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Ohio Democrats may have a gubernatorial primary after all
Other morning headlines: drones skip Ohio, Acevedo sentenced, Brown head coach hunt, exotic animals

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Ed FitzGerald is the endorsed Democrat for governor, but may be challenged by a Hamilton County commissioner.
Courtesy of FILE PHOTO
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  • Ohio Democrats may have a gubernatorial primary
  • No go for drone tests in Ohio
  • Acevedo admits to multiple rapes, murders in the 1990s
  • Browns hunt for new coach begins -- again
  • Haslam: A big distraction
  • Ohio exotic animal rules kick in
  • Ohio rewarded for enrolling more children in Medicaid
  • Head Start audit raises questions about $5 million
  • More Ohio schools open to guns
  • The Springsteen concert of '78
  • Ohio State arrives without in Florida a key player
  • Ohio Democrats may have a gubernatorial primary
    Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald may not be the only Democrat in next year’s gubernatorial race.

    Hamilton County commissioner Todd Portune is forming an exploratory committee to consider a primary challenge to FitzGerald. He says he’s heard rumblings from other Democrats about FitzGerald, and Ohioans should have a choice.

    LISTEN: Portune on a choice
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    And he says another big difference makes him a better candidate against incumbent Gov. John Kasich.
    LISTEN: Portune on budgeting
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    Portune says he’ll spend the next 30 days collecting signatures and organizing his campaign, but will bow out if it’s obvious he can’t win. Ohio Democratic party Chairman Chris Redfern has indicated Portune’s challenge of endorsed candidate FitzGerald does not have the party’s blessing.

    No go for drone tests in Ohio
    The federal government has rejected Ohio’s bid to become a test site for drones. State officials had been pushing a combined Ohio-Indiana application centered on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

    According to the Columbus Dispatch, Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta said this week the agency chose its sites based in part on geographic and climate “diversity.”

    The sites chosen for the test sites are in Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, New York and Virginia.

    Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has been pushing the Ohio-Indiana bid and said Ohio’s location and extensive aerospace industry – including Wright Patterson and NASA Glenn -- made the proposal ideal.  Huerta would not explain to reporters why Dayton was not selected, but said the competition was “robust.”

    Acevedo admits to multiple rapes, murders in the 1990s
    A Cleveland man accused of two murders and a series of rapes decades ago has pleaded guilty to all 297 charges against him. Elias Acevedo Sr. will spend the rest of his life in prison. Acevedo killed 30-year-old Pamela Pemberton in 1994 and 18-year-old Christina Adkins in 1995. He also admitted to hundreds of counts of rape, kidnapping and sexual imposition, most related to victims under age 13.  The 49-year-old sex offender led investigators this fall to a utility vault near the intersections of Interstates 71, 90 and 490 where the remains of Christina Adkins were discovered.

    The FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force began re-examining cases of missing women missing from neighborhoods around Seymour Avenue after the arrest of Ariel Castro, who had abducted and imprisoned three women in his home for a decade.

    Browns hunt for new coach begins -- again
    Cleveland Browns officials say they fired first year head coach Rob Chudzinski (chud-ZIN-ski) because there was not enough improvement on the field. The Browns lost 10 of their last eleven games to finish four-and-twelve, adding to the losing tradition that started in 1999 when the team returned to the league. Chudzinski is the sixth coach to be fired since then.

    Team CEO Joe Banner says the Browns looked at the performances of other rookie head coaches, and decided Chudzinski should have done better in his first year.

    LISTEN: Banner on what went wrong
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    The Browns will still pay Chudzinski the more than $10 million the team owns him. Team owner Jimmy Haslam says the firing was an expensive decision that should prove to skeptical Browns fans he’s serious about putting a winner on the field. The search for a new head coach has already started, and the top candidates mentioned include Penn State Coach Bill O'Brien, New England Offensive Coordinator (and Northeast Ohio native) Josh McDaniels, San Diego Charges Offensive Coordinator Ken Wisenhunt, Browns Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton, Broncos Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase, 

    Former Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz and Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator Seattle Seahawks.

    A big distraction
    Meanwhile, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam acknowledged to the press yesterday that the criminal investigation of his Pilot Flying J truck-stop company has been “a distraction.”

    The FBI raided Haslam’s headquarters in April amidst an investigation into rebate fraud. Haslam also said at his press conference that he’s starting to move out of that phase as the Browns search for a replacement for fired coach Rob Chudzinski.

    Last month, Pilot Flying J signed a deal to pay nearly $85 million to more than 5,000 trucking companies who among those were promised – and then shorted – fuel rebates.

    Ohio exotic animal rules kick in
    Exotic animal owners in Ohio have until tonight to register the animals. If they don’t, they face fines and jail time under a new Ohio law on potentially dangerous animals.

    Animals not registered will be confiscated and housed in a $3 million state facility near Columbus. It has room for about 30 large animal including lions, tigers and bears.

    Ohio has nearly 900 exotic animals registered.

    Ohio rewarded for enrolling more children in Medicaid
    Federal officials say Ohio is getting about $10.8 million for enrolling children from low-income families in the Medicaid program and improving their access to health coverage. The performance bonus was announced Monday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The federal agency says that Ohio was one of 23 states that received bonuses totaling roughly $307 million. The amount that each state got corresponds to the increase in Medicaid enrollment over a specific target. The money is aimed at helping the states offset the cost of insuring low-income kids and provide an incentive for them to improve their health programs. Some of those improvements include making it easier to renew coverage, reducing paperwork and eliminating face-to-face interview requirements so applications can be mailed or filed online.

    Head Start audit raises questions about $5 million
    A federal audit is questioning more than $5 million in spending by an agency that administers Head Start services in nine Ohio counties.

    The Dayton Daily News ( ) reports Tuesday that federal auditors called into question spending by the Council on Rural Services Programs Inc., a nonprofit agency that provides Head Start services in western Ohio.

    Janet Julian, chairwoman of the Council on Rural Services board, said the agency disputes the auditors' findings and is appealing.

    The auditors said the agency should pay back $65,750 spent on store gift cards given to employees as holiday gifts, and more than $944,000 in questionable lease payments.

    Auditors also said the agency should refund $4.29 million in inadequately supported compensation, or work with federal officials to determine what costs were permitted.

    More Ohio schools open to guns
    At least 20 school districts across Ohio have changed policies to allow handguns in school buildings, according to a survey by the gun-advocacy group the Buckeye Firearms Foundation.

    The changes followed the killings of more than two dozen children at Sandy Hook Elementary last December. 

    The Springsteen concert of '78
    Thirty-five years ago tonight, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played to a national radio audience from the Richfield Coliseum.  The E Street Band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.  But to hear their rowdy New Year's Eve 1978 concert, visit the WKSU Now Facebook page.

    Ohio State arrives without in Florida a key player
    Ohio State could be facing Clemson in the Orange Bowl Friday night without one of its best pass-rushers.

    Urban Meyer says defensive end Noah Spence did not travel with the team to Miami because "he is working on some personal issues at home." Meyer added though that he hopes Spence could yet join the team. The sophomore is second in the Big Ten with 7.5 sacks this season. He also has 50 tackles.

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