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Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Internal Democratic Party poll shows near tie between Richard Cordray and Mike DeWine

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Internal polling from the Ohio Democratic Party obtained by cleveland.com shows a head-to-head matchup between ex-consumer watchdog Richard Cordray and Attorney General Mike DeWine in the race for governor is nearly even, though DeWine still leads.

The poll was administered by Public Policy Polling, a firm typically used by Democrats, and was taken from Jan. 22-23. The sample size was 585 voters with a margin of error of four percentage points. Answers were collected via automated telephone interviews.

The results obtained by cleveland.com did not contain any primary election data and only included three head-to-head matchups between Democratic candidates and DeWine, a Republican.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper confirmed the poll was authentic, but declined to comment on it.

DeWine led Cordray 45-44, within the margin of error, while 11 percent were undecided.

Read more: http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2018/01/internal_democratic_party_poll.html

Redistricting ballot group, Democrats reject changes proposed by Ohio Republicans

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Republicans working on congressional redistricting reform announced several changes to their plan Monday night aimed at appeasing Democrats and advocates pushing their own reform measure.

But both groups said the revised plan still does not eliminate partisan gerrymandering and allows politicians to slice and dice communities to their parties' advantage.

The Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition plans to move forward getting its proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

"This is simply why no one trusts politicians," Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council and one of the Fair Districts leaders said in a statement. "We have no choice to continue onward with our ballot initiative to ensure voters across Ohio aren't gerrymandered into districts where their elected representatives aren't beholden to voters."

Read more: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2018/01/ohio_republicans_update_congre.html

Ex-Geauga County IT director, daughter accused of stealing $1.8 million in public money

CHARDON, Ohio -- Geauga County's former chief technology officer and his daughter are accused of stealing more than $1.8 million in public money through a corruption scheme that played out over an eight-year period, officials said.

Stephen T. Decatur authorized payments from Geauga County to SMCS Tech, a Fairlawn company owned and operated by his daughter Stephanie E. Stewart, and a second vendor from 2010 to 2017. The companies then sent cashier's checks to Decatur, who put the money into his personal account, according to a 334-count indictment filed in Geauga County Common Pleas Court.

A Geauga County judge has also appointed a special prosecutor to investigate how the county auditor's office approved hundreds of transactions without contracts, and whether those approvals violated the state law that requires a bidding process for public contracts worth more than $50,000, Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz and Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand said Monday at a news conference.

"Decatur, as the chief IT guy for the whole county, had all the keys to the kingdom," Hildenbrand said. "[This] affected every one of the offices in the county."

Read more: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2018/01/ex-geauga_county_it_employee_d.html

Lawyer for Richard Spencer Threatens Lawsuit if Kent State Doesn't Allow the White Nationalist to...

Lawyer for Richard Spencer Threatens Lawsuit if Kent State Doesn't Allow the White Nationalist to Speak on Campus

In unsurprising news, the lawyer for Richard Spencer's tour organizer has told Kent State he will file a federal lawsuit against the university if it doesn't provide an acceptable time and place for the white nationalist to speak on campus.

Spencer had previously requested to rent space at the university for a speaking engagement on May 4, 2018 — the anniversary of the Kent State shootings in 1970. KSU quickly denied the request, citing the busy academic calendar in the weeks before and after the solemn date. They now have until February 9th to provide an alternate date before facing a lawsuit.

Other colleges and universities that have declined to have Spencer appear on their campuses have faced both threatened and actual lawsuits, including Michigan State, which just came to a settlement agreement allowing Spencer to speak after a lawsuit filed by his lawyer Kyle Bristow, and Ohio State, which is reportedly in talks with Bristow to settle a similar lawsuit.


Trial begins for coal boss accused in illegal campaign contribution scheme

CLARKSBURG — Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys on Monday began untangling the red tape of campaign finance law and establishing whether a Morgantown coal operator knowingly violated it during the first day of trial for James L. Laurita Jr.

Opening arguments in Laurita’s case began a little after 2 p.m. in a federal courtroom in Clarksburg, where a 12-member jury will determine whether Laurita schemed to funnel illegal campaign contributions to candidates for Congress who supported the coal and energy industries in West Virginia between 2010 and 2013.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarod Douglas said Laurita directed eight executives at his company, Mepco LLC, to make campaign contributions to certain candidates and channeled Mepco money to the employees through phony bonus payments.

“This case is about an abuse of trust and an abuse of authority,” Douglas said during opening statements.

Read more: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/cops_and_courts/trial-begins-for-coal-boss-accused-in-illegal-campaign-contribution/article_a9f9fcd1-effa-5250-8e76-75fb740d3202.html

16 Families File Supreme Court Appeal in Water Contamination Case

Attorneys for 16 Wyoming County families who accused a coal company of contaminating their water asked the state’s highest court Wednesday, Jan. 24, for another chance to prove their case.

In 2016, a jury found that Dynamic Energy was not responsible for the pollutants the families said they found in Clear Fork along Cedar Creek Road, about a half-hour northwest of Pineville. The West Virginia Supreme Court will consider the appeal and decide later this year whether to allow another civil trial. Ten more families are expected to join the suit if it’s allowed to proceed.

The residents maintain that Dynamic Energy, a subsidiary of Mechel Bluestone Inc. and owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, violated state law and damaged wells. The state Department of Environmental Protection testified in the 2016 trial, though, that there was no link between the wells and a nearby surface mine.

In the meantime, the families are grappling with a more pressing issue: Since April 2015, Dynamic Energy has provided them water, under a court order that remains in place. But defense attorneys told the justices Wednesday that Dynamic stopped delivering water in early January because the company said it could no longer afford to pay for it.

Read more: http://wvpublic.org/post/16-families-file-supreme-court-appeal-water-contamination-case#stream/0

Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to West Virginia town with 2,900 people

Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee cited the massive shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone — two powerful painkillers — to the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, amid the panel’s inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid epidemic.

“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,” said committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., in a joint statement.

The panel recently sent letters to regional drug wholesalers Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith, asking why the companies increased painkiller shipments and didn’t flag suspicious drug orders from pharmacies while overdose deaths were surging across West Virginia.

Read more: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/health/drug-firms-shipped-m-pain-pills-to-wv-town-with/article_ef04190c-1763-5a0c-a77a-7da0ff06455b.html

Gazette-Mail declaring bankruptcy; Wheeling Newspapers is planned buyer

The owners of the Charleston Gazette-Mail agreed Monday to take the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Wheeling Newspapers is currently the high bidder to assume ownership of the company.

The company, operated by the Nutting family, owns more than 40 daily newspapers across the nation, including the Wheeling, Parkersburg, Martinsburg and Elkins newspapers in West Virginia.

Charleston Newspapers, the company that owns the Gazette-Mail, issued a WARN notice to all employees Monday afternoon.

Read more: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/gazette-mail-declaring-bankruptcy-wheeling-newspapers-is-planned-buyer/article_5a0e1ede-29aa-5866-ab47-7b9655a0d3bb.html

West Virginia House OKs deductions for unreturned equipment

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Employers could deduct from a worker’s final paycheck the cost of unreturned company equipment and uniforms valued at $100 or more, under legislation passed Monday by West Virginia’s House.

The bill, approved 61-35, would apply where employees sign an agreement to take care of the company property. They would have an additional 10 days to return it.

Employers could deduct the original cost of equipment, such as an iPhone or uniform, despite subsequent use or depreciation, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott said.

“The purpose of the bill is the person who replaces that employee has to have that same item in order to perform the job for the employer,” said Shott, a Bluefield Republican. “So the employer is going to have to replace it whether the phone costs more.”

Read more: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/west-virginia-house-oks-deductions-for-unreturned-equipment/

Texas Central picks downtown Dallas station site for its $15 billion high-speed rail proposal

Texas Central Partners announced Monday that a 60-acre tract southeast of the Interstate 30-35E interchange will be the site of the Dallas passenger station for the company's planned $15 billion high-speed rail line to Houston.

Texas Central Partners released maps and conceptual renderings that show a multilevel station between South Riverfront Boulevard and Austin Street, built to link with nearby roadways and proposed traveler-friendly connections with Dallas Area Rapid Transit light-rail and buses.

The news met with the approval of Dallas city leaders.

"The city is obviously more than supportive. We're completely behind this project," said Lee Kleinman, a Dallas City Council member and chair of the council's mobility committee. "We're excited about the economy for both Dallas and Houston and the congestion it's going to relieve."

Texas Central officials said they'd break ground on the rail line in late 2019 at the earliest. But for Roger Reyna, who has been trying to sell his land on Riverfront Boulevard for four years, the economic benefits of being near the station site were immediate.

Read more: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/transportation/2018/01/29/texas-central-announces-downtown-dallas-high-speed-rail-passenger-station-site
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