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Federal observers dispatched to polls in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties
Other morning headlines: Jury to visit site of deadly house fire; Teachers' union endorses FitzGerald

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
  • Federal observers dispatched to polls in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties
  • Jury to visit site of deadly house fire
  • Ohio doesn't meet own requirements for daycare inspection
  • UH patients' medical information compromised
  • Firestone teacher fires back on YouTube 
  • Multi-county burglary ring busted
  • Thompson vets charity scam trial enters fifth week
  • Legislation introduced to limit state controlling board
  • Massillon man could testify in mercy killing case
  • Teachers' union endorses FitzGerald 
  • Federal observers to be staffed at polls in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties
    Today is Election Day and polls are open until 7:30 p.m. Northeast Ohio voters will decide almost 600 issues, plus races for mayors, councils, township trustees, judgeships and school boards. Federal observers will be at the polls in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties to ensure there are no violations of the Voting Rights Act. The federal law prohibits discrimination in elections on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group. The U.S. Justice Department says based on court orders, observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in both counties. Attorneys with the department's Civil Rights Division will coordinate the effort and stay in contact with local election officials. 

    Jury to visit site of deadly house fire
    For the second time, a jury will visit the scene of a 2005 Cleveland house fire that killed a woman and eight children at a birthday sleepover. The first jury to visit the scene convicted Antun Lewis, who's now 29. He won a new trial based on unreliable testimony from jailhouse informants.  Today, a jury in his second federal court trial will be taken to the scene. Federal prosecutors say opening statements from both sides are expected Wednesday. At least some of the jailhouse informants will be called again to testify. Lewis could face life in prison if convicted.

    Ohio doesn't meet own requirements for daycare inspections
    A federal report says Ohio hasn't always met its own requirements for annual, unannounced inspections of day care centers and could do more comprehensive background checks for employees. Today’s report from the watchdog arm of the Department of Health and Human Services looks at monitoring of licensed providers that get subsidies to care for low-income children through the Child Care and Development Fund. It analyzed 125 of Ohio's 13,000-plus care providers for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. It found some required inspections were missed. It also says Ohio didn't include sex offender and child abuse registry checks of workers' backgrounds. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says the state inspects day care centers twice annually.

    Firestone teacher fires back on YouTube 
    A teacher at Akron’s Firestone High School is taking to the internet to defend himself—after he was accused of posting a racist rant on Facebook. David Spondike, 51, was placed on paid leave last week after allegations that he used the N-word on his personal Facebook page. Over the weekend, he began releasing short YouTube clips in which a 19-year-old son of a friend takes responsibility for the post, saying he logged on to Spondike’s computer after witnessing vandalism outside the home on trick or treat night. A school board disciplinary hearing for Spondike is scheduled for Friday.

    Multi-county burglary ring busted
    A seven county burglary ring has been busted. The Stark County Sheriff’s office told WKYC that two Canton men have been arrested – Casey Gowins and Christopher Reed. Deputies found the pair with nearly $25 thousand in cash, almost 100 guns, jewelry, electronics, tools and hunting items. Police say the burglaries happened in Stark, Wayne, Tuscarawas and surrounding counties.

    Thompson vets charity scam trial enters fifth week
    The trial for the man accused of swindling more than $100 million from people who thought they were donating to a veterans’ charity is now in its 5th week in Cleveland.  Yesterday, documents pertaining to Bobby Thompson’s army service were explored in court. Thompson, whose real name is John Cody claims military documents show he was a government agent while running the U.S. Navy Veterans Association that he created. But the prosecutor says there is no proof of that after Thompson’s discharge in 1985. Other documents included identity cards with different names, but Thompson’s photo on them. Prosecutors could finish with its 42 witnesses today. The defense says Cody will take the stand to tell his story.

    Legislation introduced to limit Controlling Board
    Just weeks after Governor John Kasich used the obscure Ohio Controlling Board to push through an expansion of Medicaid, new legislation is expected to be introduced to limit the board’s future authority. Republican lawmakers Christina Hagan of Alliance and Ron Young of Leroy Township plan to introduce the bill later this week that would limit the board to approve excess spending of up to 3.5 percent of what was originally budgeted for any one purpose.
    It also caps the board’s spending authority at 1 percent of the requesting agency’s total appropriation in the budget. Had those limits been in place last month, the board could only have approved $1.6 billion of the $2.5 billion in federal dollars that was approved for Medicaid expansion.

    Medical information compromised
    University Hospitals in Cleveland says medical information for more than 7,000 people was compromised when a computer hard drive was stolen recently. The hospital company says it was notified in August that a hard drive containing backed-up data from physicians' offices was stolen out of a vehicle belonging to a vendor. There have been no reports that information has been accessed or misused. A letter has been sent to everyone affected.

    Massillon man may testify in mercy killing case
    It's unclear whether a Stark County man charged with shooting and killing his wife at Akron General Medical hospital will testify in his own defense. Testimony continues today at the trial of 68-year-old John Wise. The Massillon man is pursuing an insanity defense on charges including aggravated murder. In opening statements Monday, a prosecutor said Wise wrote an apologetic note before shooting his wife in the head with a pistol and then trying to kill himself last August. The defense said Wise's mental state had declined after his wife was hospitalized. Friends have called it a mercy killing, but that's not a legal defense in Ohio. A longtime friend has said the couple had agreed they didn't want to live out their years bedridden and disabled.

    Teachers' union endorses FitzGerald
    Ohio's largest teachers' union has endorsed Democrat Ed FitzGerald over Republican incumbent Gov. John Kasich in next fall's election. The Ohio Education Association announced its decision Monday. The group represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio's public schools, colleges and universities. Its members were among the most vocal opponents of collective bargaining limits supported by Kasich that were overturned at the polls in 2011.  FitzGerald leads Cuyahoga County government in Cleveland. He is challenging Kasich in November 2014.

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