Morning Headlines: US DOJ Awards Grants to Fight Opioids; Billionaire Buffett Takes Over Flying J

Oct 4, 2017

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, October 4th:

  • Storage facility shootout ends in custody of Akron man;
  • Cleveland Clinic sends cease-and-desist to Issue 2 backers;
  • Timken management and steelworkers union reach tentative agreement;
  • Justice department awards two grants to fight opioid epidemic in Northeast Ohio;
  • Bipartisan group proposing redistricting reform has its final member;
  • Ohioans struggle with basic needs, report finds;
  • Proposed bill aims to speed up disputes over online reviews;
  • Cincinnati police union leader proposes forcing opioid users into treatment;
  • Former VP Biden and Ohio Gov. Kasich to hold discussion on setting aside political differences;
  • Construction fumes sicken Chagrin Falls middle school students;
  • Warren Buffet takes over truck stops from Browns owners;

Storage facility shootout ends in custody of Akron man
Norton police say a man has been taken into custody at a storage facility after he was wounded in a shootout with officers. A 911 caller reported seeing a man armed with a rifle at a storage facility last night. Police advised people in the area to stay in their homes, and nearby Barberton High School was put on lockdown. Police say the man shot at officers, who then returned fire. The man suffered at least one gunshot wound, but it is unclear if he was hit by officers' gunfire or shot himself. He was taken to an Akron hospital. No officers were hit. Officials say the suspect, a 41-year-old man from Akron, has an extensive criminal history.

Cleveland Clinic sends cease-and-desist to Issue 2 backers
The Cleveland Clinic is taking issue with an advertisement supporting a drug price ballot measure. The Clinic says an ad for Issue 2 uses a photograph of CEO Toby Cosgrove without permission. The Beacon Journal reports lawyers for the Clinic sent a cease-and-desist letter to Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices, the group supporting the ballot measure. A clinic representative says the paper ad was possibly sent to more than 2 million Ohio households with the unauthorized image of Cosgrove and a quote that was taken out of context. The Yes on Issue 2 campaign says the ad does not claim to be an endorsement from Cosgrove.

Timken management and steelworkers union reach tentative agreement
Timken Steel and United Steelworkers have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. Local 1123 represents more than 1,600 employees at the Timken Company. The agreement raises base pay and includes competitive healthcare and retirement benefits. Both sides have been negotiating since late August, and had to extend the contract for a week to continue talks. Union President Bob Harper tells the Canton Repository the union will meet later this month for a vote.

Justice department awards two grants to fight opioid epidemic in Northeast Ohio
The U.S. Department of Justice is giving grants to Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Municipal Court to help fight the opioid epidemic. Case is the only university on the list of grant recipients. It will receive close to $1 million to study how Cuyahoga county investigates opioid deaths. The municipal court will get $400 thousand for a drug court and services for veterans dealing with substance abuse and mental illness. Other grant recipients include Marion Municipal Court and the city of Youngstown.

Bipartisan group proposing redistricting reform has its final member
A group of Ohio lawmakers aiming to reform congressional redistricting has its final member. Democratic Rep. Jack Cera from Bellaire rounds out the group of two Republicans and two Democrats. They will develop a proposal to change how district lines are drawn in Ohio, effective after the next census in 2020. Cera tells Cleveland.com he’s optimistic about finding a bipartisan solution to politically-motivated gerrymandering. The recommendation will need approval from the full state legislature before appearing on the ballot.

Ohioans struggle with basic needs, report finds
A new study shows that 2 in 5 Ohio households are struggling to come up with enough resources to provide basic necessities. The Ohio United Way report released Wednesday is part of a nationwide effort to inform policy and budgetary debates by local, state and community-based organizations. The group found nearly 1.8 million Ohio households have difficulty covering a survival budget of housing, child care, food, transportation and health care. Fourteen percent of Ohio households live in poverty. Another 26 percent are working-poor households the United Way dubs "ALICE," an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed. ALICE households earn wages that are above the federal poverty level but are still considered low. According to the study, 67 percent of Ohio jobs pay less than $20 an hour.

Proposed bill aims to speed up disputes over online reviews
A proposed Ohio bill would speed up the process for resolving lawsuits involving disputes over expressions of opinion. The bill sponsored by state Sen. Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, is dubbed the "Ohio Citizen Participation Act." It's modeled after a law in Texas and other states. The types of lawsuits targeted by the legislation introduced Tuesday include landlords suing tenants over critical internet comments or domestic violence victims sued by perpetrators over public comments about their experiences. The bill would not expand existing libel or defamation laws. Ohio News Media Association Executive Director Dennis Hetzel says the focus is frivolous lawsuits meant to deny free speech rights. Other supporters include the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, Common Cause Ohio, the Motion Picture Association of America and Yelp.

Cincinnati police union leader proposes forcing opioid users into treatment
The leader of the Cincinnati police union says those who heavily misuse opioids endanger officers and should be forced into treatment. Sgt. Dan Hils is speaking out after an officer searching a suspect was exposed to an unknown, powdery substance that sickened him. The substance was likely fentanyl or another opioid more potent than heroin. Hils says the officer was taken to a hospital Monday and will recover, but it's third such case involving a Cincinnati officer in two months. The Fraternal Order of Police local leader says officers face "extreme danger" from the opioid crisis as they deal with potent drugs and unpredictable users who can turn violent. Hils says authorities should have greater ability to force people into treatment programs when they're harming themselves or endangering others.

Former VP Biden and Ohio Gov. Kasich to hold discussion on setting aside political differences
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are teaming up to conduct a moderated discussion on bridging political and partisan divides. The discussion, part of the University of Delaware's National Agenda Series, will take place Oct. 17 at the school in Newark. Biden is a Democrat who served under former President Barack Obama. He stepped out of contention for president last year with a plea to Washington to end the partisan politics he described as "petty" and "mean-spirited." Kasich is a Republican. He ran unsuccessfully for president last year in a campaign that took issue with the negative tone used by Republican President Donald Trump and others. He speaks frequently on the need for renewed bipartisan dialogue in U.S. politics to heal the nation's divisions.

Construction fumes sicken Chagrin Falls middle school students
Fumes from a construction project sent 10 Chagrin Falls middle school children and a teacher to a hospital for treatment of dizziness. The fumes at Kenston Middle School were caused by a roofing adhesive and circulated in two classrooms  through an air handling unit. School officials say the building was evacuated and ventilated.

Warren Buffett takes over truck stops from Browns owners
One of the world’s wealthiest people is taking over the truck stop company run by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. Cleveland.com reports that the deal gives Warren Buffet’s investment company Berkshire Hathaway a 38.6 percent ownership of Pilot Flying J which in five years will increase to 80 percent ownership. The value of the deal was not released. Pilot Flying J is the 15th largest privately held company in the U.S. according to Forbes with around $20 billion in annual revenue. Pilot Flying J has been under scrutiny in recent years because of a diesel fuel rebate scam that led to criminal charges against several members of the company's sales team. Fourteen have pleaded guilty, while another four — including the company's former president — are scheduled to go on trial on Oct. 31. The company paid an $85 million settlement as well as a $92 million penalty to the government.