Morning Headlines: Accused Arsonist Competent to Stand Trial; Lawmaker Proposes E-Cigarette Ban

Sep 25, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, September 25:

  • Accused arsonsit deemed competent to stand trial;
  • Lawmaker proposes e-cigarette banĀ 
  • Drone drops mairjuana inside Cuyahoga jail
  • Ohio Supreme Court strikes down Cleveland's Fannie Lewis law
  • LaRose: Old systems caused voter roll purge malfunction;
  • Indians attendance drops;
  • Appeals court rules footage of judge getting shot isn't public record;

Accused arsonist deemed competent to stand trial
An Akron man accused of setting fires in 2016 and 2017 that killed nine people including children has been deemed competent to stand trial. The Beacon Journal reports Stanley Ford, 60, completed a mental evaluation in Columbus. An MRI revealed dementia and some brain damage. He is being held at the Summit County Jail without bond and faces the dealth penalty. A trial is expected to begin in January, and Ford said he hasn't seen any evidence against him other than he lived near the fires.

Lawmaker introduces e-cigarette ban
An Ohio lawmaker has introduced a bill banning the sale of flavored vaping products as concerns grow about health effects of vaping. Legislation introduced Monday by Rep. Tom Patton of Strongsville would also create a committee to study the effects of vaping products on health. The Ohio Health Department has identified 17 cases of severe breathing illnesses likely caused by vaping and is investigating 22 additional cases. Earlier this month, the Summit County Health Department put out an advisory warning for young adults to not vape. U.S. health officials said more than 500 people have been diagnosed with breathing illnesses after using e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, with an eighth death reported last week. Michigan and New York have both banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Gov. Mike DeWine has said he favors such a ban in Ohio.

Drone drops mairjuana inside Cuyahoga jail
Police have released video they say shows a Cuyahoga County jail inmate collecting contraband dropped by a drone over the jail's outdoor exercise yard. In the video, the inmate looks up at something off camera. He later attempts to catch an item falling above him. He misses and collects the item from the ground and walks out of view. Authorities said the dropped parcel contained a cell phone and loose leaf marijuana. The county sheriff's office launched an investigation and has turned the case over to prosecutors.

Ohio Supreme Court strikes down Cleveland's Fannie Lewis law
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled to uphold a 2016 law that prohibits cities from guaranteeing residents jobs on local projects. The law is aimed at Cleveland's Fannie Lewis Law, passed in 2003. It's named after a Cleveland councilwoman who advocated for the poor and required projects to have a staff that contains 20% of people who reside in Cleveland and nearly 4% from the impoverished population. The recent law blocks cities from giving contracts or incentives based on local hiring commitments. The ruling comes as a hit to Cleveland and Akron, who have been taking steps to employ residents on major projects, like Akron's ongoing $1.2 billion sewer project. Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan told the Beacon Journal that he's disappointed in the decision, and it goes against initiatves to uplift local communities.

LaRose: Old systems caused voter roll purge malfunction
Ohio's elections chief said the state's system of maintaining voter rolls is outdated and possibly to blame for some of the recent cases of inactive voters being erroneously removed from the rolls. Nearly 1,000 Cuyahoga County voters have been mistakenly removed from rolls, according to the Ohio Democratic Caucus. Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Tuesday that his efforts at transparency revealed some of the process's flaws. He said finding those weaknesses ultimately will make the system stronger. As more Ohioans are registering online, LaRose said he may push for the registration list to be centrally maintained. Currently, each of Ohio's 88 bipartisan county election boards maintains its own list. LaRose said that makes it difficult to efficiently identify duplicate registrations and voters who have moved or died, as Ohio law requires .

Indians attendance drops
As the Indians make a final push to a Wild Card to extend their season, fewer fans have been coming to games. Crain's Cleveland reports attendance dropped nearly10% from last year. They'll likely rank 21st in the MLB for average attendance this year.

Appeals court rules footage of judge getting shot isn't public record
An Ohio appeals court said a video recorded by a courthouse security camera showing a county judge being shot and wounded is a security record and shouldn't be released to The Associated Press. A three-judge panel with the Seventh District Court of Appeals in Youngstown ruled earlier this month in an appeal filed by Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin, who argued releasing the video could endanger lives of judges and their staffs. The video shows Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. being shot outside a Steubenville courthouse in August 2017 and Nathaniel Richmond, 51, killed by a probation officer. The Ohio Court of Claims previously ruled the video doesn't contain information used to protect a public office from "attack, interference or sabotage" and should be released.