Cleveland teachers protest proposed $21 million budget cuts
Several hundred teachers turned out to protest $21 million in proposed cuts in the Cleveland city school system. The district plans to make the cuts next year because of declining enrollment and promises not to lay off teachers. The educators packed an elementary school cafeteria for a school board meeting Tuesday night to make it known how the cuts will affect their classrooms. The Plain Dealer reports that teachers complained the district is making the reductions even after voters passed a tax in 2012 to prevent cuts. District CEO Eric Gordon said the tax revenue will not make up for the reduction in money from the state due to declining enrollment. The cuts became public this week when the Cleveland Teachers Union called attention to them.
Cuyahoga County approves $5 million in push for presidential convention
Cuyahoga County will spend 5 million to try to host a presidential convention here in two years. At its meeting Tuesday, council voted unanimously to contract with the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee for $2.5 million “contingent upon a winning bid” and contracting with an appointed lead law enforcement agency for another $2.5 million… also contingent on a winning bid and subject to reimbursement by the federal government. Both the Republican and Democratic parties will likely select a convention location by this August. Cleveland City Council is expected to consider companion legislation sometime this week. Columbus and Cincinnati are also putting together convention bids.
Ohio addresses sex assaults in youth prisons
Ohio officials plan to spend $200,000 for a consultant to help reduce inmate sexual assaults in the state's youth prisons. The money will be spent to develop a "zero-tolerance" culture for sexual assault in juvenile prisons in Ohio, which have been labeled among the worst in the nation for the attacks. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the state Controlling Board on Tuesday authorized the Ohio Department of Youth Services to spend $74,930 this year and $124,930 next year to get expert help in complying with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. A report by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics ranked Ohio among four states with the highest rates of sexual assaults against juveniles. Gov. John Kasich responded by setting up an emergency task force.
Violence at Cuyahoga County juvenile jail vexing officials
Officials in Cleveland are trying to figure how to deal with escalating violence at the county's new juvenile detention facility. Cuyahoga County Council is considering options, including having the sheriff's office take over operations. The Plain Dealer reports that Judge Kristin Sweeney is repeating her request for an additional $550,000 to hire more guards. Council denied a similar request late last year. Court officials say the increase in violent incidents is partly a result of a state law that allows suspects as old as age 21 to be held in juvenile detention until their cases are resolved.
Ohio to get Medicaid cases from federal website
Ohio officials are preparing to get more than 106,000 applications for Medicaid-eligible residents who sought health coverage through the new federal website. Technical glitches had initially plagued HealthCare.gov when it was launched in October. The federal site was designed to help people buy private insurance under President Barack Obama's law. If shoppers qualified for Medicaid, the site was supposed to send their data to the Medicaid agency in their state. That did not work as planned for the 36 states using the site. Greg Moody, director of the Governor's Office of Health Transformation, says the state could get the first batch of cases from the federal government as soon as Tuesday. Moody says the state would work with county caseworkers to process the applications, which will likely include duplicate cases.
Trial for ex-Steubenville school worker charged with theft
A trial is scheduled to begin for an ex-school worker charged with stealing equipment in a case that arose out of an investigation into an eastern Ohio rape. The charges facing Hannah Rhinaman are not related to the assault on the West Virginia girl in 2012 but were turned up by a grand jury investigation into other laws broken in the rape case. Rhinaman has pleaded not guilty to charges of theft and receiving stolen property. She is accused of stealing school equipment and selling it. Her trial before special judge Patricia Cosgrove was scheduled to begin Wednesday. Rhinaman's attorney has asked that she be allowed to enter a diversion program instead of being prosecuted. Two Steubenville high school football players were convicted last March of raping the 16-year-old girl.
Ohio Supreme Court hears Monroe Falls “home rule” case
Attorneys are ready to argue before Ohio's high court whether state laws regulating oil and gas drilling can trump local restrictions on the practice. The case being heard before the Ohio Supreme Court was brought by the Akron suburb of Munroe Falls. It involves a well that Beck Energy Corp. began to drill with state permission on private property in the city in 2011. The city contends the company sidestepped 11 local laws on road use, permitting and drilling in the process. The legal question is whether Beck's state-issued permit could pre-empt Munroe Falls' regulations. Pro- and anti-drilling forces believe the case could set a national legal precedent on local laws restricting drilling, particularly hydraulic fracturing. Beck's well was traditionally drilled, not fracked.
Agencies at odds over sediment in Lake Erie
Two government agencies are locked in a disagreement over whether dredged sediment from the Cuyahoga River and Cleveland Harbor are clean enough to be dumped miles out in Lake Erie. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have had numerous discussions, meetings and exchanges of letters on the issue since August with no agreement. The Beacon Journal reports that the Ohio EPA is worried that the sediment dumping will increase toxicity in Lake Erie fish such as walleye and perch that are popular with sportsmen. The state says the plan would establish a "worrisome precedent." The Corps said moving the dredged sediments to two Lake Erie areas 5 to 9 miles offshore for disposal would create "no significant impact."
Cleveland Air Marshall office reportedly set to close
Cleveland’s Federal Air Marshal Service field office is one of six in the country slated to close. CBS news cites an internal email sent to staff members last Friday that said budget cuts over the past three years have led to a number of efficiency measures. Cleveland and Cincinnati locations are set to close in June 2016. Agents travel undercover on flights to prevent terrorist attacks. The email to staff said every air marshal and support staffer is being offered a position elsewhere in the country. The government does not release the number of air marshals on staff.
Judge shuts down Ohio village’s speeding cameras
A judge has ordered a southwest Ohio village to stop using speeding cameras, saying they violate drivers' rights to due process. The Butler County judge also granted a motion for class action status, meaning thousands of drivers could seek refunds from the village of New Miami. It was estimated during more than two hours of arguments Tuesday that more than $1 million has been collected from more than 10,000 drivers. The ruling will likely be appealed. The village's attorneys wanted the judge to reject the claims or wait until the Ohio Supreme Court rules on a lawsuit challenging Toledo’s cameras.
Ohio Supreme Court orders mediation in Otterbein College records case
The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered a private college and a student journalist to try to resolve the student's lawsuit asking the college to turn over arrest records and other information. Anna Schiffbauer, editor of a news website at Otterbein College near Columbus, contends the college police department is a public office covered by the state's open-records laws. The campus security force became a full-fledged police department in 2011. Otterbein has argued it is exempt from public-records laws as a private institution. Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor ordered mediation in the case Tuesday.