|Ohio buying new gambling machines for veterans' groups and raffles|
State of Ohio officials are being asked to approve spending $22 million on new gambling machines that will help raise money for veterans' posts and fraternal organizations. The revised proposal by the Ohio Lottery Commission for "multi-purpose, next generation" gambling machines is expected to go before the state Controlling Board next week. The machines will replace video raffle machines that were deemed to be illegal by the state. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the veterans' posts and fraternal organizations are accepting of the new machines, after rejecting the version proposed last fall because they didn't generate enough money to cover operating costs and charity donations. The Lottery says nearly 200 posts and lodges have committed to take about half of the 1,200 machines the agency plans to buy.
Ohio's casinos fail to meet promised revenues
The last of four voter-approved Ohio casinos is celebrating its first birthday — and revenue has failed to meet expectations. Cincinnati's casino opened March 4 last year. The state's first casino opened in Cleveland in May 2012, followed by Toledo that same month and then Columbus five months later. Cincinnati's milestone marks the first full year that all four casinos have been feeding into state and local coffers. Through the end of January, the casinos drew about $770 million. If current revenues hold through March, the casinos will be on track for revenues of nearly $900 million during the first full year they've all been operating. That figure is far short of the 2009 campaign promising voters that revenues could be as high as $1.9 billion annually.
Democratic Congressional challengers named "emerging" candidates
Two Democrats challenging Republican incumbents in Congressional races in Ohio have been named “emerging” candidates by The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The label has been given to former state Representative Jennifer Garrison of Marietta, who’s running against Republican Bill Johnson in eastern Ohio’s 6th district that includes Mahoning County. Attorney Michael Wager of Moreland Hills is also considered an emerging candidate. He’s running in the 14th against Republican David Joyce. The 14th district covers parts of northern Summit and Portage counties, along with Geauga, Ashtabula and Trumbull. The committee says its 12 emerging races highlight "candidates and districts that are making themselves competitive."
Cleveland hires outside attorneys for chase case
The city of Cleveland has hired a private law firm to handle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estates of two people killed in a 2012 police chase. The Plain Dealer reports that Cleveland will pay the law firm Roetzel & Andress up to $275 an hour to defend the city, police officers and supervisors named in a federal suit filed on behalf of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Russell and Williams were killed by Cleveland officers in November, 2012 after a chase that started when officers thought they heard gunfire coming from their car. It ended with 13 officers firing 137 shots into the car. No weapon was ever found. Last fall, 63 officers were disciplined for their roles in the chase.
Richmond Heights superintendent, other district official, indicted
Two top officials of the Richmond Heights School District are to be arraigned Thursday on charges of extortion, bribery and theft in office. The Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Superintendent Robert Moore and the head of buildings and grounds, Richard Muse, Monday afternoon. They were arrested Friday, accused of shaking down a company doing business with the school district and threatening to cut off the contract unless the business paid a bribe. The Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office says the business made two payments to the men, the last on Friday. Deputies searched their homes Friday night and recovered $3,400 in cash.
NEO companies receive tax credits
Two Northeast Ohio companies are among 10 statewide getting tax credits aimed to help create jobs. Aurora Plastics in Streetsboro and Selman & Co. in Mayfield Heights plan to add about 60 jobs total. Each got a 40 percent, five-year tax credit package it worth more than $90,000. Aurora Plastics makes compounds for products like windows and fencing. Selman & Co. plans to expand into the city of Cleveland with its business of marketing and administering insurance products.
Voters rights group refiles paperwork for "Bill of Rights" ballot issue
An Ohio group has refiled its paperwork after hitting a snag in an effort to guarantee certain voter protections in the state constitution. Last month, Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected the petition for the proposed "Ohio Voters Bill of Rights," saying its summary was not a fair and truthful statement of the proposal. Backers said Monday they have worked with DeWine and resubmitted the summary, adding two sentences describing federal law. The proposed amendment would expand early voting times on weekends and make other changes to election rules. It is supported by a coalition of black lawmakers, clergy and civil rights leaders. DeWine must certify the summary's phrasing before supporters can continue with their ballot push and eventually collect signatures to get it before voters.
Secretary of State to hear challenges to Libertarian candidacies
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office will hold hearings today on two challenges of Libertarian Party candidates who want to appear on this year’s ballots. The challenges are of gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary. They center on how the two candidates circulated their petitions, and how the signatures on those petitions were counted. Republican lawmakers passed a bill to make it more difficult for minor-party candidates to get on the ballot but that was thrown out by a federal judge in January. Libertarians claim the Republicans are trying to find other ways to sink their candidacies.
Summit County approves $100,000 to fix flooding issues
Summit County is prepared to spend $100 thousand dollars to take care of storm water flooding issues. The money is part of more than $8 million that county council approved for capital improvements projects last night. It’s not yet clear how the money will be spent. That will be up to township trustees to decide. Council members tell the Beacon Journal it will likely go toward cleaning out ditches that are causing homes to flood. Much of the problem is in Copley Township, which has had several floods in recent years because of clogged ditches.
Republican National Committee names Ohioans to minority advisory boards
The Republican National Committee is launching a new effort to build stronger relationships with minorities, and several Ohioans are playing a big role. Former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, former 7th District Congressman Steve Austria and Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo will serve on advisory councils aimed at strengthening ties with conservatives of their respective races.
"Interim" dropped from Gee's title at WVU
Former Ohio State President Gordon Gee is the president of West Virginia University, dropping “interim” from his title. Initially, West Virginia said it would not consider its choice as interim president for the full-time position. But the board of trustees has offered him a two year contract after a search committee’s recommendation. For now, Gee’s salary will be $450,000 a year. Gee was president there when he was 36. Gee, now 70, retired as OSU’s president over the summer, then signed a nearly $6 million contract to stay on as president emeritus and serve as a faculty member. Ohio State also created the Center for Higher Education Enterprise specifically for Gee, reportedly spending $50,000 to renovate an office for him.
Director of Geauga Transit placed on leave, under investigation
The director of Geauga County Transit is on paid administrative leave, as the county prosecutor and Ohio BCI investigate possible misconduct. Director Kristina Reider is on leave after The Plain Dealer reports computers and financial documents were seized from the agency’s offices last week. Geauga County’s prosecutor says a small amount of money is unaccounted for, but Reider is suspected of using department resources to get short-term loans. Another, unnamed employee was also placed on leave. So far, there have been no arrests.