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Lieutenant Governor hopeful to take questions on tax debt
Other morning headlines: Energy proposal drawing opponents; Government sues condo complex developers

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
  • Lieutenant Governor hopeful to take questions on tax debt
  • Energy proposal drawing opponents
  • Hunters check 23,000 deer on opening day 
  • Government sues condo complex developers
  • JobsOhio records request denied
  • Cuyahoga County adds money to budget
  • Safety initiative coming to Warren
  • Former Evergreen CEO to stay in jail
  • Cruze sales up in November
  • Tesla battle to move into new year
  • Affinity nurses hold informational picket
  • World Series of Poker not coming to Cleveland
  • Lieutenant Governor hopeful to take questions on tax debt
    A Democrat vying to be Ohio's lieutenant governor plans to take questions from reporters amid recent reports that he owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal and state tax liens. News of the debts emerged just days after Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald selected state Sen. Eric Kearney as his running mate. It has complicated his party's hopes of unseating Republican Gov. John Kasich next year. FitzGerald has defended Kearney, saying the financial challenges are related to the state lawmaker's struggling small business, which is a publisher of the Cincinnati Herald. According to a news release from the Democrats' campaign, Kearney has scheduled a conference call with reporters today to provide an update into the finances of his family's company.

    Energy proposal drawing opponents
    A fast-moving energy proposal is drawing opponents including environmental groups and Ohio's utility consumers' advocate who estimate the measure could add $175 a year to the average Ohioan's electric bill. The bill sponsored by Senate Public Utilities Chairman Bill Seitz had stalled before Thanksgiving. A revised version is scheduled for a hearing and possible floor vote today. Seitz touts significant changes he's made to the measure to garner needed committee support. That includes removing a divisive provision that would have allowed power companies to opt out of a requirement to meet alternative energy mandates with wind, solar or other renewables produced in Ohio. Ohio Consumers' Counsel Bruce Western says other provisions allowing utilities to pass on lost revenues and shared savings make it a bad bill for consumers.

    Hunters check 23,000 deer on opening day 
    Hunters in Ohio checked nearly 23,000 deer on Monday, the opening day of the state's deer-gun season. The season runs through Sunday. Deer hunters get an extra 30 minutes each day to hunt. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, hunters have harvested about 3 percent fewer deer compared to the same time last season. Hunters have bagged almost 110,000 deer so far this season compared to roughly 113,000 last year. Approximately 420,000 hunters are expected to participate in this year's season. They must have a valid deer permit and a valid Ohio hunting license.

    Government sues condo complex developers
    The government has sued the developers of a northeast Ohio condominium complex alleging they failed to meet accessibility requirements for the disabled under the Fair Housing Act. According to the lawsuit, the 52-unit Windham Bridge complex in Hartville has disability barriers including front entrance steps, sharply sloped parking lots and narrow doors. Its kitchens and bathrooms are inaccessible to wheelchairs. The defendants in the lawsuit include the prior owners and builders of the property, Noble Homes, Guardian Property Management and Hersh Construction. Also named in the lawsuit is the designer of the property Studer Architects LLC.

    JobsOhio records request denied
    The Ohio Supreme Court has dismissed a lawyer's request for records kept by the state's privatized job-creation agency on procedural grounds. The decision came Tuesday in a complaint filed by former ProgressOhio attorney Victoria Ullmann. She filed the complaint in August after being dropped as lead lawyer on a more high-profile constitutional challenge to JobsOhio that continues. Justices said the state law creating JobsOhio "specifically exempted" the office from Ohio's public records law. Ullmann had asked justices to declare JobsOhio a state agency because the privatized economic development entity acts as the "functional equivalent" of one under the law. Such a ruling would have opened JobsOhio to public records requests and other forms of scrutiny that were prevented under its enabling legislation.

    Cuyahoga County adds money to budget
    Cuyahoga County is adding more money into some public services. Council voted Tuesday to approve County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s request to add nearly $30 million to the Health and Human Services budget, bringing the total to nearly a half billion dollars for two years. It includes an $8 million increase for MetroHealth Medical Center, and a $10 million increase for the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. The rest of the money goes to new programs like early childhood education, as well as help for senior citizens, the homeless, and recently released convicts. The money would come from a countywide tax hike for human services that county voters approved last month, as well as $41 million in financial reserves.

    Safety initiative coming to Warren
    A neighborhood safety initiative targeting gang activity will begin in a one Northeast Ohio city this month. The mayor of Warren and Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the program Tuesday, following an increase in violent crime in the city in recent months. Officials will meet with offenders and inform them if they continue to commit crimes, there will be large-scale crackdowns on them and any groups they belong to. They’re then offered job training, substance abuse rehabilitation and social services. The attorney general’s office says a similar effort resulted in a roughly 40 percent drop in gang murders in Cincinnati.

    Former Evergreen CEO to stay in jail
    The man convicted of causing investors to lose millions of dollars during his reign as CEO of Akron-based Evergreen Corp. won’t be getting out of prison anytime soon.
    The Beacon Journal reports that a Summit County judge rejected David Willan’s claim that his 10-year prison sentence on a racketeering conviction should be reduced because it was unduly harsh. Willan and his Evergreen Corporation was accused of scamming mortgage companies and local investors out of more than $18 million. An appeals court overturned all but six of 69 felony convictions in the case.

    Cruze sales up in November
    General Motors says sales of the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze were up last month. GM says Cruze sales were up by about 8 percent in November, snapping it out of three-month slide. It was best November sales ever for the Cruze, with more than 18 thousand units sold. In September, Cruze sales dropped 50 percent from the same period last year, signaling an all-time low in the vehicle's sales. It's still Chevrolet's second-best selling model behind the Silverado pickup truck.

    Tesla battle to move into new year
    It will be after the new year before the state legislature decides whether automaker Tesla’s business model will be banned in Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch reports that a House committee declined to take up an amendment to a bill that would have banned automaker-owned dealerships in Ohio. California-based electric car manufacturer Tesla owns all of its dealerships. It is just days away from opening a dealership in Columbus. Some lawmakers say the business model puts franchise owned dealers at a disadvantage. Other states have banned company owned dealerships. In those instances, Tesla has opened galleries where customers can view cars. Purchases are then done online or on the phone.

    Affinity nurses hold informational strike
    Nurses at Affinity Medical Center in Massillon are hoping informational pickets will help them get a better labor deal. More than a dozen nurses stood outside the hospital Tuesday afternoon with signs. They want a labor contract with Affinity’s owner, Community Health Systems. Nurses say staffing shortages and a lack of equipment are hurting patient care and safety. National Nurses United says too many new and inexperienced nurses are working in the ICU and emergency departments. The hospital says it is committed to high quality health services and put patient safety at the top when it comes to priorities.

    World Series of Poker not coming to Cleveland
    The World Series of Poker won’t be coming to Cleveland—after originally planning a tournament stop at the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. The series made the announcement yesterday, saying that the tour will instead return to St. Louis in late March of next year. The Horseshoe casino’s size was a determining factor in the decision. With thousands of players expected to take part, the casino’s 30 table poker room did not provide adequate space.

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