Two executions rescheduled
The Ohio Supreme Court has rescheduled execution dates for two condemned killers that were temporarily delayed by a debate over the state's new lethal injection procedures. At issue is a 2 ½ month moratorium ending mid-August ordered by a federal judge to allow more time for arguments over the procedures. The court on Thursday set a Sept. 18 execution date for Ronald Phillips, sentenced to die for raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993. The court also set a Feb. 11 execution date for William Montgomery, sentenced to die for a 1986 murder in Toledo.
Democratic candidates question funding shortfall for addiction services
Ohio's Democratic candidates for governor and attorney general are calling on state officials to reconsider a funding change affecting agencies that provide addiction services. The Associated Press recently reported that a change in the way the state is funneling federal money to local agencies is creating a $20 million shortfall over the next year. The plan by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to distribute millions in federal money over 18 months instead of a single year is meant to address historic cash flow problems. Gubernatorial contender Ed FitzGerald and attorney general candidate David Pepper questioned the timing of the decision at a Thursday news conference in Columbus. They criticized the move and said the shortfall hampers the effort to combat Ohio's painkiller and heroin epidemic.
Four people charged with $2 million dollars of income tax fraud
Federal prosecutors say four people have been indicted on charges that they tried to use false names to collect nearly $2 million in fraudulent income tax refunds. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland said Thursday the suspects recruited people to lend their names to the scheme, with a promise that they would share in the illegal proceeds. Names of others were used without their knowledge. Prosecutors say 31-year-old Gwendolyn White, at the direction of 47-year-old Kenneth White, prepared 10 false tax returns for 2008 seeking nearly $2 million in refunds.
Connections between Mandel campaign contributions and awards raises questions
Executives at 10 of the 17 manufacturing companies whose workers won a new award established by Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel have donated to Republican candidates, including Mandel himself. A review finds Mandel's re-election campaign received donations from executives at three firms shortly after their skilled-trades employees were recognized with the Ohio Strong Award. The findings raise questions about whether Mandel, facing Democratic state Rep. Connie Pillich this fall, is using the nonmonetary award to reward and attract political contributors. Mandel said any cross-section of American companies leans Republican at the top, but the program is intended to raise the profile of skilled-trades workers and encourage careers in manufacturing.
Green party qualifies for gubernatorial election
Ohio's Green Party says it has achieved a first by qualifying a gubernatorial ticket for the general election through a write-in election. Anita Rios and Bob Fitrakis announced Thursday that their primary results have been certified in each of Ohio's 88 counties, placing them on November's ballot. The pair was gathering signatures during last year's brutal winter at the time state lawmakers passed a bill containing new restrictions on minor party ballot access. Rios and Fitrakis were unable to gather the 500 signatures needed, so supporters launched a last-minute write-in campaign.
Settlement awards $650,000 for botched kidney transplant
A kidney transplant that went awry when a nurse tossed out a healthy organ will cost an Ohio hospital $650,000. The settlement between the family involved in the transplant and the University of Toledo Medical Center was approved by an Ohio court Wednesday. The botched transplant happened almost two years ago as a 24-year-old Toledo woman was about to receive her brother's kidney at the hospital. The woman awoke without having undergone surgery because a nurse had accidentally thrown out the kidney. The woman later received a different kidney but the family sued the hospital, claiming medical negligence. The hospital has resumed its kidney transplant program after voluntarily suspending it.
Safe Haven laws brought 29 infants to Ohio shelters
29 infants have been left at Ohio Safe Haven locations during the last five years. The program allows people to drop off an infant under 30 days of age at hospitals, fire departments and other emergency locations with no legal repercussions. Individuals are not required to provide their names or medical history. On Wednesday, a woman dropped off a one-year-old boy and three-week-old girl at a Salvation Army shelter in Cleveland. Authorities are trying to identify her, since one child was too old to qualify and the shelter wasn’t a Safe Haven location.
Cleveland Public Power halts electric car charging station plans
Cleveland Public Power is suspending plans to install three public charging stations for electric cars. Plans to install the stations fell through in 2012, along with federal grant money for the project. The power company said it would go ahead with the stations anyway, but the Plain Dealer reports the project has now been put on hold. The newspaper reports Cleveland Public Power wants to focus on maintaining lower electric rates than its competitor, Akron-based FirstEnergy.
Plan prices expected to rise on healthcare marketplace next year
Ohio insurance officials say residents buying health coverage through the federal marketplace could see a 13 percent increase in average insurance premiums next year compared to this year. The Ohio Department of Insurance released details Thursday of the proposed average premiums from insurers seeking to offer plans on the new insurance exchange. Final rates for next year will not be available until August, after the agency approves them. The figures are averages of proposed rates. The state's figures also do not take into account federal subsidies or other factors that could change the price. Those shopping for 2015 plans could see more competition.
Ohioan places fourth in Scripps National Spelling Bee
While there were two winners at the Scripps National Spelling Bee last night, neither came from Ohio. However, one Ohioan did manage to place fourth. Ashwin Veeramani of North Royalton was the only Ohioan to make it to the finals. He missed the word depayse, an adjective for something that is out of it’s element. He will receive 3,000 dollars and a collection of reference materials. This is Veeramani’s second and last year qualifying for the Bee. In 2010, Ashwin’s sister, Anamika Veeramani, won first place.