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Cleveland Council signs off on long-awaited lakefront plan
Other morning headlines: Ohio AG's $26M in outside lawyers comes under fire; Lawmakers tweak governor's budget
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
The latest WKSU morning headlines:

Cleveland Council signs off on long-awaited lakefront plan
A long-awaited plan to develop Cleveland’s lakefront is moving forward. Cleveland City Council on Monday approved a lease agreement with Cumberland TCC that calls for office, retail and restaurant space and about 1,000 residential apartments on nearly 30 acres around the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, FirstEnergy Stadium and Great Lakes Science Center. The plan also includes building a neighborhood kindergarten through eighth-grade school to attract families. Cumberland hopes to break ground in a year. The first phase is expected to be complete in about two years with the entire project complete in seven years.

Ohio AG's $26M in outside lawyers comes under fire
A state lawmaker has criticized Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine's process for selecting outside law firms. Rep. Chris Redfern, Ohio's Democratic chairman, cited a 2012 email in which DeWine appeared to direct his staff to give special counsel work to DeWine's campaign treasurer, Columbus attorney J.B. Hadden. Lawyers at Hadden's firm donated generously to DeWine's campaigns. Redfern objected Monday before more than $26 million in special counsel contracts over two years cleared the powerful state Controlling Board. In the heavily-redacted email string, Hadden expressed interest in working on a particular case. DeWine directed, "Please make this happen unless there's a reason not to." DeWine's special-counsel director told the panel that political ties and contributions are not factors in the staff's selection process.

Jury seated in campaign finance trial
Eight women and four men will be hearing the case against North Canton businessman Ben Suarez in a federal court in Cleveland, with opening statements now set for Wednesday. Suarez, his company and its CFO are accused of channeling $200,000 into the campaigns of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and Congressman Jim Renacci through “straw donors” – company employees and their spouses. But the CFO, Michael Giorgio, has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Suarez. And as the jury was being selected Monday, Suarez lawyers filed a claim that Giorgio has embezzled a million dollars from the company. Mandel and Renacci have returned the Suarez contributions. Suarez rejected a plea and faces up to twelve years in prison if convicted. 

Lawmakers tweak governor's budget
An Ohio legislative panel is working to sort out the differences between the state House and Senate versions of the governor's wide-ranging midterm budget plan. A six-member conference committee gathered Monday to make tweaks to the proposal, which includes a package of tax cuts added in the Senate and backed by Gov. John Kasich. The panel adjusted a small business tax cut to make it contingent on available state revenues. The proposal would boost a small business tax cut to up to 75 percent on income up to $250,000 for the 2014 tax year, not a flat 75 percent. The cut gives the state some wiggle room, but Ohio's budget director told the panel he believed the funds would be available and the wording was a precaution.

Holocaust memorial unveiled at Statehouse
Ohio has dedicated a memorial at the Statehouse honoring victims and survivors of the Holocaust. State officials and others spoke Monday of the survivors and World War II veterans who helped liberate Nazi death camps during a ceremony marking the memorial's completion. Architect Daniel Libeskind, the son of Holocaust survivors, designed the $2.1 million memorial. It was mostly paid for by private funds, though the state paid for site preparations. The 18-foot-tall Holocaust and Liberators Memorial includes panels positioned to reveal a broken, six-pointed Star of David. In 2011, Gov. John Kasich proposed building a memorial that he said could teach people about man's inhumanity to man. The former leader of a panel overseeing the Ohio Capitol had objected to a religious symbol on the grounds.

Escaped inmate captured in Canton
An inmate who escaped from police custody in Canton was on the loose for more than eight hours Monday. Canton police and U.S. Marshals say 28-year-old Michael Houghton was captured shortly after midnight. They say he escaped from a prisoner van around 4 p.m. Monday. He was in custody on domestic violence charges. 

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