Strongsville talks break off
Strongsville Schools strike negotiations have broken off, and no further talks have been scheduled. The board and teacher’s union met together with a federal mediator again Monday after negotiating for nearly 30 hours last week. There’s been no reported progress as the strike is now in its sixth week.
Lorain school district placed under state control, Cleveland spared
Cleveland's schools won't go under state control, but Lorain schools will. State Superintendent Richard Ross said Monday that putting the Cleveland district under the watch of a state-appointed academic distress commission could end up delaying the district's progress. The district could have fallen under state oversight because of low test scores and lack of academic progress. But the state superintendent says a plan already in place is helping the Cleveland district make progress. In Lorain, a commission of five members will oversee academic improvement efforts. Lorain met just one of 26 standards on the annual state report card.
Medina board to vote tonight on fate on May levy
The Medina school board may withdraw its levy from the May 7 ballot at a special meeting tonight. That would come a day after it suspended its superintendent with pay and less than a week after it asked the state auditor to do a special review of the district’s books. During a press conference Monday Board President Karla Robinson underscored that Superintendent Randy Stepp is not being disciplined, and that the suspension is simply administrative while auditors sort through an account in which Stepp got more than $250,000 to pay for his MBA and to pay off old college loans. Stepp will remain on leave until the audit is complete, which could take until the end of May. In an e-mail after his suspension, Stepp said everything he has received was negotiated openly.
Lawmakers to strip Medicaid expansion from state budget
A Republican-controlled legislative panel will strip the governor's plans to expand Medicaid from the state's two-year budget proposal. The Associated Press confirmed on Monday that House lawmakers planned to drop the idea from their version of the state spending blueprint. Republican Gov. John Kasich has framed his support for expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law as a way for the state to recapture Ohio taxpayers' federal money. The state would see $13 billion from the federal government over the next seven years to cover those newly eligible for Medicaid. Many GOP lawmakers are averse to Democratic President Barack Obama's law and resistant to expanding government programs.
Proposed turnpike increases outlined
Ohio Turnpike tolls are expected to increase by 25 cents for cars and $1 for trucks for a cross-state trip next year. That's according to a new 10-year toll plan proposed Monday by the turnpike commission. Tolls would rise nearly 3 percent a year, which amounts to about 30 percent over the decade. That will help pay for $1.5 billion in bonds the turnpike wants to issue for badly needed construction projects. Tolls for driving across the turnpike with E-ZPass, would rise 25 cents to $11.50 starting in January. After 10 years, the rate would be $14.75.
Revenues increase at Ohio casinos in March
Regulators say Cincinnati’s casino raked in $21 million in revenue during its first month of operation. That’s about in line with first-month revenues for Ohio’s three other casinos. Horseshoe Casino Cleveland reported nearly $25 million in March revenue after paying winners. That was up from $22 million in February. Ohio cities and counties will receive about $35 million in revenue from the latest quarterly distribution of tax proceeds from Ohio’s four casinos.
Thistledown racino opens today
A second Ohio race track is ready to open as a racino. Thistledown race track in North Randal plans a grand opening today for its more than 1,000 video lottery terminals, which operate like slot machines. Thistledown underwent an $88 million makeover and will have restaurants, bars and live and simulcast horse racing. The racino is a joint venture involving the backers of Ohio's first casino, Horseshoe Cleveland.
Demolition of Ameritrust building begins in Cleveland
Demolition begins today on a pair of downtown Cleveland office buildings to make room for Cuyahoga County’s new government headquarters. The buildings are part of the long-vacant Ameritrust complex that the county sold to a developer earlier this year. The developer will also turn the historic Ameritrust Bank rotunda and office tower into retail, entertainment and residential space. The entire project is expected to bring thousands of workers and residents to the area. The new county administration building is expected to be completed in just over a year. The rest of the Ameritrust development will follow.
Second teen accused in prominent Akron couple's murder
A 14-year-old suspected accomplice has pleaded not guilty in the sledgehammer deaths of a prominent Akron attorney and his wife. The boy entered the plea Monday in Summit County Juvenile Court in the deaths last week of Jeffrey and Margaret Schobert at their Franklin Township home. Eighteen-year-old Shawn Ford Jr. of Akron, who dated the couple's teenage daughter, also has been charged with murder. He's due in court Wednesday. Ford also is charged with stabbing the daughter two weeks ago. A possible homicide motive has emerged. The Akron Beacon Journal (http://bit.ly/16IeTJJ ) reports police believe the parents were unhappy with Ford's relationship with their daughter and stopped him from visiting her at the hospital.
New foster care rules proposed; funding pledged
A new report says Ohio should reduce the number of times a child enters and exits the foster care system and give foster parents more input into court proceedings involving the children in their care. The Ohio Foster Care Advisory Group also recommends improving the system governing court-appointed lawyers who look out for foster children's interests. Attorney General Mike DeWine said Monday some of the changes will involve action by the Ohio Supreme Court and others need new legislation. DeWine's office took testimony at a series of statewide meetings following a rash of deaths among children whom the system failed. DeWine on Monday also announced that his office would provide $3 million to support foster care programs. The money will be taken from Ohio’s National Mortage Settlement.
Ohio lawmaker pushing tougher penalties for human trafficking
An Ohio lawmaker is pursuing changes to a new state law that she says will help reduce the demand behind human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking often are prostituted or pushed to work against their will in sweatshop-type jobs. Some are girls as young as 11. State Rep. Teresa Fedor, a Toledo Democrat, said Monday she expects to introduce the legislation in the coming days to toughen the penalties for those who purchase commercial sex of a minor. Solicitors would also be required to register as a sex offender. Among other changes, her proposal would increase the statute of limitations for human trafficking from six years to 20. It would ban people from knowingly purchasing advertising space for sexual activity for hire that includes a depiction of a minor.
Indians trounced in home opener
It was a tough opening day for the new-look Indians. They were trounced by the Yankees 11-6. Pitcher Ubaldo Jiminez never found his groove, allowing seven runs in his four and a half innings of work. Former longtime Indian Travis Hafner belted a three-run homer for the Yankees in his return to Cleveland. In addition to losing the game, Tribe catcher Carlos Santana was hit on his thumb by a pitch. X-rays were negative and he’s listed as day to day. The series continues tonight at Progressive Field.