Cleveland NAACP, others want independent police shooting probe
Cleveland civil rights groups are calling for another independent investigation and appointment of a special prosecutor in the police chase and shooting that left two people dead in November. The Plain Dealer reports that the groups — including the Cleveland NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference — — on Tuesday night said a state investigation into the shooting didn't address the question of whether deadly force was justified. The groups say they want another report to address that issue. An investigation by the Ohio Attorney General's Office said leadership and communications failures led to the chase and shooting. More than 60 officers pursued Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell for 22 minutes before firing nearly 140 bullets at the vehicle. Attorney General Mike DeWine said investigators found no sign the two had a weapon. A grand jury will determine if the officers will face charges.
Kasich picks up key budget endorsement
Gov. Kasich is urging state lawmakers to support the two year budget plan he unveiled this week. Kasich pitched his $64 billion plan to business leaders at Applied Metal Technologies in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn Heights on Tuesday. The Republican-led legislature is likely to take issue with Kasich’s plan to cut income taxes for all Ohioans by 20 percent over three years, as well as income tax cuts for small businesses. Kasich did pick up a key endorsement of his plan on Tuesday. Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist wrote to the state legislature in support of the plan. Norquist is the author of the pledge that many conservative lawmakers sign not to raise taxes, including Kasich. Norquist said the Kasich’s proposal to raise the severance tax for big oil and gas drillers and other services are offset by the tax cuts.
Cleveland RTA plans $2.5 million in safety upgrades
Cleveland's public transit agency is proposing a $2.5 million plan to install or upgrade security cameras on buses and trains as it faces pressure to improve safety after increased assaults on drivers. The plan unveiled Tuesday would add cameras to 230 buses and upgrade video systems on nearly 100 buses or trains. The Plain Dealer reports the board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is expected to approve the plan later this month. General Manager Joe Calabrese says 70 buses expected to be taken out of service in the next few years won't get the upgrades, but their replacements will have cameras. The union representing drivers pushed for safety improvements to deter bad behavior by riders after several drivers were attacked.
Pepper Pike developer gets seven years in credit union scheme
A developer convicted of bank fraud and other charges in a scheme that led to a northeast Ohio credit union's collapse has been sentenced to seven years and three months in prison and must forfeit $23 million. 44-year-old A. Eddy Zai, of Pepper Pike, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Akron. Zai pleaded guilty last year to charges including bank fraud, money laundering, bribery and making false statements of financial institutions in a scheme that led to the 2010 collapse of St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union. The FBI says Zai was involved in bribing loan officials, submitting false documentation and obtaining millions of dollars in loans for non-operational businesses he managed.
Health care for 30,000 in Cuy. County
About 30,000 uninsured Cuyahoga County residents will be able to receive medical care. MetroHealth System announced Tuesday it’s received federal approved to launch a Medicaid waiver program. MetroHealth will qualified for $64 million in federal matching funds. It will use $36 million from an annual subsidy it receives from Cuyahoga County taxpayers.
Accused veterinarian imposter on trial
A woman accused of posing as a veterinarian and causing the death of a service dog is standing trial in Akron. As the trial opened Tuesday, a prosecutor called 36-year-old Brandi Tomko a "con artist" who left many of the pets who came to her clinic for treatment maimed or dying. A prosecutor said the offenses occurred at an Akron clinic in 2011 after the clinic's licensed veterinarian already left as conditions there deteriorated. Tomko's attorney told the judge that prosecutors can't prove that she hurt any animals brought to the clinic.
Great Lakes water levels at record low
Two of the Great Lakes have hit their lowest water levels ever recorded. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday that tests taken in January show that Lake Huron and Lake Michigan were at their lowest ebb since record keeping began in 1918. The lakes were 29 inches below their long-term average and had declined 17 inches since January 2012. The other Great Lakes — Superior, Erie and Ontario — were also well below average. Low water causes heavy economic losses by forcing cargo ships to carry lighter loads, leaving boat docks high and dry, and damaging fish spawning areas.
Free school lunch enrollment declines in Ohio
The number of lower-income school children in Ohio receiving free or reduced-price lunches has decreased for the first time in six years. Numbers from the Ohio Department of Education showed that nearly 820,000 youngsters get subsidized meals this school year. That's 44.4 percent — a slight decline from the 45.3 percent enrolled in the program last year. The school-lunch program is funded by the federal government. It serves students considered to be economically disadvantaged based on their family income. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the number of Ohio youngsters in the lunch program has increased by nearly 50 percent in the past decade as poverty has grown in the state. Much of the increase has been seen in suburban districts, where middle-class families have lost jobs or seen their earnings decline.