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Government and Politics


InnerBelt Bridge demolition set for Saturday with closures and viewing area
Other morning headlines: InnerBelt Bridge demolition scheduled for tomorrow morning; Brothers sentenced to prison time and restitution for food stamp fraud
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
and LYNDSEY SCHLEY


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
  • Sen. Rob Portman says he may run for president
  • Significant algae blooms expected in Lake Erie this summer
  • Brothers sentenced to prison time and restitution for food stamp fraud
  • InnerBelt Bridge demolition set for Saturday with closures and viewing area
  • State asks federal judge to dismiss Dennis McGuire execution lawsuit
  • RNC members finish up another convention planning trip to Cleveland
  • Ohio's food stamp overpayment rate for 2013 was above national average
  • Casino revenue less than expectded
  • InnerBelt Bridge demolition set for Saturday with closures and viewing area
    Residents have the chance to witness an explosion this weekend. Early Saturday morning, ODOT will detonate the five of the nine steel spans of Cleveland’s old InnerBelt Bridge. The 1959 bridge is being replaced with two new ones. Parts of I-90, the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge and other roads will close beginning at 4 a.m. for a few hours. The demolition is set to begin at 6 a.m. and a small viewing area will be set up at the corner of East 14th Street and Broadway Avenue. More information from ODOT can be found here.

    Sen. Rob Portman says he may run for president

    Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says he could end up making a 2016 presidential bid, depending on what happens with the field of candidates. The Republican says his focus is seeking re-election. But if he does not see strong presidential candidates emerge who address concerns about the economy and other issues, he will take a look at his own possibilities. Questions about Portman's plans cropped up anew this week after the announcement that the Republican National Convention is likely headed to his home state, specifically Cleveland. He was asked about his plans Thursday in a conference call with Ohio reporters.

    Significant algae blooms expected in Lake Erie this summer
    Researchers in northern Ohio predict Lake Erie will have a significant bloom of toxic blue-green algae in its western basin this summer but say it will not be as large as last year or the record-setting 2011 outbreak. The forecast was announced Thursday by officials with Ohio State University's Sea Grant Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lake Erie is shallower and warmer than the rest of the Great Lakes, which makes it a prime spot for the algae, which can cause skin rashes, nausea and diarrhea. Phosphorus from farm fertilizer runoff and sewage treatment plants feeds the algae and rainy springs, such as the one Ohio experienced this year, usually make the problem worse.

    Brothers sentenced to prison time and restitution for food stamp fraud
    Two northeast Ohio brothers have been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in federal prison for their roles in a $2 million food stamp fraud scheme. A judge also ordered Saed and Meher Wahdan to pay a total of $200,000 in restitution. They were accused of buying food stamp recipients' debit cards at a discount and using the cards to buy products at retail outlets to stock shelves at their four stores in Cleveland. They also were accused of putting stores in straw owners' names to get permits for a federal nutrition program.

    State asks federal judge to dismiss Dennis McGuire execution lawsuit
    The state is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the family of a condemned inmate who repeatedly gasped and snorted during his January execution. The lawsuit alleges executed prisoner Dennis McGuire endured needless pain and suffering during his 26-minute execution on Jan. 16. The state argued in a court filing that the lawsuit was improperly filed since McGuire's son is not arguing any violations of his own constitutional rights. The state also says the lawsuit failed to list specific acts that members of the execution team committed that amounted to constitutional violations.

    RNC members finish up another convention planning trip to Cleveland
    Members of the Republican National Committee are wrapping up yet another visit to Cleveland, this time to start planning their 2016 Convention. The committee announced this week it is recommending Cleveland over Dallas for the event and have spent the last couple days talking about logistics with city officials. The full Republican National Committee will vote on the recommendation at a party meeting in Chicago on August 8th. It is estimated that Cleveland will need to raise $55 million to $60 million to cover the costs of hosting.

    Ohio's food stamp overpayment rate for 2013 was above national average
    The state of Ohio's overpayment of food-stamp benefits last year exceeded the national average. The Columbus Dispatch reports the state overpaid more than $88 million in tax-funded benefits last year. In all, Ohio misspent about 4 percent of the nearly $3 billion received from the federal government for food-stamp benefits in 2013. The state's error rate was up slightly from the previous year, and it is above the national rate of 3.2 percent for tax-dollar waste. That ranks Ohio 21st in the country. Ohio officials say the state's error rate has dropped significantly in the past six years.

    Casino revenue less than anticipated 
    Ohio's casino tax revenue over the past year fell short of what state officials had predicted. The state's four casinos generated $273 million in tax revenue in the fiscal year that ended in June. That was more than $36 million less than the state had predicted. From April to June, Cuyahoga County and Cleveland will receive 1.8 million dollars and another million dollars for being a casino host city. Summit county and Akron will each receive more than 800,000 dollars, while Stark county and Canton will each get nearly 600,000 dollars.  Ohio’s schools will also split $23 million of the revenue.

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