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Morning Headlines: Police Union Endorses Mandel; White Nationalist's Lawyer Gives OSU A New Deadline

Photo of Mandel and Loomis shaking hands
Annie Wu
/

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, October 18th:

  • Stark County expected to raise hotel bed tax;
  • Group indicted in federal court for skimming credit cards;
  • Summit joins other counties considering vehicle registration tax hike;
  • Relaxed graduation requirements mean more Ohio high schoolers on track to graduate;
  • Ohio treasurer contest loses one candidate;
  • Longtime Ohio lawmaker abruptly resigns with little explanation;
  • White nationalist attorney sets new deadline in threat to sue Ohio State University;
  • Defense in Chinese restaurant murder trial argues police interview should be excluded from trial;
  • Cleveland police union endorses treasurer Josh Mandel for U.S. Senate;

Stark County expected to raise hotel bed tax
Stark County will decide today whether to raise its hotel bed tax. Commissioners are expected to vote to raise the bed tax from 12 and a half percent to about 15 percent of the room cost. The increase could raise another 1.5 million dollars each year for Visit Canton, which promotes tourism in Stark County. The Canton Repository reports some of the funds would go toward promoting arts organizations. Visit Canton is also considering giving some of the money to the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village. Stark County’s bed tax is one of the lowest in northeast Ohio.

Group indicted in federal court for skimming credit cards
Twelve people face charges for trying to install credit card skimmers at gas pumps. The devices store someone’s credit card information when they swipe so thieves can make counterfeit cards or make fraudulent purchases.  Devices were found at gas stations in Cleveland, Medina, Canton, and Cuyahoga Falls, among others.

Summit joins other counties considering vehicle registration tax hike
Summit is the latest county considering raising the annual motor vehicle license tax. A county official tells Ohio.com the $5 increase would help fund road and bridge projects. Cuyahoga County is considering a similar $5 increase. The Ohio legislature decided earlier this year counties could increase certain taxes, including vehicle registrations. Summit County’s current vehicle tax brings in about $15 million each year. The increase could raise that to more than $17 million if approved. Public hearings are scheduled for early November.

Relaxed graduation requirements mean more Ohio high schoolers on track to graduate
Three out of four Ohio high schoolers are on track to earn a diploma this year. That’s according to a report from the Ohio Department of Education that says more students are meeting relaxed graduation requirements that were approved in 2014. As of this year, seniors must score at least half of a possible 36 points in end-of-course state tests. Additional ways to score points toward graduation were added earlier this year, including attendance scores, minimum GPA requirements, and earning a job credential.

Ohio treasurer contest loses one candidate
The county auditor in Columbus says he's exiting the race for Ohio treasurer, the second departure from statewide races by a Republican in two days. Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo announced his decision on Facebook, saying despite personal resolve and "tireless support," he did not have the time and resources to continue.

Longtime Ohio lawmaker abruptly resigns with little explanation
A veteran state lawmaker has abruptly resigned his Senate seat in northwest Ohio with scant explanation. Republican Sen. Cliff Hite, of Findlay, had served in the state Senate since 2011 after winning three terms to the Ohio House. The 63-year-old Hite, who chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee, had been expected to seek re-election. His resignation letter said simply that he looked forward to focusing on his personal health and spending more time with family. A replacement process will be announced by the end of the week.

White nationalist attorney sets new deadline in threat to sue Ohio State University
An attorney has set a new deadline for his threatened lawsuit against Ohio State University over a demand it allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus. Attorney Kyle Bristow says he wants by 5 p.m. Friday an answer whether Ohio State will let his client rent a room for Spencer's appearance. The University of Cincinnati was faced with a similar deadline last week and said Spencer would be allowed to hold an event there. Meanwhile, Ohio State said it couldn't accommodate a Spencer event as requested on Nov. 15 for safety reasons but would decide whether viable alternatives exist by the end of this week.

Defense in Chinese restaurant murder trial argues police interview should be excluded from trial
A defense attorney argues that a police interview in which a Chinese woman acknowledged killing her 5-year-old daughter should be excluded from her murder trial because a translator was not present. Twenty-nine-year-old Mingming Chen, of Stark County’s Jackson Township, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the death of Ashley Zhao. The child’s body was found hidden in the family's North Canton restaurant after she was reported missing in January. Authorities allege that Chen repeatedly punched her daughter and that Chen's husband, Liang Zhao, tried to revive the girl before helping to hide the body.

Cleveland police union endorses treasurer Josh Mandel for U.S. Senate
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel has won the backing of the Cleveland police union a year after the organization drew criticism for its support of Donald Trump. The Cleveland Patrolmen's Association announced its support for Mandel, Ohio's state treasurer, over incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown on Tuesday. The group’s president, Steve Loomis says he wasn't aware that Mandel faces a Republican primary challenge against Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons. Loomis says Gibbons wasn't interviewed by the union. The patrolmen's association angered many Cleveland residents with his endorsement of Trump last year at a time of U.S. Department of Justice scrutiny over the involvement of police in the shooting of black suspects.