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Closing arguments this morning in Thompson charity-fraud case
Other morning headlines: Ohio Attorney General calls for mental health care improvements; Obama to speak in Cleveland Thursday; Opponents to speak on "Stand Your Ground" law


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
In The Region:
  • Closing arguments today in Thompson case
  • Ohio Attorney General calls for mental health care improvements
  • Obama to speak in Cleveland Thursday
  • Opponents to speak on "Stand Your Ground" law
  • Akron death row inmate not allowed to donate organs
  • Former Mahoning official to be sentenced
  • Gas prices drop in northeast Ohio
  • CDL holders must self-certify
  • Summit recycling plan includes expansion
  • Contracts approved for convention center hotel
  • Bill for post-prison job training to be introduced
  • Former Ohio AG wants openness and transparency on auto loans
  • Major show cancelled at Cleveland Museum of Art
  • FirstEnergy to overhaul lines, substations
  • Indians manager named AL Manager of the Year
  • Closing arguments today in Thompson case
    Defense attorneys and prosecutors are expected to make their closing arguments this morning in the case of Bobby Thompson, accused of stealing identities and swindling $100 million out of donors to his U.S. Navy Veterans Association.

    The defense presented no witnesses in the five-week trial in Cuyahoga County that is being watched nationally.  And plans for Thompson to testify were abruptly cancelled yesterday.  Defense attorney Joseph Patituce said he had concerns about Thompson’s mental and physical condition under cross examination.

    Thompson showed up in court yesterday with his long hair disheveled and his shirt unbuttoned to his naval.  Last week, he was heard banging his head against his cell wall.  Prosecutors say Thomson is really John Donald Cody and a con man.

    Ohio Attorney General calls for mental health care improvements
    Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine is pushing for more help for people with mental illnesses after a shootout between between a mentally ill man and a SWAT team this summer.

    Paul Schenck fired 191 shots from inside his home in Yellow Springs. He was eventually killed by a SWAT team officer. 

    Dewine says there's not enough funding for mental health care in Ohio. He also says current law makes it hard for caregivers to force those suffering to get treatment.

    Bills in the Statehouse would make it easier for probate courts to order treatment for those who are a danger to themselves or others.

    In addition, Dewine is considering a call for a comprehensive, independent study of the state's mental health system to see what's working and what isn't.

    Obama to speak in Cleveland Thursday
    President Obama will be speaking about manufacturing and the economy tomorrow at the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Cleveland. It’s his first visit to Ohio since he spoke at the Ohio State commencement in May.

    Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal is the world’s largest steelmaker and is investing $55 million in a blast furnace.  But the company posted a third quarter net loss of nearly $200 million last week. A year ago, that loss was $642 million.

    Opponents to speak on "Stand Your Ground" law
    An Ohio House committee will hear today from opponents of a bill that will establish a "Stand Your Ground" law. It removes the responsibility that someone threatened in a public place has a duty to retreat if they can before using deadly force. Proponents say it has safeguards not in place in Florida, where George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

    The bill also gives automatic reciprocity for concealed weapons permits in other states and eliminates a 12-hour training requirement to get a certificate to apply for a permit. 

    Akron man not allowed to donate organs
    Ohio is denying the request by an Akron man scheduled to be executed tomorrow to donate his organs to sick relatives.

    Forty-year-old Ronald Phillips is to die tomorrow through a drug protocol the state has never used before.  He raped and killed his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in 1993.

    Last week, he asked that his kidneys be donated to his mother and his heart to his sister. Prison officials said the request came on too late and that there would be security and other problems with implementing the request.

    Former Mahoning official to be sentenced
    A former Mahoning County Treasurer is to be sentenced today in federal court in Akron for failing to report campaign money she got from a Youngstown-area businessman.

    Lisa Antonini agreed to plead guilty two years ago and to cooperate with investigators. She resigned from the treasurer's job five years ago after news broke of the federal investigation and that she had accepted $3,000. The businessman has not been identified.

    Gas prices drop in northeast Ohio
    Gas prices continue to plunge in northeast Ohio. 

    AAA reports that prices in the region have dropped about 14 cents over the last week.

    The average price in the Greater Cleveland area is $3.18 per gallon. But s ome stations in Cleveland and Akron have posted prices as low as $2.80. Akron's average price is $3.01.

    In Stark County, stations are at the $2.93 - $2.99 mark. The Youngstown-Warren area is seeing average prices of $3.15.

    The Plain Dealer reports that the Midwest and Great Plains states are seeing the steepest drop in prices because refineries in those regions can handle cheaper Canadian and U.S. shale crudes.

    CDL holders must self-certify
    Ohio is notifying thousands of commercial driver license holders that those privileges could be canceled if they don't self-certify their type of driving by January 30 under updated federal regulations.

    The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles has mailed letters to notify nearly 125,000 CDL holders who haven't submitted proper certification forms ahead of the deadline.

    Federal regulations now require such drivers to certify that their driving falls into one of several categories. That includes specifying whether they travel across state lines and in some cases whether they have a required medical certificate.

    Summit recycling plan includes expansion
    Recycling programs would expand in Summit County under a 15-year plan for garbage and recycling. The ReWorks governing board, which had been known as the Summit-Akron Solid Waste Management Authority, approved the nearly 250-page revised plan yesterday.

    The Beacon Journal reports that the plan would expand commercial recycling and an education program and continue financial support for curbside recycling. 

    ReWorks also plans to add glass and plastic-foam recycling next year as well as mattress recycling and recycling at the county's hospitals.

    Summit County, the city of Akron, and several other communities must approve the plan before it can be put into action. 

    Contracts approved for convention center hotel
    Cuyahoga County Council has approved more than $21 million in contracts for a 600-room convention center hotel.

    The hotel will be paid for with help from taxpayers and is to be built on the current site of the county administration building.

    The contracts council approved Tuesday include $10 million for design-build services, as well as money for architectural and legal services. The administration building is to be torn down within the next three months. A 27-story hotel managed by Hilton is scheduled to open on the site in 2016. 

    Bill for post-prison job training to be introduced
    A bipartisan bill called the Second Chance act is expected to be introduced in Congress today with the strong backing of civil rights groups and Ohio’s Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.

    The bill is being introduced in both the House and the Senate, and calls for funding for job training and other re-entry assistance for people when they’re released from prison.

    Meanwhile, Cleveland Congresswoman Marcia Fudge will be one of the half dozen Democratic U.S. Senators and Representatives introducing what they call the Women’s Health Protection Act today.

    The act would reinforce abortion rights by striking down laws such as those in Texas and Wisconsin that limit abortion clinics and access. It also would strike down requirements that doctors do tests that are deemed professionally unnecessary.

    Former Ohio AG wants openness and transparency on auto loans
    Former Ohio Attorney General Rob Cordray – who now heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- told the U.S. Senate Banking Committee this week that he wants more  "openness and transparency" in how his agency oversees auto loans. But he also said the bureau has a lot of legitimate concerns about loans arranged through car dealerships.

    According to Automotive News, the agency has said it has concerns that dealerships are charging women and minorities higher interest rates.

    Major show cancelled at Cleveland Museum of Art
    The abrupt resignation of Cleveland Museum of Art Director David Franklin has now led to cancellation of a major show here and in Dallas.

    Franklin was planning an exhibition on the Italian Renaissance titled “Exporting Florence: Donatello to Michelangelo,” next fall. Even after his resignation last month, he still planned to work on the show as a consultant.

    But Franklin resigned after word spread that he’d had an affair with a staffer who committed suicide last April. And the Plain Dealer is reporting that Interim Director Fred Bidwell confirmed this week that he’s cancelling the show and that Dallas had pulled out even before Franklin’s departure. 

    FirstEnergy to overhaul lines, substations
    Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. is committing $2.8 billion to overhaul power lines and substations.

    The four-year project would increase load serving in areas expected to see growth, including Ohio’s Appalachian region, where the shale drilling boom is expected to take hold.

    FirstEnergy CEO Anthony Alexander says the equipment replaced is 40 years old. Work is expected to begin next year.

    Indians manager named AL Manager of the Year
    Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona has been named the American League Manager of the Year, beating out Boston’s John Farrell and Oakland’s Bob Melvin.

    In his first season at Cleveland, Francona took the team to a 92-70 record. That's two dozen more games than a year ago (when the team was 68 and 94), and the team made the American League Wild Card game. The Indians were the first Major League team since 1971 to end the season with a 10-game winning streak.

    This is the first time by Francona has won the top managing honors in his 13 years as a Major League manager. The last Indians manager to win the award was Eric Wedge in 2007.  

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