advantages.

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