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Morning Headlines: Akron Mayor Submits Signatures for Ballot Issue; Diebold Secures $650M Financing

WKSU public radio

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, August 28:

  • FBI alleges bribes, extortion by ex-Ohio House Speaker
  • Bill would send federal money recouped from ECOT to Ohio schools
  • Human remains in Cuyahoga River identified as Akron man
  • Northeast Ohio man pleads guilty to murdering his wife
  • Some FirstEnergy customers to get new provider
  • Cuyahoga Falls school district apologizes for controversial assignment
  • FirstEnergy assures there will be no massive layoffs
  • Akron Mayor submits signatures for ballot issue
  • Commission recommends changes at Summit County
  • Diebold Nixdorf secures $650M financing

FBI alleges bribes, extortion by ex-Ohio House Speaker

Federal investigators seized records from former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger's office earlier this year as part of a federal criminal investigation into potential bribes and kickbacks surrounding payday lending legislation.A subpoena and search warrant that the House released in response to public records requests provided new details of the FBI probe that led to the Republican’s sudden resignation in April. Agents seized three boxes of documents, a box of sport coats and a jacket, and a thumb drive in May that investigators believe contain evidence of extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, attempt to commit extortion and bribery. Rosenberger's lawyer, David Axelrod, reiterated that Rosenberger "has nothing to hide" and is fully cooperating in the investigation.

Bill would send federal money recouped from ECOT to Ohio schools

Any federal education dollars recovered from the now-closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow would be directed back to Ohio school districts under proposed legislation. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said Monday he's introduced a measure directing the U.S. Treasury to return any federal education funding recouped from ECOTto Ohio districts rather than to its general fund. Ohio's then-largest online charter school closed in January amid financial difficulties caused by state education regulators' efforts to recoup millions they say school attendance data didn't justify. Brown says ECOT collected more than $130 million in federal education funding over 18 years.

Human remains in Cuyahoga River identified as Akron man

Human remains found last year in the Cuyahoga River have been identified as a missing Akron man. Police on Monday say the remains discovered by a fisherman have been identified as those of 27-year-old La’Ron Harris. Harris was last seen in 2016 at a bar in the Merriman Valley.

Hartville man pleads guilty to murdering wife

A Northeast Ohio man who initially said his wife died of natural causes during their trip to Memphis, Tennessee, has pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in her death. A plea agreement calls for 73-year-old Philip Snider, of Hartville, to disclose where he put 70-year-old Roberta Snider's body. In return, prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. No motive has been released. In January, Snider told police his wife died of natural causes and that emergency workers took her body and she was cremated. He later said he threw her body into the Tennessee River.

Some FirstEnergy customers to get new provider

Akron, Youngstown, and cities across Northeast Ohio will soon have a new electric utility. Cleveland.com reports that as part of its bankruptcy filings, FirstEnergy Solutions will transfer customer contracts across Ohio and Illinois to a new supplier, Constellation NewEnergy. The deal is subject to judge’s approval. In federal filings, NewEnergy parent company Exelon signed a $140 million deal to acquire around one million customers in 263 Ohio communities. Costumers should begin seeing the energy supplier’s name on bills starting this fall.

Cuyahoga Falls school district apologizes for controversial assignment

A northeast Ohio school district has issued an apology for a school assignment that raised questions among parents about labeling people. Cuyahoga Falls district says the assignment titled “Whom to Leave” was handed out to four, seventh and eighth grade classes as an icebreaker. Parents expressed outrage via social media that the assignment asked students to choose only eight from among twelve stereotyped characters to leave behind on a hypothetical space mission. The school says the assignment, borrowed from the University of Houston’s Diversity program, was intended to promote tolerance and break down stereotypes.

FirstEnergy assures no massive layoffs are planned

FirstEnergy Corporation says no massive layoffs are coming despite the bankruptcy of its power generation arm.

The Beacon Journal reports that a recent company memo mentioned 970 positions to be eliminated as part of the phase out of First Energy Solutions. A company spokesperson says that number will be reached through voluntary buyouts, retirements, and not filling positions instead of layoffs. Nearly 400 of those jobs being phased out are in the Akron area. FirstEnergy employs around 15,000 people nationwide, and 1,500 at its two Akron campuses.

Akron Mayor submits signatures for fall ballot issue

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan says he's submitted signatures to get an issue on the fall ballot to change the city's primary election date. The Beacon Journal reports Horrigan turned in more than 9,000 signatures Monday. About 4,000 must be valid to get a charter amendment on the November ballot. If approved by voters, it would shift the city’s primary election from September to May in an effort to save money and make voting more efficient. Horrigan decided to launch a petition drive after receiving pushback from council.

Commission recommends changes at Summit County jail

An advisory commission’s report recommends ways to improve the Summit County jail. The study looked at staff training, hours, and the treatment of inmates. The more than a dozen recommendations include expanding use-of-force training for staff; increased focus on mental health treatment; expand options for inmate activities and reduce the amount of time they spend in lockdown. There’s a plan to install nearly 250 cameras inside the jail at a cost of around $450,000 total. County council is expected to vote on that purchase at its next meeting. The jail advisory commission was formed last September after a mentally ill inmate died following an altercation with deputies. No charges were filed in the death of Anthony Jones.

Diebold Nixdorf secures $650M financing

Summit County-based Diebold Nixdorfsays its secured $650 million in financing and is in the process of amending its existing credit agreement. The company that makes ATM machines and other software says it secured the capital commitment from two institutional lenders. Diebold’s stock has plummeted following a second quarter loss reported this month, coupled with the company still grappling with its 2016 merger with Wincor Nixdorf. There were reports earlier this month that the company is seeking a sale. Diebold stock shares improved on Monday.

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Amanda Rabinowitz
Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. Her days begin before the sun comes up as the local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition, which airs on WKSU each weekday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio’s sports scene.
Lydia Taylor is a news intern for WKSU. She is a junior multimedia journalism major at Kent State University with experience in print and visual journalism. She is currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Multimedia Journalism. During the school year, Taylor works for Kent State Student Media in The Kent Stater and KentWired. She is currently an assigning editor and a reporter in the Kent State University Student Media Newsroom for the spring semester.