Cleveland VA office accidentally deletes nearly 500,000 loan documents
The regional Veterans Affairs office in Cleveland says nearly 500,000 electronic home loan documents were accidentally deleted in May. The VA says the information included active loan files, along with appraisal and grant documents for veterans and service members who qualify for the Specially Adapted Housing. Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman issued a statement Monday saying that he wants more answers and what the office plans to do about the mistake. The VA says it has asked lenders, appraisers and staff reviewers to resubmit appraisals for pending loan closings. In recent months, the VA has drawn fire for its growing benefits claim backlog, which now totals nearly one-million.
Group formally kicks off effort to get internet café initiative on ballot
A group has formed to oppose a new law effectively banning storefront sweepstakes parlors that legislators had become convinced were harboring illegal gambling operations. The Committee to Protect Ohio Jobs wants to put an initiative repealing the law on the ballot next year. The group announced Monday it has collected the initial minimum of 1,000 signatures and submitted those to the Ohio Secretary of State's office, along with a summary of the proposed measure submitted to the Ohio Attorney General's Office. The group wants the law repealed to force legislators to pass a new law regulating the industry and shut down what it calls rogue sweepstakes parlor operators.
Accused bridge-bomber trial opening statements today in Akron
Opening statements are set for this morning in the trial for the fifth Cuyahoga Valley National Park bridge bombing suspect. Joshua Stafford, 24, of Cleveland is representing himself. At the judge’s order, he’ll have a public defender at his side during the trial at Akron federal court. A jury was seated after three hours of questioning Monday. Stafford, a self-described anarchist allegedly planted what turned out to be a dud bomb provided by an FBI informant last April. The target was the Route 82 Bridge in Brecksville. Four other defendants have pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison.
Ohio’s Senators split on Farm Bill vote
Ohio’s two U.S. Senators were split on last night’s passage of the five-year Farm Bill. Republican Rob Portman voted no on the half trillion dollar plan, saying more reforms are needed to the food stamp expansion called SNAP that he says has grown out of control. The amount for SNAP is about $4 billion less than in the current farm bill .Democrat Sherrod Brown voted in favor of the legislation lauded crop insurance revisions. In a statement he said: “This bill saves more than $24 billion, it maintains important investments in conservation and nutrition, renewable energy and rural development.” The bill will be debated in coming weeks by the House.
State inspector general: Ohio’s stimulus projects were “shovel ready”
The state's inspector general says the Ohio Department of Transportation successfully met mandated provisions of the federal stimulus law requiring infrastructure projects to be "shovel ready." State lawmakers had required the inspector general to review the use of funds Ohio received under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in 2009. Inspector General Randall Meyer issued a report Monday that said Ohio's transportation department got more than $1 billion in stimulus money for transportation "infrastructure investment." At least half of the money had to be used for projects that could be started in less than six month, a mandate which Meyer says the state met. Meyer also said an analysis of 47 road projects revealed the winning bid was on average 10 percent lower than the department's estimate.
Congressional panel in SW Ohio for hearing on Delphi retirees
The head of a congressional panel has visited southwest Ohio for a hearing packed by salaried retirees of a bankrupt auto-parts supplier who are suing to have their full pensions restored. Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida vowed Monday to subpoena more people about why pensions of Delphi salaried retirees were cut while those of other auto industry retirees were not. Mica leads the Subcommittee on Government Operations for the House Oversight Committee. Republican Rep. Mike Turner of Dayton is on the committee and urged Mica to attend the meeting to hear from retirees. The pensions of more than 20,000 non-union Delphi retirees were cut when the company released its pension obligations to a federally backed pension insurer while under bankruptcy protection in 2009.
Westlake schools’ make $1 million cuts
A suburban Cleveland school district is making nearly $1 million in cuts after a levy failed in the May primary. The Westlake City School Board voted to eliminate 20 positions, including nine teachers and increased health care costs for employees twice during the next school year, among other cuts. A nearly 6-mill levy request failed in May by just 47 votes, creating a nearly $3 million deficit by next year.