Cleveland schools' CEO wants better employee attendance
The leader of Cleveland's public schools is urging employees to improve their attendance rate. The Plain Dealer reports that Cleveland City Schools' chief executive Eric Gordon has written a memo to staff and commented publicly about his concerns over a work absence rate in the district of more than 10 percent. The district's largest teachers' union disputes Gordon's calculations. Gordon cites statistics indicating a 3 percent average absence rate for most professions and a 5.3 percent rate nationally for schools. He says an 89 percent attendance rate for staff is unacceptable. Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke said Gordon is working from inaccurate staff totals and may be including absences for staff training. He said the district's latest contract includes compensation credit for teachers with 95 percent attendance or higher.
Kasich feeling fallout from Ormet's troubles
What was once the largest private employer in its region is now Ohio's largest industrial layoff of the year. Gov. John Kasich is facing criticism over the indefinite shuttering of Ormet Corp., an aluminum smelting giant along the Ohio River and the onetime largest customer of American Electric Power. About 1,000 workers — mostly unionized steelworkers — are out of work. State utility regulators recently rejected key portions of Ormet's proposal for dealing with hefty electric costs as it struggles against bankruptcy. The company and its union fault Kasich for not intervening passionately enough in Ormet's case before the Public Utilities Commission. Governors appoint the board, but it acts independently. Other observers say Ormet was doomed by the economic realities of huge power requirements and historically low metal prices.
Enrollment dwindling at Ohio's public colleges and universities
Enrollment at Ohio's public colleges and universities has fallen for the second year in a row amid state and federal efforts emphasizing graduation rates over student totals. The Columbus Dispatch reports that more schools are laying off employees, freezing travel and reviewing academic programs after enrollment declines and funding reductions. That includes the University of Akron and Youngstown State universities. University of Akron trustees agreed last week to cut $12 million from the school’s budget, including lay offs after a 6 percent decline in fall enrollment. Last month, Youngstown State University announced it was cutting $6.6 million from its budget after having lost more than $20 million over the past three years because of enrollment declines and reductions in state funding. Statewide enrollment figures show the number of students in college rose rapidly after the 2007 financial crisis then dropped almost 6 percent in 2012 and another 2 percent this year, the newspaper reported. Ohio University had the largest growth among the state’s 13 traditional four-year universities with an enrollment increase of more than 4 percent.
Ohio gas prices drop
Ohio gas prices have taken a big dip after two straight weeks of increases. The state average is $3.21 for a gallon of regular gas today’s survey from AAA and its partners. That's down 17 cents from last week. Ohio's price is well under the $3.33 per gallon price at this time last year. Analysts say the falling prices are mostly due to abundant gas supplies, flat demand and the shift to winter-blend fuels.
Kasich criticizes federal health care overhaul on 'Meet the Press'
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is criticizing the rocky rollout of the federal health care overhaul for shaking Americans' confidence in government. The Republican governor faced off against Democratic Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear on the state impacts of the new law on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. Under Beshear, Kentucky has set up a health care exchange under the new law, while Ohio has declined to do so, letting the federal government run the program. Beshear said the exchange is working in Kentucky. Kasich called the rollout "a disaster" and said most Ohioans will have to pay higher costs under the new law.
Residents sue DuPont
Nine Ohio and West Virginia residents are suing manufacturer DuPont, alleging the company contaminated drinking water with chemicals that caused cancer and other diseases.
The suit claims the company’s Parkersburg, West Virginia plant knowingly exposed residents to C8, which has been linked to kidney cancer, testicular cancer and thyroid disease. A court appointed science panel found there was a link back in April. The plant plans to stop making and using the chemical by 2015. It’s a key component in Teflon, which is used in cookware and clothing. DuPont settled a suit filed by 80,000 residents from the Parkersburg area 12 years ago, agreeing to pay nearly $350 million dollars for medical tests, removing C8 from the water supply and a study into whether the chemical causes disease.
Dozens remember 18-year-old Cleveland murder victim
Report: Ohio grant recipients fail to create jobs
Dozens of people turned out for a memorial service in Cleveland to remember an 18-year-old pregnant woman whose remains were discovered earlier this month — more than 18 years after she had gone missing. Tight security was in force Sunday at Scranton Road Bible Church at the service for Christina Adkins. Forty-nine-year-old convicted sex offender Elias Acevedo has been charged with killing Adkins and another woman who was slain around the same time.
A newspaper investigation of Ohio's public job-creation efforts has found companies receiving state money failed to bring thousands of promised positions. In a review published Sunday, The Toledo Blade also found state development officials were unaware of many problems with companies that received taxpayer-funded loans and grants between 2007 and 2012 or their executives.nAbout half the companies receiving grants failed to create the jobs to which they committed, the newspaper reported. The issues spanned the administrations of Govs. Ted Strickland and John Kasich. Development Director David Goodman told the newspaper Ohio overhauled how it tracks job-creation awards last fall and he believes "we make better investments than we ever have." Key Ohio job-creation duties have now migrated to the private nonprofit JobsOhio.
Troopers writing fewer tickets following speed limit hike
The Ohio State Highway Patrol says its troopers have written fewer tickets on some stretches of highway where the speed limit was bumped to 70 miles per hour earlier this year. The Columbus Dispatch reports that during July, August and September, state troopers wrote about 19,000 speeding tickets on the 12 sections of rural interstate where the speed limit was increased on July 1. That’s less than the same time period during the past two years when the limit was 65. Supporters of the speed limit change say the data proves a higher limit doesn’t increase speeding. But the patrol says they need two years of data to make any definite conclusions.
At least 100 arrested at OU block party
The annual Halloween block party at Ohio University led to at least 100 arrests over the weekend. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the majority of arrests were alcohol-related. One person was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police horse. Last year, 154 people were either arrested or received citations.