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Headline News for Monday, January 24, 2010
Ohio senator calls for gas price intervention; Gov. Kasich invites Dems to Youngstown; Cleveland police violate rape-case rules

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Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Senator Sherrod Brown calls for stricter regulation of artificially inflated gas prices
  • Gov. John Kasich invites Democratic lawmakers to Youngstown to discuss economic development
  • Plain Dealer investigation reveals dozens of rape cases cleared before suspects were identified 
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Headline News 01/24/11...

As gas prices continue to rise, Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown wants the government to intervene. At a press conference at a gas station in Cleveland Heights Sunday, Brown says excessive speculation about how high prices will go is contributing to the spike. Brown has sent a letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission urging stricter regulation of artificially inflated gas prices. 
Brown says gas companies like Certified Oil support an investigation, claiming they are neither at fault nor profiting from the recent rise in prices.
Gov. John Kasich is inviting several Democratic lawmakers to join him at General Motors’ Lordstown plant near Youngstown this week. Kasich, along with Congressman Tim Ryan of Niles and state Senate Minority leader Capri Cafaro will tour the plan Tuesday. Kasich plans to talk about economic development in the Youngstown region.
Republicans who now control the Ohio House of Representatives have schedule committee hearings this week on several of their top priority proposals for revamping state government and taxes. Here’s a preview from statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen. 
Cleveland police improperly cleared dozens of rape cases without identifying suspects, violating department rules and national law enforcement standards. The findings are outlined in a Plain Dealer investigation. At least 52 rape cases in 2006 and 2007 were improperly cleared.   FBI crime-reporting standards indicate sexual assault cases should remain open until authorities identify a suspect. But the newspaper found Cleveland police cleared some cases without having a suspect.
Prosecutors are ready to outline the case against a Cleveland man charged in the 2005 arson deaths of nine, including eight children at a birthday sleepover. Opening arguments are scheduled in the trial this afternoon after jurors visit the fire scene in Cleveland.    The defendant, 27-year-old ex-convict Antun Lewis, has pleaded not guilty. He says he was at home several blocks away when the fire broke before dawn.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History plans to build a house to be heated using special windows, insulation and sunlight instead of a furnace or gas line. The "SmartHome Cleveland" will be built on museum grounds this summer and accompany an exhibit about climate change. The project is called a "passive house," designed to keep itself heated using sunlight. It also will have two small heating units that distribute warm air. It's expected to cost $525,000, but officials plan to sell the three-bedroom home for around $300,000.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce says Governor John Kasich’s plan to privatize the state development department is an example of its vision for redesigning state government. Kasich’s Jobs Ohio initiative was unveiled last week and will be considered by the Republican controlled legislature. The state chamber of commerce and a coalition of the eight metro chambers last month presented a report to lawmakers dubbed “Redesigning Ohio,” with recommendations that could save Ohio $1.4 billion over two years. The plans call for the state to work with small businesses to ensure compliance with regulations rather than take a "heavy-handed approach.”
The former second in command for Cleveland public schools is to be sentenced in Toledo this morning for stealing $650,000 from that city’s school. WKSU’s ML Schultze has more. 
Ohio could become the only state without a free state-supported outreach line to help people quit smoking. Funding for the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line and enforcement of the smoke-free workplace law will run out June 30. Advocates say they’re concerned that will have a negative impact on the strides the state has made to reduce smoking rates – now slightly below the national average. In December, the state Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers could spend more than $250 million in tobacco settlement money for other uses.
An Ohio city is wrapping up an important step in its efforts to racially diversify its fire department in response to Justice Department complaints. Dayton is accepting applications from firefighter candidates until Monday. The Justice Department had accused the city of discriminating against blacks in its hiring of firefighters and police officers. The newspaper says just six of the city's 300 firefighters are black. The city revamped its hiring process as a result of the lawsuit, making changes that should open the process to more candidates.
Cleveland's Roman Catholic bishop has warned a priest to stop ministering to a breakaway congregation. In a letter, Bishop Richard Lennon has threatened to punish the Rev. Robert Marrone for celebrating Mass for former parishioners of St. Peter Church. The church near downtown was closed last April as part of ongoing downsizing by the diocese. The bishop's letter called the masses "scandal" and "corruption". The Plain Dealer reports Marrone responded in a letter he read to the congregation on Sunday. He wrote the bishop that he would remain in what he called his "present position with the Community of St. Peter."
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