Lawsuit seeks to recognize more gay marriages on death certificates in Ohio
A lawsuit seeking to have the marriages of two gay couples recognized on death certificates has been expanded to include all similarly situated couples in Ohio, despite a statewide gay marriage ban. Attorneys are asking a federal judge to require Ohio's health department to order all funeral directors and coroners in the state to list gay clients as married if they were legally wed in other states.
Judge Timothy Black approved a request to expand the lawsuit Wednesday. Black already has found in favor of two gay Cincinnati couples who wed over the summer in other states, ordering that they be listed as married on Ohio death certificates.
Northeast Ohio businessmen plead not guilty to breaking campaign finance laws
A direct-marketing magnate and another executive at his North Canton company have pleaded not guilty to charges accusing them of conspiring to skirt campaign finance laws while funneling nearly $200,000 to two congressional campaigns.
The 72-year-old Ben Suarez of Canton and 61-year-old Michael Giorgio of Cuyahoga Falls were arraigned in federal court on Wednesday in Cleveland.
The FBI questioned employees of Suarez Corporation Industries last year about donations to two Republicans, Congressman Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and state treasurer Josh Mandel, who was running for the U.S. Senate. Renacci and Mandel each returned at least $100,000 in campaign contributions.
Suarez and Giorgio are charged with violating campaign finance laws. Suarez also is charged with witness tampering.
Civil rights commission to discuss fair housing discrimination
A fair housing agency hopes Ohio's civil rights commission sides with penalties a judge assessed a landlady accused of discriminating against undercover testers. At issue at the commission's meeting today is a complaint the agency filed in 2009 alleging Helen Grybosky of Conneaut told testers with disability dogs that pets weren't allowed or required an extra deposit.
An administrative judge previously upheld the allegations first investigated by Painesville-based Fair Housing Resource Center.
Grybosky’s lawyer says the commission should determine no discrimination occurred because no actual renters were involved.
Boehner, DeWine subpoenaed in multi-state fraud case
Leading Ohio Republicans including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine have been subpoenaed to testify in a $100 million multi-state fraud case.
The man who calls himself Bobby Thompson is scheduled to go on trial Monday on charges of defrauding people who donated to a charity for Navy veterans. He has showered politicians, often Republicans, with political donations. DeWine's office says he has no personal knowledge of any fraud crimes and will seek to quash the subpoena. There was no immediate comment from the speaker.
Akron General Medical Center eliminates 60 positions
60 positions have been eliminated at Akron General Medical Center as the hospital deals with declining admissions and other factors.
The Beacon Journal reports the move is the result of the hospital converting the majority of its rooms from double occupancy to private. The hospital has been facing multimillion dollar losses as fewer patients nationally are seeking elective procedures, and Medicare payments are down.
The Beacon Journal reports about half the employees affected will be reassigned to other jobs at the hospital.
Youngstown nurses strike, say they weren't allowed back on job
Registered Nurses in Youngstown say a one-day strike left some of them locked out of their jobs at Valley Care Northside Medical Center Wednesday. The Youngstown Vindicator reports nurses who were not scheduled to work during the strike were allowed to return to work at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
But the president of the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association says others who struck when they were scheduled to work were locked out. The hospital says it hired replacement nurses for a 72-hour period—which is the minimum commitment required to get replacements on the job.
Because of that required commitment, nurses who went on strike will not be able to return to work until those 72 hours are over. Registered nurses at Northside have worked without a contract since July of 2012.
Ohio House committee moving forward on e-cigarette bill
An Ohio House committee has moved forward with a bill that would keep electronic cigarettes out of the hands of anyone under 18. But, some Democrats and anti-smoking groups aren’t happy with the proposed legislation. They say the bill that creates a new definition for e-cigarettes would make it so that they aren’t taxed like regular cigarettes.
Those who support the bill say it’s the FDA that’s dropped the ball on regulating the devices—forcing the state to take action. On Wednesday, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said he plans to push the FDA to start regulating e-cigarettes, and making sure they are classified as tobacco products with the same tax. E-cigarettes don’t actually contain nicotine, but rather release a flavored nicotine vapor.
Cleveland schools set broad goals, focus on need for better education
The head of Cleveland's schools says the success of Ohio's second-largest district will be measured this year by its progress in improving the failing grades it received from the state for poor academic performance.
Eric Gordon's district update Wednesday focused on broad goals and the need for better education rather than detailing specific spending or operational targets.
Gordon acknowledges the academic data hasn't improved much but says other parts of the big picture look much better now than last year. He says Cleveland is shrinking class sizes and hiring teachers instead of laying off hundreds of them. And he says levy money has provided some financial stability for the district, which previously cut $40 million from its budget.
Capital punishment examination committee to meet Thursday
The committee examining capital punishment in Ohio and reviewing possible changes to the state's death penalty law is ready to meet again.
The task force convened by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O'Connor is starting to wind up its work despite divisions over the role that geography and race play in determining who becomes eligible for the death penalty.
The committee, which meets Thursday in Columbus, recently proposed restricting the use of capital punishment by eliminating cases where an aggravated murder was committed during a burglary, robbery or rape.
Any such change would require lawmakers' approval.
JobsOhio employees, other agencies found to have conflicts of interest
The Ohio Ethics Commission says an unspecified number of employees of Jobs Ohio have possible conflicts of interest. JobsOhio is the state’s public-private job creating entity spearheaded by Governor John Kasich.
The commission tells the Columbus Dispatch the routine check of all state entities doesn’t imply wrongdoing, it’s a matter of awareness of something that could interfere with an employee’s duties.
JobsOhio was one of 42 state entities where a possible conflict of interest was found.
Some Democrats at the Statehouse have long been calling for an investigation into JobsOhio. The Ohio Ethics Commission has said it doesn’t have the authority to do it, while state lawmakers re-wrote state law to bar Ohio Auditor Dave Yost from looking at its books.
Weatherization program spending questioned
Spending by a program that was supposed to help weatherize the homes of low-income residents statewide is coming under question by the Ohio Inspector General.
Overall, the inspector general’s office is questioning more than $223,000 in federal stimulus money that the state paid to groups to weatherize homes. The report questions expenditures at 10 of the 14 weatherization agencies it surveyed.
In Cuyahoga County, the Plain Dealer reports more than more than $37,000 were spent to weatherize five homes that may have been ineligible for the program.