Teacher’s union, residents call for Medina school board to step down
The teacher’s union and some residents in Medina are calling for the entire school board to resign amid a controversy surrounding the superintendent. The Medina Gazette reports about 200 people attended last night’s school board meeting where they criticized the board's oversight and how Superintendent Randy Stepp handled an account that funded some of the $265,000 for his MBA degree and other college loans. School board members say they encouraged Stepp to get the degree, but acknowledge that they did not know the total amount paid or how the payments had been made. Board president Charles Freeman resigned Tuesday, calling the controversy a distraction from focusing on students. At last night’s meeting, the district’s treasurer outlined changes in how the account is handled. Superintendent Stepp recently agreed to re-pay an unrelated $83,000 retention bonus through payroll deductions.
Austintown, Dayton racinos delayed to add more horse racing seats
Construction on two Ohio racinos will be delayed after regulators decided to require more enclosed seating from which spectators can view two racetracks. The Ohio State Racing Commission voted Wednesday to require Penn National Gaming to add 650 more seats in climate-controlled areas at tracks in the Youngstown suburb of Austintown, and Dayton. Officials from Penn National say redesigning the racinos delays its Austintown racino by several months at least. It’s set to open in 2014. New rules allow Ohio's horse tracks to add slots-like gambling. The panel is concerned that racinos might emphasize video lottery gambling more and short-change fans of live horse racing.
Cuyahoga County Airport fighting control tower closure
The Cuyahoga County airport is challenging the loss of its control tower due to mandated federal budget cuts. County Executive Ed FitzGerald said Wednesday that the county-owned airport will appeal the loss of the control tower to the Federal Aviation Administration. The airport also will press the case before an appeals court in Washington, D.C. FitzGerald says the FAA isn't following its policies on providing aviation safety. The budget cuts also will force the shutdown of control towers at the Ohio State University and Bolton Field airports in Columbus. In all, the FAA said 149 towers run under contract for the agency will close beginning April 7.
Teens accused of threats against Steubenville rape victim deny charges
Two teens accused of making online threats against a rape victim have denied the charges and been released on house arrest. The two 16-year-old Jefferson County girls had been held in juvenile detention in Steubenville since their arrest last week and pleaded the equivalent of not guilty Wednesday. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says the girls posted threatening comments on Twitter on March 17, the day two high school football players were convicted of raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl last summer. The case roiled the town of Steubenville and stirred widespread reaction online. DeWine's office says the tweets threatened homicide and bodily harm against the rape victim.
New Cleveland convention center set to open early
Officials say Cleveland's new nearly half billion dollar convention center complex is going to open early. The Plain Dealer reports that the downtown convention center is now scheduled to be completed June 1 and will open soon afterward. It was initially scheduled to open July 19. Planners say the project will come in under budget, too. The county and a Chicago developer are working on the 1 million-square-foot medical mart and convention complex. Taxpayers are financing the project with a quarter-cent sales tax imposed in 2007, plus a one percent tax on hotel rooms tacked on in 2010.
Former Cuyahoga Heights Schools technology director accused of money laundering
The former technology director for the Cuyahoga Heights school district is accused of pocketing more than $3.4 million through equipment purchase schemes. 31-year old Joseph Palazzo has been charged in U.S. District Court with mail and wire fraud and money laundering. Authorities say Palazzo submitted fake invoices to the district, which were paid to shell companies allegedly controlled by Palazzo’s associates. He’s also accused of submitting invoices for personal items that he made appear were for the district. He resigned in 2011.
Mother of Akron student injured by police files suit
The mother of an Akron middle school student injured by police has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Akron officers and its chief. The Beacon Journal reports Sandra Williams filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Akron on behalf of her daughter, 14-year old Tamika Williams. Surveillance video from Jennings Middle School in Akron shows Officer Jon Morgan pinning the teen against a locker and twisting her arm behind her back. Her mother says x-rays show the arm was fractured. The lawsuit asks for about one million dollars in punitive and compensatory damages. Akron police union president Paul Hlynsky tells the Beacon Journal the teen had a history of violence and became confrontational during the October incident, so the officer was required to subdue her.
Investigation reveals alleged misuse of AMVETS funds
An investigation alleges more than $10 million in charitable funds held by veterans services organizations in Ohio for job training and other services was misused. It found some veterans posts set up fake career centers instead of using the money to help unemployed veterans. Investigators say the misuse involved some AMVETS posts setting up satellite career centers that were little more than outdated computers and using job training money to reimburse themselves for items such as centers' rent. The Ohio Attorney General's office says its investigation led to an agreement between the state and the groups that requires reforms in AMVETS practices to prevent future misuse of charitable funds. The groups say they have begun reforms.
Justice Department settles female jail guard discrimination suit
The U.S. Department of Justice says it has signed off on a settlement that will end a discrimination lawsuit filed by female jail guards in northeast Ohio. The women said they had been effectively demoted because Summit County officials in Akron didn't want them overseeing male inmates while the inmates showered or were strip searched. A settlement in the case was initially announced in December. Under the agreement, all jail jobs will be open to female deputies. The county agreed to pay $400,000, more than half in damages to 21 deputies and the rest in legal fees.
Donations top $40,000 for funerals of teens killed in Warren crash
The organizer of a funeral fund for the six teens killed in a northeast Ohio SUV crash say donations from as far away as Los Angeles pushed the total past $42,000. Bob Dean, who set up the account at a bank to accept the money, tells The Youngstown Vindicator that the $42,600 was distributed to pay for funeral expenses last week. The six teens drowned March 10 when a speeding SUV struck a guardrail and flipped into a swampy pond in Warren. Authorities say the 19-year-old driver didn't have a valid license.