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Cleveland mayor expected to endorse FitzGerald for Ohio governor
Other morning headlines: Ohio college presidents at White House higher education summit; Catholic Charities closes youth treatment center Parmadale; New legislation aims to return business tax refunds
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
and LAUREN SCHMOLL


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
  • Cleveland mayor expected to endorse FitzGerald for Ohio governor
  • Condemned killer set to be executed with new method
  • Kasich's State of the State approved for Medina
  • Credit union CEO charged with embezzlement
  • Ohio college presidents at White House higher education summit
  • Youngstown mayor holding one-on-one meetings
  • Catholic Charities closes youth treatment center Parmadale
  • New legislation aims to return business tax refunds
  • Pilot Flying J: 95% of cheated companies repaid
  • Minor parties receive another court victory
  • NEO land conservancy reports banner year
  • Cleveland mayor expected to endorse FitzGerald for Ohio governor
    Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald is set to get a big endorsement for his Democratic gubernatorial run today. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is expected to officially throw his support behind FitzGerald at an event at Cleveland City Hall this morning. For months, has been speculation about whether Jackson would support FitzGerald. Although Jackson is a Democrat, he’s had a friendly relationship with Republican Governor John Kasich.

    Condemned killer set to be executed with new method
    A condemned Ohio killer is set to be executed using a never-tried lethal injection method. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused Dennis McGuire a stay of execution. He would be the first prisoner put to death in the U.S. by the two-drug combination if his execution proceeds today. Ohio adopted the use of the sedative and painkiller after supplies of its previous execution drug dried up when its manufacturer put it off limits for capital punishment. McGuire's attorneys argue he'll experience agony and terror as he struggles to breathe. The state disputes that scenario.


    Kasich's State of the State approved for Medina
    Gov. John Kasich's request to hold his State of the State address in Medina has cleared the Legislature. The speech is scheduled Feb. 24. The move allows Kasich to honor Medina-based House Speaker William Batchelder, who is term-limited, and deliver his election-year policy goals not far from the home turf of likely Democratic gubernatorial rival, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. Kasich first moved the speech outside Columbus in 2012 after pro-labor protests at the previous year's address. The past two speeches were in Steubenville and Lima. Some Democratic lawmakers balked. Rep. Ron Gerberry says Kasich is discarding a worthy tradition of holding the signature policy address at the Statehouse.

    Credit union CEO charged with embezzlement
    The former CEO of Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union has been charged with embezzling more than $4 million, with the money going to build a home in Solon and buy a luxury suite at FirstEnergy Stadium. Alex Spirikaitis also allegedly bought multiple vehicles and firearms with the money between 2001 and last year. The U.S. Attorney says the 51-year-old was part of a scheme to cover overdrafts made by associates using the credit union's internal accounts.  It all added up to a loss of $15 million. Authorities say Spirikaitis  was hiding out in Collinwood for more than three months before being arrested last fall, by which time Taupa Credit Union had been shut down due to insolvency.

    Ohio college presidents at White House higher education summit
    At least three Ohio college presidents will be at the White House today— along with about 100 other higher education leaders. 
    The Plain Dealer reports the presidents of Cuyahoga Community College, Oberlin College and Kenyon College will all be at a meeting aimed at improving college access for low-income students. President Obama and the First Lady will both be in attendance.

    Youngstown mayor holding one-on-one meetings
    The new mayor of Youngstown is opening his doors to the public for one-on-one meetings. The Vindicator reports Mayor John McNally is kicking off his “Five Minutes with the Mayor” next week, allowing anyone to talk to him about anything they want. But just like the name states, visitors will get no more than five minutes with McNally.  He’ll continue to hold the open hours every third Tuesday of the month.

    Catholic Charities to close youth treatment center Parmadale
    A Northeast Ohio residential treatment center that’s housed troubled youth for nearly a century is closing following allegations of misconduct. Catholic Charities, which runs the Parmadale Institute in Parma, made the announcement Wednesday. The facility was placed on probation from the state in September amid allegations that a former employee had sex with a girl there. Four girls were removed. The Plain Dealer reports that Catholic Charities does plan to continue other mental health services and treatment programs at the facility, citing a shift to more community-based needs. The facility that holds 80 children currently has just 14, and those remaining will be relocated. 

    New legislation aims to return business tax refunds
    New legislation in the Ohio House and Senate would require state tax officials to automatically issue a notice and a refund to businesses that have overpaid taxes. Last year, state investigators found that the Ohio Department of Taxation had kept more than $30 million in requested business tax refunds since 1999 and taxpayers were not notified. Current law allows the state to keep overpayments if they aren’t claimed within three or four years, and refunds are only granted by request. The new legislation would require notification within 60 days of the statute of limitations expiring.

    Pilot Flying J: 95% of cheated companies repaid 
    Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s truck stop business says it’s repaid about 95 percent of the companies who agreed to settle in a fuel rebate scheme. Pilot Flying J says its internal auditors are still working to evaluate customer accounts, and some can use a third party auditor at no cost. Dozens of trucking companies agreed to the class-action settlement that includes reimbursement plus six percent interest. Earlier this week, a federal judge in Alabama dismissed allegations of racketeering against Haslam and other company executives. More than a dozen companies have sued. 

    Minor parties receive court victory
    Minor parties in Ohio got another court victory on Wednesday in their efforts to get on ballots more easily. The Columbus Dispatch reports the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the state’s request to expedite its appeal of a lower court’s injunction. The injunction was granted against new legislation that eliminates all primaries for minor parties, along with implementing new requirements for candidates to make the fall ballot. Without an expedited appeal, the case likely won’t be heard until long after the primary and even the general election. The bill is thought by critics to be an attempt at helping John Kasich win re-election by keeping Libertarian candidates off the ballot.

    NEO land conservancy reports banner year
    A nonprofit group that works to preserve land in Northeast Ohio says 2013 was one of its biggest years ever. The Western Reserve Land Conservancy that covers 17 counties says it permanently preserved more than 4,000 acres last year. Those 4,000 acres are made up of 41 parks and farms in Cuyahoga, Medina, Lorain, Portage and Mahoning counties. The conservancy also helped set up new land banks in Ashtabula and Richland Counties. Since the group formed in 2006, it’s preserved more than 500 properties and nearly 40,000 acres.

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