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News Headlines for Monday, January 3, 2011
Governor-elect won't move into governor's residence; Future of animal rights agreement; Browns lose to Steelers 41-9

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Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Governor-elect Kasich won't be moving into Governor Strickland's old home
  • A change in Ohio legislature may change the future of an animal rights compromise
  • Browns lose to Steelers 41 - 9
Headline News for Jan. 3, 2011

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A new era in Cuyahoga County begins tonight as county council holds its first meeting. The 11 members of the council will elect its slate of officers at tonight’s meeting - a decision that was put off until tonight after six Democrats on the council held a secret meeting to pick a president and vice president sparked controversy. County Executive Ed FitzGerald was sworn in on Saturday, and the council will follow suit tonight. Former Parma Councilman Chuck Germana is a leading candidate for president, and says the county must streamline its payrolls.
“We wanted to have people hired on the basis of qualifications and experience, not as much who you know,” Germana says.
FitzGerald says he’s looking forward to working with the new council, be it headed by Germana or C. Ellen Connally, the other front-runner for president.

Officials aren't commenting on the cost of securing Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich's private home. Kasich and his family plan to stay in their home in Westerville, outside Columbus, rather than moving into the state's governor residence. This means taxpayers will foot the bill for security improvements to their house. The Columbus Dispatch says the State Highway Patrol – which protects the governor - won't comment on the costs. Kasich is the first governor to live outside the governor's home since the 1970s.

An agreement made last summer between animal rights activists, farmers and the state may come to the front in the upcoming year. In early 2010, the U.S. Humane Society began collecting voter signatures to force an issue on the November ballot to outlaw puppy mills, ban the sale of exotic animals and change conditions for livestock. The issue never made it to the ballots because of a compromise between farmers, animal rights advocates and Gov. Ted Strickland struck in June. But with the big change in Ohio government after elections, the agreement took a backseat. Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle says he’ll be patient, but won’t let new state leaders put the issue on the back burner for too long.
“We want to get it done, and we think it’s the best for animal welfare, and we think it’s the best outcome for Ohio. And I hope this rare coalition that we is able to convince all the decision makers that this is the best course of actions for all parties,” Pacelle says.
Pacelle says he can submit the signatures that have been collected to put the original animal-care issue on the ballot at any time and will do that if state leaders don’t start making serious progress.

The Ohio Lottery is reporting record sales for the year. Lottery ticket sales edged to a record-breaking $2.48 billion in fiscal year 2010. The Lottery says new games like Keno and Powerball have increased sales.

Cleveland football fans have closed the door on another season. And just like last year, coach Eric Mangini managed 5 wins and 11 losses. But while last season ended with a 4 game winning streak, this year ended with a 4 game losing streak. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 41-to-9, locking up a comfortable spot in the playoffs. Many were calling for Mangini's head on a stake, but in a sea of die-hard fans drowning their sorrows, Mike Brandt of Lakewood disagreed.

"The Browns have had numerous different regimes since they came back in '99. I vote for keeping stability, grow off of what Mangini has in place. They've had successful drafts, they've got players that are buying into the team concept. Even though the  wins haven't come yet, they're very close to the point where they'll be competitive game in and game out and be competing for a playoff spot," Brandt says.

Browns President Mike Holmgren has kept quiet on Mangini's performance. However, since their 1999 return, the Browns have managed just 2 winning seasons.

The first black woman to sit on the Ohio Supreme Court says the opportunity is "one of the proudest moments" of her career. Yvette McGee Brown assumes her seat on the state's highest court this week. She's the third black justice in Ohio history. McGee Brown tells The Cleveland Plain Dealer that her appointment to the court has brought pride to people around the state. The 50-year-old says people on the street - many of them black - have approached her with words of hope.

Minimum wage in Ohio went up over the weekend to a total of 15 cents higher than the federal minimum wage. The boost is the result of a 2006 ballot measure that amended Ohio’s Constitution and tied increases in the state’s minimum wage to inflation. The National Employment Law Protection says increases in the minimum wage help workers keep up with the rising costs and are critical during tough economic times. But the Ohio Small Business Association’s Rob Stake says he thinks the bump in pay may send employers to other states with lower minimum wages.
“If you’re looking to establish a business, and you can pay less wages in Indiana, you’re going to go to Indiana. Why would you come to Ohio and pay a higher cost?” Stake says.
The increase is the first in two years for Ohioans. Last year the consumer price index fell so the minimum wage did not increase.

Construction is expected to begin this week on the first phase of an aquarium in Cleveland’s Flats. The 40-million dollar tourist attraction is being built by Jacobs Entertainment. It will be built in the historic Powerhouse at Jacobs’ Nautica Entertainment Complex. Cleveland City Council recently let Jacobs reduce the number of guaranteed full-time jobs from 40 to 20 in return for a $2 million city loan.

Ohio gas prices have risen another 9 cents in the last week, and now motorists are paying almost 25 cents more per gallon than they were a month ago. The latest survey puts the state's average price for regular-grade gasoline at about $3.11 a gallon, up from $3.02 last Monday. Analysts say if oil keeps going higher, $4-a-gallon gas is possible by summer.

The mayor of Ohio's largest city says he has no interest in running for governor or higher office, but wants to stay on as chief executive. Fifty-six-year-old Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman tells The Columbus Dispatch that he's wants to serve a fourth term as the Ohio capital's mayor. The Democrat was first elected to the office in 1999 and is seeking re-election.  Only one mayor in the city's history has served four terms - which could put Coleman's name on the short list to challenge GOP Gov.-elect John Kasich in four years.

The Cuyahoga County medical examiner's office is looking into the death of a 40-year-old Cleveland man who appeared to go into cardiac arrest after police subdued him with a Taser. Police say Rodney Brown was combative during a traffic stop Friday night.

The Ohio Legislature's new session marks a return to Republican control over both chambers for the first time in two years. Lawmakers will be sworn in today for the 129th General Assembly. Democrats led the House in the last two-year session but lost their majority in the November elections. The Ohio Senate has remained in Republican hands. Ohio's new Republican governor, John Kasich, will take his oath of office in one week, on Jan. 10.

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