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Morning Headlines: Tour Company that Bilked Ohio Schools Goes Bankrupt; Akron May Raise Trash Fees

screenshot of Discovery Tours website

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, May 8:

  • Ohioans vote in state primary;
  • Tour company that bilked dozens of Ohio schools files for bankruptcy;
  • ECOT spent taxpayer money on TV attack ads, state auditor finds;
  • Akron seeks to raise trash collection revenue;
  • Ohio teachers' union claims it's the target of right-leaning undercover group;
  • Northeast Ohioans not adequately trained for well-paying jobs;
  • Environmental researchers predict another bad year of algae blooms;
  • Akron Zoo welcomes new snow leopard;
  • Teen rom-com "The Last Summer" to shoot in Cleveland;
  • Cavs move ahead to the Eastern Conference finals;

Ohioans vote in state primary
Polls opened at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Ohioans will narrow down the field of candidates for governor who will appear on the November ballot, as well as choose the Republican candidate for Senate. A key ballot issue, Issue 1, would change how congressional districts are drawn in the state, if passed. WKSU has details on polling locations, candidates and issues here.

Tour company that bilked dozens of Ohio schools files for bankruptcy
A school tour company that canceled trips for dozens of Ohio schools last week has filed for bankruptcy. Cleveland.com reports Discovery Tours claims it has about $1.4 million in assets but owes nearly $4 million. The filing does not give an explanation of how the 36-year-old company suddenly failed. The court filing lists more than 5,600 people who are owed trip deposits. The Mayfield Village-based company first canceled a Washington D.C. trip last week for Mentor eight graders the day before they were scheduled to leave. Twinsburg, Hudson and Perry are among other local districts that have been affected.

ECOT spent taxpayer money on TV attack ads, state auditor finds
Ohio’s state auditor says a former online charter school illegally used taxpayer money to pay for attack ads aimed at state education officials. The Dispatch reports the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s founder Bill Lager used his own for-profit companies to hide $250,000 dollars in payments for TV ads. The ads accused the Ohio Department of Education of disregarding ECOT students and wanting to end school choice. State law forbids public schools from spending public money on political ads. Auditor Dave Yost is ordering Lager’s ECOT-affiliated companies, as well as a communications firm owned by his daughter, to repay the ad money. The companies can issue a formal response to the findings this week.

Akron seeks to raise trash collection revenue
The city of Akron is looking at ways to increase the city’s revenue from trash collection. Legislation introduced Monday would eliminate a monthly recycling credit and raise the collection fee by 50 cents. Council is delaying a decision amid concerns the new law penalizes residents who recycle. The Beacon Journal reports the fees and the number of residents who recycle have remained stagnant in recent years. City data shows 7 in 10 Akron residents recycle. If approved, the law would take effect on July 1. Future increases would be tied to the rate of inflation for city costs.

Ohio teachers' union claims it's the target of right-leaning undercover group
Officials with a state teachers’ union say its members are being targeted by a right-leaning undercover group. The Ohio Federation of Teachers claims Project Veritas has tried to conduct hidden camera “sting” operations on union officials. Police records show a Veritas employee bypassed school security in Lordstown to approach a union official. The group says it’s investigating how unions handle wrongdoing by teachers. Veritas has drawn criticism for gaining access under false pretenses and editing footage to incriminate public officials. The group has targeted organizations including Planned Parenthood, the Washington Post and NPR.

Northeast Ohioans not adequately trained for well-paying jobs
A new report finds jobs in growing industries that offer good wages are being left vacant. The report from Team NEO shows Northeast Ohio’s workforce is not properly trained to fill those jobs. It says in the next two years, 2 in 3 Ohio jobs will require a postsecondary credential. But as of 2016, just over half of Northeast Ohioans 25 years or older have attended some college or earned at least an associate’s degree. According to the report, the most in-demand sectors are manufacturing, healthcare, and IT.

Environmental researchers predict another bad year of algae blooms
Researchers say this could be another bad year for Lake Erie’s algae problem. Cleveland.com reports that spring rains have washed phosphorus from farm fields into the Maumee River which feeds the harmful blooms in the western Lake Erie basin. Predictions released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show this year could be among the top five worst since the blooms emerged in 2008. In 2014 toxins from the algae sickened more than 100 people and forced nearly half-a-million Ohioans to stop using tap-water. The Ohio EPA early this year declared Western Lake Erie an “impaired waterway.” State lawmakers this month are expected to draft stricter guidelines for farm runoff.

Akron Zoo welcomes new snow leopard
The Akron Zoo has welcomed a new male snow leopard. Tai Lung arrived in Northeast Ohio from a zoo in Des Moines, Iowa in March. The eight-year-old cat replaces the zoo's previous male snow leopard, Roscoe, who died last summer. Zookeepers are hoping he will be able to mate with the zoo's female snow leopard, Shanti. Snow leopards are native to the Himalayas in central Asia and are considered vulnerable with an estimated wild population under 10,000.

Teen rom-com "The Last Summer" to shoot in Cleveland
Hollywood is coming back to Cleveland this week. The young adult romantic comedy “The Last Summer” will shoot all day Wednesday on Prospect Ave. between E. 36th and E. 40th. It’s not yet clear who will be on set for filming. The film stars CW heartthrob K. J. Apa and Maia Mitchell from ABC’s “The Fosters.” Cleveland’s streetscape will stand in for Chicago, where the story takes place. The film is set to come out sometime next year.

Cavs move ahead to the Eastern Conference finals
With a 128-93 win in Game 4 last night, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are headed to the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth straight year. The Cavs ended Toronto's season for the third straight year, and a second consecutive four-game sweep. James finished with 29 points, 11 assists and spent some of the final seven minutes of the game dancing near the bench. It was Cleveland's 10th straight playoff win over Toronto, which changed its system, its roster and its approach but still could not beat the Cavs. Kevin Love added 23 points and J.R. Smith put up 15 for the Cavs, who can now rest while waiting for the Boston-Philadelphia semifinal series to end. The Celtics are up 3 games to 1 on the 76ers. Game 5 is set for Wednesday.