Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, Feb. 22:
- Corps of Engineers and state reach settlement over Cleveland harbor dredging;
- Cleveland high school students stage walk-out protesting gun violence;
- University of Akron pays former presidents more than $620,000 to teach;
- Cleveland physician and gubernatorial hopeful falls short of signatures needed to make the ballot;
- Cleveland killer joins litigation challenging Ohio's lethal injection practices;
- Cuyahoga County employees placed on paid leave amid investigation;
- Democratic candidate for state treasurer calls for economic study of private prisons;
- State auditor Yost says medical pot program should proceed despite application problems;
- Jackson Middle School student who shot himself has died;
- Judge upholds law allowing businesses to file profit taxes directly with the state;
Corps of Engineers and state reach settlement over Cleveland harbor dredging
The federal agency that maintains shipping channels along Lake Erie has settled a lawsuit with the state of Ohio over the dredging of Cleveland's harbor. Cleveland.com reports the settlement revealed in a court filing Wednesday requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cover the cost of placing sediment from the harbor into containment dikes in 2016 and 2017. The Corps previously argued the sediment could be dumped into Lake Erie, saying it would not harm the lake's ecosystem. A spokeswoman for Ohio's environmental agency says they are happy to put the dispute behind them. An Army Corps spokesman said they could not discuss the settlement, but they plan to dredge the harbor in May.
Cleveland high school students stage walk-out protesting gun violence
Students at a suburban Cleveland high school joined their peers across the country Wednesday in a walk-out protesting gun violence. The demonstrations come a week after 17 students and teachers were killed in a shooting at a south Florida high school. Lakewood High School Junior Rebecca Parth helped organize the protest that she says grew organically overnight through social media. She and her fellow students are calling on Congress to enact stricter gun laws. Parth says the effort was supported by the faculty at Lakewood High School in a west side suburb.
University of Akron pays former presidents more than $620,000 to teach
The University of Akron is paying more than $600,000 annually to two of its former presidents who are now teaching, according to Cleveland.com. Luis Proenza stepped down in 2014 after 15 years as president. He now teaches six credit hours in the honors college and is earning $325,000 a year. He’s also receiving a privately funded stipend of $50,000 a year. Scott Scarborough resigned in 2016 and is now teaching 12 credit hours in the university’s School of Accountancy. He’s being paid $292,500.
Cleveland physician and gubernatorial hopeful falls short of signatures needed to make the ballot
A late contender for Ohio governor has failed to collect enough signatures to make it on the ballot. An audit found Democrat Jon Heavey collected about 900 valid signatures, short of the 1,000 signatures required to be on the ballot. Heavey is a Cleveland physician and venture capitalist. He put more than $1 million of his own money into his campaign. Heavey says his candidacy was fueled by frustration over President Donald Trump. In a release, Heavey claimed the system is rigged and said he plans to challenge the review of signatures.
Cleveland killer joins litigation challenging Ohio's lethal injection practices
Condemned serial killer Anthony Sowell is now part of litigation challenging the state’s method of execution. The 57-year-old killed 11 women whose bodies were discovered around his Cleveland home in 2009. Sowell joins dozens of other death-row inmates in a series of constitutional challenges against Ohio’s use of lethal injections. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Sowell’s case last fall. An execution date has not been set.
Cuyahoga County employees placed on paid leave amid investigation
Two Cuyahoga County employees have been placed on leave amid an ongoing corruption investigation. Transformation officer Scot Rourke and general counsel Emily McNeeley were placed on paid administrative leave. A subpoena from the county prosecutor’s office is seeking emails or letters between the employees and Westlake-based Hyland Software. McNeeley’s spouse manages the software company’s government contracts. Investigators are looking into a possible conflict of interest with Hyland.
Democratic candidate for state treasurer calls for economic study of private prisons
A candidate for state treasurer says the office should determine the impacts of prison privatization on Ohio taxpayers. In a Wednesday letter, Democrat Rob Richardson asked Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel to conduct a fiscal and economic impact study into Ohio's prison system. Richardson is an attorney and former board chairman at the University of Cincinnati. He wrote of "a deeply personal concern" over Ohio having one of the nation's highest mass incarceration rates. He said Ohioans deserve to know how much tax money is going to private prison operators. Richardson faces Westerville businessman Neil Patel in the Democratic primary.
State auditor Yost says medical pot program should proceed despite application problems
The state auditor says Ohio should continue its medical marijuana program despite "multiple" flaws in selecting grower applicants. Republican Auditor David Yost says the program's flaws should be handled by administrative appeals or lawsuits. The Department of Commerce last week acknowledged a scoring error led to a company's inadvertent exclusion from the proposed list of the dozen big marijuana growers in Ohio's new program. The agency says it identified the mistake after Yost expressed concern that two employees had complete access to the scoring data. The agency offered to put the program on hold. But Yost said in Wednesday's letter it's too late for that. Some unsuccessful applicants for grower licenses sued the state Tuesday.
Jackson Middle School student who shot himself has died
A Stark County seventh-grader who shot himself inside a Jackson Middle School bathroom has died. Keith Simons, 13, was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital following the shooting Tuesday morning. Police say he had fireworks and extra ammunition in his backpack. Cellphones and other electronics found at the boy's home, but it’s too early to know whether the shooting was intentional or if the teen had other plans. No other students were injured. The investigation so far has not uncovered any warning on social media.
Judge upholds law allowing businesses to file profit taxes directly with the state
A judge has upheld an Ohio law that allows the state to collect municipal business-profit taxes from cities, counties and villages. At issue is a move last year by Gov. John Kasich to streamline a system that required businesses to file taxes in every municipality where they earn income, requiring extensive tax planning and preparation. The Ohio Department of Taxation estimated business taxpayers would save $800 million in compliance costs under the plan. Cities sued last year, calling it a power grab by Kasich for one of the largest revenue sources that Ohio municipalities continue to control.