Medina school board to get public input before scrapping levy
The Medina school board has decided to listen to the public before deciding whether to keep a 5.9 mill levy on the May 7 ballot. At a special meeting last night, the board discussed the levy in light of the controversy over hundreds of thousands of bonuses and other perks it has been paying Superintendent Randy Stepp. Stepp has been placed on paid leave. And state auditors are beginning a review of the fund used to pay the expenses, including more than $250,000 toward Stepp’s student loans and college expenses. The board will take public comment at its regular meeting next Tuesday before deciding whether to withdraw the levy. Early voting has already begun, and the district would have to pay the Medina County Board of Elections for expenses incurred so far. The board did decide last night to pay $20,000 to a crisis communication firm it hired when the controversy first erupted last month.
Convicted leader in Amish beard-cutting attacks denied release
The leader of a group of 16 Amish men and women found guilty of hate crimes for cutting the hair and beards of fellow members of their faith has lost a request to be released from prison pending an appeal. Samuel Mullet Sr. is serving 15 years in prison stemming from the 2011 eastern Ohio attacks, which were meant to shame fellow Amish accused of straying from strict religious interpretations. Federal Judge Dan Aaron Polster on Tuesday turned down the release request from Mullet, saying Mullet poses a threat to the community because of his leadership power. Polster also says that arguments in Mullet's forthcoming appeal don't raise substantial questions of law. Polster has denied six similar requests from others convicted in the case.
Ohio GOP lawmakers propose changes to governor's school funding plan
Republicans in the Ohio House have proposed boosting the amount of state aid districts get for each student while cutting back Gov. John Kasich's "Straight A" fund for innovation by half. Kasich's education budget proposed spending $15 billion on K-12 education over the next two years, boosting funds to districts that are lagging behind in property values and household incomes. The proposal prompted an outcry by superintendents who said it delivered big increases to some wealthy districts and no new dollars to some poor ones. The House plan rolled out Tuesday caps district funding increases to 6 percent a year and adds new money to meet a state mandate that students must know how to read before leaving 3rd grade.
Medicaid expansion scrapped in House budget plan
House Republicans have made it official: they want to strip an expansion of Medicaid from Ohio’s next two year budget. Gov. John Kasich built the expansion of Medicaid into his two-year budget proposal. He remains a critic of the Affordable Care Act, but says $13 billion in federal funds to help nearly 300,000 Ohioans get medical care makes moral and fiscal sense. Republican Ohio House members left out the expansion in their version of the budget unveiled Tuesday. Medicaid proponents are planning a rally Thursday at the statehouse.
Chesapeake selling more drilling leases in Northeast Ohio
Pension fund board member defends Hawaii trip
The biggest company behind Ohio’s fracking boom is trying to sell more of its drilling leases in Stark and Portage counties…the second Ohio lease sale offering in less than a year. The Plain Dealer reports Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy has listed for sale its drilling rights to nearly 100,000 acres in the two counties, including three completed wells, two of which are producing. The company has the lease rights to about 1.3 million acres in Ohio. Last summer, the company sold the rights to nearly 350,000 acres in 19 eastern Ohio counties.
A board member of one of Ohio's pension funds is defending her proposal to take a public-funded trip to Hawaii for a conference. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Barbara Phillips is one of two School Employees Retirement System of Ohio board members planning to go to Hawaii in May. She told state lawmakers Tuesday she needs to go to the conference to learn more about how to invest the fund's more than $11 billion in assets. Lawmakers and the state oversight committee have repeatedly criticized the plan and urged the pension fund board to change its travel policy. The pension fund's board met last month and voted against lawmakers' advice to cancel the trip and adopt a new travel policy.
French Goodyear employees file lawsuit
French workers trying to save their tire-making jobs have sued Akron-based Goodyear Tire & Rubber. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Summit County Common Pleas Court. Goodyear has been trying to restructure or close its plant in northern France for five years in the face of a shrinking European car market. The workers say Goodyear wants to shift the work to lower-cost China. There was no immediate comment from Goodyear.
U.S. Treasury rep to meet with Delphi retirees over pension cuts
Private prison says weekend fights are under control
Representatives of the U.S. Treasury Department say they'll meet with retirees of a bankrupt auto-parts supplier suing to have their full pensions restored. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Alistair Fitzpayne, assistant secretary for legislative affairs for the Treasury, agreed to a meeting with Delphi retirees who saw their pensions slashed after the 2009 auto bailout. Fitzpayne was responding to a letter last month from Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and three other senators. The bailout restored pensions of union Delphi retirees but cut pensions of more than 20,000 non-union salaried retirees. There are about 5,000 Delphi salaried retirees from the Mahoning Valley to Dayton.
A restriction limiting nearly 500 inmates to their bunks at a privatized northeast Ohio prison following two weekend fights has been lifted. The Corrections Corporation of America in Nashville, Tenn., said Tuesday the 1,700-inmate Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut is back to normal operations. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio followed with a report Tuesday that said inmate fights and attacks on guards are up sharply at the prison since the private takeover and blamed overcrowding. CCA disputes the report, which it called an ACLU attack.
Appeals court paves way for excessive force lawsuit
An appeals panel says three northeastern Ohio officers used excessive force in a deadly encounter with a naked and unarmed college student. The Tuesday ruling from the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati clears the way for a lawsuit filed by the mother of 19-year-old William Parker Martin. Martin died after a 2007 struggle with police in Broadview Heights in which the officers are accused of tackling, punching and kneeing him, and using their body weight to hold him down. Tanya Martin's lawsuit accuses the officers of purposefully trying to hurt Martin even as he struggled to breathe, and seeks a minimum of $400,000. The officers had argued that they acted properly and should be immune from the lawsuit.