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Ohio


Headline News for Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Former President Clinton's rally in Stark County will need to find new location; FirstEnergy's proposed takeover wins over critics; Ohio's housing market down from last year
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


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Amanda Rabinowitz
 
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  • Massillon officials say rally and rival football game will cause traffic, safety concerns
  • Merger with Allegheny Energy gains support following concessions
  • Sales of new and existing homes in the state down 20 percent

 

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10/26/10 HEADLINE NEWS …

A tailgate and rally with former President Bill Clinton in Stark County on Saturday will have to find a new location. The Canton Repository reports that Massillon city and school officials have scrapped Mr. Clintons planned rally prior to Massillon’s rivalry football game against Canton McKinley, citing traffic and safety concerns. Officials have also turned down plans for Congressman John Boehner to hold a rally the same afternoon in support of Jim Renacci, who’s running against incumbent Democrat John Boccieri in the 16th Congressional district. Renacci’s campaign will move that rally to his campaign headquarters in Canton. Plans still are being discussed about Mr. Clinton’s appearance.
 
Akron-based First Energy has won over some big critics of its proposed takeover of Allegheny Energy, including representatives of Pennsylvania’s governor. Last month, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell raised major objections to the $8.5 billion takeover of Allegheny by FirstEnergy. He said the merger would cost western Pennsylvania thousands jobs and could spike electric rates throughout the region.
But Monday, Rendell’s Department of Environmental Protection was one of 18 groups that had protested the merger who changed their minds and signed off on the deal. FirstEnergy’s Ellen Raines says the agreement came with some important concessions by the utility.
FirstEnergy promises at least 800 jobs will remain for the first year in the area where Allegheny is now headquartered, and 675 are guaranteed the second year. The deal also ensures customer credits and a distribution rate freeze.
Four other groups remain opposed to the deal, which FirstEnergy hopes to complete in the first half of next year. The merger would create one of the biggest electric utilities in the U.S., and its headquarters would be in Akron.
Last month was tough for Ohio’s housing market, with sales of new and existing homes down 20 percent from a year ago. The Ohio Association of Realtors also says the nearly 8,000 homes sold in the state last month was 6 percent below the August level. The Plain Dealer reports home sales were 15 percent lower in September than they were a year before in 15 Northeast Ohio counties.
 
A group of pilots plans an informational picket outside Cleveland Hopkins airport today. CommutAir pilots are upset over a wage offer from the company that they say would make them the worst paid turboprop pilots in the country. CommutAir is connecting flight provider for Continental with a hub in Cleveland. Its 130 pilots have been in contract negotiations for nearly 2 years.
 
A man accused of fatally shooting two people at a Cleveland manufacturing plant is being held on $3 million bond. Pedro Rodriguez appeared in court Monday, charged with two counts of aggravated murder in Friday's shooting at ParkOhio Products. Police say Rodriguez killed a female plant worker outside, then used her employee ID card to get inside the building and fatally shoot another worker.
 
When bad weather hits this winter, students in a rural western Ohio school district will hit their home computers as part of an experiment. With the Ohio Department of Education looking on, a Dark County school district will try to replace days off for snow and other inclement weather with online learning. Department officials say the test could help the state determine the future of calamity days.
 
Three Ohio Congressmen are fighting to prevent General Motors from forcing several Northeast Ohio dealerships to close on Sunday. House Minority leader John Boehner, Lake County Congressman Steven LaTourette and Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich have asked the Obama administration to halt dealership closures until an investigation into the termination process is completed. The inspector of the federal troubled asset relief program recently reported possibly illegal activity in GM’s dealership closure process.
 
An Ohio Department of Public Safety official has been suspended in the fallout from an email spying scheme. David Brown is head of the computer systems security. E-mails show that Brown communicated with former public-safety lawyer Joshua Engel about the snooping. Engel, who was fired and convicted, demanded that he be copied on emails between his department and the inspector general’s office, bureau of motor vehicles and newspaper reporters.
 
Public meetings begin this week to discuss First Energy’s scrapped discounts for all-electric homes. The state Public Utilities Commission voted in March to restore discounts discontinued by the Akron-based utility. Meetings will be held in Strongsville on Wednesday and Kirtland and North Ridgeville next month.
 
Ohio government officials are planning to link up thousands of surveillance cameras that are already watching over parking lots, schools, airports, highways and office buildings --- so that police and firefighters can better cope with emergencies. It’s called the Camera Integration Project, and William Vedra, the head of Ohio’s Homeland Security Division is directing the effort. He stresses that video from all the cameras would not be routinely monitored or recorded. It would only be viewed live in case of emergencies. State government is spending $235,000 in federal funds to plan the web-based network, expected to be running in the next two years.
 
In the final week before the election, the way ads and campaign rhetoric are coming at voters could be described as fast and furious. PolitiFact Ohio, one of the state’s leading fact-checkers says some of them are also wrong.
 
A federal judge has delivered a setback to an anti-abortion group planning to put up a billboard criticizing Cincinnati congressman Steve Driehaus. The ruling will allow the Ohio Elections Commission to hear the case. The Susan B. Anthony List's proposed billboard says Driehaus voted for taxpayer-funded abortion by supporting the new health care law. The elections commission has already found probable cause that the billboard includes false statements.
 
130 groups are getting $15 million dispersed by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Cleveland Orchestra, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the PlayHouse Square Foundation are each among groups receiving $1 million each. Cuyahoga Arts awards the grant money generated by the county cigarette tax.
   
Browns coach Eric Mangini says he will not commit to rookie Colt McCoy as his starting quarterback. Mangini will consult with team president Mike Holmgren before making any decision on his starter. Cleveland is off Sunday before hosting New England on Nov. 7.
 
 
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