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Headline News for Friday, July 01, 2011
Governor signs state budget; Presidentially touted company files bankruptcy; Cuyahoga County gets ethics lesson

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Amanda Rabinowitz
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  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich signs two-year state budget into law 
  • Bedford Heights based, renewable energy company touted by President Barack Obama files for bankruptcy
  • Cuyahoga County holds first ethics training seminar for businesses who work with the county 
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    Headline News 07/01/11...

    Governor John Kasich has signed the new two-year state budget into law that he says closes a historic budget gap without raising taxes. The first-term Republican put his pen to the spending blueprint last night.  The budget, passed by the Ohio House and Senate this week largely along party lines, follows most of what Kasich wanted, including merit pay for teachers, expanded charter schools, and the elimination of the estate tax. 


    In addition to the state budget, Kasich signed nearly a dozen other bills into law Thursday. Among them, legislation that will allow people to take guns into bars and businesses that serve alcohol, and another that opens up state parks for oil and gas drilling. 


    Northeast Ohio’s statehouse delegation fell mostly along party lines in a series of big votes this week including on the budget, the most restrictive abortion bill in the country and a bill limiting early voting. WKSU’s ML Schultze has more.  


    A northeast Ohio company showcased by President Barack Obama as the face of renewable energy has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Bedford Heights-based Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company makes bolts for wind turbines and says it’s been losing business to European parts makers and recently negotiations with its primary lender broke down. The company that employs about 65 has halted operations. Ohio ranked 6th in the nation for total wind industry jobs last year, with up to 4,000 employees.  Mr. Obama toured the company in 2009, saying it was a business that would grow with the development of renewable energy.


    Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich says that Syria’s official government news agency mistranslated his comments that appeared to praise Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Kucinich is visiting Syria and Lebanon this week, and the Syrian Arab News Agency quoted him Tuesday as saying that Assad is beloved by his people and committed to reforms. More than a thousand Syrians have been killed since protests erupted in March. Yaser Tabbara is the executive director of the Syrian American Council, and he says he is not buying Kucinich’s explanation. Tabbara says he and others in his community were shocked by Kucinich’s comments given what he calls the congressman’s outstanding record on human rights issues. Kucinich has said he believes that a diplomatic solution is possible in Syria.


    A Canton attorney says there’s a way to force the recently reinstated Stark County treasurer from office – but he’s not going to be the one to do it. The Ohio Supreme Court reinstated Gary Zeigler as treasurer last week, saying Stark County commissioners violated the state Constitution when they removed him last year.  Back then, attorney Craig Conley had mounted a separate lawsuit to hold Zeigler personally responsible for roughly $2.5 million his chief deputy stole from the office. Now, Conley says if nearly 20,000 voters sign a complaint, the case would go to court and Zeigler could be removed by a judge or jury.  Given recent public outrage, he says getting the signatures would be easy. Zeigler’s current term expires in September of 2013.


    A major Columbus-based research company is stepping in to help the state fight toxic blue green algae plaguing lakes. Battelle researchers have been awarded a contract to sift through dozens of methods and devices to keep the algae from growing at Ohio’s largest inland lake – Grand Lake St. Mary’s.  Battelle says researchers will spend six months studying the plans.


    A Cincinnati-area state lawmaker is apologizing for a drunken driving arrest that occurred nearly three months ago. Third term Republican representative Robert Mecklenborg issued an apology after pleading not guilty to the charges that went public Thursday.  Mecklenborg was key in crafting an election reform bill that passed the legislature this week, and he sponsored a proposal that requires photo ID at the polls.


    The umbrella union that represents most teachers in Ohio says it is seeing an unprecedented number of concessions by teachers in contracts signed this summer.   Canton is the latest city in Northeast Ohio to forgo base pay increases for its teachers. Ohio Education Association spokeswoman Michele Prater says the trend is in part because of the lagging Ohio economy. But she says the passage of Senate Bill 5—which limits collective bargaining for public workers—also plays a role.  Prater says school districts and teachers are working together with the budgets they have. The new state budget set ups merit pay for teachers to replace pay based on seniority. The future for Senate Bill 5 is less certain. Opponents filed 1.3 million signatures this week to force a referendum in November to repeal the bill.


    Companies that want to do business with Cuyahoga County got a lesson in ethics Thursday. The message at training seminar was much different than the way the county did business for years…a way that led to the conviction of some four-dozen county employees and business people on corruption charges. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports.   


    Ohio Senator Rob Portman continues to push for an overhaul of the U.S. tax code. He acknowledges that cannot be done in the month before the U.S. defaults on its debt if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. But he says there needs to be a commitment to some kind of tax reform before that deadline. The Republican Portman advocates a reform along the lines of one adopted in 1986 that lowered tax rates while closing loopholes.    

    Portman says the push for reform has bipartisan support, including that of the president’s deficit commission and in a bipartisan tax overhaul bill in the Senate. And he rejected the President’s charge on Wednesday that Congress is not working hard enough.


    A meeting with Stark County Republican congressman Jim Renacci yesterday at Malone College turned confrontational. The Canton Repository reports that many in the crowd of 100, mostly seniors, at the Conversation with your Congressman event shouted at Renacci saying he distorted facts about the costs of Medicare. One man was escorted out after calling Renacci’s statements lies. Renacci criticized the president’s plan to appoint a board to decide on Medicare payments.


    Kent State is the latest public university to announce a tuition increase.  Kent State says tuition will go up 3.5-percent this fall at its eight campuses. That’s the largest increase allowed under the state-mandated limit.  The university cited record enrollment and declining state funding. Youngstown State recently said it would increase tuition 3.5 percent, and Ohio State will go up 3.3 percent.


    The first Israeli-born player in the NBA is now a Cleveland Cavalier. The Cavs are getting Omri Casspi from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for forward J.J. Hickson.  

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