Pelosi addresses Ohio Dems while Fitzgerald stays quiet on run for governor
Ohio Democrats are getting some encouragement from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as they ramp up for next year’s gubernatorial race. About 600 Northeast Democrats turned out to a dinner hosted by the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party last night in Cleveland, including County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the likely candidate to challenge Republican Governor John Kasich. Pelosi credited Ohio with re-electing President Obama. And she touted education proposals in the president’s budget proposal unveiled last week. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald hasn’t formally announced his plans to run for governor, but has formed a committee to study a campaign and has been crisscrossing the state to speak at Democratic Party dinners.
Strongsville strike continues despite marathon bargaining session
The Strongsville board of education and teacher’s union at back at the bargaining table, and there’s no word of an agreement following a 12-hour session that was still going at 2 a.m. A teacher’s strike enters its 7th week today. Sunday’s negotiating session was called by the federal mediator on Friday, following 44 hours of negations earlier in the week that ended with no progress. The Plain Dealer reports both sides reverted back to their previous position, the school board asking the teachers union to bring its March 2 last, best offer up for another vote, and the Strongsville Education Association calling on the school board to enter into binding arbitration, which would have put the decision in a third party’s hands.
Former Congressman Wilson dies
Former Ohio Congressman Charlie Wilson has died at age 70 following complications from a stroke he suffered in February. Wilson, a Democrat, was first elected to the Ohio House of Representatives serving Tuscarawas County in 1996 and was elected to Congress a decade later. He represented the 6th Congressional District which runs from near Youngstown south along the Ohio River, deep into southeastern Ohio. Wilson lost reelection to Congress in 2010 to Republican Bill Johnson in the 6th District. He attempted to unseat Johnson in a rematch election in 2012, but lost.
Vote on revised Cleveland council map coming tonight
Cleveland city officials will vote tonight on revisions to controversial plan to redraw council ward maps. The map has drawn criticism from Cleveland’s Hispanic community in the West Side, who say the city has no Hispanics on council even though they make up 10 percent of the population. Laywer Jose Feliciano is threatening a federal lawsuit, saying new west-side ward boundary cuts the city’s only Hispanic voting bloc in two, a possible violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. The revised map increases the Hispanic population in one ward slightly to 40-percent, but Feliciano tells the Plain Dealer it’s not enough.
Grand jury selection underway in Steubenville rape case
A grand jury being selected will investigate whether other laws were broken in the case of a 16-year-old girl raped by two Steubenville High School football players last year. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says nothing is off the table for the Jefferson County panel expected to be seated today. Some of the outstanding questions in the case include whether anyone knew about the rape early on but didn't report it and how dozens of teens attending a party that preceded the attack got ahold of beer and other alcohol. DeWine says the grand jury won't hear from witnesses for at least two weeks after being seated while his office continues to evaluate evidence.
Competency hearing set for Route 82 bridge suspect
The criminal case against the last of five Northeast Ohio bridge bomb-plotting suspects could hinge on a psychiatric competency hearing. A federal judge in Akron wants to hear evidence today on whether 23-year-old Joshua Stafford of Cleveland is mentally competent for trial. His attorney says a forensic psychologist who examined Stafford has found him mentally competent, but the decision is up to Judge David Dowd. An earlier psych test was inconclusive. No bomb went off and no one was hurt in the plot to blow up the bridge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park last year. The FBI said the device was a dud provided by an informant. The four other defendants have pleaded guilty and landed prison terms of six to 11 years.
Newspaper review shows Columbus STEM school tampered with enrollment records
Records reviewed by The Columbus Dispatch show thousands of pieces of data about students enrolled at a Columbus science and technology school were changed or removed during the first week of the 2011 summer break. Findings involving Linden-McKinley STEM Academy, which serves 7th- through 12th-graders, come as the Columbus City Schools is under investigation by the state and the FBI for attendance data tampering allegations. Motivations for changing attendance data include improved building and district scores, additional federal funding and sometimes staff bonuses. The district's lawyer questioned the accuracy of the newspaper's information.
Ohio Attorney General’s office gives money for crisis training
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says his office is awarding $60,000 in grant money to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio for crisis intervention training of law enforcement officers. DeWine says the 40-hour course educates law enforcement officers about handling situations involving people with mental illness. The training is a community-based collaboration between the alliance, law enforcement, mental health consumers and mental health providers. Law enforcement officers are taught about mental health disorders, the local mental health system and practical methods for de-escalating crises.
Ohio starts phasing in new license plates
The state is phasing out its old license plate and offering the new design today. It's called "Ohio Pride" and its background features 46 slogans describing the Buckeye State. Gov. John Kasich went to the Columbus College of Art and Design to recruit students to help design the new plates.
ACLU worried about aerial surveillance
A civil liberties group and some residents are concerned that an aerial surveillance system proposed to help deter crime in a southwest Ohio city could violate individuals' privacy rights. Some Dayton residents and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio have major concerns over the video surveillance that would be recorded by cameras on piloted aircraft. They fear the system would allow police to collect a huge amount of data that could then be mined for even minor violations and worry that innocent people's movements would be tracked. But Dayton’s police chief says police wouldn't track legal activity. He also says the video won't allow police to be able to determine race or gender or even identify makes and models of cars or license plates.