Fitch downgrades Cleveland Hopkins' revenue bonds
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is taking another hit from news this week that United Airlines is pulling its hub. BusinessWire reports Fitch Ratings downgraded nearly $800 million of Hopkins’ revenue bonds from an A- rating to BBB+. Fitch also reaffirmed its ratings outlook for Hopkins as negative, reflecting uncertainty about the airport’s plans to preserve financial and cost flexibility. Fitch said closing the hub will nearly eliminate connecting service in Cleveland and result in the airport losing a third of its current traffic. By June, the company plans to slash its daily flights from about 200 to around 70 and eliminate nearly 500 jobs.
Higher heating bills expected
Brace for higher heating bills this month due to the recent cold snap. Natural gas prices are up more than 20 percent over last month. Prices are set by the closing price of natural gas contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange and February prices rose drastically in the last few days of trading. Dominion East Ohio says the February bill for an average customer will be about $130. That’s 25 percent higher than February of 2013. Columbia Gas of Ohio customers will pay about $155 for February.
Dayton-area Democrat files to run against FitzGerald
Ohio's Republican and Democratic gubernatorial front-runners are ready to gear up for a November showdown. A little-known Democrat from the Dayton area also filed for the race before Wednesday's afternoon deadline. However, a Montgomery County Democratic official told newspaper reporters that Larry Ealy had past problems qualifying to run. Candidates for governor must have petitions with signatures of 1,000 registered voters that have to be verified by elections officials before they get on the ballot. The Republican primary field is clear for Governor John Kasich as a potential tea party challenge fell through.
Reviews find no reason to change execution procedure
Initial reviews of an execution in which an inmate repeatedly gasped found no reason to change the way Ohio puts condemned prisoners to death. The reviews, required by prison rules, found that the state execution policy was followed, and execution and medical team members did what they were supposed to. The state is still planning a longer review of Dennis McGuire's January 16 execution looking at specific things that happened during the procedure. McGuire's 26-minute execution was the longest procedure since Ohio resumed putting inmates to death in 1999. His family is suing, saying it was cruel and inhumane.
Zanesville exotic animals owner relocated surviving animals
The widow of a Zanesville exotic animal owner who released dozens of creatures from their farm before killing himself has told state officials she relocated the surviving animals to another farm in the state. Marian Thompson says in a letter obtained The Associated Press that she transferred two adult leopards, two primates and a bear to another farm. She says she moved two other young leopards to a separate address because of continued threats toward them and the property. The five animals were among those quarantined by the state after Thompson's husband Terry released them in Zanesville in 2011. Forty-eight others were killed by authorities fearing for the public's safety.
Akron students file federal sexual assault complaint
Two University of Akron students have reportedly filed a federal complaint that says the school failed to properly handle their reports of sexual assault. The Huffington Post reports the two women filed a complaint Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Education. The article reports the women say they were assaulted on campus, one in 2008 and one in 2010, and that university officials discouraged one student from filing a report and that police came close to calling a reported rape victim a liar. The Department of Education has the authority to investigate the complaint under a law that regulates sexual assault reports on campuses. It’s not known whether it will. University of Akron spokeswoman Laura Massie said the school cannot comment because it has not seen the complaints or been contacted by the Department of Education.
Bill demands separation between Lake Michigan, Mississippi River watershed
A member of Congress from Michigan has introduced a bill that would require separating Lake Michigan from the Mississippi River watershed in the Chicago area to block the path of Asian carp and other invasive species. Republican Candice Miller says the measure would authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct barriers severing the connection between the two aquatic systems. The Corps offered two options to accomplish that goal in a report last month. Business groups in Illinois and Indiana say separation would damage the economy and cause flooding. Miller and other supporters say it's the only sure way to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp. If enacted, the bill would set a timetable for designing a separation project and beginning construction.
University of Akron considers eliminating dozens of degree programs
A University of Akron official is proposing that the school eliminate 55 degree programs. Provost Mike Sherman says the action would come after years of review and is necessary to "correct institutional drift." The bachelor's programs include theater arts and geography, and students would no longer be able to get a master's degree in physics or urban studies. About 600 students in the programs would be allowed to finish their degrees even if the programs were suspended. The faculty senate will review the proposal and provide feedback to trustees, who will act on the recommendation April 23.
Surprise filing for Cuyahoga County Executive race
There was a surprise last-minute filing in the Democratic primary race for Cuyahoga County Executive. The Plain Dealer reports that former North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O’Grady filed his paperwork just minutes before yesterday’s 4 p.m. deadline. He’s currently a Cleveland City Schools administrator. The county Democratic Party endorsed Beachwood State Representative Armond Budish last weekend. Others in the race include former county sheriff Bob Reid, State Sen. Shirley Smith and Tim Russo.
Push to make hospital, university police reports public
Two Ohio lawmakers think arrest and crime reports by police at private universities and hospitals should be made public. A House bill proposed Wednesday would make private police forces — including at 17 nonprofit hospitals and 16 private universities in the state — subject to Ohio's public-records laws. The Columbus Dispatch reports that more than 800 privately employed police officers in Ohio are authorized by the state to carry handguns and make arrests, but they're not required to provide records to the public. Critics say they should have the same transparency and accountability demanded of government police departments.
Committee hearing on former Y-Town mayor for White House post
Former Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams will try again for another position in the White House. A U.S. Senate committee is expected to recommend Williams to head the Economic Development Administration that provides grants to communities to spur and retain jobs. He would still have to be confirmed by the full Senate, which failed to do so last year. President Obama had re-nominate him. Williams served as the Obama administration’s first so-called ‘Car Czar,” working to help communities with strong ties to the auto industry recover from the recession.
Former AG on Jeopardy!
Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray made an appearance on Jeopardy! last night—nearly 30 years after he was a five-time champion on the show. Cordray was part of a special “Battle of the Decades: 1980s” episode. He came in second, with $5,200 dollars. Cordray was $1,000 behind the winner. He had 10 correct questions, and five misses. Cordray first appeared on the show in 1987, when he was 27 years old and a clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court.
$60 million investment preserves engine plant jobs
The company that makes GM’s Duramax diesel engine is investing $60 million dollars in design changes to meet future emissions requirements. GM says the investment will help the company, known as DMAX, keep about 500 jobs at its diesel engine plant in Moraine. DMAX is a joint venture between GM and Isuzu. It’s made nearly 1.6 million engines since its opening in 2000. The company has invested about $760 million in its facility since 2000. This latest investment will be focused on technology that can reduce the impact of the Duramax engine on the environment.