Morning Headlines: Hiram Considers Cutting Majors, Faculty; Cuyahoga Falls Sues Contractors

May 18, 2018

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, May 18:

  • Cuyahoga Falls sues contractors who replaced utility meters;
  • Hiram College considers eliminating majors, laying off faculty;
  • Ohio's request for an exemption from Obamacare's individual mandate is denied;
  • Columbus unveils data collection system for smart city project;
  • Cleveland hires New York City attorney to lead police accountability agency;
  • State approves recreational marijuana ballot issue;
  • Clevelanders probably won't get to bet on the Cavs;
  • Akron professor planned to inflate female students' grades as part of a "national movement";
  • GOP Rep. Joyce seeks to block federal interference in state's medical marijuana program;
  • Browns to appear on HBO's 'Hard Knocks';

Cuyahoga Falls sues contractors who replaced utility meters
The city of Cuyahoga Falls is suing a contractor that promised tens of millions in savings from water meters it installed at peoples’ homes and businesses. The suit against Johnson Controls and Milwaukee-based Badger Meter claims the companies installed 40,000 meters that don't require door-to-door readings. The companies claimed the meters would save the city more than $23 million. The Beacon Journal reports after more than a decade, the savings have not appeared. The city is seeking more than $16 million in damages.

Hiram College considers eliminating majors, laying off faculty
Hiram College is looking to eliminate majors and lay off faculty amid struggling finances. The college is considering eliminating majors including Spanish, French, economics, art history and philosophy. Students currently enrolled in those majors would be allowed to finish their degrees. Hiram is also considering laying off six faculty. The Beacon Journal reports the college is trying to cut more than $1 million from its operating budget to meet bond obligations.

Ohio's request for an exemption from Obamacare's individual mandate is denied
Feds have turned down Ohio’s request to scrap the individual mandate for health insurance in the state. The Obamacare provision requires everyone to get health insurance to keep costs down. In its reply to the state’s request, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said information was missing from the application. The letter to the state’s insurance director said the application did not include a reason why Ohio should be exempted from the Obamacare requirement. It’s not yet clear if the state will work with the federal government to submit a new request.

Columbus unveils data collection system for smart city project
Ohio's capital city has unveiled an operating system that will gather data for its pioneering smart city transportation project. Columbus beat out six other mid-sized cities in 2016 to win the U.S. Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge.  The city's Smart Columbus team will manage and distribute 1,100 data feeds through the new operating platform to government offices and private companies. The information that's collected will help Columbus integrate self-driving cars, connected vehicles, smart sensors and other developing transportation technologies into the life of the city.

Cleveland hires New York City attorney to lead police accountability agency
The city of Cleveland has hired a New York attorney to lead its Office of Professional Standards, which investigates citizen complaints against police officers. Roger Smith, 49, will lead the agency that’s struggled to keep up with a backlog of nearly 400 open investigations as of January. The office is required to improve police accountability as part of the city’s consent decree with the Justice Department. A federal monitor has said the office has failed to make improvements in the past three years. Smith will be paid more than $107,000 a year. He starts on June 4.

State approves recreational marijuana ballot issue
Backers of a ballot measure that would legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio have been given the greenlight by state regulators to begin gathering signatures. The Ohio Ballot Board approved the “Marijuana Rights and Regulations" amendment as a single issue. The proposal will appear on the fall 2019 ballot if the organizers, Ohio Families for Change, gather 305,000 valid signatures by July 4th. The amendment allows people to grow marijuana for personal use, and the right to possess, produce, transport, use, and share cannabis. The amendment also allows lawmakers to regulate commercial marijuana cultivation and sales.

Clevelanders probably won't get to bet on the Cavs
A conflict of interest will likely prevent people from betting on the Cavs at JACK Cleveland Casino should the state move forward with sports betting. Cleveland.com reports that’s because the casino is owned by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for states to allow betting on sports and Ohio will likely have either an independent proposal or legislation in place soon. Several NBA teams have blocked betting in casinos, including the Houston Rockets, whose owner also runs Golden Nuggets Casinos.

Akron professor planned to inflate female students' grades as part of a "national movement"
The University of Akron says a professor did not follow through with a plan to give female students boosted grades. Dr. Liping Liu had sent an email to his systems analysis and design class noting that female students may see their grades bumped up as part of a "national movement" to get more women into information sciences. University officials say Liu has reaffirmed his commitment to the school's grading standards.

GOP Rep. Joyce seeks to block federal interference in state's medical marijuana program
A northeast Ohio congressman is working to secure Ohio’s emerging medical marijuana industry from federal meddling. Cleveland.com reports that Bainbridge Republican Representative Dave Joyce today inserted language into a federal spending bill that would prohibit the Justice Department from interfering with state medical cannabis policies. Joyce, in a Tweet says the provision is “Great news for states' rights and those suffering severe pain.”

Browns to appear on HBO's 'Hard Knocks'
Coming off a historic, dismal 0-16 season, the Browns have been chosen to appear on HBO's popular "Hard Knocks" series that gives NFL fans a behind-the-scenes look at training camp. The Browns have turned down previous opportunities to be on the award-winning series. A 30-person film crew will be at the team's training facility in Berea to record more than 2,000 hours of footage for the five-segment series that will debut Aug. 7.