Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, December 19:
- Youngstown Mayor faces public reprimand on his way out;
- Ohio gets two federal prosecutors in effort to curb violent crime;
- Flu activity reaches highest level;
- Kasich will give his final State of the State speech at Otterbein;
- State inspector says government IT contracts aren't competitive enough;
- Summit County to sue pharmaceutical companies;
- Ohio's attorney general declines to push back on net neutrality decision;
- Union Metal in Canton scheduled to close;
- Kent State set to hire head football coach from Syracuse;
- Rev. Ernest Angley's megachurch faces lawsuit over unpaid loan;
- University of Akron get varsity online gaming;
Youngstown Mayor faces public reprimand on his way out
An Ohio professional conduct board has recommended a public reprimand for the outgoing Youngstown mayor, who pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors in a corruption investigation. Democratic Mayor John McNally and the former Mahoning County auditor were accused of trying to stop county offices from being moved from a building owned by a wealthy developer to one owned by the county. McNally tells the Vindicator he is pleased with the recommendation and will seek to have his law license placed back on active status. He says it is unclear what he will do after his term as mayor expires at year-end. The board's recommendation will go to the state Supreme Court, which will make the final decision.
Ohio gets two federal prosecutors in effort to curb violent crime
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says two federal prosecutors will be added in northern Ohio to work on reducing violent crime. Sessions announced on Monday that the two new prosecutors being added to the U.S. Attorney's office in Toledo are among 40 prosecutors being assigned nationwide. Sessions was in Toledo to speak with dozens of law enforcement officials from northern Ohio. He says the state's fourth-largest city is like many across the country that are seeing a big jump in violent crime.
Flu activity reaches highest level
The Ohio Department of Health says flu activity has now been upgraded to its highest level, about two weeks after the state said hospitalizations were much worse than a year ago. There have been 401 flu-associated hospitalizations statewide since health officials made the upgrade announcement Monday. Last year, flu activity wasn't elevated to "widespread" until mid-January. The state health department says Stark, Cuyahoga and Summit Counties have the highest number of flu cases requiring hospitalization.
Kasich will give his final State of the State speech at Otterbein
Gov. Kasich is keeping his final State of the State speech closer to his home. Kasich sent a letter to legislative leaders on Monday requesting that they convene a joint session on Tuesday, March 6 at Otterbein University in Westerville for the annual address. Kasich last year delivered his speech in Sandusky, and in past years has traveled to Lima, Steubenville, Medina, Marietta and Wilmington.
State inspector says government IT contracts aren't competitive enough
The state watchdog says Ohio's government contracting agency lacks rules for ensuring equal and fair competitive bidding by outside IT vendors. Inspector General Randall Meyer says in a report the Department of Administrative Services' contract process for information technology threatens the "fair, open, and honest market place" for businesses. He recommended the agency do more to ensure competitive bidding and provide more complete documentation when such bidding isn't possible. A department spokesman said many of Meyer's recommendations have already been implemented. The watchdog report follows an investigation by the Dispatch that found department officials sometimes thwarted policy and analysts' warnings to questionably award millions of dollars of no-bid contracts, often at excessive prices and to firms where former department executives worked.
Summit County sues pharmaceutical companies
Summit County is joining Cuyahoga County and other jurisdictions across Ohio in suing pharmaceutical companies for promoting opioid addiction. The county will announce the lawsuit later this week. The state of Ohio is also among those suing opioid manufacturers and distributors for overprescribing opiates.
Ohio's attorney general declines to push back on net neutrality decision
Ohio’s top lawyer has no plan to sue the federal government over its decision to remove ‘net neutrality’ rules, despite widespread consumer opposition. The Dispatch reports that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is resisting calls, mostly from Democrats, to protest the move to deregulate the Internet. Attorneys General in 18 states have said they will due the FCC, which repealed the net neutrality rule last week.
Union Metal in Canton scheduled to close
Canton manufacturing plant Union Metal is closing next year, laying off more than 330 employees in the coming months. The company was founded in Canton in 1906. Workers make steel and aluminum poles for lighting, traffic signals and other utilities.
Kent State set to hire head football coach from Syracuse
Kent State University is reportedly set to hire Syracuse co-offensive coordinator Sean Lewis as its new head football coach. The Plain Dealer reports a press conference is planning for Thursday afternoon. Lewis, 34, played at Wisconsin as a quarterback and tight end. Kent State has had five consecutive losing seasons under former coach Paul Haynes.
Rev. Ernest Angley's megachurch faces lawsuit over unpaid loan
A mega church and TV station are being sued for defaulting on a loan. Rev. Ernest Angley’s Grace Cathedral in Cuyahoga Falls and the church’s TV station are accused of failing to pay a $3.6 million loan from an oil lease company. Ravenna-based Beck Energy Corp. is suing for damages and a foreclosure on the TV station, where the company owns an oil well on the property. The Beacon Journal reports the loan was supposed to be paid back in February of 2016. Angley failed to meet a one-year extension, promising to repay the loan in July of this year. The lawsuit says Angley never paid.
University of Akron get varsity online gaming
The University of Akron is adding online video games to its varsity sports. Starting next falls, students will be able to compete as part of the university’s online sports team. The online games will be similar to real-life sports, complete with uniforms and the chance to earn scholarships. University President Matt Wilson says college-level online gaming is a growing industry that gives social and academic advantages to students. More than 50 colleges in the U.S. have online varsity teams.