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Morning Headlines: OPERS Cuts Health Benefits for 500,000 Retirees; iHeartMedia Layoffs hit NE Ohio

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Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, Jan. 16:

  • OPERS cuts health benefits for 500,000 retirees;
  • iHeartMedia layoffs hit NE Ohio;
  • Proposed bill would allow police to pull over drivers using cell phones;
  • Union to ask judge to overturn firing of Cleveland cop who killed Tamir Rice;
  • Mayor Frank Jackson's grandson pleads guilty to assault charge;
  • Pennsylvania man sentenced to federal prison for threatening Ohio school;
  • Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is getting back on his feet;

OPERS cuts health benefits for 500,000 retirees
The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) has announced it’s cutting health benefits for a half-million of its retirees. The Columbus Dispatch reports OPERS voted 9-2 Wednesday to make the change. The executive director of OPERS told the Dispatch that they "have no money to fund health care." According to the site, Medicare-eligible retirees will see a drop in their monthly allowance. The amount will depend on their years of service. Retirees who aren’t eligible for Medicare would have their health care plans eliminated and would instead get money to buy insurance on the individual market. OPERS health care trust fund is separate from its pension fund.

iHeartMedia layoffs hit NE Ohio
iHeartMedia, the largest owner of radio stations in the U.S., has announced plans to lay off employees at more than 850 of its stations. Cleveland.com reports the number of jobs being eliminated is unknown, but it's expected to be up to a 1,000. Layoffs have already hit the Cleveland-Akron-Canton market. Two hosts at Majic 105.7 took to social media to express their shock after being laid off. 96.5 KISS FM had most of its on-air staff let go. iHeartMedia said the layoffs are part of a major restructuring to modernize the company and to introduce new technology to the market.

Proposed bill would allow police to pull over drivers using cell phones
A Democratic state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would allow police to pull over a driver using a cellphone. Westerville State Rep. Mary Lightbody introduced the measure. The bill follows a call by Gov. Mike DeWine last month to make distracted driving a primary offense. DeWine said that it's time people realize that texting, making phone calls or surfing the internet while driving is just as bad as driving drunk. Ohio has seen more than 91,000 distracted driving crashes since 2013.

Union to ask judge to overturn firing of Cleveland cop who killed Tamir Rice
The union representing the white Cleveland police officer who killed a 12-year-old black child playing with a pellet gun will ask an Ohio appeals court to overturn the officer's firing. A county judge in Cleveland recently upheld an arbitrator's decision that Timothy Loehmann should be fired for failing to disclose on his Cleveland Police Department job application that he'd been previously dismissed from a suburban police department. Loehmann was cleared of criminal charges in the November 2014 death of Tamir Rice, who was shot outside a rec center in Cleveland within seconds of a cruiser skidding to a stop near him.

Mayor Frank Jackson's grandson pleads guilty to assault charge
The grandson of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor during his trial on a felonious assault charge for what prosecutors say was an attack on the grandson's girlfriend. Cleveland.com reports Frank Q. Jackson, 22, pleaded guilty during the second day of testimony. A judge sentenced Jackson to 18 months' probation. Mayor Jackson, who was in the courtroom, wouldn't answer questions afterward but said he was happy for his grandson.

Pennsylvania man sentenced to federal prison for threatening Ohio school
A Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for an online threat to an Ohio high school in 2018. Russell Miley-Cruz, of Scranton, was also given three years of supervised release during the hearing in Youngstown. He pleaded guilty in September to transmission of a threat in interstate commerce and obstruction of justice.

Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert is getting back on his feet
The owner of the Cleveland Cavs is getting back to business. Crains Cleveland Business reports Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner told reporters in Detroit Wednesday that Dan Gilbert is becoming more engaged in business.  He’s been out of sight since suffering a stroke back in May. Farner said Gilbert is “very focused on continuing to make progress” and making more routine appearances at the office.

Andrew joined WKSU News in 2014. He oversees the daily operations of the WKSU news department and its reporters and hosts, coordinates daily coverage, and serves as editor. His commitment is to help foster reporting that marks the best of what public radio has to offer: a mix of first-rate journalism with great storytelling. His responsibilities also include long-term strategic planning for news coverage in Northeast Ohio that serves WKSU’s audience via on-air, online, by social media and through emerging technologies. Andrew also serves as a back-up local host for Morning Edition, Here and Now and All Things Considered.