United moves shareholders' meeting out of Cleveland, too
Days after announcing it's pulling its hub out of Cleveland Hopkins, United Airlines is now relocating its annual shareholders meeting that was set for Cleveland in June. The meeting will be shifted to the company’s headquarters in Chicago, according to the Plain Dealer. Many are also questioning a special 50-plus page section in the company’s in-flight magazine this month, dedicated to Cleveland and the city’s tourism industry. Company officials said they did not regret the section or its timing because the city is worth writing about, despite its decision to pull United’s hub.
Congress members speak out about United hub plans
Members of Congress from Northeast Ohio are speaking out about United Airlines’ decision to pull its hub from Cleveland. Democrat Marcia Fudge of Warrensville Heights said she hopes the company will help displaced employees transfer to other locations, while Niles Democrat Tim Ryan plans to urge United to reconsider its decision. Toledo Democrat Marcy Kaptur blames the problem on airline deregulation, saying that airline consolidation keeps cities like Cleveland from getting the same level of service.
Wadsworth Republican Jim Renacci blames the decision on the Obama administration, saying increased federal regulations and a lack of economic growth contributed to the move. He cites a letter from the head of United to employees that says the airline was hurt by new regulations. The letter also says the hub has been losing money for a decade.
Holmes County Republican Bob Gibbs, who sits on the House Transportation Committee, says he will meet with United today.
Sewer hike approved in Akron
Sewer rates in Akron are going up by nearly 70 percent over the next two years. The Beacon Journal reports that council voted last night to approve legislation to pay for 1.4 billion dollars to cap combined sewer overflows into the Cuyahoga River. Council members said they had no other option because of debt the city already has incurred making the improvements. Last night’s measure passed by a majority, but lacked the nine votes required to enact it as an emergency measure. This year, the average sewer bill will go from around $34 to nearly $45. Next year, prices will jump to around $57.
Department of Education considers moving test dates
Some Ohio school districts have had more snow days than school days in 2014, and the Ohio Department of Education is considering adjusting standardized testing dates because of it. Education officials have been discussing the possibility of moving the state achievement assessments for students in third to eighth grade back one week. Adjusting test schedules for high school students is more complicated, though, because Ohio Graduation Tests cannot affect graduation.
Killer's attorneys want to stop March execution
Lawyers for a condemned killer are suing to stop his March execution to give them time to argue that the state's system is unconstitutional because it could result in a lingering death. The lawsuit follows last month's lengthy execution of Dennis McGuire by two untried drugs. Lott's attorneys also argue that Ohio is breaking state and federal laws by using drugs for executions without prescriptions. The state meanwhile, says it plans to notify Lott a month in advance of his execution if changes are made to Ohio's lethal injection policy. He is scheduled to die March 19 for killing an East Cleveland man in a 1986 arson.
Wildlife officers sue Ohio Inspector General
Five former top officers of the Ohio Division of Wildlife have sued the state and Ohio’s inspector general for more than $2 million. They claim an investigation of them by the inspector general, Tom Charles, and Brown County prosecutors was politically motivated. According to Cleveland.com, the five were accused of not fully investigating another wildlife employee who let his counterpart from South Carolina buy an in-state hunting license. That saved him about $100. The state investigated for three years, but last May, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed all charges. Still, one of the five was fired, two others forced to resign and the other two were given lesser duties. A Brown County grand jury indicted the five, but they were cleared twice by internal investigations by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Bond set for Toledo apartment owner accused of setting deadly fire
Bond has been set at $5 million for the owner of a Toledo apartment building who allegedly started a fire that killed two Toledo firefighters last week. 61-year-old Ray Abou-Arab faces charges of aggravated murder and aggravated arson. The Toledo Blade reports 50 firefighters packed the courtroom to show support for fallen firefighters Stephen Machcinski and James Dickman. They became trapped while fighting the fire and died hours later at a hospital. A tenant in the building reported seeing Abou-Arab enter the building’s garage and leave minutes later with the wall on fire.
AG candidate Pepper accuses DeWine of pay-to-lay
The Democratic candidate for Ohio attorney general is accusing Republican incumbent Mike DeWine of creating a pay-to-play scheme. David Pepper claims DeWine has awarded state contracts to law firms after they made campaign contributions. The allegations come on the heels of a Dayton Daily News investigation showing that law firms seeking state work from the attorney general’s office made more than a million dollars in campaign donations to DeWine and his son, along with the Ohio Republican Party. The firms represent the state in securities fraud cases and other legal issues. Pepper says he wants to revamp the system that chooses which firms get selected for state work. DeWine says many those plans are already in place.
New OSU president to make half of predecessor's salary
The new president of Ohio State University will earn about half what his predecessor did. Incoming President Michael Drake will make $1 million a year with the opportunity for a $200 thousand performance bonus, according to the Plain Dealer. The previous president, Gordon Gee, was the highest paid public university president in the country, with a salary and compensation nearing $2 million. Drake earned $400,000 a year as chancellor at the University of California at Irvine. He’s also an ophthalmologist and Ohio State has given him laboratory space and $50 thousand a year for research.
Former Cleveland credit union officers plead guilty
The former chief executive officer of a failed credit union in northeast Ohio and an outside bookkeeper have pleaded guilty in an alleged $15 million fraud case. The case involves Cleveland-based Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union, which the National Credit Union Administration and the state of Ohio took over in July and placed in receivership. Federal prosecutors say 51-year-old Alex Spirikaitis pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to conspiracy. A former outside bookkeeper, 44-year-old Vytas Apanavicius of Mentor, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Both face sentencing May 8.
Sebelius visits Cleveland to encourage health insurance registration
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Cleveland Monday, encouraging Ohioans to sign up for health insurance. Sebelius appeared at a news conference with Mayor Frank Jackson. She has been traveling the country to raise awareness about new eligibility for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. 14 percent of Ohioans are uninsured and eligible for coverage and more than 40,000 selected health insurance through the exchange through the end of December. Coverage will begin as early as March 1 for those who sign up by February 15.