Morning Headlines: Coal Exec Warns of Plant Closures After FERC Decision; Richard Spencer Sues UC

Jan 10, 2018

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, Jan. 10:

  • Coal executive warns of plant closures following FERC decision;
  • Cordray, Taylor choose running mates in race for governor;
  • Federal judge wants swift action in opioid lawsuits;
  • White nationalist Richard Spencer sues University of Cincinnati over exorbitant fee;
  • Cleveland RTA plans job cuts and route changes;
  • Cuyahoga County officials call for juvenile detention reform after jail brawl;
  • Ohio EPA awards $1.88 million to Cleveland Metroparks;

Coal executive warns of plant closures following FERC decision
A top coal executive says a decision by an independent energy agency to reject the Trump administration's plan to bolster the coal industry could lead to more closures of coal-fired power plants and the loss of thousands of jobs. Robert Murray, CEO of Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., called the action by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission "a bureaucratic cop-out" that will raise the cost of electricity and jeopardize the reliability and security of the nation's electric grid. The commission on Monday rejected Trump's plan that would have made the plants eligible for billions of dollars in government subsidies. Murray warned that failure to act could force his largest customer, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Solutions, into bankruptcy.

Cordray, Taylor choose running mates in race for governor
Former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray will join forces with former congresswoman and Obama-era official Betty Sutton today in the race for Ohio governor. The new team is expected to draw big-name Democratic support that could include former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden. Meanwhile, Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor will announce veteran Procter & Gamble Co. executive Nathan Estruth as her running mate.

Federal judge wants swift action in opioid lawsuits
A federal judge on Tuesday set a goal of doing something about the nation's opioid epidemic this year, while noting the drug crisis is "100 percent man-made." Judge Dan Polster urged participants on all sides of lawsuits against drug makers and distributors to work toward a common goal of reducing overdose deaths. He said the issue has come to courts because "other branches of government have punted" it. The judge is overseeing more than 180 lawsuits against drug companies brought by local communities across the country, including those in Ohio. Polster said the goal must be reining in the amount of painkillers available.

White nationalist Richard Spencer sues University of Cincinnati over exorbitant fee
White nationalist Richard Spencer's campus tour organizer is suing the University of Cincinnati's president, saying the school wouldn't rent space for Spencer to speak on campus unless a nearly $11,000 security fee was paid. An attorney for Spencer says requiring such payment because a speaker is controversial or prompts hostile reaction is discriminatory and unconstitutional.  The federal lawsuit filed Monday seeks $2 million in damages and an order requiring the school to rent the space for a reasonable fee.

Cleveland RTA plans job cuts and route changes
Cleveland’s transit system is planning cuts amid falling revenue from sales tax. RTA says it will cut up to 200 jobs and scale back stops on some routes. Last year, Gov. John Kasich ended the tax on managed care payments that helped fund public transit. The tax accounted for roughly seven percent of RTA’s revenue. Public transit agencies are getting short-term aid in the meantime. RTA’s layoffs and route changes will take effect in March. A 25-cent fare increase is scheduled to take effect in the fall.

Cuyahoga County officials call for juvenile detention reform after jail brawl
Cuyahoga County officials are renewing calls for justice system reform after a fight broke out at the county’s juvenile detention center. Twelve inmates on Monday night caused roughly $200,000 in damage and a SWAT team was called in to break up the fight. Cleveland.com reports county prosecutor Michael O’Malley supports letting the county sheriff run the detention center. O’Malley says more money is needed to hire additional staff. Other officials cited problems with security systems and jail management.

Ohio EPA awards $1.88 million to Cleveland Metroparks
Cleveland Metroparks has received its biggest state grant ever. The Ohio EPA awarded the metroparks a nearly $2 million grant on Tuesday. The money will help restore about three acres of wetlands near the Mill Stream Run Reservation. It will also go toward replacing a stone dam built in the 1930s.