Summa, Catholic Health Partners deal to be reworked
A plan that would have joined Akron’s biggest healthcare system, Summa, with the non-profit Catholic Health Partners is off.
The Beacon Journal reports that the Catholic Diocese in Cleveland turned down the terms of the original partnership, in which Summa Health Systems would have sold a minority share in its $1.6 billion operation to Catholic Health of Cincinnati. Bishop Richard Lennon cites Summa’s publicly stated plans to continue providing birth control, sterilization and medically-necessary abortions.
Catholic Health Partners tells the Beacon Journal it will have another agency, HealthSpan Partners, complete the deal. It’s a secular subsidiary of Catholic Health that does not require approval of the diocese for partnering with non-religious groups. The 10-year agreement would give HealthSpan a 30 percent stake in Summa for $250 million. Summa began its search for a larger non-profit partner last July in order to prepare for changes as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Ohio's ethics agency warns JobsOhio directors
Ohio's ethics agency has warned six of nine directors of Ohio's fledgling privatized job-creation board that their business interests raise potential conflicts of interest.
The Ohio Ethics Commission identified the six JobsOhio board members, including Chairman James Boland, along with three employees after a routine review of their confidential financial disclosure filings. A JobsOhio spokeswoman said none of the potential conflicts amounted to anything.
Capital punishment examination committee pushing for mental illness debate
A committee examining capital punishment in Ohio wants lawmakers to debate whether the death penalty should be off the table for offenders with serious mental illness.
Mental illness has long been a factor in deciding whether someone should be executed in the state, but the new proposal deals with eliminating it as an option upfront, before a person is charged. The task force convened by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor agreed by a 15-2 vote Thursday to recommend lawmakers consider the idea.
The concept is a long way from ever becoming law. The recommendation would first need legislation, and that would be followed by a long debate in the General Assembly over the definition of serious mental illness.
Kasich to donate contributions from indicted businessman
Governor John Kasich will donate to charity more than $22,000 he received in campaign contributions from a North Canton businessman indicted on alleged campaign finance violations. Kasich's spokesman says the governor will donate the money to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio.
The governor's campaign got the money at issue from direct-marketing magnate Ben Suarez, who has man has pleaded not guilty to various charges including obstructing justice.
According to the federal charges, Suarez agreed to raise $100,000 each for the 2012 Senate campaign of Josh Mandel and congressional campaign of Jim Renacci. He’s then accused of recruiting employees and others associated with his company to make the contributions in their names and reimburse them through payments disguised as salaries and then as profit-sharing.
The indictment does not mention Kasich. Kasich's Thursday move follows a call from Democratic gubernatorial challenger Ed FitzGerald to give the money to charity.
Final approval given to Ohio transportation projects
A state board that reviews transportation projects in Ohio has given final approval to dozens of major projects that amount to a nearly $3 billion investment in infrastructure.
The Thursday vote by the Transportation Review Advisory Council accelerates the construction timeline of several big-ticket projects, including $340 million to demolish Cleveland’s Inner Belt Bridge and build a second bridge. Also included is nearly $275 million for construction on the Opportunity Corridor, a boulevard to connect I-490 at I- 77 to the growing University Circle area. Another project will add a new lane along two stretches of I-271.
Many many of the projects, which previously had been delayed by 10 years or more, may now start within the next two months.
More Ohio students taking, passing AP tests
State officials say more Ohio students are taking and passing advanced placement tests than in previous years and Ohio shows more growth than the nation as a whole.
The state superintendent of public instruction said Thursday that the national College Board report for the past year showed the number of Ohio students earning "3'' or higher on a 5-point scale grew by about 9 percent compared with 6 percent nationally. Sixty-six percent of Ohio's public school students scored "3'' or better compared with 57 percent nationally.
Ohio reports double-digit growth in the number of exams taken and passed by the state's African-American and Hispanic students.
KSU dismisses contract interference claim against Bradley University
Kent State University has dismissed its claims against Bradley University for alleged contract interference involving former men's basketball coach Geno Ford, who left the Golden Flashes in 2011 to coach at Bradley.
Kent State earlier won a $1.2 million judgment against Ford. The lawsuit claimed Ford didn't have permission to terminate his Kent State contract, which was scheduled to expire in 2015.
Bradley says its actions and Ford's actions in the interview process were legal and transparent.
A Kent State spokeswoman says dismissing the claims against the Illinois university still allows the school to pursue litigation against Bradley if Ford doesn't fulfill the earlier judgment.
New Jersey company agrees to stop selling to Ohio Internet cafe's
A New Jersey company that manufactures equipment for Internet cafes has agreed to stop doing business in Ohio. The Plain Dealer reports the deal avoids a trial for the owners of VS2 Worldwide Communication on charges including racketeering and money laundering.
The charges came after six Cleveland-area cafes were raided in April. VS2 made the software for the games that operate like slot machines.
Attorney General Mike DeWine says the cafes are fronts for illegal gambling, and supports state legislation that would put the industry out of business by capping payouts and prizes at $10. Earlier this week, a group that opposed the law fell more than 70 thousand signatures short in a push to take the measure to the ballot. They have until October 3rd to make up those missing signatures.
Cuyahoga County pushing for tax on free hotel rooms
Cuyahoga County is pushing a plan to raise $2 million annually by taxing hotel rooms the Cleveland casino gives away as perks to its high rollers.
County Executive Ed FitzGerald wants to apply the county's 5.5 percent hotel tax to the rooms, on top of a 3 percent tax imposed by the city on free hotel rooms.
The Plain Dealer reports the proposal is aimed at Rock Ohio Caesars, which gives away as many as 100 rooms a night at its nearby Ritz Carlton hotel.
But the extra tax would also be levied on any hotel room given away for free in the county.
The casino does not oppose the idea, while the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association calls the move illegal and "unjust."
Youngstown State University enacting spending freeze
A spending freeze is among the measures being taken by Youngstown State University to close a $6.6 million budget deficit.
The Plain Dealer reports the plan includes freezing all discretionary spending, cutting operating costs, and deferring technology expenses. Furloughs and limited layoffs are also planned.
Enrollment has been down the past three years, possibly because people are taking jobs in the oil and gas industry and not going to college. The university has balanced its budget despite the declining enrollment by controlling discretionary spending and not filling vacancies, but this year requires steeper cuts to make ends meet. Enrollment is expected to be up in the spring.
YSU’s annual budget is 177 million dollars
Chrysler workers to return faster than expected
Chrysler is bringing back about 500 idled workers faster than expected after temporary layoffs from a northwest Ohio plant that produces the new Jeep Cherokee.
Transmission reprogramming and extra test-driving delayed shipment of the vehicles, and inventory from the Toledo facility had accumulated, so some second-shift workers were idled earlier this week.
The layoffs were originally expected to last about two weeks, but The Blade reports Friday that the company plans to resume building the vehicle in two shifts Monday.
Chrysler spokesperson Jodi Tinson says workers are being brought back earlier thanks to a plan allowing required updates to be made more quickly.
Chrysler says it has built the number of Cherokees it needs to stock dealerships initially once testing is complete.
Rolling Acres mall could become property of city
The Rolling Acres mall in Akron could become property of the city, if a foreclosure for delinquent taxes goes through. According to the Beacon Journal, if the foreclosure is finalized and no one purchases the property through a sheriff’s sale, the mall would return to the county. The county would then offer the mall to the city.
The mall’s owners owe more than a million dollars in taxes, which haven’ t been paid since 2010. More than $330 thousand of that money would have gone to Akron City Schools.
The mall has been closed since 2008. A JC Penney’s Outlet is the only retail store operating out of the property. Its building is owned independently.
Tallmadge police name suspect in double homicide
Tallmadge police have named the boyfriend of a murdered woman as a suspect in her death and in the murder of her young son.
The Akron Beacon Journal reports that the case will likely go before a grand jury within the next two weeks. Wendy Ralston’s body was found beside the remains of her 5 year old son, Peyton back on August 10th. He has not been charged. Ralston was last heard from July 23rd. Her boyfriend reported her missing on August 7th. Her body was found 100 yards from her apartment on August 10th. Both victims bodies were wrapped in bedding.
Police believe the deaths to be homicides, and say there was a history of domestic violence between Ralston and the now-suspect boyfriend.
Medicaid bills planned for house, senate
While the governor is preparing for possible implementation of Medicaid expansion without legislative approval, Republican lawmakers are working on Medicaid bills that would focus on cutting costs.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Sen. Dave Burke from Marysville will roll out bill in the Senate next week that has nothing to do with expansion, instead working to fix what he calls the problem with Medicaid: an increasing consumption of the state budget.
In the House, up to a dozen bills may be introduced next week. They focus on controlling costs and helping people get off Medicaid.
Governor Kasich, however, wants to expand Medicaid eligibility to 270 thousand more Ohioans with help from federal funding.
If he can’t get legislative approval for the expansion, he could seek approval from a seven-member Controlling Board, which could invite legal challenges.