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Morning Headlines: Akron City Councilman Rich Swirsky Dies After Battle with Leukemia; Southwest Ohio Woman is First Vax-a-Million Winner

A picture of Akron City councilman Rich Swirsky.
KABIR BHATIA
/
WKSU
City councilman Rich Swirsky (left) at an event on Akron’s Innerbelt in 2015. He died Tuesday following a battle with leukemia.

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, May 27:

  • Akron city councilman Rich Swirsky dies after battle with leukemia
  • Southwest Ohio woman is first Vax-a-Million winner
  • Statehouse bill would prohibit mandatory vaccinations by employers
  • President Biden to visit Cleveland today
  • FirstEnergy says dark money spending was legal
  • Congressman Johnson rules out Senate run
  • Guilty plea in case of threats on Youngstown Jewish center
  • OSU criticized Big Ten postponement decision, considered going alone
  • Former Cleveland pitching coach placed on MLB ineligible list

Akron city councilman Rich Swirsky dies after battle with leukemia
Akron city councilman Rich Swirsky has died following a battle with leukemia. In a statement released this morning, Mayor Dan Horrigan hailed Swirsky as a once-in-a-generation advocate for inclusivity, justice, and neighborhood stability. Swirsky had been on the council since 2013, representing Ward 1 which includes Highland Square and West Hill. Council President Margo Sommerville called Swirsky a unifying force who often served as a bridge between factions. Swirsky publicly shared his diagnosis in November and had mostly stepped away for treatment. However, he returned earlier this month to vote in favor of a resolution supporting the federal George Floyd Act on police reforms as well as new laws in Akron creating additional renter protections. Rich Swirsky was 68.

Southwest Ohio woman is first Vax-a-Million winner
The state says a southwestern Ohio woman is the first winner of Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery. The state also says a Dayton-area teen is the first winner of the program’s full-ride college scholarship. The names were announced last night at the end of the Ohio Lottery’s Cash Explosion TV show. Gov. Mike DeWine introduced the incentive program two weeks ago as a way of boosting participation in the state’s flagging vaccination efforts. More than 2.7 million adults signed up for the million-dollar prize and more than 104,000 children ages 12 to 17 entered the drawing for the college scholarship. There will be four more drawings.

Statehouse bill would prohibit mandatory vaccinations by employers
A House committee has heard testimony on a GOP bill that would prohibit public and private employers from requiring vaccinations or punishing workers who don't get them. The bill before the House Health Committee also strengthens the notices that schools must provide parents with exemptions they can seek against having their children vaccinated. The legislation would also repeal a state law requiring college students to disclose whether they've been vaccinated against hepatitis B and meningitis. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Jennifer Gross, is a nurse practitioner who says she believes in vaccines but also in personal choice.

President Biden to visit Cleveland today
President Joe Biden will be in Cleveland today. The White House says he’ll tour the Manufacturing Technology Center at Cuyahoga Community College and then deliver a speech on the economy.

FirstEnergy says dark money spending was legal
An energy company that gave the money in an alleged $60 million bribery scheme and a man accused of spending a large chunk of it are now arguing in separate proceedings that their actions were legal. Neither asserts the money didn’t flow. FirstEnergy and Matt Borges, a former Republican Party chair and lobbyist charged in the probe, laid out their defenses in court and regulatory filings this month. Campaign finance experts say they are watching to see if the Ohio case will clarify laws governing the spending of dark money.

Congressman Johnson rules out Senate run
Congressman Bill Johnson has ruled out a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Rob Portman. The Vindicator reports the six-term congressman was concerned about the fund-raising needed. Portman’s decision not to seek a third term set off a scramble to succeed him in what will be one of the nation's most closely watched races. Johnson's 6th District includes all or parts of 18 counties in eastern and southeastern Ohio.

Guilty plea in case of threats on Youngstown Jewish center
A Mahoning County man has pleaded guilty to threatening a Jewish Community Center in Youngstown. In a statement, Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Brennan said that 22-year-old James Reardon had pleaded guilty to two counts. Reardon who identified himself in the video in which he made the threats as a white nationalist was arrested in August of 2019 after the FBI became aware of the video. He’ll be sentenced in September.

OSU criticized Big Ten postponement decision, considered going alone
The Buckeyes considered going it alone last season after the Big Ten initially announced it was postponing the start of the 2020 season because of the pandemic. The text from Ohio State President Kristina Johnson to Athletic Director Gene Smith, dated Aug. 12 at 8:04 a.m., was among the more than 2,500 pages of documents the school released last night in response to public records requests by media organizations. The documents included numerous emails from Buckeyes supporters to Smith and Johnson, criticizing the Big Ten's decision to postpone the season.

Former Cleveland pitching coach placed on MLB ineligible list
Former New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway was placed on the ineligible list by Major League Baseball through at least the end of the 2022 season following an investigation of sexual harassment allegations. Callaway was previously pitching coach with Cleveland. Team owner Paul Dolan released a statement saying while there were no findings against Cleveland in the MLB decision, he says the information shared by the commissioner’s office reinforces Cleveland's conclusion that the organization did not do enough to create an environment where people felt comfortable coming forward to share what they experienced or witnessed. He says they are taking steps to change that.

Andrew Meyer is the Deputy Editor of News at Ideastream Public Media.
Jon Nungesser is a multiple media journalist at Ideastream Public Media.