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Morning Headlines: Pillich Leaves Governor's Race, Endorses Cordray; Tito Francona Dead at 84

Connie Pillich and Rich Cordray
Dan Konik
Statehouse News

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, Feb. 15:

  • Ohio productivity nears pre-Great Recession levels, employment still lags;
  • Akron nonprofit launches "60 for 60" initiative to restore homes;
  • Pillich leaves the race  for governor, endorses Cordray;
  • GOP lawmakers propose closer ties between Gov. Kasich and education officials;
  • Most of Summit County's capital budget will go toward sewer upgrades;
  • Cleveland man sues the city, alleging an illegal police chase that ended in a deadly crash;
  • Trump administration still considering coal bailout;
  • Cleveland police reportedly failed to send hundred of rape kits for testing;
  • Ohio seeks $1.6 million from Uber in sales tax and penalties;
  • Ohio teen saves Twinsburg track coach;
  • Former major league all-star Tito Francona dies at 84;

Ohio productivity nears pre-Great Recession levels, employment still lags
A new report shows northeast Ohio is rebounding from the 2007 Great Recession. Team NEO released its Quarterly Economic Indicator report in partnership with the Manufacturing Advocacy and Grown Network on Wednesday. The report indicates the region is nearly matching pre-recession output levels, rising 16 percent from 2007 to 2017. That outpaced the national increase of 12 percent over the same time period. However, employment has yet to recover from the recession; it dropped 15 percent in the decade leading up to 2017. Team NEO predicts an increase in high-tech manufacturing output in the next five years.

Akron nonprofit launches "60 for 60" initiative to restore homes
A local nonprofit plans to renovate 60 houses in 60 months in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood. WKYC reports the Well Community Development Corporation will buy and renovate the homes. The first dozen will be converted into rentals. About 20 percent of the houses in the Middlebury neighborhood surrounding Goodyear’s old headquarters are vacant.

Pillich leaves the race  for governor, endorses Cordray
A third Democrat left the Ohio governor's race on Wednesday to endorse former consumer watchdog Richard Cordray. Former state Rep. Connie Pillich said she made her decision over the weekend after Ohio Republican Party leaders voted to endorse Attorney General Mike DeWine over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. Speaking at Cordray's campaign headquarters, Pillich called for unity in the Democratic party as GOP leaders rally around DeWine. Pillich's withdrawal leaves no woman leading a Democratic ticket. Another former Cordray rival, Betty Sutton, is now his running mate.

GOP lawmakers propose closer ties between Gov. Kasich and education officials
House Republicans have proposed a sweeping overhaul of Ohio’s educational structure. They propose removing many of the powers of the State Board of Education and state superintendent and giving them to a new cabinet-level position under the governor. Republican State Rep. Bill Reineke has proposed combining much of the Department of Education, the Department of Higher Education, and the governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation into a single cabinet agency, the Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement. He says the change would better align schools programs with the demands of the workplace.  The bill has the backing of House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and was developed with input from Gov. John Kasich. Some Democrats say it would create a massive bureaucracy that would limit local control.

Most of Summit County's capital budget will go toward sewer upgrades
Summit County has approved a $64 million capital improvements budget with more than half the money going toward sewer upgrades. The budget also sets aside money for roads and bridges, improvements at the county jail and courthouse and for a computer-aided dispatch collaboration with Akron, Stow, Cuyahoga Fall, Green, Tallmadge and Fairlawn.

Cleveland man sues the city, alleging an illegal police chase that ended in a deadly crash
Cleveland is facing a lawsuit from the family of a man killed in a 2016 crash following a police chase. The suit filed by the family of Romero Brown, 63, of Newburgh Heights alleges the police launched an illegal 70 mph chase of a car driven by a Cleveland man in a 25 mph neighborhood. It claims officers Adam Hymes and Shane McNea never turned on their lights or sirens. The suit also claims the officers lied about the chase afterwards. The suit also names the driver of the car, Jonathan Grier, who is serving four years in prison for aggravated vehicular homicide.

Trump administration still considering coal bailout
The Trump administration is reportedly still considering an emergency bailout of FirstEnergy’s coal-burning plants. Crain’s reports U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry would have to approve emergency compensation for the plants run by FirstEnergy Solutions. Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a proposal by Perry to pay coal plants more, saying that would violate the law. The Energy Department says sources were misinformed about the new proposals. But Crain’s reports the Energy undersecretary said the agency is prepared to act if FERC doesn’t come up with an alternative. Coal mogul Bob Murray, a major supporter of President Trump who has been pushing the bailouts, says his company could default if the FirstEnergy plants shut down.

Cleveland police reportedly failed to send hundred of rape kits for testing
Cleveland.com is reporting Cleveland police failed to send hundreds of rape kits for testing, violating Ohio law. The police department discovered a kit backlog in 2017 caused by a detective who hadn't submitted evidence to the county lab on time. Cleveland.com estimates more than 220 kits weren't properly submitted between 2014 and 2016. Police have not confirmed the number. Under state law, police departments must submit rape kits for testing within 30 days of identifying a crime report. However, there is no penalty for failing to comply with the law. Cleveland Rape Crisis Center president Sondra Miller says kit backlogs may weaken the trust that assault victims have in law enforcement.

Ohio seeks $1.6 million from Uber in sales tax and penalties
Ohio says the ride-hailing service Uber owes $1.6 million in sales taxes and penalties, a claim the company is disputing. Uber maintains the tax law cited by the state does not apply to the company. The claim is focused on just three months in 2015, but the Dayton Daily News reports the outcome could affect other time periods and millions of dollars more.

Ohio teen saves Twinsburg track coach
An Ohio teen has helped save a track coach who suffered a massive heart attack at a local fitness center. Twinsburg Assistant Track Coach Chuck Glover tells WJW-TV he had just put weights on the floor at the Twinsburg Fitness Center in October when he collapsed. He says he had close to 100 percent blockage in a main artery. Nicole Fruscella, a 17-year-old lifeguard at the facility, was called to the scene and asked to bring an automated external defibrillator. Fruscella was trained to use an AED, but had never used it to give someone aid before. Fruscella gave Glover a shock before paramedics took him to a hospital. Glover now says he had an angel on his shoulder that day, and her name is Nicole.

Former major league all-star Tito Francona dies at 84
Tito Francona, a former major league player and the father of Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, has died at the age of 84. The team said the elder Francona died Tuesday night at his home in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. Francona played 15 years in the majors, six of those with the Indians. Current Indians manager Terry Francona is affectionately called "Tito" after his father. The family said it would like to keep the services for Mr. Francona private for family and close friends.  The funeral will be Saturday morning in New Brighton, PA. Terry Francona will be away from the team Thursday afternoon thru Sunday morning.

M.L. Schultze came to WKSU as news director in July 2007 after 25 years at The Repository in Canton, where she was managing editor for nearly a decade. She’s now the digital editor and an award-winning reporter and analyst who has appeared on NPR, Here and Now and the TakeAway, as well as being a regular panelist on Ideas, the WVIZ public television's reporter roundtable.