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Morning Headlines: 38 Ohio Counties Now on Red Alert for COVID-19; Akron Records Most Homicides in at Least a Decade

Photo showing thirty-eight counties are now on red alert level 3 on the state’s color-coded risk system.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Thirty-eight counties are now on red alert level 3 on the state’s color-coded risk system. Geauga, Lake, and Tuscarawas counties have been added to the red level for the first time. Cuyahoga, Clark, and Hamilton are approaching purple or level 4 alert.

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, October 23:

  • 38 Ohio counties now on red alert for COVID-19
  • Akron records most homicides in at least a decade
  • Ohio home sales continue to soar
  • Trump, Pence, Harris head to Ohio
  • Householder has spent nearly $1M in campaign funds on criminal defense
  • Voting-rights’ groups end ballot drop box lawsuit
  • Ohio AG Yost wants lawmaker sanctioned for filing charges against Gov. DeWine
  • Ohio lawmakers signal school funding plan is coming
  • Investigation close probe into township trustee’s mysterious death
  • Right wing marketing firm behind attempt to defeat Cleveland school levy

38 Ohio counties now on red alert for COVID-19
COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Ohio with yet another record number set Thursday, 2,425. It’s the third record tally in the past week. Thirty-eight counties are now on red alert level 3 on the state’s color-coded risk system. That amounts to three fourths of Ohio residents. Geauga, Lake, and Tuscarawas counties have been added to the red level for the first time. Cuyahoga, Clark, and Hamilton are approaching purple or level 4 alert.

Akron records most homicides in at least a decade
The city of Akron has recorded its worst year for violent homicides in at least a decade. The Beacon Journal reports a man shot to death Wednesday was the 41st murder of 2020. There were 33 in 2019 and 32 in 2018. The count surpasses the decade-high 40 murders in 2017.

Ohio home sales continue to soar
Home sales in Ohio continue to soar, up more than 18% in September from the same month a year ago. The Ohio Realtors Association says nearly 16,000 homes were sold last month, up nearly 3,000 from the same time last year. The average home price was around $225,000, a nearly 16% increase over last year. The association reports homes are also selling faster, sitting on the market for an average of 39 days.

Trump, Pence, Harris head to Ohio
President Donald Trump will campaign Saturday in central Ohio while Democratic vice president candidate Sen. Kamala Harris will head to Cleveland as the traditional bellwether state appears to be a toss-up for Nov. 3. Vice President Mike Pence is due to be in Swanton in northwest Ohio today after an appearance in Cincinnati on Wednesday. The battle for Ohio's 18 electoral votes has heated up after polls indicated Democratic nominee Joe Biden was well within range of Trump.

Householder has spent nearly $1M in campaign funds on criminal defense
Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder has spent nearly $1 million from his campaign account to pay his legal fees tied to his federal racketeering case. In a campaign-finance report filed Thursday, Householder reported he spent most of the money on two law firms. Householder and four associates are accused of operating a $60 million bribery scheme to secure passage of a $1 billion nuclear bailout law. He is running for re-election despite being stripped of his speaker position.

Voting-rights’ groups end ballot drop box lawsuit
Voting-rights’ advocates have dismissed their federal lawsuit against Secretary of State Frank LaRose in a fight to add more ballot drop boxes in Ohio. Cleveland.com reports The NAACP of Ohio, the League of Women Voters and the A. Philip Randolph Institute of Ohio have dropped all claims against LaRose, ending the battle that has been in the courts for six weeks. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in LaRose’s favor earlier this month, upholding LaRose’s order of limiting counties to one drop box at the board of elections.

Ohio AG Yost wants lawmaker sanctioned for filing charges against Gov. DeWine
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wants an appeals court to sanction a Republican state lawmaker for trying to prosecute Gov. Mike DeWine. Rep. John Becker of Union Township tried to bring terrorism and other charges based on the governor’s COVID-19 health orders. A Clermont County prosecutor dismissed the case. Yost wants Becker sanctioned for wasting the court’s time.

Ohio lawmakers signal school funding plan is coming
Ohio lawmakers are hoping to pass a long-awaited school funding plan during the lame duck session after the election. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the bipartisan Fair School Funding Plan is being fast-tracked through committee hearings. Akron Democrat Vernon Sykes is one of the Senate co-sponsors trying to shepherd passage of the latest effort by lawmakers to comply with four Supreme Court decisions finding Ohio’s school-funding system unconstitutional. For two decades the General Assembly has failed to act on those rulings, but Sykes says they are “moving as fast as they can” to pass the new bill. Lawmakers said simulations of the funding formula revealed that some districts would receive less state aid than intended, requiring "corrections" before the Dec. 31st deadline.

Investigation close probe into township trustee’s mysterious death
Investigators have closed the case of a Medina County man whose death nearly four years ago remains a mystery. Lafayette Township Trustee Bryon Macron was found dead, floating in Chippewa Lake in February of 2017. His nearby office showed signs of a struggle and blood, but The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation closed the case saying that there was no evidence of any other persons involved.

Right wing marketing firm behind attempt to defeat Cleveland school levy
The shadowy group fighting Cleveland’s proposed school levy has a lot in common with recently indicted Republican lawmakers, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business. Crain’s reports that flyers urging Clevelanders to defeat Issue 68, a 10-year renewal and increase, were produced by a right wing marketing firm headed by Brett Buerck, a former chief of staff for Larry Householder, who’s accused of orchestrating a dark money bribery scheme. Buerck is CEO of Majority Strategies, a Florida-based marketing company. Election watchers say it’s unusual for dark money campaigns to reach the level of school levies, but at least one Cleveland property owner, the K&D Group admitted to contributing to the effort.