Ohio steps up transportation security after Boston Marathon bombing
The State Highway Patrol says it is increasing its visible presence at the Statehouse and large-scale events around Ohio after bombs ripped through the crowd near the Boston Marathon finish line. Patrol Colonel John Born says troopers will work with other law enforcement agencies at the request of Gov. John Kasich. The patrol and Ohio Homeland Security are urging residents to be alert about anyone or anything that looks out of place and to contact authorities if they spot something suspicious.
Suspicious, unattended bags create nervous moments
A duffel bag left in Cleveland at the East 55th RTA station prompted police to close off parts of I-490. RTA halted trains east of Tower City. A few hours later, a bomb squad found the bag to be harmless. Cleveland's mayor says the fatal explosions in Boston are spurring vigilance in his city. Frank Jackson says local law enforcement is beefing up security measures across the city, and people are urged to report anything that looks out of place. Some nervous moments on the Ohio State University campus yesterday, a student activity center was evacuated following concerns about an unattended backpack. No explosives were found.
Ohio House committee rejects Medicaid expansion proposal
The Ohio House Finance Committee has rejected a Democratic amendment to the two-year state budget that would have allowed for the expansion of Medicaid. That vote was taken just a couple of hours after nearly 900 protesters circled the Statehouse, holding signs and praying. They are trying to convince lawmakers to expand the federal program to more than 350-thousand Ohioans under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Ohio House leaders and opponents of the expansion say there are too many unanswered questions and they fear it could cost the state much more than expected. Chief Officer Cheri Walter of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities was one of the praying protesters. The budget bill contains a 7 percent permanent income-tax reduction, while excluding the governor's proposed small-business tax cut.
Ohio House committee proposes sex-ed restrictions in schools
An Ohio House committee has cleared the state budget on a party-line vote after making changes to restrict what's taught in health-education classes. The panel approved an amendment that would prohibit teachers from distributing contraceptives on school property and to require them to endorse abstinence as the only acceptable way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Also, health classes in public schools would be prohibited from including any instruction on “gateway sexual activity,” which encompasses all sexual contact.
Medina school district takes 5.9-mill levy off ballot, repeals superintendent’s contract
The Medina School District’s board of education has pulled a 5.9 mill levy off the May ballot and rescinded the contract of Superintendent Randy Stepp. At its meeting last night, board members acknowledged they violated the state’s Sunshine laws when Stepp’s new five-year contract was approved in January --- meaning it failed to properly notify the public. Stepp tells the Medina Gazette the contract was valid, and says it’s an attempt by the board to “profit from their mistake.” Controversy has been building for weeks in the district. The board has asked the state to audit a special fund that had been used to pay $265,000 for Stepp’s old student loans and tuition and expenses for his MBA. They confirmed that it authorized payments for Stepp’s degrees but has said it didn’t know the amounts. Stepp said he would go to court to enforce the contract, which included an $83,000 signing bonus that he previously agreed to repay. Stepp is still under his current contract through July 2014 and previously agreed to repay the $83,000 signing bonus through biweekly payments.
Browns owner apologizes to fans
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is apologizing to Cleveland fans in light of an FBI investigation of his company. IRS and FBI agents raided Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville twice Monday. During a press conference in Tennessee Tuesday, Haslam said it has to do with rebates promised to trucking companies that buy large quantities of gas each month. Knoxville-based FBI spokesman Marshall Stone says no accusers are being named while the investigation is ongoing. According to the Tennessean, Haslam says his company did not evade state or federal taxes, and he “has no idea” why the IRS is involved.
Cleveland man closer to new trial in arson sleepover murder
A federal appeals panel says a Cleveland man convicted in the arson deaths of a woman and eight children at a birthday sleepover should get a new trial. The decision from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upholds a federal judge's February 2012 order that overturned the conviction of 29-year old Antun Lewis. The judge said testimony of jailhouse informants was unreliable, often contradictory and "deeply troubling."
Former Marine sentenced to 20 years for Toledo mosque arson
A former Marine from Indiana has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for starting a fire inside a Toledo mosque because he wanted revenge for the killings of American soldiers overseas. 52-year old Randy Linn apologized in court and blamed what happened on a day of heavy drinking. He said that he’d become enraged after seeing images of wounded soldiers in the news and decided to burn the mosque. Linn was ordered to pay $1.4 million for the damages.
Ohio man arrested for child porn allegations
Authorities have arrested an Ohio man and say charges are expected against two others over allegations they downloaded and shared child pornography. Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday that his office is targeting such suspects to send a message to anyone else who is thinking of doing the same. He says offenders will be caught. DeWine says investigators arrested 29-year-old Robert Peoples Jr. of Hamden in southern Ohio on a charge of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor. It's unclear if Peoples yet has an attorney. Two other suspects in unrelated cases near Toledo and Cleveland were questioned on similar charges and face prosecution. DeWine says sharing child pornography is a sickening and despicable crime that repeatedly re-victimizes children every time an image or video is shared.
Ohio police immune from death case
An appeals court panel says that four northwestern Ohio police officers are immune from being sued in the death of a drunk and combative suspect. The Tuesday ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati says officers did not use excessive force when they restrained 37-year-old Craig Burdine of Oak Harbor in August 2007. Burdine's arrest stemmed from a fight, and he died two hours after he was taken to a jail. Court records say Burdine was extremely combative with police, who shocked him several times with a stun gun and held him down as he fought against being handcuffed. Burdine's parents had sued the four Fremont officers involved, the police department and the county, alleging excessive force and wrongful death.