Morning Headlines: Census Shows Population Drop in NE Ohio, 60 Nabbed in Opioid Crackdown

Apr 18, 2019

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, April 18:

  • Census shows population drop in NE Ohio;
  • 60 people nabbed in illegal prescription opioid crackdown;
  • School funding not likely in budget;
  • Doctor's dosing prompts a look at more hospital regulation;
  • Report: NE Ohio has best metro regions for "opportunity employment";
  • DeWine pushes statewide age increase for tobacco purchasing;
  • Union protest could scrap Kamala Harris' Cuyahoga County visit;
  • Former Renacci staffers inappropriately used resources for 2018 campaigns;
  • Tim Ryan has least amount of campaign funds compared to competitors;
  • Authorities searching for suspect who escaped in Cleveland;

Census shows population drop in NE Ohio
Latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show population in the seven-county Cleveland-Akron area was down around 1,000 last year to about 2.7 million people. Cuyahoga County lost around 4,500 residents last year, the ninth-largest drop nationally. Summit County was up about 175 residents from 2017 to 2018, largely due to an influx of immigrants and refugees. Stark County lost about 500 people last year, while Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina and Portage had modest gains.

60 people nabbed in illegal prescription opioid crackdown
Federal authorities said they have charged 60 people, including 31 doctors, for their roles in illegal prescribing and distributing of opioids and other dangerous drugs. The action announced Wednesday in Cincinnati and Washington resulted from the federal Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force and includes defendants in at least seven states, including Ohio. Authorities said the 60 include a total of 53 medical professionals tied to some 350,000 prescriptions and 32 million pills.

School funding not likely in budget
The leader of the Ohio House said a proposed overhaul of the state's school funding system probably will have to be handled separately from the state budget due by the end of June. Lawmakers are considering two proposals for school funding increases. Reps. Bob Cupp and John Patterson proposed the big overhaul. Gov. Mike DeWine proposed $550 million in new funding targeted toward higher-poverty areas. GOP Speaker Larry Householder said he's concerned about how equitable the Cupp-Patterson plan would be and how it would affect poor urban and rural schools. Householder said it needs work but he's not sure that can be done by the budget deadline.

Doctor's dosing prompts a look at more hospital regulation
State officials are considering how Ohio might increase regulation of hospitals following allegations that a doctor ordered excessive painkiller doses for dozens of patients who then died. Gov. Mike DeWine told The Columbus Dispatch it makes no sense that Ohio is the only state that doesn't license general hospitals. It does require such facilities to be inspected and accredited every three years. Certain parts, such as maternity wards, are licensed. An Ohio Hospital Association spokesman said the existing regulations are overwhelming and discussion about changes should consider whether the issues involved already are addressed. That discussion follows the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System's disclosure of excessive dosing by now-fired Dr. William Husel.

Report: NE Ohio has best metro regions for "opportunity employment"
A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland shows Northeast Ohio has among the best large metro regions in the country in so-called opportunity employment. That means having available jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree and which typically pay above the nation’s annual median wage of around $37,000. Cleveland ranked 7th among 121 in the report, while the Akron metro area ranked 16th. The top opportunity occupations are registered nurses, customer service representatives and secretaries and administrative assistants. The report said a number of these jobs could experience above-average growth through 2026 and are not considered to be at significant risk of automation.

DeWine pushes statwide age increase for tobacco purchasing
Gov. Mike Dewine is continuing his push to raise the age to buy tobacco in the state from 18 to 21. At a news conference Wednesday, Dewine was joined by the directors of the Ohio Department of Health and Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. They emphasized the dangers of vaping among teens. DeWine said candy- and fruit-flavored nicotine vaping liquids are marketed to capture and addict kids. He’s also getting support from the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and the Ohio chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. DeWine is including the measure in his state budget proposal. Summit County this week approved a Tobacco 21 ordinance, joining many Northeast Ohio cities.

Union protest could scrap Kamala Harris' Cuyahoga County visit
A planned union protest may scrap Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ appearance at the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party annual dinner. Cleveland.com reports The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is targeting County Executive Armond Budish and County Councilwoman Shontel Brown with a protest of the April 28 dinner at the Hilton Downtown Cleveland. The protest centers on Brown and Budish’s vote to transfer the three county jails’ health services to MetroHealth. A spokeswoman said Harris would not cross a union protest line.

Former Renacci staffers inappropriately used resources for 2018 campaigns
A Congressional Ethics investigation has found that staffers for former Republican Northeast Ohio Congressman Jim Renacci inappropriately used official resources to promote his 2018 campaigns for U.S. Senate and Ohio governor. Cleveland.com reports staffers regularly took photos and videos of Renacci performing official functions at the U.S. Capitol and transmitted them to his campaign for publicity purposes, and also occasionally performed campaign work in his official office. Renacci said staffers controlled his social media accounts and did not review all their contents. He said he fully cooperated with the investigation. He won’t be sanctioned because he’s no longer in office.

Tim Ryan has least amount of campaign funds compared to competitors
Northeast Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan is running for president, but he’s not entering the race with a bursting war chest. The Youngstown Vindicator reports that the Niles Democrat has just over $67,000 in his campaign fund. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the money race with $18 million, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris of California, former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The money isn’t needed just to reach voters. Candidates need to meet certain fundraising goals in order to be among the first 10 qualifiers at the Democratic debate on June 26.

Authorities searching for suspect who escaped in Cleveland
Authorities are searching for a suspect who escaped from an ambulance Wednesday near downtown Cleveland. 35-year-old Jonathan Luton of Lakewood managed to get out of the ambulance when he was being transported to a psychiatric facility. He was wearing only a hospital gown. Authorities suspect Luton was high on a mind-altering drug called PCP earlier in the day before breaking into a Cleveland home and attacking a man with an ax.